February 2009 Archives

Edweek.org now has a widget for our coverage related to the federal stimulus. You can embed this widget in your blog or on your Web site to help readers follow the latest news and analysis on how the huge infusion of federal money is being targeted for schools. if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('d313643b-e81f-4c87-82f6-f5af275ba98f');Get the Edweek.org: Schools & Stimulus widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Just click on the grey "Get Widget" tab, above, and copy and paste the code into your blog or Web site. It's easy! Our crack Web team has already posted a ...


As I learned from my story about open content licensing, there's a lot of confusion on the part of both teachers and students about copyright law. The Internet in particular has made copyright even more difficult to figure out, since it's so easy to copy information, pictures, music, and other forms of multimedia, whether it's legal or not. That's why I was particularly excited to get the announcement from the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy and the American Association of School Libraries (AASL), in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English, about new copyright lesson ...


There's been a lot of debate about the role of personal technologies in schools, particularly cell phones and text devices. Schools generally try to prohibit students from phoning and texting when they are supposed to be listening in class. So what kind of role models are these lawmakers who were Twittering during President Obama's State of the Union address? Dana Milbank's columns in The Washington Post are always entertaining, and offer unique insights into the inner workings of Congress. Today's piece is a commentary on lawmakers' preoccupation with the 140-character messages they were sending to their "followers" on Twitter, questioning ...


One segment of the K-12 population that I think is sometimes forgotten about by ed-tech folks (and I admit: I'm guilty of it as well) is the "little folks" as Tammy Worcester, author of several books about computer activities for K-3 students, would say. The last session I attended at NCCE was her talk on "Computer Activities for Little Folks," which went through many suggestions of activities that could be used for K-3 students. I'm not going to go through everything she talked about—like the greeting cards or mini-books she showed us how to make through PowerPoint—but she ...


As I mentioned before, I attended two sessions at the NCCE conference last week that were great. The first session I went to, which was standing-room-only, was about open-source tools and content for teachers by Karen Fasimpur. She spent the first part of her talk explaining the different licenses that are available to create open resources, something that I wrote about awhile ago after I realized how much confusion was out there about those licenses. She then went on to talk about how open licensed content can be used in the classroom and where educators could find those resources. Check ...


Working from home can be isolating at times, and it's always a treat when I can get out of the house and talk with real, live people about ed-tech issues, which is what I spent all day Friday doing at the Northwest Council for Computer Education's "Navigating the New World With Technology" conference here in Portland. The conference opened with a keynote address from Debra Pickering, author of several books about teaching and learning that she's co-authored with Robert Marzano. Pickering addressed a couple of issues that I hear about over and over as I talk to teachers who are ...


Most of the attendees at the Mobile Learning Conference in Washington this week are among the true believers when it comes to the potential value in putting handheld devices, along with well-designed content, into the hands of more students and teachers. So you might expect them to get a bit ruffled when someone suggests that cellphones and other small, wireless electronics have no place in the classroom. But Elliot Soloway, a professor of computer science and education at the University of Michigan, was outraged by a statement by Janet Bass in this New York Times article. Ms. Bass, a spokeswoman ...


There are certainly a lot of cool tech tools and projects available or in the works to enable broader use of mobile devices, like cell phones and handhelds, by schools and students. I got a chance to see and hear about a few yesterday at the Mobile Learning Conference in Washington. Like Project K-Nect, which puts cell phones loaded with a math program into the hands of middle school students, who then collaborate and practice more. The first results on the project are due out next month. There are also a number of ed applications for iPhones and other cellular ...


Catching up on all the blogs I read over the long weekend, I discovered this post from Snarkmarket about a new public charter school slated to open up in NYC in the fall that's completely designed around game-inspired teaching methods. There's more information on the Institute of Play's Web site about the school, called Quest to Learn, which will serve kids in 6th-12th grade. Also, here's the press release (PDF) about the school. The school is being created by the Institute of Play, an NYC-based nonprofit organization that researches the connections between games and learning, and New Visions for Public ...


My colleagues Alyson Klein and Michele McNeil have the latest on the economic stimulus bill. Has anyone waded through the details on ed tech? We are beginning to take a closer look at the specifics and it looks like there is roughly $650 million for it. Did ed tech get a good deal or was it shortchanged? Give us your take. Meanwhile, I'm making my way through the summary. Ed Week Asst. Managing Editor Mark Bomster calls the file for the bill, on the House of Representative's Web site, "a choke-your-computer monster." Hopefully I will be able to have it ...


Readers of this blog might enjoy my co-blogger Kathleen's story on virtual field trips. Through the Internet, teachers can access thousands of virtual field trips to places all over the world, many of which are free, says the article. The trips are a good option for schools that are cutting budgets and can't afford to bus every student to a specific place, or for schools that are short on instructional time but still want students to explore a place outside the classroom. And according to at least one evaluation, students retain more information from the virtual trips than students who ...


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 ...


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