- PA Launches Classroom of the Future Initiative
Pennsylvania's Classroom of the Future initiative will provide $20 million to equip 103 high schools' English, math, science and social studies classrooms with enhanced technology, laptop computers and other state-of-the art resources.
- Students Question Use of Plagiarism Detection Services
Student's at Virginia's McClain High School are organizing to protest the school's decision to begin using Turnitin to check student papers for instances of plagiarism.
- Teens Favor TV and Web as News Source
According to the Future of the First Amendment study, young people receive a majority of their news from television, with the Internet a secondary news source for many teens.
- What Works Clearinghouse Steps Up Report Production
The What Works Clearinghouse has released seven new intervention reports highlighting available research on Character Education, English Language Learning, and Elementary School Math interventions.
- Search Tool or the Blind
Google Accessible Search is designed to help blind people find results that will work best with their text-to-speech software.
PA Launches Classroom of the Future Initiative
Pennsylvania becomes the latest state to launch a program designed to put laptop computers in the hands of all its high school students. The state will not issue laptops to every student. Instead it will create Classrooms of the Future in its high schools — rooms with wireless Internet access and a laptop computer on every desk to serve essential courses such as English, math, science and history. The classrooms will also feature interactive white boards, projectors, Web cams and other video cameras, all designed to facilitate both traditional teacher-led activities and multiple simultaneous student-centered activities. The state is funding a three-year, $200 million program. Classrooms for the Future is about recognizing and embracing the need for high school reform, enabling teachers to use technology as an effective tool for educating students, and preparing students to enter and successfully compete in the ever-expanding high-tech global marketplace. One hundred eighty-nine school districts applied for funding in the first year of Classrooms for the Future. Districts were selected for participation based upon their plans to use technology to change teaching and improve student learning. During the first year, 103 high schools in 79 districts across 39 counties will participate, receiving some 35,000 computers. The first year of the program is budgeted at $20 million. An additional $6 million will be used to provide teachers and school leaders extensive training on how to best harness the power of technology to increase student achievement and ensure students are ready for college and the high-tech global job market.
Students Question Use of Plagiarism Detection Services
Student's at Virginia's McLean High School are organizing to protest the school's decision to begin using Turnitin to check student papers for instances of plagiarism. Turnitin maintains a database of more than 22 million papers written by students around the world, as well as online sources and electronic archives of journals. Students have formed a new group, the Committee for Students' Rights, and collected 1,190 student signatures on a petition against mandatory use of the service. While the students don't support cheating, such as plagiarism, they believe the use of such a service implies that students will cheat — regardless of honor codes or personal ethics. Administrators at McLean, one of the leading schools in Fairfax County, say that there have been isolated instances of plagiarism at the school and that their intent is to use the service to help teach students how to give proper credit to sources. McLean isn't the only place where there is an ongoing debate about the legality and effectiveness of plagiarism detection services. When teachers submit a student's paper to such a service for checking, the paper typically becomes part of the services database of student articles. Students argue that this constitutes an infringement of their intellectual property rights. Schools that use such services have checked with their lawyers and say that the paper-checking systems do not violate student rights. Universities were among the first to turn to services like Turnitin and even there, there are rumblings of concern. The intellectual property caucus of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, an organization of 6,000 college-level educators, is debating whether such services "undermine students' authority over the uses of their own writing" and make them feel "guilty until proven innocent," according to a draft position statement.
Source:The Washington Post
Teens Favor TV and Web as News Source
According to the Future of the First Amendment study, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 45% of teens say TV is the best overall source of news, 44% think it's the most accurate and 43% think it's the easiest to use. Nearly 70% of teens surveyed watch TV news once a week or more and more than half get the news online once a week or more often. Of these teens, 66% get news from sites such as Google, Microsoft, AOL or Yahoo at least weekly, while only 21% get it weekly from national newspaper sites. Survey authors say their results point to teens using a variety of news sources. A total of 57% of the teens said that they consume news from at least one source every day. More than three-quarters — 76% — said that they consume news from several sources every week. Commenting on teens interest in current affairs, Jeffrey Cole of the Center for the Digital Future at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC noted that today's teens have learned that what happens around the globe can affect their lives and they want to stay informed. And while today's teens may never become regular readers of the daily newspaper, Cole points out that as they mature they will gravitate toward the online sites of respected news sources. "Teens live in a world of user-generated content," such as MySpace and Facebook, Cole says. "As people get into their 20s and 30s, they rely less on peers as a source and want authoritative information."
What Works Clearinghouse Steps Up Report Production
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), the U.S. Department of Education's web-based repository of studies of effectiveness of educational interventions, has released seven new intervention reports highlighting available research on Character Education, English Language Learning, and Elementary School Math interventions. This initial wave of WWC Reports will kick off a regular release of findings over the next few months covering these pressing topics in education, as well as Beginning Reading, Dropout Prevention, Early Childhood Education, and Middle School Math. Approximately 40-50 reports will be released on these topics between now and the end of the year. Based on public feedback, WWC has updated the look and feel of its reports, providing a more accessible format for non-technical users. WWC Reports now include an intervention rating, which characterizes the strength of the evidence for an intervention and an improvement index, which provides a sense of the size of the intervention's effect. In addition, the newly released reports contain technical appendices with additional statistical information regarding the reviews requested by technical users. The What Works Clearinghouse was established in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policymakers, researchers, and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. The WWC aims to promote informed education decision making through a set of easily accessible databases and user-friendly reports that provide education consumers with high-quality reviews of the effectiveness of replicable educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies) that intend to improve student outcomes. The WWC is administered by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences through a contract to a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research and the Campbell Collaboration.
Source:What Works Clearinghouse
Search Tools for the Blind
Everyone has had the experience of clicking on a link in a list of returned search hits and wondering when the page opens why it was included. A little scrolling typically answers that question as the item you are searching for show up further down the page. But if you were listening to that page being read to you by a screen reader, it could be very confusing and you might give up long before you got to the item of interest. A new search tool from Google attempts to address that problem. The Google Accessible Search site organized the list of search results based on how simple the Web page layouts are. The service is an "early-stage experiment" out of Google Labs. It finds appropriate hits by examining the pages HTML markup, favoring pages that have few visual distractions and that are likely to render well with images turned off.