Week of: September 3, 2007
- Kansas City To Launch Laptop Program
The Kansas City, Kansas school district will be supplying laptops to all 5,500 of its high school students.
- Biometric Lunch Payment System
The Circleville schools are joining a select group of Ohio school districts using new fingerprint technology to allow students to pay for lunch by merely touching their fingertip to a scanner.
- Easing Up on Cell Phones
Middle school students in Montgomery County, MD will join their high school peers and be allowed to carry their cell phones this school year, though they must remain turned off.
- U.K. Considers Online Access to Student Data
The British government is considering a requirement that would allow parents to access information about their children online.
- College Students Use Web To Study
A recent survey indicates that nearly 60% of college students use online tools to help them keep up with course work and prepare for exams.
Kansas City To Launch Laptop Program
The Kansas City, Kansas school district will be supplying laptops to all 5,500 of its high school students. The KC Board of Education's decision to approve the Laptops for Learning program was greeted with a standing ovation from the large group of students, parents and educators who were observing the meeting. The approval follows a successful pilot of the program during the district's summer school session. The district negotiated a four-year, $6.4 million lease with Apple Computer to supply the computers. Funding for the program will come primarily from capital outlay funds and E-Rate funds. Students should receive their laptops starting in November. For now, it appears the program will be limited to in-school use. The Board of Education is slated to consider allowing students to take the computers home at its Sept 11 meeting. A number of Board members have reservations about the take-home portion of the program, citing concerns about student safety and parental involvement. If the Board allows students to take their computers home, parents would have to sign consent forms and attend an orientation session. There will also be a $10 fee imposed to cover the cost of insuring the computer. District leadership believes the take home party of the program is essential to help bridge the digital divide.
Source:The Kansas City Star
Biometric Lunch Payment System
The Circleville schools are joining a select group of Ohio school districts using new fingerprint technology to allow students to pay for lunch by merely touching their fingertip to a scanner. The system keeps accurate records of exactly who has eaten lunch on a given day and helps reduce the amount of time students spend in the lunch line. It also allows students who receive free and reduced price lunches to remain completely anonymous. Parents no longer need to find the correct change or cope with forgotten lunch money. They simply set up prepaid accounts from which each day's lunch cost is deducted automatically. The biometric systems cost between $1,000 to $5,000 per cafeteria line register. Critics worry about student privacy and the security of the digital fingerprint. System vendors point out that the fingerprint used for student identification is very different from the type of fingerprint used by law enforcement agencies. Official fingerprints identify up to 40 separate points of an individual print while the biometrics technology scans just the tip of a finger and uses just 7 to 15 points to confirm identity. The actual scanned fingerprint image is discarded, and the points are assigned numbers. Only the numbers are retained and those cannot be reinterpreted into a fingerprint image. The Akron school system has been using the biometric system since 2003. Currently it is used by about 17,000 students in 17 schools. While at first some parents had real concerns, today 97% of eligible students use the system.
Easing Up on Cell Phones
Middle school students in Montgomery County, MD will join their high school peers and be allowed to carry their cell phones this school year, though they must remain turned off. Last year, any middle schooler carrying a cell phone was in violation of the district's code of conduct. Montgomery County lawmakers and school board members led the 2001 campaign that overturned a 12-year-old Maryland law that banned pagers and cell phones in schools. But the school district then limited the privilege of carrying cell phones to high school students. The school board decided to extend the privilege to middle school students after a year-long field test at four schools indicated that middle school students were mature enough to handle the responsibility. While cell phones sometimes rang during class, there were no instance of inappropriate picture taking or use of the phone to cheat on a test. Students in neighboring school systems have been allowed to carry - though not use - cell phones for several years. Fairfax County dropped its cell phone ban in high schools just after the Sept. 11 attacks and extended the privilege to middle schools in 2003. Any student in the Alexandria, Loudon County and Howard County school systems can carry a cell phone as long as it is turned off and kept out of sight. Students and parents alike lobbied for the Montgomery County cell phone extension, citing safety issues and the need for highly mobile families to stay in touch.
Source:The Washington Post
U.K. Considers Online Access to Student Data
The British government is considering a requirement that would allow parents to access information about their children online. The government hopes the initiative will encourage greater parental involvement and allow parents to ask specific questions about their children's studies. Currently, schools are required to provide student reports once a year, though a recent policy study called for requiring reports at the end of each term. If the government moves ahead with its plan, secondary schools would be required to post timetables, test results, attendance records and school reports on a secure school network. Parents would sign on with a unique password and get immediate access to what their children are studying each day and how they are performing in each subject. . While there are no immediate plans to use the online postings to replace the yearly report, that might happen in the future. Some U.K. schools are already making student information available online and others are using technology to notify parents of unexplained absence. As has been true in the U.S., the teacher unions express deep concerns about the added administrative burden online reporting will impose on teachers. They also raise questions about what happens when a parent does not have Internet access. While the unions support the use of technology to increase contact with parents, they will oppose any attempts to make such online efforts compulsory.
College Students Use Web To Study
A recent survey indicates that nearly 60% of college students use online tools to help them keep up with course work and prepare for exams. Using the web for test prep is very popular. Three-out-of-four students use online quizzing tools to review content and prepare for tests. Students also use the online course outlines that accompany their textbooks, with two-out-three students downloading these study aids. Smaller numbers of students use online video tutorials (29%) online tutoring services (24%) and online study groups (16%). More than one-third of students surveyed said they would buy an electronic version of a textbook. But computers can also serve as a distraction. When seeking distraction, students turn to music/entertainment (44%), the computer (43%) and caffeine, sugar or food (36%). And students continue to burn the midnight oil. While the majority (49%) of students said that mid-day is their favorite study time, 35% prefer to study in the late night/dawn hours.