- Districts Move Check Registers Online
A number of Texas school districts have begun to post their check registers online, thereby avoiding the state's rule that they must spend a minimum of 65% of their funds for instruction.
- Focus on Digital Media
As part of its ongoing Digital Media Youth Initiative, Global Kids is planning a series of online dialogues encouraging teens to discuss their views on digital media and society.
- Grading Technology Literacy
The Illinois State Board of Education has begun to grapple with how it will document the technology literacy skills of its 8th grade students.
- Utah Looks at K-8 Virtual School
Utah is looking at the possibility of extending its very successful Electronic High School model to elementary school students.
- Economic Benefits of IT
A new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) concludes that information and communications technology is responsible for generating the lion's share of economic growth and prosperity.
Districts Move Check Registers Online
A number of Texas school districts have begun to post their check registers online, thereby avoiding the state's rule that they must spend a minimum of 65% of their funds for instruction. When the TEA began to write the rules that would guide districts in implementing the 65% rule, they approached the Governor's office about including an exemption. Gov. Perry mandated the 65% requirement, which is meant to shift more funds into instruction and away from administrative costs, by executive order in 2005. The governor agreed and as a result districts that post their check registers do not have to meet the 65% requirement. Their constituencies can examine exactly how district money is being spent and reach their own conclusions about expenditures. While most of the registers began to go up once districts became aware of the TEA exemption, many of the posting districts say they will also meet the 65% requirement. The TEA reports that 640 of the state's 1,034 school districts met the 65% requirement for the 2005-06 school year. Districts that fail to meet the requirement by the 2008-09 school year will face penalties, unless they have taken advantage of the TEA exemption. Actually learning much from the check registers depends on the way the districts have posted their information. Some registers are hard to find and others list the amount of each check and the payee, but give no indication of what was actually purchased.
Source:The Dallas News
Focus on Digital Media
As part of its ongoing Digital Media Youth Initiative (DMI), Global Kids is planning a series of engaging online dialogues about teens and digital media. The DMI is a series of interrelated programs designed to support teenagers to think critically about the role of digital media in their lives and document their experiences in various media. The new short-term dialogues will support the inclusion of youth voices into the work of practitioners, researchers and policy makers that are thinking deeply about the role digital media is playing in the lives of today's youth as part of the MacArthur Foundation's major initiative on Digital Media and Learning. The FOCUS dialogues will take place in April. Teens will be organized into groups that last for three weeks. They will address content provided by Global Kids' partner, the NewsHour EXTRA, the online youth presence of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, as well as content developed by Global Kids youth leaders and the dialogue participants themselves. Participants will have the opportunity to respond to Digital Media News Flashes, which are articles paired with thought provoking questions designed to help guide their conversations. Global Kids youth leaders will play a major roll in the dialogues, serving as peer moderators who respond to inquiries, maintain a safe space and develop topics for dialogue. Global Kids has been using online dialogues as a medium for engagement, debate and leadership for over five years. Past and current projects include Everything After: A 9.11 Youth Circle, a reflection on September 11th six months after it occurred and Newz Crew, ongoing dialogues on current events and global issues. Students and teachers can register now at www.FocusOnDigitalMedia.com.
Grading Technology Literacy
The Illinois State Board of Education has begun to grapple with how it will document the technology literacy skills of its 8th grade students. Under the No Child Left Behind law states are mandated to assess the digital aptitude of all eighth-graders, with the first reports due in February 2008. Unlike other aspects of NCLB, the standards to be met are not well defined and there will be no consequences for failing to reach the goal. Despite that lack of rigor, many states are trying to come up with appropriate measures. In Illinois, the Board's preliminary definition says that students need to be able to "communicate, collaborate and connect" information and learning. And while many students seem adept with technology, they may not be prepared to use technology tools to support academic tasks. Like most states, the technology capabilities of Illinois school districts vary widely. Most Illinois districts have received some share of the $11 million in federal funding intended to help schools acquire technology resources. And many have committed local money as well. Elgin Area School District U-46, for example, has spent $4.5 million over the past two year to equip each of its 53 schools with computers that rely on a common set of software. Never the less, some schools still struggle to provide adequate access to technology, while others are at the stage of being able to concentrate on integrating technology more deeply into core instructional classes.
Source:The Daily Herald
Utah Looks at K-8 Virtual School
Utah is looking at the possibility of extending its very successful Electronic High School model to elementary school students. The Utah Electronic High School serves more students than any other online learning program in the nation, with more than 22,000 students taking at least one online course. The state believes it may be lagging what others states are already doing for K-8 students. Initially the K-8 curriculum would be purchased from a content provider. Like the high school curriculum, it would cover Utah's required academic standards. The proposed school would serve all K-8 students — those attending either traditional public or charter schools as well as students who are being home schooled. The state Charter School Board is also discussing the possibility of establishing an online charter school. The goal in both cases is to provide Utah students with greater educational opportunity.
Source:The Salt Lake Tribune
Economic Benefits of IT
A new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) concludes that information and communications technology is responsible for generating the lion's share of economic growth and prosperity. "Digital Prosperity: Understanding the Economic Benefits of the Information Technology Revolution" examines what is known about the economic impact of IT in five key areas: 1) productivity; 2) employment; 3) more efficient markets; 4) higher quality goods and services; and 5) innovation and new products and services. The report indicates that investment in information technology and telecommunications hardware, software applications and services has an impact on productivity three to five times that of non-IT investments. In the United States IT was responsible for two-thirds of total factor growth in productivity between 1995 and 2002 and virtually all of the growth in labor productivity. The integration of IT into virtually all aspects of the economy and society is creating a digitally-enabled economy both in the US, abroad and among developing nations and according to ITIF the digital economy should power robust growth for at least the next decade, provided that policy makers take the right steps. Toward that end the report lays out five key public policy principles for driving digital prosperity: 1) give the digital economy its due; 2) actively encourage digital innovation and transformation of economic sectors; 3) use the tax code to spur IT investment; 4) encourage universal digital literacy and adoption; and 5) do no harm.
Source:San Jose Mercury News