Trend Watch(9)

E-Rate Windfall

Last March, a selection of libraries and school districts across the country got some very good news indeed. Due to a significant carryover in unused E-Rate funds from previous years, some $420 million fattened up the 2003 coffers. This means the Universal Service Administrative Company was able to send out commitment letters to internal connections applicants with between 70 percent and 85 percent discount rates. Recipients will have until September 30, 2005, to receive and install nonrecurring services paid for through these discounts.

High-Tech Student IDs

At a recent software summit on the campus of Sun Microsystems, we were able to see the latest innovations in the use of Java-enabled smart cards on campus. The cards, very much like traditional ID badges but with a small computer chip embedded, allow for levels of identity verification (and security) beyond a photograph or barcode. Students and faculty at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, for example, plan to use their Java-enabled ID cards to not only access library materials and gain entry to buildings, but to verify cyber access, register for classes, submit encrypted course changes or homework assignments, and pay for goods and services throughout the campus.

Flex Your Political Muscle

The Ed Tech Action Network, a recent joint initiative between ISTE and CoSN, aims to pump up grassroots support for education technology funding at the federal level. ETAN also hopes to help education technology leaders across the country become more involved in the political process and be better advocates. The new organization's Web site provides a series of policy position papers, legislative tips, and action alerts. Register for the network at

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Electronic Books: The Sequel

Are e-books making a comeback? IBM recently inked a deal with Vital Source Technologies to provide digitized versions of David Copperfield, Little Women, Anna Karenina, and over 2,000 other classics to its education customers who purchase the company's notebooks and desktops. But the real news is they're helping schools digitize textbooks and other classroom materials-the only way e-books will really fly in K-12. Forney Independent School District in Texas, the first district to pilot the solution, will be serving up curriculum to selected fifth- and sixth-graders on ThinkPad computers come fall. Hey, speaking of e-books, Technology & Learning will be relaunching Digital Video in the Classroom as Digital Media in the Classroom, an E-Guide to Resources and Best Practices...stay tuned for the first digital issue in June.