Too bad for us, perhaps, but Margaret Spellings did not choose the Digital Education blog to release her new white paper on educational technology. The U.S. secretary of education chose instead eduwonk for her debut as a guest blogger. On the other hand, maybe it's just as well, because what is probably the Bush administration’s last gasp on the subject of educational technology is an anemic effort. The 10-page document, available here, basically echoes the administration’s previous positions on ed-tech. It states support for expansion of online and virtual schools, better data systems, individualization of education (through ...


The Oregon Department of Education is not scoring very well in its 2-year-old dispute with Vantage Learning. On Friday, an Oregon jury awarded $3.5 million to the online testing company to compensate it for tests that it had administered but that were not paid for by the state. The jury of the Marion County Circuit Court found that the education department breached its contract with Vantage by failing to negotiate in good faith to settle the payment issue, establish a new pricing structure, and deal fairly with the company. The jury unanimously rejected the education department’s claim that ...


I've heard about students being punished for what they write on social networking sites, but this article is the first I've heard of teachers being held accountable for making inappropriate comments online. Seven teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district were flagged for posting inappropriate content on their Facebook pages, says the article. Four of those teachers have been disciplined for their posts and one is waiting for a ruling on whether she can keep her job. The teacher facing firing apparently listed one of her activities as "teaching chitlins in the ghetto of Charlotte" and "drinking" as one of her hobbies, ...


It may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that improvements to school programs can make a profound difference in young people’s lives. That thought occurred to me when I met with a group of ambitious students at the Chesapeake High STEM Academy, a public school in Essex, Md. This is not a fancy suburban school, but one that shares many characteristics of urban schools. The half-dozen students—most of them seniors at the school—described to me their lofty career goals, such as medicine and biomedical, electrical, robotics, and civil engineering. They are pursuing those goals by taking ...


For a while now, there's been a debate brewing in the education community about the impact of Web 2.0 tools and the Internet on students' writing skills. Critics say that the abbreviated and grammatically incorrect nature of Web 2.0 writing makes it harder and more confusing for students who are learning the basics of writing, while others argue that anytime a kid is writing, it's a good thing, and those same tools encourage and motivate kids to write more often. This story in The Miami Herald takes the latter stance, saying that blogs, social networking sites, text messages, ...


This week, about 250 educators from 64 different countries converged in Hong Kong at the Innovative Teachers Forum, sponsored by Microsoft, to talk about different ways to use technology in classrooms across the globe. Today, some of those teachers were recognized for their exceptional and innovative work in ed tech. Although our focus here at Digital Directions is mostly on education in the U.S., the more I report on ed tech, the more undeniable it is that we are actually living in a global learning environment that values collaboration between nations. Reading through the winners of this year's Innovative ...


The Washington Post has an interesting story up about the way that technology is making it easier for parents to check their students' grades, without having to wait until the end of the semester. Some school districts have moved to online grading systems that alert parents every time a new grade is recorded into their child's average. This helps keep both students and parents in the loop about how everything from homework assignments to quizzes and tests affect their overall class average, says the article. Apparently, many parents really enjoy this new way of keeping up with their child's grades, ...


Three quarters of the K-12 teachers in a nationwide survey report that they, or a colleague at their school, are assigning homework that requires students to use the Internet. What's more, students in 42 percent of schools are producing or creating their own videos as part of their schoolwork, with the number rising to 60 percent for high school students. The survey of 1,436 classroom teachers and library media specialists was conducted online last April by Grunwald Associates LLC, in Bethesda, Md. It was released Oct. 23, by Cable in the Classroom, the cable industry's education foundation. Video creation ...


One of the last sessions I attended at this year's T+L Conference was hosted by the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE. One of the initiatives that makes ISTE such a valuable resource to ed-tech leaders is the National Education Technology Standards, or NETS, that it puts out every few years. So far, ISTE has revised its NETS for students and teachers, and now it is working on revising those standards for administrators, to be rolled out at next year's National Educational Computing Conference in June. I sat in today on a group discussion about what those ...


I just stepped out of the National School Boards Association's press conference on the results of its new Technology and Learning Survey results. This is the fifth year that NSBA has done the survey, which asks about 500 district-level technology administrators to identify their biggest concerns and interests. This year, they added three new questions to the survey: what the top priorities of the next administration in the White House should be related to ed-tech, how the current economic situation has impacted technology programs, and how data is being used to drive decisionmaking. Not surprisingly, the number one challenge ed-tech ...


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