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Technology Found Wanting in Latest Evaluation A Congressionally mandate evaluation of the impact of educational technology on student achievement found no significant differences between classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software and classrooms that did not. Open Source Gaining School
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  • Technology Found Wanting in Latest Evaluation
    A Congressionally mandate evaluation of the impact of educational technology on student achievement found no significant differences between classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software and classrooms that did not.
  • Open Source Gaining School Ground
    Some education observers believe, that after years of talk, open source software is beginning to gain a foothold in K-12 schools.
  • Technology Helps Turn School Around
    Officials at California's Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy credit technology with helping turn around the once failing school and infusing it with new life and learning.
  • Technology Updates the Egg Hunt
    An enterprising first grade teacher used global positioning system (GPS) technology to update her students' experience of the traditional egg hunt.
  • Google Tools for Mashups
    Google is offering users free tools that will help them create and share, if they wish, mashups of their neighborhood or some special interest via Google maps.

Technology Found Wanting in Latest Evaluation

The "National Study of Educational Technology Interventions" was released last week by the US Department of Education. Mandated by Congress, the report uses scientifically based research methods and control groups to focus on the impact of educational technology on student achievement. The evaluation found no significant differences in student achievement between classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software products and those classrooms that did not. Though 15 reading and software products were used in study classrooms, the study was designed to report results for groups of products rather than for individual products. The evaluators note that Congress had asked whether technology was effective and not how the effectiveness of individual products compared. Educational technology advocates such as CoSN, ISTE and SETDA point out that there may have been implementation problems associated with the evaluation. They cite a growing body of evidence about technology's effectiveness in classrooms and urge a careful reading of the full report. It's interesting to note that despite no significant improvement in student test scores, evaluators say that "students using [technology] products were more likely to be observed working with academic content on their own and less likely to be listening to a lecture or participating in question-and-answer sessions. Treatment teachers were more likely than control teachers to be observed working with individual students to facilitate their learning (such as by pointing out key ideas or giving hints or suggestions on tackling the task students were working on) rather than leading whole-class activities."

Source:U.S. Department of Education

Open Source Gaining School Ground

Some education observers believe, that after years of talk, open source software is beginning to gain a foothold in K-12 schools. Some believe that open source better meets schools' emerging interest in collaboration and flexibility, while other attribute the gains to budget constraints and the desire to provide the best software at the lowest cost. IT Directors are finding that Linux-based software not only saves money, it also offers a meaningful way to help some students develop the technical aptitudes involved with maintaining the underlying source code. SchoolForge, an organization devoted to bringing open source solutions into the classroom, takes the position that Free and Open Software (FOSS) is a better bargain for schools than the discounts many software vendors currently offer their school customers. That's because FOSS tends to be extremely versatile. As FOSS is implemented in many places, the user community supports the development of new tools that are contributed back to the pool of FOSS resources. There are a number of Linux distributions aimed at the education market, including K-12LTSP, Debian Jr., Edubuntu, Skolelinux and OpenSuse Educator. Some are better adapted for back-office applications, such as e-mail or running the district intranet, while others are better for student use. FOSS advocates believe that as schools evaluate Windows Vista and map out their needed upgrade path, they will begin to take a serious look at alternatives, including Linux-based operating systems and other FOSS applications.

Source: E Commerce Times

Technology Helps Turn School Around

Officials at California's Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy credit technology with helping turn around the once failing school and infusing it with new life and learning. A year ago Jonas Salk Middle School was on the state's watch list of schools failing to meet NCLB mandates. When the San Juan Unified School District reconstituted the school, it also invested $1 million in technology upgrades. The new Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy received 400 wireless laptops, giving almost every student access to a computer in class. Salk serves a largely disadvantaged population; some 80% of students do not have access to computers at home. Teachers have worked hard to really integrate the computers into everyday instruction. A math teachers uses programs he downloads from the web to teach about mathematical properties. A special education teacher asks her students to use digital cameras to take pictures of objects and use them in a presentation that illustrates the concept of a synonym. Students engage in classroom discussions using an instant messaging system on their laptops. The suspension rates among sixth- and seventh-graders has dropped by 50% since last year and test scores are improving. Teachers report that students find the multimedia approach the laptops enable more engaging and are more empowered, taking responsibility for their own learning.

Source: The Sacramento Bee

Technology Updates the Egg Hunt

An enterprising first grade teacher used global positioning system (GPS) technology to update her students' experience of the traditional egg hunt. Working with their fifth grade "study buddies," the first graders scoured the area behind Chapel Hill's New Hope Elementary School, guided by GPS data the fifth graders were pulling down on mobile global positioning system satellite devices Using the compass face displayed on the cell-phone sized GPS device, the fifth graders called out distances and directions to guide their young partners. Each of the dozen plastic eggs the teacher had hidden contained a simple question about spring that the first graders answered before moving on with the hunt. At the end of last year, the Orange County School District used a federal grant to purchase 32 handheld GPS devices. Even before the purchase the district has been experiment ting with the technology, sometimes borrowing devices that the state Department of Public Instruction makes available to any district. With easier access, Orange County teachers, like those at New Hope, are using the devices more. The fifth grade teacher at New Hope plans to follow-up with her students, giving them more insight into the way GPS technology operates.

Source:The News & Observer

Google Tools for Mashups

Google is offering users free tools that will help them create and share, if they wish, mashups of their neighborhood or some special interest via Google Maps. Mashups are interactive Web applications that draw upon content retrieved from external data sources to create entirely new and innovative services. Right now, mashups require some coding skills. Google's new tools will make it easier for people with little or no technical knowledge to mash together information on local sites or special activities with Google Maps. Users will even be able to embed videos in their maps. While testing the new tools, Google's own engineers created maps focused on U.S. Route 66, Major League Baseball stadiums and voting patterns in the 2004 presidential election. If the tools catch on and if users opt to share their creations, Google could soon have an enormous collection of highly specialized maps that it can store in its search index. By drawing on the user community Google hopes to collects many times more maps than it could possibly create on its own or even pay developers to create. Google's maps already are very popular, with 22.2 million U.S. visitors during February, according to the most recent data available from comScore Media Metrix. That ranks Google third, behind AOL's and Yahoo's map offerings. A vast collection of highly local and idiosyncratic maps could help push Google up in the rankings

Source: USA Today

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