Week of: July 9, 2007
- Students Immersed in Data
Education students at Paul Quinn College are learning in a new state-of-the-art-classroom where flipcharts, data, video, and other digital information surround them on the walls.
- Maryland Pilots Online Tests
Roughly a third of all Maryland fifth-and eighth-graders took the science portion of the Maryland School Assessments online this year, with no major problems reported.
- Summer School Goes Online
Schools across the metropolitan Detroit area are going online to deliver summer school services, saving money and increasing program flexibility.
- Gamers Do Less Reading and Homework
New research indicates that boys who play video games read less, while girl gamers do less homework.
- reCAPTCHA Helps Digitize Text
A familiar Web security device is now being used to help correct problems that occur when printed text is digitized using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.
Students Immersed in Data
Education students at Paul Quinn College are learning in a new state-of-the-art-classroom where flipcharts, data, video, and other digital information surround them on the walls. All of the content can be displayed, shared and updated in real time, around the globe or around the corner. The room is equipped with a virtual flipchart, a large projection screen that displays multiple images, four projectors and a speaker system. The digital flipchart accepts input information from just about any source — laptops, scanned images and video — or students can simply write on it. Images are projected on the wall for all to see. Multiple laptops can be connected and live views of their screens are displayed as individual charts, enabling collaboration. With the touch of an icon, participants from other classrooms can join a session, see all of the posted information, exchange data, and share ideas — regardless of physical location. Individual participants can join an ongoing session from their laptops with full multi-way participation, sharing their laptop screen, adding content, and annotating. Everything that is displayed can be printed or saved to a USB drive. The system archives sessions and allows users to pick up where they left off. The digital classroom at Paul Quinn is connected to similar classrooms at four other Texas colleges, members of the Texas Association of Developing Colleges (TADC). Education majors are using the system to share classes and collaborate with peers now, but are developing ideas about how such a system could be used in their future careers. Cost is a real barrier, with the typical classroom system costing about $150,000. Paul Quinn is paying for its system with funding from the state Legislature for TADC's teacher preparation program.
Source:Dallas Morning News
Maryland Pilots Online Tests
Roughly a third of all Maryland fifth-and eighth-graders took the science portion of the Maryland School Assessments online this year, with no major problems reported. Since science is not considered a "high-stakes" test, unlike math and reading, it seemed like a good place to run a pilot of online testing. Though there were no major problems, in many cases it took a lot of work to accommodate the online tests and some concerns have surfaced. Many school systems shuttled students in and out of computer labs that had been modified to serve as testing environments, with significant work needed to make the accommodations and schedule all the sessions. Schools found this effort more disruptive than simply administering paper-based tests. Some observers, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, are worried about equity issues, fearing that students who do not have regular exposure to technology may be at a disadvantage when facing an online test. The Baltimore City schools, which serve a high percentage of poor students, created a "science benchmark test" to help students prepare for the online pilot. They also had experts work with classes to be sure that they were fully familiar with the computer lab. State officials say that the logistical problems can be overcome, but they acknowledge that equity issues will have to be resolved before the state even considers requiring that tests be administered online. The percentage of students taking the test online in any given school system varied widely — from 13% in Prince George's County and 22% in Baltimore City to 95% in Anne Arundel County and 100% in Harford County. While officials and observers may have concerns, most students easily adapted to the online test. Many students who took the paper-based version of the test were disappointed that they could not do the test online.
Summer School Goes Online
Schools across the metropolitan Detroit area are going online to deliver summer school services, saving money and increasing program flexibility. Schools need fewer teachers to run an online program. The South Redford School District is running a program for 125 students this summer employing six teachers rather than the nine they used last year. Fewer classrooms can be used, with students studying disparate subject meeting in one large central classroom and working independently. Districts can also offer a greater range of courses, no longer needing a minimum number of students to justify the cost of a teacher. In some districts, online summer school courses are being used as a test run for more extensive online work during the regular school year. While courses are designed to last for four to six weeks students can work at their own pace. If they're willing to put in the time, students can complete a course in a shorter time span. While parents and students value are happy with the increased flexibility the format allows, others question if online courses are rigorous enough. Teachers responsible for monitoring classes say that students are working as hard as they would in a traditional face-to-face session, just doing it in a more self-directed and independent manner.
Source:The Detroit News
Gamers Do Less Reading and Homework
New research indicates that boys who play video games read less, while girl gamers do less homework. While boys and girls who played video games on school days spent roughly 30% less time reading or doing homework than their non-gaming peers, the video games did not interfere significantly with time spent with family and friends. In an effort to explore how video games affect academic pursuits and social relationships, researchers gathered data from a nationally representative sample of children aged 10 to 19 in 2002 who tracked their activities on a random weekday and a random weekend day. Roughly 36% of the children in the sample played video games. Of those players, 80% were boys. Boys spent an average of 58 minutes playing on weekdays and one hour and 37 minutes playing on a weekend day. Girls spent 44 minutes playing on a weekday and an hour and four minutes on a weekend day. Interestingly, playing video games did not reduce the amount of time girls spent reading or that boys spent doing homework. Researchers are not sure what explains the distinct gender differences. They want to delve deeper to discover exactly what is going on in.
reCAPTCHA Helps Digitize Text
A familiar Web security device is now being used to help correct problems that occur when printed text is digitized using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. OCR doesn't render a printed page perfectly, resulting in a number of textual errors. To resolve those errors, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are repurposing the CAPTCHA technology they invented to read the incorrectly scanned words. A CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer. Almost every Web user has interacted with a CAPTCHA — those weirdly distorted sets of words and numbers that appear when the user tries to log onto a Web site. To get in, the user must type the correct equivalent of the distorted text, something humans find easy to do and computers don't, thus keeping automated programs from spreading malicious code on CAPTCHA-protected Web sites. The repurposed program, reCAPTCHA, improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of Catches for humans to decipher. Each word that cannot be read correctly by OCR is placed on an image and used as a CAPTCHA. The unknown word is paired with a known word; if the user deciphers the known word correctly, it is assumed that the unknown word is also correct. That assumption is then tested by giving the new image to a number of other people to determine, with higher confidence, whether the original answer was correct. The project, which launched in mid-May, is helping digitize books from the Internet Archive.