- A Salute to Kyrene’s Technology Program
The Kyrene (AZ) School District was recently named a National School Boards Association Salute District in recognition of its efforts to increase student achievement through developing technology-infused curricula.
- Illinois Joins Laptop Program Ranks
The Illinois General Assembly has appropriated $5 million to launch the Technology Immersion Pilot Project, providing a one-to-one technology learning program to seven school districts across the state.
- Cyber-Blended Learning
More cyber schools are offering students the best of both worlds – online learning and the flexibility it allows combined with in-person classes that provide social interaction.
- Fighting Truancy the High-Tech Way
Scottish school authorities are using an automated system to alert parents to unexplained school absences, sending real-time text messages to parents’ cell phones.
- Distributed Computing on the PS3
Sony is working with Stanford University's Folding@home project to harness it new PS3 technology to help study how proteins are formed in the human body and how they sometimes form incorrectly.
A Salute to Kyrene’s Technology Program
The Kyrene (AZ) School District was recently named a National School Boards Association Salute District, an honor awarded to districts engaged in initiatives that use technology to impact learning positively. The program recognizes team work, continuous improvement and integration of technology across the curriculum. The purpose of the Kyrene Teaches with Technology Project (KTTP) is to increase student achievement through developing technology-infused curricula, as well as providing training and mentoring partnerships with teams of teachers and their principals. KTTP is not really about technology; it focuses on curriculum, assessment and standards-based classrooms with technology as the catalyst. KTTP uses a collaborative, grade-level learning team approach. KTTP organizes an entire grade level of teachers to create a collaborative learning team that works together to build and share innovative ways to integrate technology into the everyday curriculum, supported by district educational technology mentors. Each KTTP classroom is supplied with five wireless laptops, two desktop computers, a projection system and supporting software. The model takes the concept of the mini-lab and leverages it within an entire grade-level team and school to create an array of possibilities as laptops flow seamlessly to where they are most needed at any given time. Access to technological resources is not limited by a fixed or rolling computer lab, but rather is readily available when a teachable moment occurs. In 2003, 12 grade-level teams consisting of 60 teachers were involved in KTTP. By 2007-08, every elementary classroom in the district — 114 grade-level teams with 610 teachers — will be a part of KTTP.
Illinois Joins Laptop Program Ranks
The Illinois General Assembly has appropriated $5 million to launch the Technology Immersion Pilot Project in seven schools districts in the 2006-2007 school year. The program will be operated as a joint effort between Illinois State Lt. Governor Pat Quinn's office and the Illinois State Board of Education. Quinn has championed the program for several years. Fiscal Year 2008 and 2009 funding is contingent on a sufficient annual appropriation from the General Assembly. If funding is available, then the program will be extended one year at a time contingent upon the program making satisfactory progress in the preceding year. The Illinois pilot program is designed to promote the integration of technology into teaching and learning. The project supplies students with the laptops equipped with science and math tutorials; word processing, note taking and spreadsheet software. In addition, educators will benefit from professional development training and schools will receive technical assistance to aid in developing a school-based laptop network. The state targeted the pilot to middle schools with below-average test scores, teacher shortages and limited resources and schools that feed into high schools with low graduation rates. However, the most points were awarded to districts that submitted detailed plans for use of the laptops in daily curriculums. In Springfield, one of the seven pilot districts, more than 800 sixth graders will receive their laptops when they return from their winter break. Students and parents will participate in mandatory orientation session. Once the district believes the program is operating smoothly, students will be allowed to take their computers home.
More cyber schools are offering students the best of both worlds – online learning and the flexibility it allows combined with in-person classes that provide social interaction. While some students and their parents are comfortable with a totally virtual school experience, many still want some degree of social contact and a touch of traditional classroom experience. The Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School offers students enrolled in its gifted program, University Scholars Program, face-to-face classes at its gifted education center. It also operates a site-based performing arts program. All students in the University Scholars Program are enrolled in the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School, though some take all their courses at the West Chester gifted education center. Many students in the University Scholars Program were home schooled or in charter schools before migrating to the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School program. Students have to demonstrate that they are capable of doing the work; which is at least one grade level ahead of the student's age, sometimes more. Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School serves some 1,850 students statewide, with 75 students enrolled in its University Scholars Program. Tuition for all students comes from the public school districts where the students live. Pennsylvania has 11 cyber schools enrolling 17,000 students statewide. Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School is the only cyber school to offer a "bricks and mortar" gifted program, though several other cyber schools have learning centers where students and teachers can get together for learning and extracurricular activities.
Source:The Philadelphia Inquirer
Fighting Truancy the High-Tech Way
Scottish school authorities are using text messaging to alert parents to school absences. The automated alert system scans attendance information in real time and contacts parents or guardians if it finds an unexplained absence. The system allows schools to send text messages to parents’ cell phones or voice messages to landlines or cell phones. The system can be programmed to send messages in any language required to communicate with parents. More than half of Scottish authorities have been using the technology in the past year. Authorities that have used the technology for a full year have seen either a decrease or a stabilization of truancy rates. In some places, truancy rates have fallen by as much as 27%. The Scottish Education Ministry notes that in addition to helping reduce truancy rates, the system also offers the benefit of protecting children, alerting parents if their child unexpectedly fails to turn up at school. The Ministry recently released £40 million for educational resources and cites an automated alert system as an example of what schools could purchase with the new funding. Similar anti-truancy systems will also be piloted in England and Wales.
Distributed Computing on the PS3
The new Sony PS3 is equipped with powerful new processors, designed to make the game platform as realistic as possible. The PS3's chip is the same one IBM is using in a supercomputer it's building for the Department of Energy. The PS3 features, at a minimum, a 20GB hard drive and connects to the Internet, either wirelessly or via an Ethernet program. Sony is working with Stanford University's Folding@home project to harness the PS3's technology to help study how proteins are formed in the human body and how they sometimes form incorrectly. Currently, Folding@home uses a network of about 200,000 personal computers to simulate how proteins assemble themselves. Distributing the massive processing challenge over a network of interconnected computers, allows researchers to accomplish very complex calculations. Stanford researchers say that a network of PS3s would run even faster. A network of 10,000 PlayStations would increase processing speeds by a factor of five, and 100,000 would be 50 times faster than what Folding@home can do today. PS3 owners interested in participating would download a program to the device’s hard drive and leave their machine on when hey are not using it. Researchers will send small chunks of their complex calculations to the participating machines. When the PS3 is done processing its chunk it will send the data back.