- Presidents Cuts Ed Tech Funds — Again
President Bush's FY08 budget request asks for $56 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education. And for the fourth time in as many years, the President has zeroed out funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology program.
- San Diego Offers Online Homework Help
A partnership between the San Diego Unified School District, the city's public library system and the local business community is making live homework help available to all 4th through 12th grade students.
- Online Education Continues To Grow
The growth of distance learning enrollments in California mirrors growth nationwide. The North American Council for Online Learning expects the total number of seats in all online classes to continue to increase 30% annually.
- Mining the MP3 Rage
While most teens use their MP3 players to listen to the latest hits, the broader potential of the portable device is not lost on the publishers who create and distribute learning materials.
- Virtual Reality on the Rise
The availability of advanced projectors, computer software and graphics cards capable of producing higher-resolution images coupled with cheaper computing power are contributing to increased use of virtual reality technology.
Presidents Cuts Ed Tech Funds — Again
On Feb 5, President Bush submitted his FY 2008 budget request to Congress, asking for $56 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education, a $1.6 billion increase over his original 2007 request. And once again, for the fourth time in as many years, the President has zeroed out funding for the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. The administration notes that, "Schools today offer a greater level of technology infrastructure than just a few years ago, and there is no longer a significant need for a State formula grant program targeted specifically on (and limited to) the effective integration of technology into schools and classrooms. Districts seeking funds to integrate technology into teaching and learning can use other Federal program funds such as Improving Teacher Quality State Grants and Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies." Technology advocates question how the administration can justify such cuts while supporting the goal of ensuring that students can compete globally and effectively in math and science. Authorized as Title II-D of the No Child Left Behind Act, EETT received appropriations of approximately $700 million for Fiscal Years 2002–2004, but sustained major cuts in FY05 and 06. While the House of Representatives originally went along wit the program's elimination in the FY 07 budget, the Senate restored funding. In last week's budget agreement, Congress approved level funding ($272 million) for EETT for the remainder of this fiscal year.
San Diego Offers Online Homework Help
A partnership between the San Diego Unified School District, the city's public library system and the local business community is making live homework help available to all 4th through 12th grade students. Each partner had contributed $70,000 to fund a one-year trial of the system. Students can access the online help from their home computers or at the library. The service is available seven days a week between 1 and 10 p.m., offering help in essay writing, algebra, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, physics and social studies, in both English and Spanish. Students sign on using their library card number and the last four digits of their telephone number as a password. To serve the needs of students who do not have ready access to the Internet, the school system has launched a pilot program that allows students in 10 schools to access the service directly from school. After entering their grade and the subject in which they need help, the system matches the student to a certified tutor, who works them through whatever problem they are having. The company providing the tutoring service performs background checks on prospective tutors, who are certified teachers, college or graduate students attending accredited universities, professionals and stay-at-home mothers. Tutoring sessions, which typically last about 20 minutes, are reviewed for quality control.
Online Education Continues To Grow
The growth of distance learning enrollments in California mirrors growth nationwide. Stanford University's program for gifted students offers the equivalent of 10,000 K-12 classroom seats and has expanded its program to include a selective online high school. Some 500 Los Angeles middle ad high school students attend the Los Angeles Virtual Academy, established by the school district in 2005 to increase access to college prep courses, advanced placement classes and remedial algebra. Lutheran High School of Orange County launched an online program in 2005 to meet the need of its own student body, where enrollment was at capacity. Of the 240-plus students enrolled this year, half have never set foot on campus and some live on the opposite coast. According to the North American Council for Online Learning, an international K-12 non-profit organization representing the interests of administrators, practitioners, businesses and students involved in online learning, there are one million student enrollments across the nation. Enrollment, counted as the total number of seats in all online classes, not the number of students, has grown more than 20 times in seven years, and NACOL expects the numbers to continue to increase 30% annually. Thirty-eight states have established e-learning initiatives (including virtual schools, cyber charter schools, online testing and internet-based professional development) and there are 25 statewide or state-led virtual schools in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education plans to release a new study updating its online learning numbers later this year. When it surveyed the field nearly five years ago, it found that 36% of school districts in the nation had students enrolled in virtual schools.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Mining the MP3 Rage
While most teens use their MP3 players to listen to the latest hits, the broader potential of the portable device is not lost on the publishers who create and distribute learning materials. Traditional print publishers, hardware manufacturers, audiovisual publishers and library vendors are all beginning to bring products and services to market that provide classroom- or textbook-related materials for download to an MP3 player. Over half of teens owned a portable MP3 player in mid-2006, according to a study of digital music behavior conducted by market research firm Ipsos. While learning-related use of MP3 players is most prevalent among college students, K-12 schools are getting on board as well. The library director of the Grand Prairie (TX) ISD recently ordered Playaways for her 38 school libraries, where the mobile devices have been an instant hit. Playaway is a two-ounce flashplayer pre-loaded with an audio book that has been marketed to school districts for the last six months. The problem is that, for now, audio books cost much more than their print counterparts. The Playaway version of Charlotte's Web costs $30 and an iTunes download of it costs $17. Other iTune audio books are even more expensive. College publishers are making textbook-related materials available for download at more reasonable costs. And college professors are preparing their own podcasts and recording classroom lectures, which students can download for free. K-12 teachers are following suit.
Virtual Reality on the Rise
The availability of advanced projectors, computer software and graphics cards capable of producing higher-resolution images coupled with cheaper computing power are contributing to increased use of virtual reality technology. To save money, businesses — ranging from oil companies to aircraft manufacturers — are outsourcing their VR work to appropriately equipped facilities. In October, Wright State University opened a $2 million facility, the VisLab, at the Joshi Research Center, to allow it to take advantage of the outsourcing trend. Companies pay $1,000 a day to use the lab and its high-powered computers. Virtual reality involves the use of projectors, connected to high performance computers that throw alternating left-eye-right-eye images of a 3-D object on a large screen. Viewers wear specialized light-polarizing glasses that synchronize the images to complete the 3-D effect. Immersive visualization involved projecting images on all four walls, the ceiling and the floor. In the VisLab the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is projected on am 8- by 14-foot screen. A Houston energy company plans to feed seismic data to the Lab's computers, allowing it to probe the Gulf's virtual crust to find salt domes that might hold oil deposits. The Institute for Simulation & Training at the University of Central Florida has designed programs used in virtual cab simulators that are used to train truck drivers before they take their driving test.
Source:The Mercury News