- Games Focus Students' Attention
It's not so much the games as it is the engagement that is transforming the learning experience at Chicago's North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School.
- EBase on Antarctica
Explorer and adventurer Robert Swan hopes to use an Internet-connected education center to hook students on the beauty of Antarctica and engender an active interest in global warming.
- NETS Refresh
The International Society for Technology in Education is in the final stages leading up to the June re-release of the National Educational Technology Standards for Students Project (NETS).
- NASA Deepens School Partnerships
NASA has developed a new framework designed to allow it to work more effectively with schools to attract more attract more students to careers in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering
- Toys Get More Interactive
The recent Toy Fair, where retailers get their first view of toys that manufacturers will make available for the Holidays, underlined the growing dominance of electronic and interactive toys.
Games Focus Students' Attention
It's not so much the games as it is the engagement that is transforming the learning experience at Chicago's North Kenwood/Oakland Charter School. Darrell Johnson, the school's social studies teacher and technology coordinator has developed a role-playing game that leverages the fact that all the school's students own laptops that they use throughout the school day. Students create their own digital characters for the game and then work together to recreate the Roman Empire. Students have found the game engaging and some prefer it to their recreational use of more mainstream videogames. Johnson's students also create podcasts and study poetry by creating and producing hip-hop music videos. The innovative approaches are supported by the charter school's partnership with neighboring University of Chicago. Nichole Pinkard, a University of Chicago computer scientist who is studying digital learning in Chicago schools, is using North Kenwood as a pilot for an after-school program called Digital Youth. The program brings in musicians, artists, engineers, programmers and other mentors to teach sixth- through eighth-grade students how to work with digital media. More than 60% of Kenwood's middle school students participate in at least one of the digital after-school clubs, which include robotics and programming, digital video production, digital music production, hip-hop poetry and graphic art design. With the support of a $1.6 million, three-year grant from the MacArthur Foundation, Pinkard plans to expand the pilot to 20 more Chicago schools. Parents, who at first were skeptical of some aspects of the program, report that their children are more self-confident and positive about school, more organized and more critical consumers of television and recreational videogames as a result of their exposure to technology at school.
EBase on Antarctica
Explorer and adventurer Robert Swan hopes to use an Internet-connected education center to hook students on the beauty of Antarctica and engender an active interest in global warming. Since 2003, Swan has been leading the Inspire Antarctica Expedition, escorting groups of teachers, students and representatives from corporate sponsors to the continent. During this year's trip, Swan will establish the "EBase" education station on the Russian base on King George Island. The EBase is made from recyclable materials and measures 40 feet by 10 feet. The unmanned base runs on wind and solar power. A camera on the roof will beam real-time images to an online site, which will also feature educational material for teachers. A group of teachers have been working together to prepare a relevant curriculum that will be showcased on this website as part of the EBase project. Swan hopes that real-time images of Antarctica's snow-capped terrain combined with lessons about the impact of global climate change on the continent will inspire children to become champions of saving the endangered wilderness. The effort coincides with International Polar Year, the first coordinated probe in half a century of the ice-bound ends of the earth. In order to provide full and equal coverage of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, IPY 2007-08 covers two full annual cycles from March 2007 to March 2009 and will involve over 200 projects, with thousands of scientists from over 60 nations examining a wide range of physical, biological and social research topics.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is in the final stages leading up to the June re-release of the National Educational Technology Standards for Students Project (NETS). The National Educational Technology Standards for Students were first released in June 1998, with accompanying Performance Profiles of technology literate students and Essential Conditions for implementation. Over time, the standards have received widespread acceptance, in use in at least 45 states and in many other countries. NETS describe what students should know about technology and be able to do with technology. As technology, resources, practices, and assessments change over time, it is necessary to review and refresh the standards. ISTE has published a draft of the revised NETS and is seeking public comment. The draft points to some of the ways the technology landscape ahs changed over the past ten years. In 1998 necessary student skills were expressed in terms of the technology itself. Students were expected to demonstrate proficiency in six broad categories: basic operations and concepts; social, ethical, and human issues of technology use; productivity tools; communication tools; research tools; and problem-solving and decision-making tools. The new draft also includes six categories: creativity and innovation; communication and collaboration; research and information retrieval; critical thinking, problem solving and decision making; digital citizenship; and technology operations and concepts. The shift emphasizes today's focus on developing the skills needed to live productively in the increasingly digital society of the 21st Century.
NASA Deepens School Partnerships
NASA has developed a new framework designed to allow it to work more effectively with schools in order to attract more attract more students to careers in science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM). The new Education Framework focuses on four partnership strategies: inspiring, engaging, educating, and employing. The design works from the bottom up, with NASA concentrating its efforts on engagement and formal education in elementary and secondary schools and eventually shifting the emphasis to the job market in college and university settings. At the K-12 level, NASA runs a distance learning program that lets students engage with scientists from any one of its 10 regional facilities. The agency also offers site visits, summer camps and a variety of project-based learning opportunities designed to give students a feel for what it's like to work in the profession. The Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, originally created to provide opportunities disadvantaged youth in the Houston Independent School district, will expand from two locations to as many as 20 campuses nationwide. The camp, designed for middle and high school students, operates on the campuses of major universities. The NASA Explorer Schools program targets grades 4-9, providing students with opportunities for active participation in research, problem solving and design challenges relating to NASA's missions and involving them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics explorations to encourage the use of scientific tools and methods.
Toys Get More Interactive
Toy Fair, where retailers get their first view of toys that manufacturers will make available for the Holidays, underlined the growing dominance of electronic and interactive toys, even for the youngest set. Aware that younger and younger children are using the Internet and videogame consoles, toy manufacturers showed off stuffed animals that feature registration codes that children input at the associated Web site to access games and activities and keypads that plug into computers and take kids directly to the games section of a selected character's Web site. The keypads address one of parents' real fears—turning young children free on the Internet — by incorporating security features that do not allow a child to leave the selected web site. The online connection also makes it possible for manufactures to update and enhance games to keep the child engaged. According to Nielsen/Net Ratings Inc., an Internet research company, the number of online users in the 2-to-11 age group rose 19% to 15.1 million in December 2006, from 12.6 million in December 2002. Nevertheless, many parents still seek out toys familiar to them from their youth and many toddlers can still be found playing with the box their fancy new electronic toy came in.