- Educational Technology Trend Report
The State Educational Technology Directors Association has released the â€œ2006 National Trends Report,â€ the third of a series of national surveys designed to answer questions about the implementation of NCLB II D â€“ the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program.
- Can You Hear Me Now?
The Baltimore County School Board is considering the purchase of "sound enhancement" systems - wireless microphones and speakers designed to distribute a teacher's voice evenly around the classroom.
- Distance Learning Growth Is Both Good and Bad News
The good news is that distance learning in Colorado is really beginning to catch on, offering more options to the stateâ€™s students, especially in sparsely populated areas. The bad news is that the growth has caught policy makers by surprise and is putting pressure on the state budget.
- New Technologies Support Classroom Instruction
Some Minnesota teachers are singing the praises of interactive whiteboards and student response systems, noting that they improve teaching and appear to result in greater student achievement. But finding the dollars to purchase these new technologies can be a real problem.
- Low Income Residents To Benefit from the DCâ€™s Wireless Plans
The District of Columbia plans to give the contract for the cityâ€™s wireless municipal network to the company that does the most for its 100,000 low-income residents, including services beyond free network access.
Educational Technology Trend Report
The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released the â€œ2006 National Trends Report,â€ the third of a series of national surveys designed to answer questions about the implementation of NCLB II D â€“ the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. SETDA reports that the states are making steady progress on the Title II D goals of increasing student achievement, closing the digital divide, and integrating research-based technology practices into learning. Most states are encouraging school districts and schools to integrate technology systematically and 23.5% actually require that technology planning and school improvement be conducted within the same process. Over 40% of states require LEAs that received NCLB II D competitive grant funds to focus on reading or mathematics. States are not only building the conditions essential to effective technology use, but they are also seeing results as measured in increased student learning. Nearly 25% of states are funding or commissioning research studies on the impact of educational technology on learning in schools. Over 88% of states are collecting data annually from either districts, schools, or both. Further, 43% of the states went beyond the Title II Dâ€™s 25% minimum funding requirement to focus additional resources toward professional development. Ongoing progress is threatened however, by eroding federal support for EETT. Seventy percent of states report that NCLB II D funds are either the only source or the primary source of funds an LEA awards to schools for technology. In 14 states (27% of respondents), their school districts have no other funding earmarked specifically for technology in schools. Those states include Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Can You Hear Me Now?
The Baltimore County School Board is exploring a new solution to the problem of being sure that every child in a classroom can easily hear what the teacher is saying. The County school system is considering the purchase of "sound enhancement" systems - wireless microphones and speakers designed to distribute a teacher's voice evenly around the room. The systems were first developed to aid children with hearing difficulties, but proponents say they benefit all students. The microphones also help to ease the strain on a teacher's voice. Classrooms can be noisy places — with background noise from ventilation systems or projectors, the noise associated with the movement of restless children, outside sounds â€“ all bouncing off the hard surfaces of floors, walls and desks. Adults are more adept at sorting out conversation from background noise, but voices must be at least 15 decibels higher than the ambient noise for children to understand speech properly. Teachers wearing the wireless microphones are free to move around the classroom and can use the system to amplify student voices if they wish. The state department of education suggests that before turning to sound amplification systems, schools do things like lay carpet, install sound-absorbing ceiling tiles and pad chair feet to muffle noise. It can cost as much as $1,700 dollars per classroom to install sound systems and they require ongoing maintenance and support.
Distance Learning Growth Is Both Good and Bad News
The good news is that distance learning in Colorado is really beginning to catch on, offering more options to the stateâ€™s students, especially in sparsely populated areas. The bad news is that the growth has caught policy makers by surprise and is putting pressure on the state budget. School districts across the state worry that payments to online schools are draining resources from traditional schools. There are now 5,730 students enrolled in online courses in Colorado, up from 3,483 last school year. The state is providing $32.6 million in state aid to support those students, a 66% increase from last yearâ€™s bill of $19.6 million. Much of the growth in online enrollments has come in a few districts, like tiny Vilas School District in Baca County. The district serves only 100 traditional students, but nearly 2,000 students from across the state take courses via the districtâ€™s online programs. State aid payments to Vilas jumped from under $2.5 million last school year to $10.9 million this year and there doesnâ€™t seem to be an end in sight. Vilas gets this windfall because of state law. In Colorado, schools are funded by a combination of state aid and property taxes. Districts with low property tax receipts receive a greater share of state aid. Property values in Vilas are so low that the state picks up 98% of the district's budget, compared with 62% in Jefferson County and 47% in Denver. So enrollment growth in the stateâ€™s property-poor districts costs more in state aid. The state legislature is awaiting the results of an audit of online programs before deciding if additional legislation is required to better regulate online courses.
Source:Rocky Mountain News
New Technologies Support Classroom Instruction
Parents and students just expect that schools will provide technology to support student learning. But finding the dollars to purchase new technology can be a real problem. In Minnesota, for example, teachers are singing the praises of interactive whiteboards, noting that they improve teaching and appear to result in greater student achievement. Whiteboards, which allow students to write directly on the screen or to manipulate object using their hands, are particularly useful in primary classrooms, providing another learning modality for children who use their whole body to learn. But they are just as useful in middle and high school classrooms, where teachers can organize their presentations more effectively, knowing all the things they need are on the computer and readily available. Teachers can easily incorporate their own outlines, slides, computer animation or streaming video, making it easier to illustrate concepts and keep the students more engaged. Displaying slides and other organizers can also help keep a class on track and on task. For example, teachers can display the various stages of a typical dissection to help guide students through their own individual dissections. But at nearly $5,000 per classroom, districts have had to turn to parents and the community to help pay the bill and it hasnâ€™t been easy. District leaders hope that as people grasp the potential of such technologies to transform the classroom, support will be easier to find.
Source:St Paul Pioneer Press
Low Income Residents To Benefit from the DCâ€™s Wireless Plans
The District of Columbia has jumped on the wireless municipal network bandwagon, but with its own twist. District officials plan to give the contract for the cityâ€™s wireless Internet access to the company that does the most for the Districtâ€™s 100,000 low-income residents, including services beyond just free access to the network. If this means that the wireless network will not cover some more affluent areas of the city, so be it. Officials believe there is enough economic incentive to guarantee service for more up-scale neighborhoods, an incentive missing when considering service for the cityâ€™s poorer sections. Companies will be free to propose using whatever technology they wish for the network, as long as they guarantee a minimum speed of 500 kilobits per second downstream and 150 kilobits per second upstream. This standard is roughly 10 times faster than dial-up, but much slower than standard DSL or cable modem service. The winning company will receive an exclusive eight-year franchise, allowing it to attach wireless access points to the cityâ€™s lampposts and buildings. The District would like construction to begin before the end of the year, and given the fact that wireless networks can be built more quickly than traditional wired networks, work could be completed within nine months.
Source:The Washington Post