T&L News(124)

Week of: April 7, 2008 Hernando Schools To Get Computer Overhaul The Hernando County (FL) School Board approved a four-year, $8.4 million program that will see all the districts computers replaced or upgraded. A First Look at HP's New Mini Hewlett-Packard enters the
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

Week of: April 7, 2008

  • Hernando Schools To Get Computer Overhaul
    The Hernando County (FL) School Board approved a four-year, $8.4 million program that will see all the districts computers replaced or upgraded.
  • A First Look at HP's New Mini
    Hewlett-Packard enters the ultra-portable student computer market with its new HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. Technology & Learning reviewers had a chance to give it a pre-announcement test drive.
  • A First Look at HP's New Mini
    Hewlett-Packard enters the ultra-portable student computer market with its new HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. Technology & Learning reviewers had a chance to give it a pre-announcement test drive.
  • Baltimore County Plans To Expand Virtual School Pilot
    Baltimore County school officials are asking for $2 million to expand the Baltimore County Virtual Instruction Program, planning to nearly double enrollment.
  • MacArthur Funds Expansion of Quest Atlantis
    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded more than $1.8 million to the Indiana University School of Education to expand the immersive learning environment Quest Atlantis.

Hernando Schools To Get Computer Overhaul

The Hernando County (FL) School Board approved a four-year, $8.4 million program that will see all the districts computers replaced or upgraded. The district currently has 10,474 computers, many of which are three years old or older. A number are eight to ten years old. Beginning this spring, the district will tap into the funding to begin the process of replacing any computer that is more than two years old. Machines less than two years old will be refurbished and redistributed, bringing the district's total computer inventory to 14,000 units. The process will also even out any inequities that currently exist in terms of numbers or newness of computers at individual schools. Every teacher will receive a laptop computer and there will be computers in every classroom. Under the new plan, each elementary school classroom in the district will house four new computers. At the middle school level, students will use mobile laptop carts to be rotated between classrooms as needed, with 25 laptops for every 175 students. Instead of purchasing the 11,000 new computers outright, the district will lease the machines, allowing them to be replaced every four years. The lease also includes a maintenance agreement that will cover the installation of the new equipment over the summer and any subsequent repairs. The new computers will also save the district an estimated $75 per machine, per year, in energy costs.

Source:Hernando Today

HP Introduces the New Mini-Note, the Latest in Ultra-Mobile Computing

Priced at just under $500, Hewlett-Packard's new 2.5-pound 2133 Mini-Note PC is certainly lightweight and compact—adults can hold it in one hand much like they would a book or small purse. But our 1st-grade student reviewer still gave it the two-hand clutch. The QWERTY-style keys, at first glance, look oversized, as the keyboard itself is slightly smaller than standard. The touchpad is also smaller, which meant some readjustment for adult finger movement but that wasn't a problem for the student reviewer. The 8.9-inch display is obviously small but bright.

Unlike many of the other education ultra-mobile devices, the Mini-Note comes equipped with features you would expect from a full-fledged notebook: built-in Wi-Fi (Bluetooth optional), a range of internal storage options, and Windows Vista preinstalled. Our student reviewer liked how quickly Flash-laden sites like Noggin.com loaded, something that wouldn't happen if the Mini-Note didn't pack computing punch. Of course, many of the features in the Mini-Note are more appropriate for the higher end of the K–12 market, which is why its clamshell is brushed aluminum and not Day-Glo green or purple. HP also intends to market the Mini-Note to business and mobile professionals.

But the device certainly looks ready for the rough-and-tumble handling it will get once in the hands of students. The keyboard sports a clear coating that protects the finish and the printed characters. The display is scratch resistant. Magnesium hinge brackets secure the clamshell design. HP's 3-D DriveGuard protects the inside—it sends a signal to shut down the hard drive upon sudden shock or movement.

One major element of the HP Mini-Note offering to consider is the new Teacher Experience Exchange, professional development site, co-sponsored by Microsoft, that serves as a one-stop resource and teacher community. HP also expects to provide free online training courses.

www.hp.com/go/teacherexperience

PROS: Powerful computing punch in a small package.

CONS: Cramped touchpad.

VERDICT: For users who need full computing power with a very lightweight and flexible format, the Mini-Note will do the job.

Making a Little Sound Go a Long Way

Not exactly high tech, but certainly high impact, classroom sound systems are making life easier for both teachers and students in classrooms across the Washington area. Even when students are quietly engaged in their work, classrooms are noisy places. There's the buzz of fluorescent lights, the scrapping of desks and restless feet, playground noises drifting inside and more. The addition of infrared microphones effortlessly raises the volume of teachers' voices and helps children hear more clearly. The devices, about the size of a cellphone, hang from a cord around the teacher's neck. The system consists of four ceiling-mounted speakers, teacher and student microphones and supporting equipment and costs about $1,800 per classroom. While microphones have been used in college lecture halls and in classes for hearing-impaired students for years, they are relatively new in K-12 schools. Research shows that microphone and speaker systems aid the learning of most students, not just those with hearing impairments. Teachers note that they also seem to help overcome the shyness that sometimes keeps young students' voices low and inaudible. Students get to use the roving microphones included with the system to make presentations and answer questions and it brings out the best in them. All elementary classrooms in the Alexandria (VA) school system use the sound enhancement devices. In Maryland's Prince George's County, their use is being championed by the area's longest-serving school audiologist. They are currently installed in all kindergarten classrooms and are being installed this year in all first-grade rooms. The district plans to spend up to $1 million a year to install the systems in every classroom, a grade level at a time.

