- Promoting Technology through Teacher Training
Responding to a province-wide survey that reported that 80% of teachers don't use the technology they have, one Montreal school board has decided to switch its money to teacher training.
- South Dakota Launches Virtual High School
South Dakota has launched a Virtual High School with the goal of providing greater choice, flexibility and quality for students statewide.
- National Technology Trends
The State Educational Technology Directors Association's fourth annual National Trends Report on the use of federal funds to support educational technology concludes that Title II D programs are meeting their mandated NCLB goals.
- Grand Prize Winner
Larry Ferlazzo, an ELL teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA and a TechLEARNING Educators' eZine writer, is the grand prize winner of the 2007 International Reading Association Presidential Award for Reading and Technology.
- Meet Mr. Einstein
Someday you may find yourself interacting with a life-sized, realistic avatar of one of your favorite historical personages.
Promoting Technology through Teacher Training
Responding to a province-wide survey that reported that 80% of teachers don't use the technology they have, one Montreal school board has decided to switch its money to teacher training. The Lester B. Pearson School Board is launching a four-year, $1.2 million project to deliver technology training to its 1,500 teachers. The board will implement a train-the trainer model. Tech leaders have been identified at each of the Board's schools, two or three at each elementary and four or five at each high school. Each of the 180 tech leaders has received a laptop computer and a projector and schools have received interactive whiteboards – one per elementary and two per high school. The tech leaders will work with the school's other teachers to help them become more comfortable with the technology and to find ways to integrate its use into their classrooms. The goal is to eventually have every classroom teacher equipped with a computer and comfortable enough to use it regularly. Tech leaders who are using their new equipment in the classroom already report positive results. Students get really excited about what they can do with the interactive whiteboards and other teachers are beginning to get interested in the technology. The school board expects to fund the project at the same level next year.
South Dakota Launches Virtual High School
South Dakota has launched a Virtual High School with the goal of providing greater choice, flexibility and quality for students statewide. The South Dakota Virtual High School (SDVHS) currently offers about 60 courses, all from approved providers. The South Dakota Department of Education also approves all individual course offerings based on a number of criteria including alignment with state content standards, the use of qualified instructional staff and provision of an evaluation component to demonstrate course completion. Once a student selects a course from the available options, they then work with their school's Virtual High School coordinator to make sure virtual classes are the best option available. Home school students can take advantage of the curriculum offerings, as long as they enroll and register through their resident public school district. Participating schools must agree they will monitor student progress in the course and proctor any related assessments. In general, the resident school district covers the cost of students taking courses via SDVHS, though in some cases the school may ask the student to pick up part or all of the cost, before approving a request. The cost of courses depends on the provider, the length of the course, and sometimes by the number of students enrolled. Most of the current course offerings fall into a range between $200 and $350 per ½-credit course.
National Technology Trends
The State Educational Technology Directors Association released its fourth annual National Trends Report on the use of federal funds to support educational technology. The report is based on surveys from 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing 16,073 LEAs and the $462 million in federal NCLB II D grants allocated across the United States in FY05. The report indicates that NCLB funds in Round 4 were more focused on evidence-based practices by means of RFP priorities set by the states and more carefully evaluated or researched programs. NCLB While Title II D competitive and formula grant programs have similar emphases, the formula grants, in part, due to the large number of small grant awards, are more often used to update infrastructure and technology inventories. Formula grants are used significantly more for the purpose of increasing the frequency and quality of K-12 access to technology. While nationally the NCLB II D program continues to be a primary source of dedicated funding for educational technology, states share that responsibility through both dedicated and optional state funding sources for LEA educational technology. In Round 4, the percentage of states reporting that NCLB II D funding was “the only source of funds” or “the primary source of funds” the state education agency awarded to school districts for technology was 76% (39 states), up slightly from 70% in Round 3. States are increasingly sophisticated in their use of a range of effective professional development models designed to advance the NCLB II D program goals. One of the professional development approaches reported with increased frequency in Round 4 is the use of coaches, mentors, and the development of local experts to provide in-depth, continuous professional development in educational technology for teachers.
Grand Prize Winner
Larry Ferlazzo, an ELL teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA and a TechLEARNING Educators' eZine writer, is the grand prize winner of the 2007 International Reading Association Presidential Award for Reading and Technology. Ferlazzo's winning project, “ESL Computer Lab and Home Computer Project,” is helping English language learners improve their reading skills through an after-school program. ESL Computer Lab connects students to thousands of high-interest audio/text stories and language learning games linked through Ferlazzo's website, www.bayworld.net/ferlazzo/english.html. To help newcomers navigate, Ferlazzo recruited peer tutors from among advanced English language learners and fluent bilingual students and provided them training in how to teach literacy skills. Over 100 students enroll in either the before or after school ESL Computer Lab each year. Ferlazzo has extended his work to help meet parents' needs for language learning and communication practice, using a small grant to finance home DSL service and donating replaced computers from the Burbank High School computer lab to support this family literacy approach. Now students and parents can enjoy the same digital experiences and talk about them together. The project continues to expand as the ESL Computer Lab partners with the Sacramento Mutual Housing Association, which will use the Burbank High School model in the computer labs located in affordable housing developments.
Meet Mr. Einstein
Someday you may find yourself interacting with a life-sized, realistic avatar of one of your favorite historical personages. The National Science Foundation has awarded a half-million dollar, three-year grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Central Florida in Orlando to create 3-D, life-sized representation that can look you in the eye, consider your question and then answer you. The two institutions will draw on existing technology from computer games, animation and artificial intelligence to create a new methodology for creating life-like avatars. UIC will focus on the computer graphics and interaction while UCF will concentrate on artificial intelligence and natural language processing software. The ultimate goal is to create historical archives of people. UIC will use its state of the art motion-capture studio to digitalize the image and movement of real people, which will serve as the base for its historical recreations. The real trick, however, will be creating software that will allow the avatars to respond in a life-like way with the various people with whom they interact.