- Network Sharing
The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) is leading the charge for more advanced network services for the countyâ€™s 13 school districts and three vocational schools, planning for a new Wide Area Network.
- Such a Deal!
Maine schools can purchase the three- and-four year old laptops being retired from the stateâ€™s Learning Technology Initiative, for $48 a piece.
- Laptops in Michigan Schools
Michiganâ€™s Freedom to Learn program provides free laptop computers to middle school students in the stateâ€™s â€œhigh needâ€ schools, where the laptops are helping expand the curriculum and better prepare students for life in the 21st Century.
- State May Assume Virtual School Burden
Legislation, introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature in late April, would cap the amount that virtual schools can collect in tuition and shift the payments to the state Department of Education.
- Power Lines Deliver the Net
The California Public Utilities Commission approved a test of broadband over power line (BPL) technology.
The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) is leading the charge for more advanced network services for the countyâ€™s 13 school districts and three vocational schools. BCIU is planning to develop a Wide Area Network that will connect all the schools to each other, the Internet and Internet2. Since such a high-speed network can cost from $2.5 million to $10 million over a 5-year period, it makes good economic sense for the schools to band together and share costs. . BCIU also hopes to involve the county colleges, museums and nonprofit organizations, both as content partners, but also as participants to help share costs. Schools in the Colonial Intermediate Unit joined to purchase a high-speed network in 2004. In 2005, schools in the Lehigh County and Carbon County Intermediate Units did the same. BCIU is using a $15,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Education Departmentâ€™s E-fund program, to put together an initial proposal for the network. The E-fund is $60 million state program created to promote and improve broadband technology in schools. BCIU plans to complete its feasibility study and put out a request for proposals in September. It will also apply for another E-Fund grant to cover a significant portion of the networkâ€™s cost. The high-speed network will allow the countyâ€™s schools to access Internet2, which is currently not available to them. It would also allow students and teachers to more easily access streaming video, download video and other multimedia resources and participate in videoconferences with students from around the world.
Such a Deal!
In 2002 and 2003, Maine distributed over 36,000 laptop computers to its 7th and 8th grade students in the first ever statewide laptop program, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. This fall, Maineâ€™s 7th and 8th graders will receive brand new laptops. The 36,000 retired iBooks are being offered to the schools at $48 apiece. And while the three-and four-year old machines have had a lot of hard use and are likely to have more than their share of problems, Maineâ€™s school systems largely see the deal as too good to pass up. Waterville Public Schools, which has 364 iBooks at the Waterville Junior High School, is purchasing its old computers as is Augusta Public Schools and School Administrative District 54. District technology officials believe there is still some value in the laptops. Schools are still deciding what they will do with the older computers. Some, like Augusta, may decide to distribute the laptops to students not participating in the Learning Technology Initiative. Others may opt to offer them to families of students, possibly recouping some of the $48 they paid for them. Either way, school officials believe itâ€™s a good investment.
Laptops in Michigan Schools
When Michigan launched its Freedom to Learn program in 2003, it hoped to distribute free laptop computers to all the stateâ€™s middle school students. But economic constraints caused the state to limit its efforts to â€œhigh needâ€ schools, those serving high poverty students who were having problems making adequate yearly progress. Currently some 21,000 middle school students in 95 school districts are participating in the Freedom to Learn program. The laptops are helping schools expand their curriculum and better prepare students for life in the 21st Century. Bruce Montgomery, executive director of the Freedom to Learn program, says that schools involved in the program are beginning to realize that by capitalizing on studentsâ€™ affinity for computers they can open up new possibilities for educating children. At Hale Middle School, in Michiganâ€™s rural Iosco County, the laptops are used in all curricular areas. While students are not allowed to take the computers home, they are used extensively in a special curriculum. Recently, seventh-graders were writing a two-page letter about the dangers of drug use and preparing a Power Point presentation of their findings. They had gathered the data they needed to make their cases by visiting a variety of anti-drug Web sites, which they accessed using the wireless network provided their school as part of the Freedom to Learn program. Teachers and administrators believe the program has been very successful.
Source:The Bay City Times
State May Assume Virtual School Burden
The long-standing dispute over paying the tuition bill for Pennsylvaniaâ€™s cyber schools continues to simmer. The latest salvo comes in the form of legislation, introduced in late April, which would cap the amount that virtual schools can collect in tuition and shift the payment responsibility to the state Department of Education. Currently, under legislation enacted in 2004, districts pay about 80% of their per-pupil costs as tuition for students registered in their districts and enrolled in online charter schools, retaining the other 20%. Under that formula, the stateâ€™s 12 cyber schools receive $5,409 to $15,204 per student, depending on the studentâ€™s originating district. Under the proposed legislationâ€™s tiered tuition plan, a cyber schools with 1,000 or fewer students would receive $5,000 per student; those with enrollments of 1,001 to 4,999 would receive $4,000 per student; schools with enrollments of 5,000 or more would receive $3,000 per student. Special education students would be funded at actual costs. While that may be welcome news to the stateâ€™s school districts, cyber school operators insist that the proposed funding levels will not cover their expenses. Responding to concerns about lack of accountability, the bill also gives the PA Department of Education greater oversight of cyber schools. Cyber schools would also be required to include two representatives of the intermediate unit in which they are located and one member appointed by the secretary of education on their boards. More than 13,000 students are enrolled in the stateâ€™s cyber schools this year, up from 10,000 in the 2004-05 school year.
Source:Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Power Lines Deliver the Net
The California Public Utilities Commission approved a test of broadband over power line (BPL) technology. BPL uses radio frequency signals sent over existing medium- and low-voltage AC power lines to connect customers to the Internet. Most services today are capable of delivering between 512kbps and 3mbps of throughput, which is comparable to most DSL offerings.Until recently, technical limitations and interference with local emergency radios have limited the feasibility of large scale BPL implementations. With most of the problems ironed out, BPL is slowly getting deployed, with more than 50 utilities across the country looking at the technology. Duke Power, along with Progress Energy in Raleigh, N.C, and Consolidated Edison in New York, are currently in trials with EarthLink. Google invested in a service provider called Current Communications which is testing BPL in Ohio and Texas. IBM is partnering with Houston-based power utility CenterPoint Energy to build a BPL network. The tecchnology holds the promise of allowing utility companies to compete with cable and telephone companies as providers of high-speed internet access.