Week of: February 25, 2008
- Rural OK District Uses Up-To-Date Technology
The schools in the small and relatively poor town of Howe, OK use up-to-date technology to connect their 450 students with the world.
- Cyber School Models Continue To Expand
In its first year of operation, the Georgia Virtual Academy (GVA) has enrolled 2,650 K-8 pupils from throughout the state.
- Irving To Investigate Smaller, Cheaper Laptops
The Irving Independent School District is thinking about switching to the use of smaller, PDA-like laptops for its high school one-to-one initiative.
- Career Tech Expands Student Options
Traditional vocational education courses like carpentry and auto mechanics have been replaced by computer and industrial design courses.
- Harvard Moves Toward Open Access Publishing
Harvard University's arts and sciences faculty recently adopted a policy that will see faculty publishing their scholarly research articles online for free.
Rural OK District Uses Up-To-Date Technology
The schools in the small and relatively poor town of Howe, OK use up-to-date technology to connect their 450 students with the world. Every third through eighth grade students has his or her own laptop to use at school and some students get to take iPods home loaded with educational content. The technology in place is an essential component of daily instruction, used in carefully planned lessons designed to enhance student learning. Classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards that capture anything a teacher writes during a lesson. The data can easily be transferred to an iPod for students to use to study from or catch up on missed lessons. Students produce a weekly podcast that they share with the entire students body each Friday, One room in the school is equipped with four wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, a homemade production studio in the corner and wall-to-wall computers. Students use the equipment to store lessons, post homework assignments and instant message each other during class. Knowing that teachers can monitor their laptop screens helps keep students on task. The wireless laptops have been in use for eight years. The iPods were added to the curriculum last year and next year the school system is planning to add a set of iPod touch devices, which are essentially iPhones from which the phone function has been stripped away. Overall the district has spent between $1.2 million and $1.5 million to build and maintain the infrastructure that supports the technology in use. Funding for the technology program has come largely from grants and E-Rate funds. Howe also leverages its technology savvy to earn money. The district's technology director uses the school's videoconferencing system to teach other school district nationwide how to integrate technology with instruction and earns the district $4,000 per session for the training.
Cyber School Models Continue To Expand
In its first year of operation, the Georgia Virtual Academy (GVA) has enrolled 2,650 K-8 pupils from throughout the state. Some parents, concerned that traditional schooling is not meeting the needs of their children turn to cyber schools as an alternative, a place where students can progress at their own pace and receive the individualized attention they need to learn. In Georgia's Richmond County, where 86 students attend GVA, traditional schools have also embraced technology. Many classrooms are equipped with electronic whiteboards, computers and other technology. A School Board advisory committee is considering whether building more 21st Century Classrooms—rooms that meet Georgia's specifications of what a high-tech classroom should be—is the best use of $6 million in county sales tax revenue earmarked for technology. Some educators argue that without radically changing the whole idea of school and schooling, technology is doomed to function as an add-on, something grafted onto an existing and possibly outdated program. Cyber schools, where students are geographically dispersed and receive instruction via internet connected computers—is one restructured model of schooling. Georgia Virtual Academy is a state charter school. Students attend for free, as they would their local school, and GVA supplies all the instructional materials and resources needed. Each students signs on to receive a daily lesson plan and completes assignments online or using a variety of offline resources. They can interact with teachers via e-mail and meet in groups where they are able to ask questions with a microphone, indicate they don't understand with the click of the mouse and receive live instruction through Web-based chats.
Source:The Augusta Chronicle
Irving To Investigate Smaller, Cheaper Laptops
The Irving Independent School District is thinking about switching to the use of smaller, PDA-like laptops for its high school one-to-one initiative. Irving has equipped all of its high school students with laptop computers since 2002, funded by a 2001 bond issue of roughly $50 million. With about $5 million of those funds left, voters approved another $50 million in technology bond funds in last fall's election. The funds are designated, in part, to pay for student laptops. But the new funding is not enough to replace all of the district's technology equipment, which includes printers, servers, desktops and projectors. If the district decides to replace aging laptops with smaller, less expensive units, the bond fund money can be made to stretch much farther. Rather than paying more than $1,000 for each traditional laptop, alternative devices would cost between #200 to $500 each. The district plans to test at least three laptop alternatives—the ASUS Eee PC, the Intel Classmate, and One Laptop Per Child's XO—in selected classrooms. The XO is being examined for use in elementary and middle schools. District research shows that currently many high schoolers do not bring their laptops to school every day—in part because they weigh so much, but also because teachers don't always encourage their use. Plans call for better training for teachers and setting goals and conducting informational meetings to improve student use of the laptops.
Source:The Dallas News
Career Tech Expands Student Options
Traditional vocational education courses like carpentry and auto mechanics have been replaced by computer and industrial design courses. At San Francisco's Thurgood Marshall High School a grant-funded course is sponsored by San Francisco State University and use college students as mentors. SFSU's Industrial Design Outreach Program offers free, hands-on instruction to local high schools. Since it 2003 launch, participating students have created CD packaging, designed musical instruments and produced innovative lighting. The goal is to expose students to experiences beyond the academic classroom, encouraging them to be creative thinkers while opening a window on possible career options. Each of the 24 students is building an intricately designed 9-inch square panel that symbolizes what community means. The pieces will eventually cover the back of a wooden bench. Students design the pieces on the computer, using design software. The class draws students from a wide range of backgrounds—the college bound as well as students experiencing academic difficulties and special-education students. Across the country schools are reworking vocational programs, adding a high tech twist and calling the new offerings career and technical education or career tech. One goal is to help motivate disengaged students. California spends more than $500 million on career technical programs/ The State Department of Education is about to launch a statewide marketing campaign called WhoDoUWant2B - encouraging students to start planning their future with the help of career technical programs.
Source:San Francisco Chronicle
Harvard Moves Toward Open Access Publishing
Harvard University's arts and sciences faculty recently adopted a policy that will see faculty publishing their scholarly research articles online for free, unless the faculty member specifically opts out of the open access program. The goal is to increase global access to research articles in an unrestricted environment, allowing scholars around the world to browse articles on literature, science or history written by Harvard professors. The open access policy supports the notion that the mission of academic publishing is not to make money but to create, preserve, and share knowledge. The idea is that once a Harvard faculty member publishes an article that has been peer-reviewed, revised, and edited, a copy will go in Harvard's repository. Faculty members can opt out, choosing to publish exclusively with professional journals. But the University hopes that most scholars will want their work to be read and cited as widely as possible. Such open access activities are increasingly popular in the academic world. The Harvard Medical School is currently working to help its faculty members comply with the recent Congressional legislation that requires all articles based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health be made openly accessible through PubMed Central, the database maintained by the National Library of Medicine. There are a number of free, open access, peer-reviewed journals such as PLoS Biology, there's the MIT OpenCourseWare website and digital repositories at a number of schools, including the University of Oregon. University of California faculty is considering a proposal similar to Harvard's.
Source:The Boston Globe