- Teachers Learn Their Way Around Technology
Twenty-one middle school teachers from rural school systems across the country are participating in a workshop to learn about GPS and GIS technology and how to integrate it into the curriculum.
- Senate Supports EETT Funding
On July 18, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved $272 million to fund the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program for FY 2007.
- Laptops Don't Count as Instructional Materials
The Texas Attorney General has ruled that textbook money cannot be used to purchase laptop computers — or other hardware - for student use.
- South Carolina Virtual High School Launches
South Carolina's Virtual High School launched this summer with a pilot program that served 200 Algebra II or English II students, a prelude to wider course offerings this fall.
- Beware the Search Engine
A recent study found that results from top search engines AOL, Ask.com, Google, MSN, and Yahoo can often lead to Web sites that contain spyware and scams.
Teachers Learn Their Way Around Technology
Twenty-one middle school teachers from rural school systems across the country are participating in the first workshop offered under the auspices of the National Center for Rural Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Outreach, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The 10-day workshop is designed to help teachers learn to integrate new technologies into the curriculum. This year's program focuses on two related technologies — global positioning systems (GPS), devices that use satellites to pinpoint location, and geographic information systems (GIS), which are computerized mapping systems. Participating teacher received a free GPS device that they can take back to their schools. The workshop emphasizes how to integrate the technology into the classroom and the teachers are learning that the technology can be applied broadly across the curriculum. The workshop leader, Dr. Bob Kolvoord, has taught workshops on GPS and GIS technology for the past 15 years as part of his work at Virginia's James Madison University. He maintains sets of GPS devices that he loans out to local school systems for use in classes. Two local teachers who have used GPS and GIS technology in their classrooms for the past four years are helping teachers attending the STEDM workshop develop technology-related activities and lesson plans. They are pleased to have the opportunity to work with teachers from all over the country. Plans call for the lessons to be posted to the Web so that any teacher working with GPS or GIS technology can benefit from the group's work.
Source:Daily News Record
Senate Supports EETT Funding
On July 18, the Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved $272 million to fund the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program for FY 2007. This is the same level of funding that the program received last year, but a considerable improvement over the $0 funding recommended by the President and approved by the House earlier this year. If the full Senate approves the subcommittee's recommendations, the differences will be ironed out in conference. EETT was originally funded in 2004 at $696 million, reduced to $496 million in 2005 and then to $272 million for FY 2006. The Mission Critical Campaign, a coalition of nearly 30 education groups and high-tech companies, lobbied extensively to encourage the restoration of EETT to its 2005 level of $$496 million The Campaign delivered a petition signed by more than 7000 supporters speaking to the need for continued EETT funding. Supporters have been emphasizing the role technology plays in equipping students with 21st Century skills and helping to keep America competitive. The Senate subcommittee appropriated $55.8 billion for total discretionary education spending in 2007 — nearly $2 billion less than in 2006, This includes $195 million for Math and Science Partnerships, $40 million for Advanced Placement Programs, and $26.2 million for Foreign Language Assistance programs. The Senate also appropriated $1.296 billion for the Perkins Career and Technical Education.
Source:Mission Critical Campaign
Laptops Don't Count as Instructional Materials
The Texas Attorney General has ruled that textbook money cannot be used to purchase laptop computers — or other hardware — for student use. Funds designated for textbooks "must be used exclusively for the purpose of conveying information, including curriculum content, to students," Attorney General Abbott says in the ruling. Texas funds its acquisition of textbooks and other instructional materials with the earning from a $20 billion fund comprising oil and gas royalties. The Permanent School Fund was established in the Texas Constitution of 1876 and currently generates about $800 million annually. Geraldine Miller, chairperson of the State Board of Education, which manages the textbook fund, asked for the ruling. She welcomes the protection it provides for content, as opposed to hardware devices. The Texas legislature has been considering the idea of moving to a digital curriculum delivered via laptop computers for over a year. The House passed legislation last year that shifted the existing focus away from traditional textbooks to computers, technology and online instructional materials. That bill died in the Senate. This year the Legislature has voted to delay future textbook purchases and review the adoption process that has been in place since 1949.
South Carolina Virtual High School Launches
South Carolina's Virtual High School launched this summer with a pilot program that served 200 students enrolled in either Algebra II or English II. Students worked online, exchanging e-mail with teachers and classmates and moving through the material at their own pace. Plans call for offering 25 classes this fall, serving as many as 500 students. Offerings will be more varied, including Advanced Placement classes for students who want to get ahead as well as courses for students who need to make up credits. Some of South Carolina's large school systems have offered virtual schools for some time. For example, Richland 2's virtual school employed 27 teachers and offered a total of 559 online courses last year. By launching a statewide effort, the Department of Education is helping to level the playing field, making online resources available to students in rural areas where school systems cannot support online schooling. Some systems that already offer online classes will now rely on the state to provide basic courses and concentrate their efforts on less traditional courses or on developing programs for students with special needs. The Charleston school district is developing its own online course system for homebound or special needs students. The separate program could be running by January, with enrolled students receiving their own laptops and wireless access. Some districts want to review the state's offerings to be sure they are rigorous enough to merit earning high school credit. Districts with virtual school experience say that their online classes are often more challenging than traditional coursework. The real challenge is being sure that online students stay on track.
Source:The Post and Courier
Beware the Search Engine
A recent study co-authored by McAfee and anti-spyware activist Ben Edelman found that results from top search engines AOL, Ask.com, Google, MSN, and Yahoo can often lead to Web sites that contain spyware and scams. If nothing else, visiting these sites increases the user's chances of receiving spam. The study defined dangerous sites as those that have one or a combination of the following characteristics: its downloads contain spyware and/or adware; its pages contain embedded code that performs browser exploits; the content is meant to deceive visitors in some way; it sends out inordinate amounts of spam to e-mail accounts registered at the site. Some search categories are more risky than others, with a large percentage of malicious sites concentrated in certain high-risk categories. For example, users searching for digital music at Google find 75 times as many risky sites as users searching for news. Overall, the most dangerous search term is "free screensavers", followed by "kazaa", "download music", and "free games." The study reports that US consumers make 285 million clicks to hostile sites every month as a result of search engine results.
Source:The Washington Post