- Automated Scoring Eases Grading Burden
In some Connecticut schools, essays graded with traditional red mark-ups and teacher comments are giving way to nearly instant feedback and guidance from an automated essay scoring program.
- Internet Continues to Grow in Importance
Roughly 80% of Internet users age 18 and under say that going online is very important or extremely important for their schoolwork, according to an ongoing study from the University of Southern California.
- UK Rolls Out Online School Trip Planning Service
The British government, concerned that out-of-classroom activities are being pushed aside by the demands of the national curriculum, testing, and fears of litigation over accidents, is funding the development of an online fieldtrip planning service.
- NC Students To Explore R.O.B.O.T.S.
Middle school students in North Carolina will have the opportunity to explore robotics as part of a North Carolina Mathematics and the Science Education Network project designed to demonstrates how robotics can be used to enhance the learning of astronomy and physics.
- Videoconferencing Helps Shrink the World
Students and staff at Indiana University are able to use the school's sophisticated two-way videoconferencing technology to converse live with almost anyone in the world.
Automated Scoring Eases Grading Burden
In some Connecticut schools essays graded with the traditional red mark-ups are giving way to nearly instant feedback from an automated grading program. Schools in Bristol, Glastonbury, Windsor, New Fairfield, Killingly and Stonington are piloting the technology. Many students like the fact that they get feedback so quickly. Teachers who teach 100 plus students welcome the help with the more repetitive tasks of catching grammar errors and making suggestions for improving sentence structure. They find the grading help especially useful in classrooms where there are students of widely varying abilities. Critics, on the other hand, worry that the program seems to encourage formulaic writing, ignoring the more subtle nuances of good writing. Automated grading programs are designed to mimic the behavior of human scorers such as those who grade the tens of thousands of essays written each year as part of the Connecticut Mastery Test. Using a set of established rubrics, the systems examines the structure of language, from basic grammar and punctuation to sentence complexity. The systems can also evaluate word choice and evidence of elaboration, for example, to determine whether the writers have supported their conclusions. Students receive feedback and direction that help them strengthen sentence structure and focus on whether they have adequately supported their thesis. The companies that provide automated scoring programs have done extensive testing to validate the reliability and accuracy of their products. The systems do not replace teachers, however, since they are still not capable of making the more sophisticated judgments about higher order skills such as analysis and interpretation or basic logic of a student's argument. Teachers still read their students' essays, but find the process much more efficient with the basic work already done.
Internet Continues to Grow in Importance
Roughly 80% of Internet users age 18 and under say that going online is very important or extremely important for their schoolwork, according to an ongoing study from the University of Southern California. In contrast, however, almost three-quarters of adults (74%) say that since their household acquired the Internet, the grades of children in their households have stayed the same. More than two-thirds of Americans use the Internet at home, a substantial increase from the 47% of users who reported home Internet use in 2000, the first year of the Digital Future Project. Three-out-of-four American ages 19 to 65 are online, with penetration hitting 99% for those 18 and younger, likely because most U.S. schools have some form of Internet access. The Digital Future Report continues to find that the Internet has a solid position as an important source of information and entertainment for the vast majority of users, consistently outranking television. And while some parents worry that children spend too much time on the Internet, more worry about too much time watching television. Almost 70% of adults say that the children in their households spend the right amount of time online, a number that has declined modestly for three years in a row. Nearly 50% of adults say that the children in their households spend too much time watching television. That percentage has risen steadily for the past five years, and has now reached the highest level in the six years of the study (48.6%). The 2007 Digital Future report from the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School reports on the sixth year of a longitudinal study of online use, attitudes and behavior.
UK Rolls Out Online School Trip Planning Service
The British government, concerned that out-of-classroom activities are being pushed aside by the demands of the national curriculum, testing, and fears of litigation over accidents, is funding the development of an online fieldtrip planning service. The Department for Education and Skills has also promised to support more field trips and other out-of-classroom activities. The service, developed at a Reading secondary school, is being deployed more widely with support from private investors. The school will retain a share of the business it helped develop. The planning service, Schooltrip.com, guides teachers through the various steps required to be sure that the out-of-classroom activity complies with Department for Education and Skills guidelines. It also offers a transport and ticket booking service. The software helps teachers plan an itinerary, draw up a budget, book transport, send letters to parents, obtain insurance and carryout the necessary risk assessment. School administrators can log on to monitor the process at any point. Using the online planning tool assures that teachers don't miss any of the necessary trips and if the teachers books with the service, he or she is assured of working with reputable suppliers in terms of the transport and other services. Schooltrip.com can also help find teachers the best available deal. The company charges of fixed percentage of the trip cost for its service.
NC Students To Explore R.O.B.O.T.S.
Middle school students in North Carolina will have the opportunity to explore robotics as part of a North Carolina Mathematics and the Science Education Network (NC-MSEN) project designed to demonstrates how robotics can be used to enhance the learning of astronomy and physics. Robotics: Opportunities for Building Outstanding Talent in the Sciences (R.O.B.O.T.S) is funded by the National Science Foundation and will operate as part of NC-MSEN's Pre-College Program. R.O.B.O.T.S. is designed to build sustained community-wide awareness about the value of astronomy and physics, which are needed for success in virtually all science, computer, and engineering fields. R.O.B.O.T.S. will provide a total of 200 out-of-school time contact hours each year, including planned follow-up activities to help participating 8th-graders make a successful transition into high school. Participating students will attend Saturday Academy and Summer Scholars programs and their parents will participate in the Parent Involvement for Excellence (PIE) club at the student's school. The North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) and member companies Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, Tyco Electronics, the IBM Center for Advanced Studies, the NCTA Education Foundation and the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative are partnering with NC-MSEN on the R.O.B.O.T.S project. The MSEN Pre-College Program is a statewide initiative designed to increase the number of minorities and females who have sufficient interest and preparation to study a major in science, mathematics, engineering, or technology (STEM) at a university or college and to pursue a career in science, mathematics, engineering, technology, or teaching.
Videoconferencing Helps Shrink the World
Students and staff at Indiana University are able to use the school's sophisticated two-way videoconferencing technology to converse with almost anyone in the world. Though the system is still under development, the university supports 60 conference rooms at its main campus and a total of about 250 such facilities at all eight of its campuses. Students and faculty in many academic departments use the technology in a number of ways. Students who can't attend classes on campus, for example, are able to earn a graduate degree by taking courses via teleconferencing. IU professors also teach courses to students at other institution, some as far flung as Russia or China. Students also benefit from the ability to reach out to peers globally. Recently, journalism students conducted a teleconference with journalists in China, discussing issues that ranged from journalism to politics to Chinese pop culture. The system also supports live, real-time meetings between faculty members at various IU campuses, eliminating the need for time-consuming travel. While the videoconferencing systems are expensive, ranging from $3,000 to $13,000 each, the timesaving, broad reach and ease of use make them well worth the cost.
Source:Indiana Daily Student