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Week of: December 24, 2007 Birmingham Schools to Get XO Computers The city of Birmingham, AL is buying 15,000 XO laptops for $200 each from One Laptop Per Child, enough to supply every student in grades one through eight in Birmingham city schools with a laptop. New Teachers
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Week of: December 24, 2007

  • Birmingham Schools to Get XO Computers
    The city of Birmingham, AL is buying 15,000 XO laptops for $200 each from One Laptop Per Child, enough to supply every student in grades one through eight in Birmingham city schools with a laptop.
  • New Teachers Prepared To Use Technology
    Most teacher education programs for initial licensure say their graduates possess the skills and experience to integrate technology into instruction.
  • Napa To Create 21st Century Classrooms
    Napa Valley Unified School District will be creating 21st Century classrooms at Napa and Vintage high schools, based on its flagship New Technology High School model.
  • Distance Learning Serves Maryland County's Gifted Students
    Distance learning is allowing Maryland's Anne Arundel County Public Schools to address the needs of highly gifted students and distribute resources more equitably.
  • Researchers Create Responsive Virtual Teacher
    Researchers in New Zealand have created a virtual teacher who can respond to a distant student's emotional states.

Birmingham Schools to Get XO Computers

The city of Birmingham, AL is buying 15,000 XO laptops for $200 each from One Laptop Per Child, enough to supply every student in grades one through eight in Birmingham city schools with a laptop. The $3 million deal was arranged by Mayor Larry Langford who sees it as a way to help bridge the digital divide for Birmingham's children. The XO laptop is the computer designed by One Laptop per Child (OLPC) for distribution to children in the developing countries of the world. Birmingham will be the first major installation of XOs in the United States. Distribution of the laptops is slated to begin in April 15. Children will be allowed to take the laptops home; they will be returned to the school system at the end of eighth grade. The mayor is quoted as saying that training for the computers will not be a problem, since they were designed to be easy to use. The XO laptop, originally described as the "$100 computer," runs a version of Linux. Applications include a web browser, a simple document viewer, the AbiWord word processor, an RSS reader, an email client, chat client, VOIP client; a journal, a multimedia authoring and playback environment; a music composition toolkit, graphics toolkits, games, a shell, and a debugger. The laptop's mesh network connects wirelessly to the Internet and also connects students to one another. The design matches OLPC's philosophy, which sees technology as a means to actively engage children in a process of learning by doing. OLPC see children using its XO laptop to construct their own knowledge - creating critiquing, debugging and collaborating - and become positive, contributing members of their communities. The Birmingham schools have not detailed their plans for the laptops use as yet.

Source:The Birmingham News

New Teachers Prepared To Use Technology

Most teacher education programs for initial licensure say their graduates possess the skills and experience to integrate technology into instruction. "Educational Technology in Teacher Education Programs for Initial Licensure," a new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics, provides baseline information on a range of topics involving educational technology and teacher education programs for initial licensure at 4-year postsecondary institutions. Technology topics are widely included in the curriculum. All of the 4-year institutions with teacher education programs for initial licensure taught integrating technology into instruction and use of Internet resources and communication tools for instruction in all or some of their teacher education programs. Ninety percent or more of institutions taught developing curriculum plans using technology to address content standards (99 percent), using content specific software tools for instruction (97 percent), using multimedia digital content for instructions (95 percent), and using technology to access or manipulate data to guide instruction (90 percent) in all or some programs. Institutions reported teaching students about technology in a number of ways. Ninety-three percent reported teaching educational technology within methods courses, while 79% reported that educational technology was taught within the field experiences of teacher candidates, and 71% said it was taught within content courses. Despites barriers such as faculty members' lack of time, training, and interest with respect to integrating technology or competing priorities in the classroom during field experiences, large majorities of institutions agreed (strongly or somewhat) that their program graduates possess the skills and experience to integrate technology into instruction, and can construct project-based learning lessons involving educational technology.

Source:National Center for Educational Statistics

Napa To Create 21st Century Classrooms

Napa Valley Unified School District will be creating 21st century classrooms at Napa and Vintage high schools, based on its flagship New Technology High School model. Initially the new program, Student Centered 21st Century Schools and Classrooms (SC21), will be funded by a grant from the Schuler Foundation. In January, the district will roll out four pilot classrooms, two social studies classrooms at Napa High and two science classrooms at Vintage High. Following the New Technology High School Model, there will be one computer for every student in the classrooms and a focus on project-based learning. New tools will be available to help students as they work through finding solutions to realistic problems. Students can check online course calendars to find daily agendas, class updates and personal to-do lists Grade books will be posted online for students and parents. Textbooks will be replaced by virtual project briefcases. New Tech High School will serve as a training hub for other schools in the SC21 program. By fall of 2008, the district expects Napa and Vintage high schools to have four SC21 classrooms each and hopes for up to 64 classrooms between the two schools by 2011. To realize this goal, the school district will need to do significant fundraising. Napa's New Technology High Schools is based on the belief that 21st century students need both a solid foundation in basic skills as well as new skills students will need to succeed in the information age. Since its launch in 1996, 35 new technology schools have been created across the United States.

Source:The Napa Valley Register

Distance Learning Serves Maryland County's Gifted Students

Distance learning is allowing Maryland's Anne Arundel County Public Schools to address the needs of highly gifted students and distribute resources more equitably. The district has invested in technology to allow teachers like Josh Dorsey to reach students with his Calculus 3 course. Dorsey's class is broadcast real-time to six schools and heard by 11 students. Students can hear and talk to Dorsey using headphones and microphones that hook into their computers. Students use electronic tablets that display their work to the entire class. Younger students are also benefiting. Five eighth graders at four different middle schools are taking Algebra 2 via the distance learning system. Before implementing the distance learning program, the district used three traveling math teachers to meet the needs of advanced middle school students, reaching one or two at a time. The district team of six itinerant math teachers cost $330,000. In contrast, the district paid $37,428 for the distance learning software and has spent $193,000 implementing and supporting the program. Currently, the district is offering only math instruction via distance learning, but there is discussion about adding foreign language instruction. Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell has proposed offering Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes in Chinese to the district curriculum, with the goal of preparing students for the global marketplace. One way of meeting that goal would be to use the district's distance learning system.

Source:Baltimore Sun

Researchers Create Responsive Virtual Teacher

Researchers in New Zealand have created a virtual teacher who can respond to a distant student's emotional states. Dubbed Eve, the human-like animated teacher is the embodiment of the computer science concept of an intelligent or affective tutoring system. Eve is designed to teach math to 8-year olds in one-on-one sessions. To program the system's responses, researchers watched real-life interactions between teachers and students, capturing thousands of images of facial expression, gestures and body movements. The virtual tutor uses this baseline information to interpret the child's reactions - frustration, anger, confusion - and adapt the lesson accordingly. The system uses a network of computer systems, mainly embedded devices, to detect student emotion and other significant bio-signals, recognizing facial expression, body movement, and, via a mouse, heart rate and skin resistance. The research team, based at the Auckland Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences, believes that a computer program with the ability to detect and adapt to human emotions may become a critical teaching tool in the ongoing evolution of distance learning and online tutoring.

Source:New Zealand Herald

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