- Connect with the Troops
Free tools included at Connect And Join's new Web portal allow teachers, classrooms or students to communicate with and express support for U.S. troops or individual soldiers.
- Digital Divide Persists for Some Students
According to a new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics, the likelihood of a student using a computer or the Internet is most clearly predicted by his or her parents' educational level.
- Internet Safety a Major Concern
More than 82% percent of educators who responded to a recent survey are very concerned about children being protected while using the Internet.
- WA Virtual Schools Booming
Washington's two newest virtual schools have attracted many more students than they originally hoped. The two new schools are also the first in the state to operate their programs in partnership with profit-making organizations.
- Depicting the Blogosphere
While some 12 million American adults keep a blog, about 57 million American adults read blogs, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Connect with the Troops
Teachers who want to have their students communicate with American soldiers deployed around the world have a new tool to use. Connect And Join's new Web portal offers free tools that allow teachers, classrooms or students to communicate with and express support for U.S. troops or individual soldiers. Connect And Join is also hosting a nationwide scrapbook initiative to have school children create the "World's Largest Scrapbook" in support of the troops. Scrapbook and photo page templates can be downloaded at the Connect with the Troops portal. Students can decorate the pages and add photos or pictures to them before mailing or e-mailing them back to be included in the "World's Largest Scrapbook," which will be presented to the troops in a December holiday presentation. The submission deadline is November 15, 2006. Teachers interested in participating in the project can find scrapbooking instructions as well as lesson plans and suggestions on how to make the scrapbooking activity into a standards-aligned learning experience for students. The portal includes lesson plans that combine classroom activities with technology skills acquisition. Teachers can also build their own classroom websites to communicate with the troops, or an individual soldier, by linking to the www.connectandjoin.com portal, which provides a secure, private communication environment. An annual classroom license to all of the content on www.connectwiththetroops.com is $60.00. Connect And Join is a family support and education services publishing company whose Web-based subscription communication portal enables separated families to stay in touch via a password protected website where family members can write letters, build and keep a photo gallery, including hand drawn children's art, and keep a calendar to record daily events and special moments.
Source:Connect And Join
Digital Divide Persists for Some Students
According to a new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the likelihood of a student using a computer or the Internet is most clearly predicted by his or her parents' educational level. The NCES report is based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey, October 2003 School Enrollment and Computer Use Supplement, which is the most current data available on the topic. Computer use among students in grades K-12 ranged from a low of 82% for those whose parents did not have a high school degree to a high of 95% for those whose parents had a graduate education. Use of the Internet was even more strongly affected by parental educational levels. While 73% of students whose parents had a graduate education used the Internet, just 37% of students with parents who did not have a high school degree did. Income has a similar impact on Internet use. Just 41% of students from low-income families used the Internet, compared with 74% of students in the highest income bracket. Schools continue to play an important role in helping to bridge the digital divide. Many children from poor families used the Internet only at school. Among the 20% of students who accessed the Internet at only one location, 60% of those from families in poverty and 63% of those whose parents have not earned a high school degree did so at school. Many of the characteristics associated with the digital divide (e.g. race/ethnicity, family income, parental educational level) were also associated with differences in the way children used computers at home. Only 14% of students from households where no parent has received a high school credential used the computer for word processing and 24% used the computer to complete school assignments. In contrast, 48% of students from households where at least one parent has some graduate education used computers for word processing and 61% to complete school assignments. NCES reports that about 94% of children in grades 1-12 used computers and about 66% used the Internet in 2003.
Internet Safety a Major Concern
A warning to be extra vigilant about student Internet use will come as no surprise to most classroom teachers. During this summer's National Educational Computing Conference, 1,500 educators were survey about various aspects of Internet use and online safety and security issues. Survey respondents shared real-life stories about what goes on at their schools, revealing a number of breaches of Internet Acceptable Use Policies by students and teachers alike. More than 82% percent of those polled are very concerned about children being protected while using the Internet. Fifty-eight percent report that criminal acts such as threatening others or attempting to hack into the school network as the most common students offenses. Security administrators are most concerned about social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, with pornography and other inappropriate content the next most troublesome area. Network administrators also expressed concern about YouTube and other video download sites, music/P2P download sites and other streaming media programming that drain network resources. While 73% of educators believe that parents should be responsible for students' home Internet activities, more than 91% of respondents believe that when students bring home school computers, those laptops should be protected by Web filtering software and adhere to the same Internet Acceptable Use Policies that govern classroom use.
Source:Internet @ IT Business Net
WA Virtual Schools Booming
Washington's two newest virtual schools have attracted many more students than they originally hoped for and students are still coming. Despite critics' concern about online course quality and the lack of regular classroom interaction, new legislation makes it clear that Washington school districts can operate online programs in which teachers have no face-to-face contact with students. The two new schools are also the first in the state to operate their programs in partnership with profit-making organizations. The Insight School, the state's first fully online high school, is sponsored by the Quillayute Valley School District but run by Portland-based Insight School Inc., which hires the teachers and manages day-to-day operations. Insight capped its enrollment at 650 students and has 1,000 more who've expressed interest. The Virtual Academy, which serves K-8 students, is a partnership of the Steilacoom School District and K12 Inc. This year, the program has expanded beyond school district boundaries to serve students statewide. It has 652 students registered and is processing another 500 applications. The Insight School offers more than 140 courses. Students take five to six classes each semester, participating in a "virtual" classroom where students and teachers can talk and view materials together. Instructors are available via e-mail, phone and on the "virtual" classroom site. In addition to the teachers who lead each course, each student also is assigned a mentor teacher who monitors the student's progress. The Virtual Academy relies on parents to supervise student work, about 25% of which is computer-based. A certified teacher monitors each child's progress, talks regularly with students and parents, and is available for questions. Those teachers also sometimes lead online instruction for groups of students, or arrange field trips for students who live near each other.
Source:The Seattle Times
Depicting the Blogosphere
While some 12 million American adults keep a blog, about 57 million American adults read blogs, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Though a number of high-profile blogs focus on politics or entertainment, Pew reports that the American blogosphere is dominated by those who use their blogs as personal journals. Most bloggers do not think of what they do as journalism and the majority (54%) says that they have never published anywhere else. While bloggers report covering a lot of topics, when asked to choose one main topic, 37% say they write about "my life and experiences" as a primary topic. Politics and government rank second, cited by 11% of bloggers as the main subject of their blogs, followed by entertainment-related topics (7%) sports (6%), general news and current events (5%), business (5%), technology (4%), religion, spirituality or faith (2%), a specific hobby or a health problem or illness (each comprising 1% of bloggers). More than half (54%) of bloggers are under the age of 30 and live in the suburbs. Like the internet population in general, bloggers are evenly divided between men and women. However, bloggers are less likely to be white than the general internet population. Sixty percent of bloggers are white, 11% are African American, 19% are English-speaking Hispanic and 10% identify as some other race. By contrast, 74% of internet users are white, 9% are African American, 11% are English-speaking Hispanic and 6% identify as some other race. While 52% of bloggers say they blog mostly for themselves, not for an audience, they still spend extra time trying to verify facts they want to include in a post either "sometimes" or "often," include links to original sources either "sometimes" or "often," and allow comments on their blogs.