- When Angus King was Governor of Maine he launched the nationâ€™s first statewide laptop program for the stateâ€™s 7th and 8th graders. Now heâ€™s raising money to pay for Internet access for participating families canâ€™t afford it on their own, helping to narrow the stateâ€™s digital divide.
- The student-operated help desk at Kentuckyâ€™s Pike County Central High School has responded to more than 50,000 calls since its launch in 1998. Students resolve simple problems over the phone or by e-mail and refer more complicated issues to the districtâ€™s staff of technicians.
- Teachers at Delawareâ€™s East Millsboro Elementary School are finding that using interactive whiteboards in their classrooms help students pay attention and focus on the lesson at hand. Read more about how the whiteboards are used.
- Venice High School in Floridaâ€™s Sarasota County School District is using a new, Web-based software program that gives parents real-time access to their child's grades and attendance records. By next semester, all district high schools will be using the program.
- Scientists are turning to cell phone technology to get a better understanding of migratory patterns. Ornithologists at Oregon State University plan to attach tiny mobile phones to songbirds, allowing them to monitor the birds' migration with unprecedented accuracy.
King Continues To Champion Technology in Maine
Though no longer Governor, Angus King continues to work at closing the digital divide and championing technology use in his home state of Maine. Over the summer, King raise $850,000, including his own contribution of $100,000, to create the nonprofit Maine Learning Technology Foundation. The foundation will offer Internet access to families of students participating in Maineâ€™s laptop program who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. All other students in the laptop program can purchase dial-up service at the discounted rate of $8.33 a month. Seventh and eighth graders who receive laptops under the stateâ€™s Learning Technology Initiative are allowed to take their computers home. Paying for Internet access for those families that cannot afford it on their own further levels the playing field. Since the program launched in 2002, the state has spent $37-million to provide laptop computers to all seventh- and eighth-graders. While King was greeted with skepticism when he first proposed the program, it has proven to be popular, not just in Maine, but also as a model for laptop programs across the nation. Independent studies by researchers at the University of Southern Maine say the positive impact of the laptop program is being felt statewide. More than 80% of the teachers surveyed said participating students were more engaged in their schoolwork and produced better work. Despite that, the legislature failed to expand the laptop program to high school as originally planned and funding for the existing program is not assured past this school year.
Students Operate Districtâ€™s Help Desk
Kentuckyâ€™s Pike County Central High School operates a Technology Help Desk that serves the needs of the districtâ€™s 34 sites, including high schools and elementary schools, vocational schools, adult education centers, and the Pikeville Board of Education. Help Desks are not unusual, but this one is operated by students. Since the district launched the program in 1998, the Help Desk has responded to more than 50,000 calls. Students who want to work at the Help Desk must enroll in the help desk class, which meets for one period during the day. If accepted into the course, the student and his or her parents sign a contract outlining responsibilities. Calling on the training they get in their class, students handle problems that come in to them by phone, fax or e-mail from a teacher at each school who has been designated to coordinate Help Desk problems. If students are not able to resolve the problem over the phone or by e-mail, they place a work order, which is sent to technicians employed by the district, who go out and take care of the problem. The Help Desk deals with problems related to teacher and student e-mail, the Web site teachers use for lesson planning and designing class Web sites, and district equipment, including servers, laptops, desktops, printers, and wireless carts.
Source:Appalachian News Express
Interactive Whiteboards Enhance Classroom Learning
Delawareâ€™s East Millsboro Elementary School has over a decade of experience with using technology to enhance student learning. Among the newer tools in its technology arsenal are interactive whiteboards, sometimes called smart boards. The school owns 15 smart boards and is awaiting delivery of five more. The beauty of the smart board is that it allows an entire class to follow a lesson while facilitating interactivity. Teachers can project computer software, web sites and even videos onto the whiteboard and students can interact with the information much as they would if they were working on an individual computer. Teachers believe that the smart boards help students to pay attention and focus on the lesson. Students also really like the technology, keeping them motivated to learn. The school is pleased with the results it is getting. On the 2005 Delaware Student Testing Program, East Millsboro students placed in the top six in the state in every category and the school once again received a "superior" ranking from the Delaware Department of Education. Teachers credit the schoolâ€™s commitment to using technology as a large part of that success. Each smart board and the necessary accessories cost about $3,000. The school has used a variety of funding sources, including Title I and grant monies, to purchase the equipment. The principal hopes to have every classroom equipped with a smart board by the 2006-2007 school year.
Keeping Parents in the Loop
Venice High School in Floridaâ€™s Sarasota County School District is using a new, Web-based software program to share student information with parents. By next semester all district high schools will be using the program that gives parents real-time access to their child's grades and attendance records. The effort is part of a nationwide trend that finds districts looking for ways to improve communication with parents. Almost universal e-mail access to teachers and online grade book and attendance systems are making it easy for interested parents to keep close tabs on their childrenâ€™s progress without having to take time away from work. Sarasota County plans to add a notification system that will allow parents to sign up to receive e-mail or telephone alerts if their child is late or misses school. Eventually, the district plans to implement a system that notifies parents as soon as a downturn in student grades is noticed. Some districts are using a program that allows parents to see what their child purchased for lunch. Parents like these new programs, especially when dealing with teenagers who are not always very forthcoming about whatâ€™s happening at school. Not surprisingly, students are not as enthusiastic.
Migrating Birds To Call Home
Scientists are turning to cell phone technology to get a better understanding of migratory patterns. Ornithologists at Oregon State University plan to attach tiny mobile phones to songbirds, allowing them to monitor the birds' migration with unprecedented accuracy. The mobile cellular devices will weigh 0.07 ounces and will be attached to birds captured in nets in North American breeding grounds. In flight, the cellular devices will send unique identification numbers to cell towers along migratory routes. Network service providers will record the ID numbers, the towers contacted and the times when contact was made. Much of the detail of migration remains a mystery and scientists hope the data they collect will show how long the birds take to reach their seasonal destinations and the routes they take to get there. Building so small a device poses a significant challenge that engineers say may take years. While they grapple with that problem, the projectâ€™s lead scientists is busy enlisting the support of the cellular network providers, which will be essential top the projectâ€™s success.