Rolling Up our Sleeves
Practical tools were definitely front and center in this year's conference offerings. Organizations and vendors alike are focusing on helping educators both integrate and advocate for technology.
- Education leaders spent a preconference day at the ISTE Leadership Symposium 2005 using futurist Joel Barker's Implications Wheel, a software program designed to assist them in thinking critically about the broad range of consequences of major decisions. The wheel allows teams to list both positive and negative possible outcomes and to evaluate their impact.
- The newest addition to the State Educational Technology Directors Association's Toolkit of practical resources is Virtual Schools and Distance Learning. The kit includes a comprehensive range of guidelines, resources, and models for districts that want to get started with or improve its online learning programs. Fees, vendor requirements, teacher certification, grading, credit, and other topics are addressed in the toolkit (www.setda.org).
To even the most casual observer at NECC in June, the bevy of probeware products being unveiled at the show indicated the growing attention being paid to science and math. Here's just a few of the products set to hit the market over the next few months.
Fourier Systems Nova5000 will let students log scientific measurements and connect to the internet.
- Vernier Software & Technology's EasyLink lets middle and high school students connect sensors to the USB ports of Texas Instruments' TI-84 graphing calculators to measure everything from light to pH levels.
- Fourier Systems is planning on a late 2005 release for the Nova5000, a tablet PC geared toward science and math. The company believes the unit will bridge the gap between the small screens of handheld computers and the cost of laptops.
- ImagiWorks will be releasing the ImagiProbe Airlink Sensor, a BlueTooth-enabled wireless data collection tool that works with Palm handheld computers.
The following are quotes from ISTE CEO Don Knezek at a NECC press conference.
"The heroes of the past are now seen as renegades. When you add those kinds [assessment and reporting] of requirements, it's got to come out of the local school district's hide."
In response to a question about school budgets and the dearth of innovation in today's new curriculum products:
"If we lose e-rate funding, the whole idea of equity for students goes out the door."
"Schools that are close to their communities are able to sustain funding through tough times."
Special 25th Anniversary Survey: Tell Us What You Think
- What are your top three wish list technologies for school or personal use?
- What will "school" look like 25 years down the line in 2030?
Share your thoughts with us at www.techlearning.com/ 25years/survey.jhtml for a chance to win a 16-seat TI-Navigator 2.0 Classroom Learning System and class set of TI-84 Plus Silver Edition graphing calculators worth more than $4,000.
The Learning Game
Tabula Digita is all about fun and games. The New York-based upstart is piloting a video game called Dimenxian that teaches Algebra I concepts to seventh graders and older. The X-Filean hook: student/players move around a virtual island to investigate why the local animals are morphing in bizarre ways (Hint: a top-secret government lab is involved). "In many ways it's a whodunit," says company founder Ntiedo Etuk. "In [consumer] video games logic puzzles are used get to the next point. In this case, the puzzles are contextualized algebra equations." In one of the game's missions, for example, players learn graphing skills while tracking down temperature data.
Why the sudden resurgence of interest in educational gaming?
"The industry is starting to wake up and realize there's a different type of student out there, and the methods used in the past aren't going to be enough to engage them," says Etuk, who notes his company has hired outside evaluators to study Dimenxian's effect on student achievement. Expect a late 2006 release date (www.tabuladigita.com).
More than half of respondents (55 percent) to Technology & Learning's online QuickPoll believe the doctorate of education degree needs an overhaul, while 45 percent think the Ed.D. is fine as is, thank you very much. Here are some of the comments.
Do you agree with Arthur Levine that the Ed.D. in its current form should be eliminated?
"We need principals who know how manage a budget, coordinate with elected officials, and focus resources toward specific measurable outcomes."
"I think school leaders function very much like CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs. They need more management skills."
"The Ed.D. only artificially inflates egos and salaries. It is not much more than a status symbol."
"Ed.D. grads reflect the best in education as practitioners of action research, beyond those who simply theorize in ivory towers."
"Don't dismiss the Ed.D. degree because some institutions have not provided the appropriate level of rigor and research. Instead, look for some accreditation process that ensures quality programs."
"Bad call, Arthur Levine! I am working excruciatingly hard at real research and the end result will be an Ed.D. from a fine institution."
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