- Global Kids Launches 9/11 Youth Circle
Global Kids and the Online NewsHour have launched "Five Years After - A September 11 Youth Circle" to allow high school students to constructively discuss how the attacks of September 11 have affected their lives, their communities and their perspectives on world affairs.
- Some Schools Slow Laptop Push
The push to equip all students with laptop computers is showing some signs of slowing as parents and educators question the costs, worry about inappropriate use and ask for proof of effectiveness.
- Virtual School Faces New Obstacles
Wyoming's Campbell County School District has found it hard to move forward with its plans for a virtual elementary school, since the state has no laws in place to allow funding students in a virtual school.
- Public Likes Its Local Schools
The 38th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools finds public ratings of local schools near the top of their 38-year range.
- Google To Allow Book Printing
Google announced that it will begin allowing users of its Google Books Library Project to freely download and print novels and other books that are in the public domain.
Global Kids Launches 9/11 Youth Circle
Global Kids and the Online NewsHour have launched "Five Years After - A September 11 Youth Circle." The forum, available both on the Global Kids web site and Online NewsHour, the Web site of PBS' the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, will allow high school students to constructively discuss how the attacks of September 11 have affected their lives, their communities and their perspectives on world affairs. The forum will be active between Monday, August 28, 2006 and Monday, September 25, 2006. Throughout the discussion, students will be able to view background information about September 11 issues from the Online NewsHour and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The discussions will use Global Kids' Youth Circles approach to online dialogues. The Global Kids model limits the size of groups, each of which is monitored by a Global Kids youth leader. All participants must agree to maintain civil behavior. The approach creates an online environment in which participants can develop personal relationships and engage in focused and respectful dialogues. Global Kids used this model to mark the six-month anniversary of September 11. "Everything After: A 9.11 Youth Circle," received international attention and involved over 350 students from 20 countries. The collaboration with Global Kids is part of a larger initiative from the Online NewsHour, launching on Sept. 4 with online content marking the anniversary as well as access to the extensive September 11 archives of the Online NewsHour and The NewsHour.
Some Schools Slow Laptop Push
What seemed like a steady march toward the goal of equipping all students with laptop computers is showing some signs of slowing as parents and educators question the costs, worry about inappropriate use and ask for proof of effectiveness, according to a widely syndicated Wall Street Journal article. One-to-one laptop programs began to capture the headlines about five years ago, often proposed as a way of leveling the playing field by providing resources to students who did not have access to computers at home. Teachers found it easier to use technology-based teaching tools in classrooms where every child had a computer and were better able to teach students 21st Century skills such as how to create multimedia presentations and conduct research online. According to the Anywhere Anytime Learning Foundation, the number of North American students enrolled in one-to-one laptop programs is growing annually at around 15% and now totals about 500,000. But the programs have not been without problems. For one thing, the true costs of one-to-one programs - building out wireless infrastructure, professional development, digital content acquisition and security - are just becoming apparent. In addition, parents worry about the amount of time spent on the computer and the seemingly unlimited access their laptop-equipped children now how to both the good and bad aspects of the online world. Schools continue to upgrade the filtering and security software installed on student laptops, but controlling inappropriate uses is a moving target. Perhaps the most telling problem is lack of solid evidence that one-to-one programs result in improved student achievement. Most studies are still in the early stages, reporting improved student attitudes and behaviors but little or no impact on student achievement. Combined, these factors have served to slow the pace at which some schools enter the one-to-one world.
Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Virtual School Faces New Obstacles
When Wyoming's Campbell County School District first decided to open a virtual elementary school, the state told it that there were no laws in place to allow funding students in a virtual school. That meant that the district would have to use money outside the regular stream of state funding if it wanted to proceed. The school board decided that it could afford to provide the virtual school with funding for up to 100 students this coming year, at $7,000 per student. If the virtual school is to continue, the Wyoming Legislature will have to pass a law allowing the Department of Education to fund virtual schools, and the department will have to write rules on how these schools are to be run. The District decided to take the chance this year, but it has run into another problem with the Wyoming Department of Education, which is objecting to a recruiting program. Parents in Casper and other Wyoming cities received mailings that informed them they could enroll their children in the Wyoming Virtual School. The Department of Education does not want Campbell County to recruit beyond its own boundaries. The department is not willing to endorse a pilot that recruits students from other districts throughout the state. Campbell County agrees that it does not want to pull students - and money - from other districts. Their goal was to inform and attract home-school families who might be looking for access to a high-quality, standards-based curriculum.
Source: Casper Star-Tribune
Public Likes Its Local Schools
The 38th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools finds public ratings of local schools near the top of their 38-year range. In this year's poll, 49% give the schools in the community an A or a B. The percentage of A's and B's climbs to 56% for public school parents and to 64% when parents grade the school their oldest child attends. But support wanes for public schools in general, with just 21% of the public awarding the nation's public schools an A or a B. When asked how to improve schools, 71% of the public expressed a preference for improvement through reforming the existing system as opposed to seeking an alternative system. There is near-consensus support for the belief that the problems the public schools face result from societal issues and not from the quality of schooling. The public believes that local school boards should have the greatest influence in deciding what is taught (58%) and oppose contracting with private profit-making corporations to run public schools (69%) and vouchers (60%). The one question that has been asked in each of the 38 polls has to do with identifying the schools biggest problem. Discipline was the top problem for the poll's first 16 years. Drugs then took over and occupied the top position alone until financial support drew into a tie in 1991. Frequent changes occurred in the 90s until lack of financial support came back to the top in 2000. It has held that position in each poll since. This year, 24% of respondents say that money is the school's biggest problem, followed by 13% who identify overcrowded schools and 11 % concerned about lack of discipline.
Google To Allow Book Printing
The Google Books Library Project has taken another step forward. Google announced that it will begin allowing users to freely download and print novels and other books that are in the public domain. No books still under copyright will be included. In those cases, Google Book Search will display only bibliographic information and, in may cases, snippets of text from the book showing the search term in context. If the publisher or author has given permission, a few full pages of the book may be displayed. Though some publishers take issue with the display of any content, Goggle says its snippets constitute "fair use." The Google Books Library Project aims to digitize the world's books in order to make them easier for people to find and buy. Working with a number of research libraries in the U.S. and the U.K. Google hopes ultimately to scan all the books in their collections, resulting in an online digital library of what could number as many as 30 million volumes. Participating libraries include Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and Oxford University, as well as the New York Public Library (NYPL). The University of California is the newest library partner and just two months after beginning its book digitization project, the university may provide Google with as many as 3,000 books a day for scanning. Google's isn't the only digitization project underway. The Internet Archive in partnership with the University of California created the Open Content Alliance, which also includes Yahoo, Microsoft, and institutions such as Columbia University, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Toronto. The alliance, which has made open access a core component of its mission, is scanning only out-of-copyright materials.
Source: Business Week Online