Week of: December 17, 2007
- Indiana Adopts Benchmark Testing
The state of Indiana will be picking up the tab for a new computer-based testing system aligned to its K-8 teaching standards and designed to provide feedback on student progress over time.
- Online Tutoring for NJ Students
The New Jersey State Library system is offering its patron "Homework Help NJ," a free online tutoring program that provided one-on-one help.
- Philadelphia Classrooms Go Wireless
All of Philadelphia's 10,000 classrooms now have wireless internet connectivity, thanks to a $40 million project funded largely by the federal E-Rate program.
- Community Pitches in for Technology
After the Beach Park (IL) school district spent $10,000 to put state-of-the-art projection systems in five classrooms, the community rallied to provide another $44,000.
- MIT Marks Open Courseware Milestone
Launched in 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare initiative now contains core teaching materials from virtually all MIT courses—1800 in all.
Indiana Adopts Benchmark Testing
The state of Indiana will be picking up the tab for a new computer-based testing system aligned to its K-8 teaching standards and designed to provide feedback on student progress over time. Unlike the high stakes Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP), the new system will allow teachers to administer quizzes and short tests throughout the year and receive instant feedback to help pinpoint students' strengths and weaknesses. The testing system can even predict if a student is on track to passing the ISTEP. Teachers can select topics they have covered from an item bank and create a customized quiz that students will take on the computer. Teachers can read the test items to younger students and record their answers on handheld devices. Once the test is completed, students receive instant feedback in the form of charts and graphs that map out their progress. The system will be phased in over four year, beginning this fall with a representative sample of districts selected to match the state's geographic and demographic makeup. The state will pay more than $4 million for the first year of testing, a relatively small price compared to the $31 million Indiana spend for ISTEP testing. The price tag will grow over the years as more schools participate in the program, but the state expects total cost to remain below the $41 million allocated for assessment each year.
Source:The Peru Tribune
Online Tutoring for NJ Students
The New Jersey State Library system is offering its patrons "Homework Help NJ," a free online tutoring program that provided one-on-one help. Students in grades 4-12 who have library cards will be able to access real-time help with math, science, social studies and English assignments. The online tutoring help is available to students in Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, New Brunswick, Paterson and Willingboro. The service can be accessed from home or at the library as well as in after school classes offered by NJ After 3, a statewide nonprofit organization whose programs serve more than 15,000 children. The program is run by the New Jersey State Library, with the support of a $265,000 grant from PSE&G. The State Library hopes to attract other corporate funders. The state had a similar program in place that ended two years ago when the state legislature failed to appropriate continued funding. The tutors are largely retired teachers, gradate students or other professional who have at least a bachelor's degree and have passed a background check. They are available seven days a week from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m Spanish tutoring is also available, if needed. Students sign on and are assigned an individual tutor who interacts with them using a variety of tools like a shared whiteboard, drawing tools and instant messaging software.
Source:The Star Ledger
Philadelphia Classrooms Go Wireless
All of Philadelphia's 10,000 classrooms now have wireless internet connectivity, thanks to a $40 million project funded largely by the federal E-Rate program. To reach its wireless goals, the district installed 16,500 radio transmitters in schools and district offices, creating what may be the largest wireless networking implementation in the nation. Philadelphia has been engaged in an aggressive classroom modernization effort for several years now. Moving forward with that initiative, the School Reform Commission approved borrowing $41.6 million to use for modernization of 1,400 middle and high school classrooms located in 151 district schools. This spring, roughly half those classrooms will be equipped with interactive white boards, computers, projectors and other technology tools. The remaining classrooms will receive the infrastructure needed to support that technology, with plans to purchases the actual equipment with hoped for state funds. A number of district classrooms already use the new technology equipment, which allows them to stream video and use audio to support student learning. Classrooms slated for technology upgrades will be selected based on teachers' interest in and ability to use the technology to transform classroom practice. By the time Philadelphia's current three-year modernization project ends, combined with earlier efforts, nearly 3,300 classrooms will have received technology upgrades.
Source:The Philadelphia Inquirer
Community Pitches in for Technology
After the Beach Park (IL) school district spent $10,000 to put state-of-the-art projection systems in five classrooms, the community rallied to provide another $44,000. Concerned about technology passing it by, the school district in Chicago's far north suburbs decided to equip one classroom per building with a computer linked to a 50-inch flat-screen monitor and an overhead projector. Some classrooms got digital video camera, as well. It cost about $2,000 to equip each classroom and $10,000 was as much as the district could spare. It was then that parents stepped in with a grass roots fund raising effort that in the end saw 27 of the district's 172 classrooms outfitted with presentation systems. Everyone pitched in, organizing pizza parties, writing personal checks and donating time and services to cut down extra costs. A local board member installed the systems during weekends and weeknights to save the nearly $500-per-room installation cost. Parents and administrators pledge to continue fund raising until every classroom is equipped. Administrators credit the outpouring of support from the largely working-class community as due to the fact that parents can see where their money is going. Teachers use the systems to present science lessons â€“ projecting a dissection they are performing beneath the overhead projector so that the whole class can easily see what is happening. Video clips downloaded to the computer can also be easily projected, as can virtual filed trips or computer applications. After seeing their children using the equipment and getting excited about the lessons presented, parents know that they have made a wise investment.
Source:The Chicago Tribune
MIT Marks Open Courseware Milestone
Launched in 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare initiative now contains core teaching materials from virtually all MIT courses. The site includes voluntary contributions — syllabi, lecture notes, assignments and exams — from 90% of faculty and more than 2,600 members of the MIT community. MIT OpenCourseWare is an idea developed by the MIT faculty to advance the Institute's mission of advancing knowledge and educating students to best serve the world. In 1999, the Faculty considered how to use the Internet in pursuit of this goal, and in 2000 proposed OCW. In 2002 OCW launched as a pilot project with 50 courses. OCW materials are published under an open license that encourages reuse, redistribution and modification for noncommercial purposes. An estimated 35 million individuals have accessed OCW materials since its launch, 60% of them from outside the United States. Nearly 600 courses have been translated into languages including Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai. MIT has also provided more than 120 local copies of the site to universities in bandwidth-constrained regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. MIT OpenCourseWare averages one million visits each month; translations receive 500,000 more. Nearly half the site's visitors identify themselves as self learners, one third are students and 16% as educators. Self learners use the site to enhance personal knowledge, students to complement a course they are currently taking and educators to enhance personal knowledge or develop a course.