- U.K. Teachers Positive about Technology Use
A recent survey on information and communications technology (ICT) in education in the United Kingdom found that 72% of teachers say that ICT helps them teach more effectively.
- PDAs Help Class Come to Life
Students in the West Orange (NJ) school district are finding that their new PDAs make chemistry class come to life, thanks, in part, to an application that allows students to build molecules in 3-D.
- Building a Solid Technology Foundation
Technology use starts early at Roberts Elementary School in Tallahassee, FL, with kindergarteners learning the basics of the computer and first and second graders learning proper hand placement and keyboarding skills.
- Ohio Settles Its Account with ECOT
The Ohio Department of Education has now completed a series of audits and an enrollment review and agreed to reimburse the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow some $263,000 for students that attended the virtual school over the past several years.
- Brain Waves Hold Promise of Computer Control
Researchers at the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Group at the New York State Public Health Department are currently enrolling patients in trials of a system that could enable them to send e-mail and communicate using their brain waves.
U.K. Teachers Positive about Technology Use
Seventh graders in the West Orange (NJ) school district are finding that their new PDAs make chemistry class come to life. That's thanks, in part, to an application called e-chem that allows students to build molecules in 3-D. Unlike paper drawings, students can rotate their molecules, see the back of their creations and develop a more accurate sense of space in molecules. Students can also attach probes to the PDAs and use them to analyze chemical solutions. Data from the probes is recorded automatically to the PDA, allowing students to manipulate the data in a spreadsheet and create graphs and charts. The district's educational technology trainer says the real value of the PDAs is in the collaboration they enable as students gather, manipulate and share information. Teachers also can use the PDAs for classroom management, taking attendance, organizing data, and calculating and recording grades.
PDAs Help Chem Class Come to Life
A new law, scheduled to go into effect July 1, requires Virginia public schools to instruct students in online safety. The lawSMQ-8217-SMQs intent is to ensure that students are fully aware of the potential dangers they may encounter online and prepared to protect themselves. The lawSMQ-8217-SMQs sponsor acknowledges that many children actually encounter these dangers while using computers at home, but believes that schools must take on the responsibility of teaching students about online safety, since parents may not be technologically up to the task. The new law requires the Virginia Department of Education to develop guidelines for schools to use in integrating Internet safety into regular instruction. For a number of schools, this will mean business as usual. All seventh graders in Fairfax County take a course on Internet dangers as part of their Family Life Education classes. In addition to direct instruction, students also get a video and fact sheet designed to be taken home and shared with parents. Students at AlexandriaSMQ-8217-SMQs T.C. Williams High School each receive a school-owned laptop. Instruction on the appropriate use of those laptops includes Internet safety and warnings about off-limits Web sites. Teachers spot-check where students have been surfing and it only takes a few such checks for students to get the idea that they are expected to conform to the warnings. Schools also work with parents to make them aware of online dangers and potential problems and help them learn how to watch for signs of trouble. Prince William CountySMQ-8217-SMQs Bull Run Middle School hosts daytime coffees and evening seminars on cyber bullying. These and other schools that are already talking with students about online safety and privacy issues will move to a more formal approach under the new law and other schools will have to add online safety to their curriculum.
Building a Solid Technology Foundation
Technology use starts early at Roberts Elementary School in Tallahassee, FL. Kindergarteners learn about the basics of the computer, use computer programs to practice math and reading and learn how to control the mouse. In first and second grades, students learn proper hand placement and keyboarding skills. By third grade, with this solid underpinning, students are ready to soar, producing PowerPoint presentations and using computers to complete class assignments. Roberts has a wireless network that provides instant Internet access for all users. Every teacher has a laptop and attendance, grading and lesson planning is all done electronically. Roberts is part of Leon County's Laptop Initiative For Education (LIFE) program. The program is being used in three elementary schools and three middle schools, and next year the goal is to expand to 10 schools. The district launched LIFE in 2003-04 with funding from the Enhancing Education through Technology Grant. It's expensive to equip a class with laptops and that's only part of the cost. Teachers have to be trained to use the computers and software and helped to integrate the technology effectively into the classroom. But watching students take charge of their learning makes it well worth the effort.
Ohio Settles Its Account with ECOT
States and districts continue to grapple with issues related to managing and regulating virtual schools. In Ohio, for example, the state's largest virtual school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), has created a number of tracking challenges. ECOT was also the state's first virtual school and it and the Ohio Department of Education had to create an enrollment tracking system. That system has evolved and improved since the school's launch in the 2001-02 school year. This year ECOT enrolls about 6.500 students and will receive some $39 million in state payments. That money is deducted from the state aid owed the districts from which ECOT's students are drawn. The state now tracks students moving from one school to another using a student identification number, but that system was just being launched in 2002-03. As a result, ECOT was overpaid in some years and underpaid in others. The state has now completed a series of audits and an enrollment review and agreed to reimburse ECOT some $263,000. ECOT also terminated its contracts with three alternative learning centers that served students who did not have computers at home by bringing them to central locations. There continues to be some dispute about the legality of such centers, with the Ohio Department of Education saying that the law creating Ohio's virtual schools does not allow them to establish physical locations.
Source:Akron Beacon Journal
Brain Waves Hold Promise of Remote Computer Control
Once the stuff of science fiction, the hope of using brain waves to control a computer is rapidly becoming reality, opening a new world of possibilities to disabled people. Researchers in the Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Group at the New York State Public Health Department's Wadsworth Center are currently enrolling patients in trials of a system that could enable them to send e-mail and communicate using their brain waves. Patients will be fitted with a skull cap with embedded electrodes that will track brain activity with an EEG and relays it to an amplifier. Brain waves are then translated into computer activity. The system displays a matrix of images or letters that flash rapidly in a random sequence. Users focus on the letters or pictures they want to select, causing a spike in the brain's electrical activity. After several cycles with the same result, the system selects that letter or image. While the method is slow -- users create two to four words per minute â€“ it is a breakthrough for people who are unable to communicate in any other way.