Education Week, October 21, 1998, p. 15
A controversial initiative in Pennsylvania would install Internet connections in more than 4,000 day-care centers at no cost to those licensed sites.
The program will cost $1.6 million and is the brainchild of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Dubbed “Cyberstart,” the program’s main thrust would be to establish a “Creative Learning Institute,” which will be charged with the development of computer programs for pre-school children.
Critics are arguing that other developmental concerns need to be addressed in pre-school children and that technology can even be dangerous to young students by impairing their vision and motor skills development.
Cybertimes, November 18, 1998
A state-funded school technology subsidy program in Wisconsin is under attack in a lawsuit filed by a group protesting the funding of Internet connections in parochial schools. The lawsuit, filed in early November by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., claims that state and federal laws mandating separation of church and state bar any such funding efforts by Wisconsin.
Educational Telecommunications Access, the Wisconsin program in question, is part of the state’s broader “Technology For Educational Achievement” (TEACH) initiative that was started last year and is similar to the federal E-rate program.
Converge, October 1998
The Sacramento City Unified School District started from scratch with its search for funding for school technology, but they were not deterred from finding plenty of money:
The goal was to get 20 of the district’s 79 schools hooked up to the Internet in the first year. Here’s what they did:
- They applied for California’s Technology Literacy Challenge Grant. To do this successfully, they formed a team to write the grant proposal. This proposal included input from school officials on ways grant money could be used to meet the overall technology missions of the district, as well as feedback from technology vendors who offered assistance is setting up and maintaining the technology that would be purchased.
- The district then solicited help from business partners. These companies not only could provide funds for technology, but they also lent help with training, planning, and implementation. Moreover, establishing a relationship with local businesses meant increased chances that those businesses would hire the school’s technology-fluent graduates.
- The district applied for E-rate discount dollars to pay for network wiring and equipment.
- Additional funds can come from the California Digital High School Program to help finance the purchase of computer software and hardware.
Converge, November 1998
Nearly every major grant-giving education foundation has line items for training teachers to use technology in the classroom. Many organizations’ funding priorities especially emphasize funding programs that train pre-service and in-service educators.
To form technology training programs that will win support from these grants, schools must:
- Draft a restructuring plan that addresses minority teachers, multimedia-learning application development, lifelong learning programs, and cost-savings.
- Have teachers participate in newer technology-based teacher assessment and certification programs, which are often funded by these philanthropic organizations.
- Make sure instructional efforts at your school meet or exceed state and national standards in all subject areas.
- Steer teachers toward creating technology-based “portfolios” of students’ work for assessment purposes.
- Respond to the priorities of funding groups to emphasize minority training and inclusion.
T.H.E. Journal, October 1998, p. 70
The Camden School District in New Jersey uses a simple formula when designing its teacher training programs for technology: develop an external reward for teachers who participate, and secure commitment and support from the school board and administration.
With these two support mechanisms in place, the district began “Project T.E.A.C.H.” a peer-based program designed to improve teacher’s abilities to teach using computers in the classroom. The external reward in this program was that teachers who participated would receive a computer in their classroom halfway through the training program. Teachers were selected on a competitive basis and had to commit to 100 hours of instruction to complete the program.
As a result of this training, schools were then able to open computer labs in every school in the 34-campus district labs which would be staffed by graduates of the T.E.A.C.H. program.
T.H.E. Journal, September 1998, p. 65
Administrators who install technology in their schools can learn some lessons from this principal on ways to overcome the challenges inherent in computer deployment and staff training.
- Be patient. Administrators must be patient with staff, must establish teams to form support networks, and must not label hesitation to embrace technology as an attitude problem.
- Draft training models. During the planning stage, address curricular issues, determine the most effective and least intimidating instructional approaches, and find ways to meet the needs of teachers who already possess computer skills.
- Secure funds for equipment and training. Since the school was planning to replace its Apple computers with PCs, it had to raise funds for the new machines and assess the need for specialized training on the new Windows platform. A survey was sent to staff, the majority of whom responded they would have interest in training on the new computers.
Education Week, November 4, 1998, p. 6
Marlboro College in Vermont recently unveiled a Master of Arts degree in Internet instruction for students in its graduate education program.
Utilizing an anonymous grant of $1.2 million, the college acquired high-end hardware and software to immerse its graduate students in a one-year course of study. Students conduct much of their study online, using E-mail, the Web, and electronic discussion groups.
While there is an emphasis on becoming fluent in learning new educational technologies, the goal is not to produce technology coordinators. Rather, the program sets out to create education technology leaders who will bring change and a new way of looking at technology to the schools where they will eventually teach.
Converge, October 1998
When the school district in Sacramento, Calif., received funding for installing technology in its schools to the tune of $400,000, it then had to make sure its teachers were trained to use the technology effectively.
The Sacramento City Unified School District sought the assistance of a nonprofit group called the Community Colleges Foundation to draft an affordable training program for its teachers. The plan was to send about 30 teachers to training sessions at the foundation. After teachers attend a one-week training session, they return to the schools to apply what they learn, where they then train their colleagues on the instructional technology and multimedia skills they’ve acquired.
T.H.E. Journal, October 1998, p. 79
A recent trend in educational reform has been to bring schools and businesses together to prepare students for a more technologically demanding job market. Begun in 1995, TECH CORPS is a non-profit group established to bring technologically skilled volunteers into the nation’s schools. State chapters of the organization coordinate action within those states. Volunteers provide training and mentoring of teachers in addition to support services for managing and maintaining technology infrastructure.
The group also provides programs and workshops that include training tools, safety initiatives, and support systems. Partnerships among local community members and schools are also a priority.
T.H.E. Journal, November 1998, p. 63
NASA’s “Learning Technologies Project” (LTP) has begun a number of initiatives to enhance distance learning opportunities for K-12 schools. You can learn more about the program on the Web at http://www.lerc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12.
Here are some of the things the LTP has been able to accomplish since NASA upgraded its video technology capabilities and schools have likewise installed equipment:
Teacher training on aerodynamics. Visual materials from the video are available for downloading from NASA’s web site.
Instruction to teachers on the use of airflow simulation software, which is available for free download from NASA’s LTP web site.
Lessons on integrating NASA’s educational web sites into the K-12 curriculum. Resources include assistance on developing lesson plans, live demonstrations of applying the Web sites to instruction, and tours of interactive Web sites.
Future projects from NASA’s LTP include a jet engine simulation program, Web chats, and additional pre-service and in-service teacher workshops.