Educators who are skeptical about students spending their time at social-networking Web sites may have a reason to rethink that opinion. The U.S. space agency has started a Facebook page as a way to engage young people with its activities involving science, technology, engineering, and math education. The NASA page is intended for students in grades 9-12 and higher ed. It offers news about competitions, feature articles, podcasts, and videos. Students must have their own (free) Facebook membership before signing up for the NASA site. The page will also update students on opportunities that have an upcoming deadline, timetables ...


Web 2.0 technologies are showing flashes of potential for allowing K-12 students to collaborate globally about important issues. I glimpsed some of that potential recently in a Web conference on global warming that involved some middle and high school students on the east and west coasts of the United States and in Africa. Taking part were students at the Ni River Middle School, in Spotsylvania County, Va.; the Insight School of Washington, an online school based in Spokane, Wash.; and Le Petit Séminaire de Pabré, near Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, in central Africa. The schools are in ...


Here's an in-depth article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiling one family which has enrolled its children in the Georgia Virtual Academy after deciding that online education is the right choice for them. The Georgia Virtual Academy has become one of the biggest in the nation, with about 4,400 middle and elementary school students. Although enrollment in this school, and other online academies, is growing, some opponents of online education are worried about test scores from virtual schools. For example, at the Georgia Virtual Academy, 74 percent of 8th graders failed their state math test, compared with 38 percent of ...


There's an interesting story up on The Sacramento Bee about a new law that will take effect on Jan. 1 in California that allows school districts to punish students for cyberbullying. Specifically, the law allows schools to suspend or expel students for bullying other students over the Internet, through text messages, and other electronic means. Part of the impetus for the passing of the bill was the case of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who committed suicide after a complicated case of cyberbullying and deception on MySpace. (You can read more about that here.) As cyberbullying becomes more and more ...


I just finished up a story for Digital Directions today about what Obama plans to do for the ed-tech community and how that measures up to what prominent members of that community believe he should do once he takes office on Jan. 20. As we mentioned before, Obama has pledged to put more computers in schools and expand broadband access to homes and schools as part of his economic-recovery plan that he hopes will create up to 3 million jobs. In addition, Obama has indicated that technology will play a much larger role in the infrastructure of government, something ed-tech ...


As many folks have predicted, I think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to distance learning, which is pretty much an umbrella term for any situation where a teacher interacts with students who are not in the same classroom, such as online classes or interactive-TV classes. This AP story examines how schools in Minnesota are using distance learning, mostly through Project SOCRATES. Distance learning is having a particularly strong impact in smaller, rural districts, according to the article. "These classes are really crucial for school districts," said Dave Henning, SOCRATES E-learning manager, "especially some of ...


This Business Week article is a good read for those of you wondering what exactly President-elect Barack Obama is planning to do for ed tech once he takes office. The story talks quite a bit about President-elect Barack Obama's plans to provide computers with Internet access to schools as part of the economic stimulus plan that is currently being constructed. The details of the plan are still pretty sketchy, but based on what he's said at press conferences recently, the tech community will probably be seeing a big jump in the number of jobs available in that sector because of ...


Getting caught up on recent tech news, I ran across a couple of stories that I think are worth checking out. This AP story talks about scientists who are starting to investigate how daily exposure to technology is affecting people's brains. While violent video games have gotten a lot of public attention, some current concerns go well beyond that. Some scientists think the wired world may be changing the way we read, learn, and interact with each other.There are no firm answers yet. But Dr. Gary Small, a psychiatrist at UCLA, argues that daily exposure to digital technologies such ...


Would you hire a French teacher who had certification, say, only in Spanish; or who had merely taken some undergraduate classes in French culture; or who once visited France but couldn’t speak the language; or who was a native French speaker with no preparation for teaching? Of course you wouldn’t. But weak certification requirements in computer science teaching are apparently allowing teachers with comparable gaps to teach computer science in U.S. high schools, according to a new report by the Computer Science Teachers Association. The report, by CSTA’s Certification Task Force, finds that, in most states, ...


This paper (PDF) written by three researchers at Duke University puts a new spin on what educators should do about the "digital divide." After analyzing data from 2000 to 2005 of North Carolina public school students, the researchers found that there was a persistent gap between students who had access to computers with Internet access in their homes, which was most strongly tied with their parents' level of education (as in, those students whose parents were highly educated were more likely to have a computer in the home than students whose parents had lower levels of education). That's not really ...


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