- South Dakota Training for Laptop Initiative
Twenty high schools across the state have been selected to participate in the pilot of South Dakota's Classroom Connections project, which will place laptop computers in the hands of more than 5,000 students.
- Technology Tools Enhance Science Learning
The San Diego City Schools will use a new $2.4 million grant to expand a research-based program designed to integrate technology into the district's inquiry-based middle school science curriculum.
- Robots Help Sick Kids Keep in Touch with School
A new assistive technology, housed in a five-foot tall robot, gives students who must be out of school for long periods of time an actual presence in the classroom, helping to maintain both learning and social connections.
- Korea Moves to Technology-Based Learning
In Korea, the Pusan Metropolitan City Office of Education has launched a pilot of "u-school," a web-based infrastructure designed to manage the entire educational system of the school.
- Cognitive Computing Advances
Practitioners think that cognitive computing research is finally beginning to bear fruit. Their goal is to create computers that process information in the same way as the human brain.
South Dakota Training for Laptop Initiative
Twenty school districts have been selected to participate in South Dakota's laptop pilot program. One high school in each district, with enrollments ranging from 60 to 1250 students, will participate. Overall more than 5,000 students will receive laptop computers as part of the pilot for South Dakota's Classroom Connections project. The districts were selected based on their ability to demonstrate a funding source; provide a plan for ongoing training of teachers; and demonstrate the commitment of their staff, school board and community to the project. The districts will pay $1,207 per laptop, which includes the hardware, warranty and standard software package, as well as training for teachers. The state will provide one-third of that total cost. Staff training is an essential component of the effort. The Department of Education has partnered with Dakota State University to provide training at all levels. Initial training, focused on technology applications, is taking place right now at Dakota State, with follow-up training scheduled for teaching staff on location at each pilot site. These intensive sessions will focus on content development and classroom management techniques. The final session will take place at Dakota State in August. The state has also contracted with the state's Bureau of Information and Telecommunications to provide technical expertise and support for the pilot schools.
Technology Tools Enhance Science Learning
The San Diego City Schools will use a new $2.4 million grant to extend its Enhancing Science Education Through Technology (ESETT) program to 12 middle schools serving more than 12,000 students. ESETT is a research-based program designed to augment the district's inquiry-based science curriculum with educational activities that incorporate the use of technology in much the same way that a scientist would in his/her work. Launched in two schools in 2004, the program is considered a model of cooperation between educational technology and science departments. The program provides technology tools, access to online technology resources and software for collecting and analyzing data. Students are helped to use these resources to organize their thoughts, write reports of their research findings, and present their findings to their classmates, teachers, and other adults in the community. Participating middle school science teachers receive extensive professional development designed to deepen their understanding of both science teaching principles and strategies and their knowledge of technology and its application to learning. Teachers receive workshops, teacher training seminars and onsite training support. They are supported in doing independent research and learning and become part of their schools' professional learning community.
Source:San Diego City Schools
Robots Help Sick Kids Keep in Touch with School
A new assistive technology, PEBBLES (Providing Education by Bringing Learning Environments to Students), is revolutionizing the educational and emotional experiences of hospitalized and/or homebound children, using a unique videoconferencing system known as telepresence. By definition, telepresence technology establishes a true sense of shared space among geographically remote persons by duplicating the three-dimensional human experience via actual face-to face encounters. In practice, the remote student is represented in class by a 5-foot-tall steel-blue robot. A PEBBLES system consists of two child-sized robots capable of transmitting video, audio and documents to each other. One unit is placed with the hospitalized child and the other unit is located in the child's regular classroom. The units are connected via a high-speed communications link. The classroom unit has a swiveling disk-shaped head connected to the trunk by a rod that looks a bit like a neck and a hand that serves as an attention-getting device. The trunk slopes outward toward the 3-foot-by-3-foot wheelbase so the robot can fit under tables and desks. The robots work in pairs. Each has a 15-inch screen showing the remote feed and a smaller screen that shows what the other robot is displaying. The hospitalized child can use a joystick to zoom in the robot's camera to read what is on the board or focus on a document, swivel its head to see and talk to a classmate, raise the robot's hand or move the robot down the hallway, stopping to chat with friends. The robot is quickly accepted in the regular classroom, where students have dressed it in school T-shirts or hung name tags around its neck. The robot system, developed in Toronto by Tabloids Inc. along with Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, is in use at seven hospitals. The 40 robots now in use are on loan to the hospitals; they are available for sale at about $70,000 a pair.
Korea Moves to Technology-Based Learning
It's not just American classrooms that are being transformed by technology. In Korea, the Pusan Metropolitan City Office of Education has launched a pilot of "u-school," a web-based infrastructure designed to manage the entire educational system of the school. The system takes attendance electronically. Students register their presence by put their student identification card on an electronic class board, which then sends a text message to the child's parents reporting the time they arrived at school. Parents also receive notices about assignments and school materials. Teachers use the electronic boards in their classrooms to deliver lectures. A "mobile" class is also available for students who are elsewhere. If one group of students takes part in a field trip, other students in another class at the school can access the field trip content without leaving their classroom. The school will evaluate the two-year pilot by measuring 11 specific items to determine the most educational and cost effective uses of the system. The school is expected to show better student results. About 1.1 billion won ($1.1 mil) has been spent setting up the system. Additionally, information usage fees are expected to cost hundreds of won per month. The Korean Ministry of Education has initiated technology-based pilots — ranging from the use of PDAs to replace live tutoring to wireless and Internet-based learning — in about 18 elementary, middle and high schools. The Ministry also operates cyber school Web sites in 16 cities and provincial education offices nationwide.
Source:The Korea Times
Cognitive Computing Advances
Cognitive computing has been an elusive dream of the computing community for more than 50 years. The goal is to create computers that process information in the same way as the human brain. Over the years ideas like artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic and neural networks have momentarily captured the spotlight, but the search is still on. Practitioners think that cognitive computing research is finally beginning to bear fruit. Participants at the recent Cognitive Computing Conference outlined their projects and their progress. One company, focused on building a computer memory platform modeled after the human brain, will be releasing open source software late in 2006 that developers can use to create computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning applications. Other companies are focusing on creating artificially intelligent systems. These range from collision-warning systems and vehicles that can drive themselves, fighter drone planes and future combat systems for the military and intelligent video games. Other scientists are focusing on the brain itself and efforts to mimic the functions of the neocortex. A team at Stanford has designed a "neurogrid," a large system using several copies of the same neuromorphic chip that models the different layers and interactions of the brain. A researcher at the University of Southern California is developing biomedical electronics that can be used to replace brain damage. The Blue Brain project, which is attempting to create a blueprint of the human brain to advance cognition research recently simulated the firing of 10,000 neurons in a single column in the neocortex. Now they are looking for additional processing power to analyze the enormous amount of data generated from the project. There's still a long way to go.