Source:The Washington Post

Bandwidth Bottleneck

Teachers and students at Indiana's Eastern Hancock Schools know only too well that the infrastructure that supports a school's technology program is as important as the computers themselves. Eastern Hancock (EH), with 505 PCs and laptops and 1,106 students, has great computer access, but has not built out enough connectivity to support efficient Internet usage. The EH school board is discussing ways to address the district's technology gap. It's easy to forget about the infrastructure that supports a building's technology program—the thousands of feet of cable that snake through walls and ceilings and the network cable drops, switches and servers, until they begin to cause problems. The EH buildings were wired in 1996 and since then the schools have acquired many more computers. In some EH classrooms, like the computer lab at the middle school, as many as 15 computers share the same 100-megabyte port. That means that individual students wait a long time for internet pages to load and refresh. Ideally, each computer would be wired individually. But more than five computers per access port is unacceptable. In the neighboring Greenfield-Central district, classroom ports are typically shared by just two computers. In Eastern Hancock, some classrooms are not wired for Internet access at all.

Source:Greenfield Daily Reporter

Baltimore County Plans To Expand Virtual School Pilot

Baltimore County school officials are asking for $2 million to expand the Baltimore County Virtual Instruction Program, planning to nearly double enrollment. Baltimore County Virtual Instruction Program is operating as a pilot this school year, serving 106 students, most of whom are home schoolers. If the Board of Education appropriates the $2 million, the county would hire its own teachers and staff to operate the program, using course materials purchased from an online school provider. Baltimore County is somewhat unusual in focusing its pilot on students who had previously been home schooled. They did this so as not to pull students from the existing school system. They see the Virtual Instruction Program as complementary to the Home and Hospital program. The system hopes to include more students who are home because of medical issues or otherwise need an alternative to a traditional school setting. Any home schooled children who enroll become public school students and count toward the enrollment figures the schools use to determine federal, state and local aid. Students are also required to participate in the Maryland State Assessments for their grade level.

Source:The Baltimore Sun

MacArthur Funds Expansion of Quest Atlantis

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded more than $1.8 million to the Indiana University School of Education to expand the immersive learning environment Quest Atlantis. Quest Atlantis was created by a group of educational scientists and in conjunction with the Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT) at the School of Education, Indiana University, Bloomington. Quest Atlantis (QA) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. The program supports students in learning academic concepts in a variety of disciplines, including science, art, math, and writing, while at the same time providing children with an engaging way to appreciate the value of these concepts. The activities of Quest Atlantis take place in registered Centers, typically schools, under the direction of teachers who have undergone professional development and training. QA includes both curricular and optional projects that unfold both online and away from the computer, as children work alone or together to accomplish tasks within the international QA community. QA is an immersive context with over 20,000 registered members worldwide.

Source:Indiana University

Featured

Related

T&L News(125)

Week of: April 14, 2008 Digital Disconnect What we have here is a failure to communicate. Made in Japan It's no puzzle that games improve students' mental abilities. A First Look at HP's New Mini Hewlett-Packard enters the ultra-portable student computer market with its new HP

T&L News(121)

Week of: March 17, 2008 Birmingham's Laptop Program Moves Forward The Birmingham City Council has approved $3.5 million in funding for the purchase of laptop computers from the One Child Per Laptop Foundation for use in the city's schools. School Creates Its Own Televised Test

T&L News(66)

Waco Launches New Technology Plan The Waco Independent School District plans to spend $3.7 million over the next three years to upgrade computers and bring all types of electronic devices into the classroom. Schools Struggle with Cyberbullying Many states have laws that require school districts to have policies

T&L News(29)

FL Considers Discounted PCs for Students Both houses of the Florida legislature are considering bills that would make it possible for students to purchase computers and Internet access at discounted prices. Stanford University To Open Virtual School for the Gifted Stanford University is expanding its existing

T&L News(127)

Week of: April 28, 2008 What's New The SPARK Science Learning System PASCO Scientific ($299, available fall 2008) wants to put the whole lab in students' hands—from data collection to teacher assessment. The device combines PASCO probeware with a Linux mobile

T&L News(7)

While Kentucky is in the top tier of states using computers in schools, home access lags the rest of the nation. During the pilot phase of "No Child Left Offline," 500 low-income 8th graders will receive refurbished computers to take home to their families. Come the new year, schools across Minnesota will benefit

T&L News(81)

Week of: June 11, 2007 Marin County Educators Embrace Technology Schools across California's Marin County are using technology — computer graphics, videoconferencing, laptop computers — to enrich their students' everyday classroom experience. Students Attend Technology

T&L News(126)

Week of: April 21, 2008 Cell Division—To ban or not to ban? Some districts keep mobile phones from school grounds. Others write curricula for them. Since January, a high school in Craik, Saskatchewan, has instituted a pilot project to make phones a part of the curriculum.

T&L News(77)

Computer Mania Day's Digital Guest Speaker Attendees at Computer Mania Day, an event designed to get girls interested in technology and computing careers, will be greeted by Jennifer Webb, a 3-D, digitally animated 8th grader. America's Digital Schools 2007 America's Digital Schools 2007, designed to gather