Week of: January 7, 2008
- Laptops a Hit in Kansas City
Kansas City school officials say that the district's new laptop-lending program is exceeding all expectations.
- CT Launches Virtual Learning Center
High school students returning to school across Connecticut now have access to a new resource, online courses available via the Connecticut Virtual Learning Center.
- Technology for Special Needs Students
Dedication to Special Education raises money to help the Marin County Office of Education purchase technology that helps students with special needs function in the classroom.
- MN Mulls Opting Out of NCLB
Republican members of the Minnesota state Senate are readying a bill that would end the state's participation in No Child Left Behind.
- Libraries Still Popular with Young Adults
Young Americans, ages 18 to 30, are the leading users of libraries for help solving problems and in more general patronage.
Laptops a Hit in Kansas City
Kansas City school officials say that the district's new laptop-lending program is exceeding all expectations. Students have had their laptops about seven weeks, so only time will tell whether once the novelty wears off the impact will persist. Teachers are hopeful. For some teachers, the laptops have allowed them to do things they have never been able to do before. Others, some of whom are more skeptical about the program, say that students are doing things on their own that they've never done before either, delving deeper and building stronger learning linkages. Students have been asked to use their laptops to create graphs, chart calculations and analyze information, creating their own presentations using statistical concepts. Students not only wrote the assigned essay, they added videos and other enhancements. Asked to write an ode, one student e-mailed his creation, set to music, to his teacher. While the program largely has gone smoothly, there have been a few problems. It's a struggle to stay ahead of tech savvy students and their efforts to get around the filtering system installed on the computers. Students do get caught up in the entertainment value of the computer and do things like checking e-mail during lectures. Overall, however, students really like having the laptops and are careful about doing things that would loose them daily use of the computers. District officials are cautious about the possibility of seeing any test score gains as a result of the laptop program. They see it as a way of leveling the playing field between city students and their suburban counterparts and of being sure that students are better prepared for college.
Source:Kansas City Star
CT Launches Virtual Learning Center
High school students returning to school across Connecticut now have access to a new resource, online courses available via the Connecticut Virtual Learning Center. Students will enroll in CT Virtual Learning Center online courses via the school in which they are currently enrolled and credits will be issued by that school. This pilot project will be available at no cost to school districts, supported by an $850,000 state grant. In 2008 and 2009 the cost for a semester course will be paid from state funds for up to 500 enrollments per semester. While the goal is to provide equity of access for all Connecticut Public School students, for the pilot phase, the Virtual Learning Center Policy Advisory Council will establish a formula for initial participation by CT schools and determine if there should be a minimum enrollment requirement per school district. Connecticut has built a high-speed optical computer network, called the Connecticut Education Network that connects all the school districts in the state. The Connecticut Virtual Learning Center will use this network to deliver its online content. The program will focus on two areas, offering courses for students at risk of falling in Algebra, Geometry, English, Civics or Health. This set of courses will help students avoid summer school and recover credit by taking these online courses during the school year. In addition, the Virtual Learning center will offer elective courses that are not widely available, such as Mandarin Chinese, Biotechnology and International Business. The Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) is running the Virtual Learning Center. CTDLC develops programs and services that support education through online learning, centrally developed and distributed content, and resource sharing. The CTDLC will arrange for hosting, technical and administrative support, including reporting activity data, confirming student work and hiring Connecticut certified teachers that have been trained to teach online high school courses.
Source:State of Connecticut
Technology for Special Needs Students
Dedication to Special Education raises money to help the Marin County Office of Education purchase technology that helps students with special needs function in the classroom. Marin serves some 4,000 special needs students and with individual adaptive devices costing thousands of dollars, the help is greatly appreciated. Dedication to Special Education was formed 10 years ago by a group of concerned parents. In that tine it has raised more than $2 million to support Marin students. This year alone the group has helped purchased 14 computers, seven printers, several monitors, digital cameras, audio books, talking globes and other devices. A 12-year old with cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for her to speak clearly, uses a special keyboard that links noun and verb images to help her communicate with fellow students and teachers. The augmentative communications device costs $7,000. Another student who requires a ventilator to breathe is still able to do school work, writing with the help of a joystick. Marin hosts a Technology Research Center where learning devices can be inspected and tested by parents, students and teachers. Special ed students, their parents and educational team can come to the Center to experiment with assistive devices to determine what works best for the individual student. Once the right device is found, Dedication to Special Education helps with the purchase.
Source:Marin Independent Journal
MN Mulls Opting Out of NCLB
Republican members of the Minnesota state Senate are readying a bill that would end the state's participation in No Child Left Behind. It won't be the first time such legislation has been considered and the likelihood of passage is by no means clear. Republican senators see NCLB as an assault on the time-honored tradition of local control of education. Judging NCLB's reform efforts a failure the group wants to reclaim Minnesota schools for local control. The problem is that the ouster of NCLB would also mean a cessation of federal K-12 education funding, which in Minnesota is estimated to total $250 million annually. Legislators claim the loss would not be that dramatic, citing cost savings associated with not having to meet NCLB's mandates. A legislative audit released in 2004 said that Minnesota would have to spend tens of millions of dollars to meet NCLB's requirements. While Minnesota educators, like their peers elsewhere, have generally opposed many aspects of NCLB, Gov Tim Pawlenty has been a supporter. The governor's office is not commenting on the potential legislation. It's also not clear that the effort will garner bipartisan support. The state's Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party introduced legislation to withdraw from NCLB, but their support for this effort is not assured. While the Senate proposal may never become law, it is a measure of the frustration some education and political leaders are experiencing, especially as the reauthorization efforts are apparently stalled.
Source:The Star Tribune
Libraries Still Popular with Young Adults
Members of Gen Y are the leading users of libraries for help solving problems and in more general patronage. More than 60% of Americans ages 18-30 are users of public libraries, seeking out answers to questions about health conditions, job training, government benefits and other problems. According to a new joint study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, these young adults are the heaviest users of the public library system. Libraries drew visits by more than half of Americans (53%) in the past year, but Gen Y members were the most likely to use libraries for problem-solving information and in general patronage Young adults don't just come to the library to access its Internet-connected computers. They use library reference books, newspapers and magazines. And they take their really difficult questions to the real experts – librarians. Young adults are also the most likely to say they will use libraries in the future when they encounter problems: 40% of 18 to 30 year olds say they would do that, compared with 20% of those above age 30.