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Going Mobile in South America

While handheld computing has steadily been gaining momentum in U.S. schools over the past three years, it's also drawn the attention of developing countries looking to provide their students with a low-cost, portable educational tool. For example, researchers at the Catholic University of Chile are investigating the impact of PocketPC mobile technology on student engagement and achievement. "The expectation is that students will improve their scores on the national admissions test, which is Chile's equivalent to the SAT II," Catholic University professor Ricardo Rosas told us recently at Stanford's Center for Innovations in Learning. Results of the study, funded in part by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, are available at

Playing Red Rover

The first of a fleet of international science probes began arriving on Mars this month as the European Space Agency's Mars Express and NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rovers set out to examine the red planet in detail. Among the technologies being put to use to study the environment and look for signs of past or present life are a panoramic camera, magnets, a microscopic imager, and an X-ray spectrometer. Software developer Space Holdings is celebrating with a documentary DVD, Eyes on Mars, that offers more than two hours of content, including a 3-D simulation of the launch, flight, and landing of the Rover. The program also features interviews with guest experts, a look at past missions, and artist renderings of Mars landscapes.

Skype's the Limit

What's the next Internet fad your students will be embracing? If over three million downloads in just one month of operation are any indication, it's Skype, a new peer-to-peer technology that lets users make free phone calls to each other using their computers. Created by the folks behind popular file-sharing program Kazaa, Skype works on PCs with Windows 2000 or XP, a microphone, speakers, and an Internet connection. Users can create a list of "buddies" and literally give them a call when they're logged on. We suspect it will become a trendy teen communication tool, much like instant messaging.

What's Your Opinion?

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More Political Backlash for NCLB

Democratic presidential candidates many of whom backed the original NCLB legislation criticize the Bush administration for not providing adequate funding to ensure effective reform. Perhaps the most outspoken critic of NCLB is Democrat Howard Dean, who argues that the act relies on "incomprehensible and invalid" statistics to measure success and calls it "nothing less than the beginning of the dismantlement of our public school system."

Read other articles from the January Issue