Here's a troubling story about a MySpace prank gone awry. A teen in Wilkes Barre, Pa., was sent by the local juvenile court in 2007 to a privately run youth detention center after creating a spoof MySpace page of her assistant principal. According to The Associated Press article, the teen claims she wasn't told of her right to an attorney. Now prosecutors have uncovered what they say is an elaborate kickback scheme that put millions in the pockets of two judges who made a deal with the detention centers to send them more inmates. This raises all kinds of issues ...


The Education Department wants everyone to see how it has come into the 21st Century. The department is now on Twitter and I just got an alert that it has tweeted! The tweets are blasts of information in 140 characters or less, so I'm not sure how much info we can expect from these communiques. Today's tweet links to a video of Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaking at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. Now I'm really feeling like I'm in the loop. I wonder if the department will send out tweets on the really important stuff, like to alert ...


The ins and outs of the federal E-rate program are enough to set even the steadiest of heads spinning. Now a consulting firm that works with clients on E-rate compliance issues has launched a blog that will tackle the complexities of the program, which provides financial support for telecommunications in schools and libraries. Funds for Learning, LLC, based in Edmond, Okla., will tap experts in the field to explain details of the program, provide policy analysis, and offer tips. The Funds for Learning blog will also invite guest posts from E-rate administrators. The new FFL resource is not alone though. ...


Todd Oppenheimer has long questioned the unmitigated enthusiasm some educators and policymakers have for technology in the classroom. The author of The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology is now urging the Obama Administration to curb any plans to expand programs that boost technology use in the nation's schools, particularly the teaching of technology skills in the elementary grades. In this San Francisco Chronicle article he makes the case for developing other skills that are required for success in the global economy: "writing and reasoning; reliable work habits; the capacity for concentration and face-to-face communication; a ...


Like most of my colleagues at Digital Directions, I am knee-deep in a bunch of stories about how online education is impacting K-12 schools, which is the focus of this year's upcoming Technology Counts report (to be released at the end of March.) At this point, I've talked to countless people about this—from teachers and administrators to CEOs and academic experts—and there's a lot of excitement about where online education could take us. To get a sneak-peek into some of what the stories we're working on delve into, I highly recommend that you check out my colleague Michelle ...


Bill Gates sure knows how to get people's attention. But at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference this week, it didn't take any high-tech tools to perk up the crowd, according to this article. Gates unleashed a jar full of mosquitoes on the business, arts, and science leaders in the audience at the elite conference in in Monterey, Calif., to make a point about malaria. "There is no reason only poor people should be infected," he told them. He paused before telling them the insects were disease free. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars ...


Chicago public schools has been creating a series of videos about various initiatives and projects in that district called CPS Right Now! The videos typically involve students and teachers, who share with the viewers their experiences, what they're doing in class, and how it's helping students. It's a really fascinating project—I could watch these all day. Here's one episode that explores iEARN—International Education and Resource Center—which students in Chicago are using to connect with classrooms across the globe. I think it really encapsulates the types of skills and opportunities that technology can bring to the classroom, which ...


If you're like most ed-tech enthusiasts, I'm sure you're watching closely the economic stimulus packages proposed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which include $1 billion for education technology. (Here's a story written by my colleague Alyson Klein about the details of those plans.) The question now is whether that money is going to make it through the conference committee (when the Senate and the House hammer out the differences between their plans), and what will it look like if it does. I listened in today on a conference call, sponsored by ISTE (International Society for ...


A new study by Purdue University has shed some light on how to most effectively engage students in technology and engineering at a young age. The study took five classes of 8th graders in a rural Indiana school and taught them about human impacts on water and water quality through a traditional textbook and lecture method and then compared their comprehension of those subjects to another five classes of 8th graders from that school who learned about water quality through engineering design modules. The students in the latter group were asked to build a water purification device as a way ...


I've been back in Portland for a few days, but I have one more post I wanted to write about FETC. During the conference, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a white paper (PDF) about 21st-century learning environments. The paper addresses more than just what the architectural structure of a school should be (although it does address that topic as well), but includes suggestions on the kind of technological and community infrastructure schools should have. The paper also emphasizes that learning environments are no longer confined to brick and mortar school buildings anymore. The idea behind a 21st-century learning ...


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