Week of: September 17, 2007
- Tablet PC Comes into Its Own
Students at Pickering College, a private K-12 school north of Toronto, use tablet PCs to take class notes and do their school work.
- Technology Eases Boredom of Long Bus Ride
Internet access, video iPods and laptop computers are helping turn students' long rides on the school bus into an educational opportunity.
- NACOL Issues Standards for Online Courses
The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) released National Standards of Quality for Online Courses, common benchmarks for evaluating online courses.
- Technology in MD Schools
Technology is widely used in the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools, which average one computer for every five students.
- SciVee: YouTube for Science?
SciVee is a new Web 2.0 tool for science content, combining user-generated video content with tagging and communities.
Tablet PC Comes into Its Own
Students at Pickering College, a private K-12 school north of Toronto, use tablet PCs to take class notes and do their school work. After evaluating a lot of products, the school opted for the tablet because of its handwriting recognition software. Students can take notes just as they would on paper and the handwritten notes are digitized and can be converted to text. Teachers are able to make annotations directly on the screen and return papers quickly to students. At Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario, students and coaches use tablets to map out plays for upcoming athletic events. The burgeoning uptake in tablet PC use in education is due to improvements in the machine's configuration and software. The original tablet PCs were heavy and awkward and their handwriting recognition software was unreliable. But today's tablets have been merged, so to speak, with laptops, resulting in what the industry calls a "convertible," a standard laptop whose touch screen twists 180 degrees and can be folded flat against the keyboard to create a clipboard-like platform. The price differential is slowly shrinking, with tablets now running about $300 more than laptops. Analysts expect that eventually tablet functions will become a standard feature of laptop computers, making it easier for users to take notes quietly during meetings and lectures.
Source:The Globe and Mail
Technology Eases Boredom of Long Bus Ride
Internet access, video iPods and laptop computers are helping turn students' long rides on the school bus into an educational opportunity. Some students in Arkansas' rural Sheridan School District spend as much as 15 hours a week on the school bus going to and from school. Not only is it boring, it can be a big chunk of wasted time. The Aspirnaut Initiative is hoping to combat both by giving students machines loaded with educational videos to use during the long commute. The pilot program is the brainchild of a Vanderbilt University biochemistry professor, Billy Hudson, who grew up in rural Grapevine and knows the challenges of teaching in rural school systems. The collaborative research project between Vanderbilt's Center for Science Outreach, the school district of Sheridan, Ark., and the rural community of Grapevine, Arkansas is designed to turn the school bus into a one-room schoolhouse, using online video and podcasts to deliver educational content. Other schools throughout the nation are turning to technology to enhance students' educational opportunities. The Alabama Best Practices Center is coordinating a $430,000 Partners in Learning grant from Microsoft, overseeing the activities of 40 schools participating in the 21st Century Learning Project to demonstrate what can be done with an online curriculum. Technology not only brings worldwide resources into the classroom, it allows students to reach out and tell their own stories to a global audience.
NACOL Issues Standards for Online Courses
The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) released National Standards of Quality for Online Courses, common benchmarks for evaluating online courses. NACOL's mission is to increase educational opportunities and to enhance learning by providing collegial expertise and leadership in the K-12 online teaching and learning. Recognizing that standards help ensure quality and consistency, NACOL conducted a comprehensive review of course standards available. Based on this review, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Standards for Quality Online Courses, used by the 16 states in the southern United States is adopted as the source for the NACOL National Standards for Quality for Online Courses. NACOL added a standard to include 21st Century Skills. These quality standards were assembled into an easy to use document for evaluating online courses with common benchmarks. The standards will help policy leaders, schools, and parents across the nation evaluate course quality and implement best practices. NACOL estimates that K-12 online learning is growing rapidly, 30% annually. If providers of online courses meet these standards, assuring consumers of quality coursework, the use of online learning could expand even more rapidly.
Technology in MD Schools
Technology is widely used in the Montgomery County (MD) Public Schools, which average one computer for every five students. As access improved and teachers and students became more computer savvy, technology shifted from a supplemental tool to an integral part of classroom teaching and learning. Schools like William H. Farquhar Middle School will be adding student response systems to their repertoire this year, joining the inventory of LCD projectors and Internet-connected televisions. Several middle schools will also be adding interactive white boards. School web sites stream video of the morning announcements and feature interactive lessons and other instructional resources. Middle and high school parents and students use Edline, a classroom-to-home communication system that includes information about grades, attendance and daily assignments. But technology is not without problems. Teachers work with students to help prevent instances of plagiarism, made easy by ready access to the Internet. And while school computers all have high-speed Internet connections, not all students have reliable access to technology at home. To address that problem, the school system works with county government agencies, including the public libraries, to ensure students' computer access outside of school.
SciVee: YouTube for Science?
SciVee is a new Web 2.0 tool for science content, combining user-generated video content with tagging and communities. A collaboration of the Public Library of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, SciVee is meant to help solve the information overload currently facing biomedical scientists by offering users a mid-ground between reading just an abstract or reading an entire paper of monograph. The bulk of SciVee's content will be â€œpubcasts," in which researchers provides a short video description of their work that's synchronized to the display of text from the paper. Viewers will gain more information than they can get from an abstract without having to invest significantly more time in the effort. Initially much of the content is expected to come from graduate students, but organizers foresee a time when more senior researchers will participate. SciVee will also publish other types of materials. It is already hosting video presentations from high school students who worked at the University of California, San Diego this summer. Podcasts of lectures are another possibility.