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Week of: July 2, 2007 UK Research Says Technology Works U.K. schools that used high levels of technology as an integral part of learning were able to dramatically improved student performance, according to new research. Programming from Scratch Students at Jonas Clarke Middle
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Week of: July 2, 2007

  • UK Research Says Technology Works
    U.K. schools that used high levels of technology as an integral part of learning were able to dramatically improved student performance, according to new research.
  • Programming from Scratch
    Students at Jonas Clarke Middle School spent the using a new programming language from MIT - Scratch - to create dynamic programs well beyond their years.
  • One-in-Three Teens Bullied Online
    Roughly one-third of all teenagers who use the Internet say they have experienced some degree of cyberbullying, ranging from the relatively benign to truly threatening.
  • Plagiarism Lesson Learned the Hard Way
    Some Maryland students were surprised to find photos they had posted to their Facebook pages printed in the school yearbook.
  • America Faltering on Internet Speed and Access
    According to "Speed Matters," the median download speed in the United States is 1.9 megabits per second (mbps). In Japan, the median download speed is 61 mbps, or 30 times faster.

UK Research Says Technology Works

U.K. schools that used high levels of technology as an integral part of learning were able to dramatically improved student performance, according to new research. The four-year study was funded by the Department for Education and Skills and managed by Becta, an education technology agency. An independent evaluation was carried out by Manchester Metropolitan and Nottingham Trent universities. The project, which studied 23 primary schools, five secondary schools and three further education colleges, investigated how making technology an integral part of learning in schools and colleges could improve learner attainment levels, classroom practice, and school and college development. Each of the schools and colleges drew up their own plans and were given money to spend over four years to install high levels of hardware and software and provide professional development. The results of the project showed that as technology was embedded, a school's national test outcomes improved beyond expectation. Further, the technology allowed students to have a more personalized experience, learning in more diverse ways, tailored to their individual needs. Teachers' skills improved too. The investment led to rapid improvements in skills in using technology in learning and teaching, and improved management of workload. Learning platforms made it easier for teachers to find, store, share, create and reuse resources and lesson plans, ensuring long-term value from the initial investment. The British government has invested more than £5 billion on ICT in schools since 1998, tripling the ratio of computers to students in primary schools, putting interactive whiteboards into classrooms and connecting almost every school to high-speed broadband. The government plans to replicate the project across the country.

Source:24dash.com

Programming from Scratch

Students at Jonas Clarke Middle School spent the using a new programming language from MIT - Scratch - to create dynamic programs well beyond their years. The students were helping the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab to beta test Scratch. MIT has long been known for its interest in finding ways to encourage young children's interest in computing and programming. LOGO, which allowed very young children to draw shapes by steering a turtle around the computer screen using simple commands, was an MIT creation of the 1970s. The goal is to give children a sense of mastery and debunk the notion that programming is for the elite. Most programming languages require the child to learn an entirely new syntax and follow complex rules about semicolons and bracket use, among other things. Scratch uses jigsaw-shaped programming pieces which can be clicked and dragged to create sequences of code that do things like make a character move or change costume or trigger a series of events. It's easy enough that kindergarten-age children can use some of its functions. And it's also easy to share projects online, giving students an audience for their work. The Media lab has created a social networking site where Scratch users of all ages can share their projects. Scratch is also being used in some introductory computer science classes at Harvard as a way of giving beginners a way to create projects that are more visually interesting than they can initially create using complex languages like Java or C++. The Jonas Clarke middle schoolers have created projects ranging from a "Star Wars" lightsaber duel to a flying hippo animation to a game in which the police chase gangsters. Mitch Resnick, head of the Scratch development team emphasizes that Scratch is about enabling children to create original work, not just using a computer to chat or play games that other people have created.

Source:The Boston Globe

One-in-Three Teens Bullied Online

Roughly one-third of all teenagers who use the Internet say they have experienced some degree of cyberbullying, ranging from the relatively benign to truly threatening, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The most common occurrence was having a private communication forwarded or publicly posted without their permission. Fifteen percent of teens interviewed said someone had forwarded or posted communication they assumed was private. Thirteen percent of teens said someone had spread a rumor about them online, another 13% said that someone had sent them a threatening or aggressive email, IM or text message and 6% said someone had posted an embarrassing picture of them without their permission. Girls are more likely than boys to be targets of cyberbullying and older girls (15-17) more likely (41%) than younger (34%) girls to report instances of cyberbullying, including a higher incidence of threatening messages. Teens who contribute content to the Internet community - teens who blog, post photos, help others create website - are more likely to report cyberbullying than their less active peers. Social network users are also more likely to be cyberbullied. Nevertheless, most teens (67%) say the bullying is still more common offline than on.

Source:Pew Internet & American Life Project

Plagiarism Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Some Maryland students were surprised to find photos they had posted to their Facebook pages printed in the school yearbook. And while these same teens may at some point have used other people's intellectual property without permission, they were not happy about having their pictures used this way. For one thing, many of the photos were very casual, showing behaviors the teens thought would only be seen by close friends visiting their Facebook pages. The yearbook staff, under time pressure and not closely supervised, ended up filling the pages of the yearbook with photographs downloaded from student Facebook pages. In most cases they did not have permission to use the pictures and did not credit photographers. And for the most part, they thought what they were doing was all right. Though the yearbook advisor had cautioned students to avoid the various social networking sites at the beginning of the year, she was on leave and the yearbook staff was being supervised by a substitute. Publication of the downloaded pictures is a clear violation of Facebook's terms of use, which states that all pictures posted to the site belong to the site and to the user. The school's principal said that he is considering requiring yearbook staffers to take a basic journalism class. Students who work on the school newspaper already take such a class, which covers journalistic ethics and plagiarism.

Source:The Washington Post

America Faltering on Internet Speed and Access

According to "Speed Matters," the median download speed in the United States is 1.9 megabits per second (mbps). In Japan, the median download speed is 61 mbps, or 30 times faster. The U.S. also trails South Korea at 45 mbps, Finland at 21 mbps, Sweden at 18 mbps, and Canada at 7.6 mbps. Further, the US has fallen to 16th place internationally in the number of subscribers to high speed Internet - far behind our global competitors. The new report from the Communications Workers of America present the first ever state-by-state report on Internet connection speed. Between September 2006 and May 2007, nearly 80,000 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia — nearly all of them with broadband connections — have gone to the Speedmatters.org site to take an Internet speed test and measure how fast their computers can upload and download data. This is the first national survey of actual Internet speeds and the results show just how the U.S. continues to lag behind other countries. The report points out that speed matters because it determines what is possible on the Internet. The report goes on to describe the impact of income and geography on users' Internet connection speed, arguing that there is a significant digital divide in America. Sppedmatters.org places a significant amount of the blame on the fact that the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote high-speed broadband and suggests a number of specific steps that the U.S. should take to recover its lost leadership and competitive position to ensure that all residents benefit from affordable, high-speed Internet access. These include establishing a national policy goal, improving data collection to assess the problem, creating public-private partnerships to promote deployment and preserving an open Internet.

Source:Speedmatters.org

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