Trend Watch(4)

Talking Technology

While we're starting to see Voice over Internet Protocol make inroads in K-12, higher education seems to be where the communications technology is getting the most traction. Case in point: New Hampshire's Dartmouth College has established a campus-wide VoIP network, which essentially turns a computer into a telephone. This year students have been given the option to download software (known as softphones) onto computers which then display a phone and keypad-and long distance calls are free. VoIP is not new, but the planned scope (it will reach 13,000 people) of such a wireless data network is. Bob Johnson, the college's director of network services, muses aloud about what will win out in the long run-"instant messaging, cell phones, e-mail, or Voice over IP?"

Point...

"It is hard to look at the new [No Child Left Behind] legislation and not share in its Fordist vision of the classroom as a brightly lit assembly line, in which curriculum standards sail down from Washington through a chute, and fresh-scrubbed, defect-free students come bouncing out the other end. It is an extraordinary vision, particularly at a time when lawmakers seem mostly preoccupied with pointing out all the things that government cannot do. The only problem, of course-and it's not a trivial one-is that children aren't widgets."

- Malcolm Gladwell, "Making the Grade," New Yorker, Sept. 15, 2003

...Counterpoint

"Henry Ford created a world-class company, a leader in its industry. More important, Ford would not have survived the competition had it not been for an emphasis on results. We must view education the same way. Good schools do operate like a business. They care about outcomes, routinely assess quality, and measure the needs of the children they serve."

- Rod Paige in a letter to the editor, New Yorker, Oct. 6, 2003

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think students should be able to rate their teachers in a public forum? Click here and let us know what you think. We'll report your responses on Back Page.

Turning the Tables on Teachers

Do your students think you're a "1" or a "5"? While the Web is increasingly being used to administer student tests, it's also become a mobilizing tool for kids to assess their assessors. At RateMyTeachers.com, students have anonymously ranked over 390,000 teachers across the country based on criteria such as helpfulness and clarity. Founded by two California educators, the site, not surprisingly, has been criticized by many teachers as not having enough safeguards to root out inaccurate and inappropriate comments. Education Week reported that up to 200 schools have already barred students from accessing it. www.ratemyteachers.com

Read other articles from the November Issue

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