Week of: January 14, 2008
- Texas Virtual Academy Expands
The progress of the 550 students attending the Texas Virtual Academy is being carefully monitored as the state gathers data about virtual schooling.
- Delaware Pilots Adaptive Test
A group of Delaware educators are lobbying to replace the Delaware Student Testing Program with a computer adaptive test, based on the results of a large pilot test.
- UNESCO Releases ICT Standards for Teachers
UNESCO's new ICT standards are designed to help educational policy-makers and curriculum developers identify the skills teachers need to harness technology in the service of education.
- Educators Invited to Educational Game Tournament
Educational video game publisher Tabula Digita is turning the tables and challenging teachers to display both their algebra and game playing skills.
- Emerging Technology at CES
The annual Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest annual tradeshow for consumer technology, is always a big draw for people interested in emerging technologies.
Texas Virtual Academy Expands
The progress of the 550 students attending the Texas Virtual Academy is being carefully monitored as the state gathers data about virtual schooling. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has allowed school districts to offer some online classes to their own students for a number of years, but the Texas Virtual Academy is its first foray into purely virtual schooling where students do all their class work at home. Texas Virtual Academy is operated by Southwest Schools, a Houston-based charter school. It launched in 2006 serving 3rd through 8th grade students in the Houston area; in September of 2007 the state allowed it to expand services to students in the Dallas and Fort Worth regions. The virtual school's enrollment is capped at 750 students statewide. Southwest Schools receives roughly the same per-pupil funding for its virtual school enrollees that all Texas public schools receive. Students use a curriculum that covers required Texas content and are taught by certified teachers, who check in with students daily, help them with difficult problems and monitor their progress. Each student receives a computer and other needed materials, such as workbooks and art supplies. Students are monitored by a parents or other responsible adult and spend a lot of time working offline doing experiments or reading assignments. Students are required to take and pass Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests. Virtual Academy officials say that the 2006 average TAKS scores for its Houston students exceed state requirements, but the TEA says that it is still reviewing the data. Ultimately the TEA hopes to determine best practices for virtual schools and develop policies that support and enable high quality online learning.
Source:The Dallas Morning News
Delaware Pilots Adaptive Test
A group of Delaware educators are lobbying to replace the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) with a computer adaptive test, based on the results of a large pilot test. The Delaware Statewide Academic Growth Assessment Pilot was designed to investigate alternatives to the current statewide standardized test. Over a two-year period more than 30,000 students were tested three times a year using a computerized multigrade assessment aligned to Delaware standards. The test adjusts the difficulty of the items presented to a student based on responses to previous questions. According to the pilot's final report, the computer adaptive assessments documented student progress that the grade-level DSTP assessments missed, particularly among children who began the year well above or below their grade level. The pilot steering committee would like to see its results used as the basis of recommendations regarding the development of the state's next assessment system. Oregon uses an adaptive test, though its questions are on grade level. The Delaware group would like to see items above and below grade level included, to better pinpoint the exact level at which a student is performing. It's not clear how much it would cost to develop such a system or whether it would meet the federal NCLB testing requirements. There is also the question of building out an infrastructure to support statewide computerized testing.
Source:The News Journal
UNESCO Releases ICT Standards for Teachers
UNESCO's new ICT standards are designed to help educational policy-makers and curriculum developers identify the skills teachers need to harness technology in the service of education. Recognizing the need to provide standards to help the education sector leverage ICT, UNESCO teamed up with Cisco, Intel and Microsoft, as well as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), to set up the 'ICT Competency Standards for Teachers' (CST) project. The first phase of the CST project was completed in late 2007 and the Competency Standards for Teachers launched in London on January 8, 2008 at the Moving Young Minds conference, an international seminar hosted by the UK government for education ministers and policy makers to discuss the use of technology in enhancing education. A detailed syllabus outlines the specific skills to be acquired by teachers within each skill set/module. The syllabus is the key reference for training providers, listing guidelines on what teachers should know to apply ICT to education in their own creative ways, and examples of how to train them to achieve this. The guidelines cover policy, curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, the use of technology in the classroom, school organization and administration, and teacher professional development. During the second phase of the project, UNESCO will establish a mechanism to endorse training programs for compliance with the standards. In addition, UNESCO plans to develop a mapping of existing teacher training standards and training programs to the ICT-CST matrix of skill sets in an attempt to streamline the global efforts in this general area.
Source:The Economic Times
Educators Invited to Educational Game Tournament
Educational video game publisher Tabula Digita is turning the tables and challenging teachers to display both their algebra and game playing skills. Educators attending the Florida Educational Technology Conference can participate in the first Educator National Multiplayer Educational Game (MEG) Tournament. Participants will test their math skills using the latest 3-D video gaming technology. Spectators will be treated to a demonstration of how gaming in the classroom breeds excitement and enthusiasm for learning. Players will use the Meltdown game in which players are challenged to complete missions that are part of the game's storyline by solving linear equations. In other games players solve puzzles or uncover mysteries by using other math concepts like prime and greatest common factors, variables and expression or finding, plotting and inferring coordinates. All of the math content of the game is correlated to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards and to several sets of state standards. Tabula Digita believes that giving educators first hand experience with games as a teaching tool will help them understand how to effectively use video game technology to create immersive learning and rapid acquisition of math skills and how the technology can be used to encourage collaboration. Last year the company sponsored a similar tournament at FETC for students.
Emerging Technology at CES
The annual Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest annual tradeshow for consumer technology and America's largest annual tradeshow of any kind, is always a big draw for people interested in emerging technologies. There was a lot of buzz about the Bug Labs platform, which applies the concept of the mashup to hardware. Bug is a collection of easy-to-use electronic modules that snap together to build any gadget imaginable. Each Bug module represents a specific gadget function (ex: a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc). The integrated programming environment lets users program their own software to run the custom gadget or download software others have written from the Bug Labs site. Creative's InPerson portable conferencing system consists of a1.6 pound, 10-inch laptop-like device, with a VGA-resolution Webcam built into the hinge. The hardware runs off the two-hour capacity battery or AC. The H.264-compressed video can stream on the 7-inch wide-screen LCD or can be shown on a connected TV. The device connects to the Net via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet. SpeechGear's Compadre suite of translation software instantly translate anything a person sees, hears, or reads into a variety of languages, including Spanish, German, Dutch, Iraqi, Chinese, Japanese, and more. BigStage's face-mapping technology creates a model of anyone's head by using just three photos--head-on, rotated a little, and rotated a little more. The technology process the pictures and creates life-like avatars.