- TN Schools To Benefit from Microsoft Settlement
The Tennessee Department of Education will receive $30.6 million that can be spent for technology upgrades as part of the state's lawsuit settlement with Microsoft Corp.
- Introducing Nanotechnology to American Students
Several expert groups are working on developing supplemental materials to help teachers introduce nanotechnology into the curriculum, with an eye to America's future competitiveness.
- Making Waves
The new Science Education Center at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana, uses dozens Exploratorium hands-on exhibits demonstrating the physics concepts underlying the observatory's work of detecting gravity waves.
- Learning To Teach with Virtual Students
The STAR Classroom Simulator mixes computer technology and a human role-player to provide realistic simulations that allow teachers to practice interacting with challenging student behaviors.
- IT Opportunity Expanding
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2014, the IT industry will create close to 1 million jobs. But the industry will be looking for IT professionals that understand how to align technology with the needs of business.
TN Schools To Benefit from Microsoft Settlement
The Tennessee Department of Education has announced that it will receive $30.6 million as part of a lawsuit settlement with Microsoft Corp. The money will be spent for technology purchases, with half used to pay part of the state's bill for the ConnectTN program, which provides Internet access for every school. The other $15.3 million will be distributed to the districts to be used for software upgrades, with each district receiving $16.40 per student. Davidson County, one of the state's largest systems, will receive almost $1.2 million, Williamson County will get more than $400,000, Rutherford County schools will get 536,000 and Wilson County will receive about $222,000. The state will establish guidelines for the types of software that the districts will be able to purchase. Some districts would like to be able to use the money to cover the ongoing costs of software licenses. Others will make purchases that are in line with existing technology plans. Schools must make their purchases by April; they can then submit receipts for reimbursement.
Introducing Nanotechnology to American Students
Introducing new areas of study to American schools is not easy. That's especially true for an area like nanotechnology, which combines elements from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering and technology. While K-12 students may only learn the basics of such exotic areas, experts say it is important to expose them to the study. To be competitive in the 21st Century economy, American will need to have at least a basic understanding of today's scientific advancements in order to make intelligent decisions about where to invest future research dollars as well as to be prepared for jobs that don't yet exist but that will develop as fields like nanotechnology mature. That's why groups like the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network is developing and distributing programs aimed at engaging schools in nanoscale science and engineering education. Universities and museums are also part of the effort. A consortium of 14 museums, university research centers and educational outreach institutions are also part of the effort to educate the public — inside and outside of schools — about nanotechnology. These groups are helping to develop a wide range of supplemental materials, including learning modules with ready-made experiments, fact sheets and teaching tips, that educators can integrate into their existing curricula.
The Exploratorium, San Francisco's renowned hands-on science museum, offers hundreds of interactive science, art, and human perception exhibits. The new Science Education Center at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana, embodies the Exploratorium's decades of experience in developing techniques for the informal learning of science. An outgrowth of the first collaboration between the Exploratorium and a science research laboratory, the LIGO Science Education Center includes over three dozen exhibits originally developed at the Exploratorium, offers educational outreach programs for students and teachers and features the Wave Wall, a kinetic wind sculpture involving 120 27-foot-long pendulums installed across the entire 85-foot length of the center's façade. LIGO's work is related to detecting ripples in the space-time fabric predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. The hands-on exhibits demonstrate the physics concepts underlying this work, covering topics of waves, oscillations, gravity, resonance, lasers, interferometers, and even waves in music. The Wave Wall functions as a wind detector, mirroring the observatory's mission as a gravity wave detector. Exploratorium educators traveled to Louisiana to hold workshops for local teachers on how to conduct hands-on inquiry sessions using the new exhibits and also demonstrated activities that could be done back in the classroom to reinforce the lessons from a LIGO visit. The LIGO Science Education Center is a project of the Exploratorium's Center for Museum Partnerships, which reaches out to the world with exhibits and teaching programs in the interest of fulfilling its mission of "going beyond the walls" of the Exploratorium to foster a culture of learning.
Learning To Teach with Virtual Students
Computer simulations are beginning to find their way into the classroom. As simulation technology has matured, more can be done with simulations that focus on people skills, not just the pure technical competency that a flight simulator helps to develop. Students at the Institute for Simulation & Training at the University of Central Florida can practice their teaching skills in a simulated classroom filled with virtual students. The STAR Classroom Simulator, a partnership between Simiosys LLC, the Haberman Educational Foundation and the University of Central Florida, mixes computer technology and a human role-player. The virtual students, who are projected on a screen, are animated by an out-of-sight actress who provides their gestures, with the help of a technology that senses her motions. As the teacher interacts with each individual student, the actress assumes the student's identity and provides the dialogue. The virtual classroom provides a safe environment in which teachers can develop skills in dealing with disruptive or apathetic students, facing gradually more difficult situations. Using a somewhat different approach, SIMmersion LLC, a company partially owned by Johns Hopkins University, has developed interrogation simulations for the FBI by filming actors giving different responses, including gestures, to a range of potential questions that an agent might ask. In this instance the computer controls the responses the trainee faces. This type of simulation is still in its early states – no program can provide simulations of all the potential reactions a teacher would face in dealing with students in an actual classroom. But the system can enhance classroom management skills and help teachers be more aware of their own reactions in difficult situations. The University of Central Florida's STAR Classroom Simulator is currently in trial and is expected to be commercially available within a year.
Source:The Washington Post
IT Opportunities Expanding
There has been a significant drop in the number of students majoring in computer science, with a 70% fall of in enrollments in the years 2000 to 2005. While students may be concerned about persistent stories about unemployment in Silicon Valley and the effects of offshoring and outsourcing, the outlook for the IT industry is robust. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2014, the IT industry will create close to 1 million jobs. But the industry will be looking beyond just programming skills as it seeks professionals who understand how to align technology with the needs of various business enterprises. Today's IT professional is already deeply involved with every aspect of his company's business and that trend will accelerate over the next 10 years. Classroom instruction will need to change if educational institutions are to graduate students who will be capable of functioning in the new IT environment created by today's economic globalization. In additional to mastering the technical elements – like programming – students will need to know how to apply technology to business problems. At the same time, university computer-science departments will have to stay in touch with the real-world demands of the workplace and rapidly changing industry trends, such as open-standards and service-oriented architecture.