Clinton approves $768 million technology budget:

After months of political wrangling over the $360 billion federal budget, the U.S Department of Education (ED)’s technology-specific programs made it through negotiations relatively unscathed. All pre-existing programs received at least the same amount of funding as last year, in spite of efforts in the House to kill programs.

In all, ED’s primary technology programs will receive more than $768 million for fiscal year 2000, up $70 million from 1999 appropriations, though below the $801 million requested by the administration. The House proposed an educational technology budget of just over $500 million, and several programs—including Star Schools and Teacher Training in Technology—would have been eliminated entirely.

In the end, however, only two requested programs—both new initiatives—were left off the 2000 budget. One would have addressed technology training for middle school teachers; the other would have funded software development initiatives.

While all existing programs were funded in the budget, which was signed into law by President Clinton Nov. 29, a few came in below the level proposed by the administration, much to the dismay of educational technology advocates.

Linda Roberts, special advisor to the White House on school technology, said she was disappointed that some programs did not get the funding requested by the president. Especially disappointing, she said, was the funding level for the Community-based Technology Centers program, which will receive $32.5 million—half of what the administration proposed.

“We can fund some new centers, but not nearly at the level we had hoped,” Roberts said.

Also of concern to Roberts was the outcome of ED’s two largest programs: the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund and the Technology Innovation Challenge Grant program.

The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund was set at $425 million, equal to last year’s appropriation but less than the administration’s $450 million request. The Technology Innovation Challenge Grants program was actually funded above the administration’s request—$148.7 million compared to the proposed $110 million, though Roberts said all of that is already earmarked for specific projects in specific congressional districts. As a result, the department will not be able to run the competitive grant program next year, she said.

Overall, Roberts believes that more could have been done to help schools with technology. “There’s so much demand to do more, and there is a basic sense on the public’s part that these tools are important,” she said. “I just hope that in the 2001 budget, we recognize that.”

Other technology advocates are also worried about the long-term implications of the 2000 budget.

“I’m happy that these federal programs are continuing,” said Talbot Bielefeldt, research associate at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). “But at the same time, I’m concerned that they weren’t continued with the spirit of long-term commitment.”

The following table shows how each of ED’s technology initiatives fared in the 2000 budget, compared to the administration’s proposal, and compared to 1999 appropriations. The amounts listed might be reduced, however, due to the 0.38 percent, across-the-board budget cut negotiated by Congress—though no single program will be reduced by more than 15 percent, according to ED.

Also included in the table is ED’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is separate from the $768 million educational technology budget.


Uniform standard for K-12 software nears reality:

The much-heralded Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), an industry-led initiative to develop an open standard for ensuring that K-12 software applications work together, took a giant step closer to reality when pilot schools in Ballston Spa, N.Y., and Anoka-Hennepin, Minn., became the first in the nation to swap data seamlessly between applications from different vendors using the standard.

Representatives from the pilot schools and the participating companies were on hand at the National School Boards Association’s annual Technology and Learning Conference in Dallas, Nov. 10-13 to share their experiences with attendees. During the conference, SIF’s organizers also put out a call for schools to take part as future pilot sites for further testing and development of the standard.

“We’re looking for schools or districts that are unique and would provide great new examples of interoperability,” said Sue Kamp, acting director of the SIF initiative. She said she is seeking school teams with members representing such operations as curriculum, food service, transportation.

Applications are available on the SIF’s web site (see accompanying link). Interested schools and districts must have local or wide area networks in place to participate.

This isn’t the first time representatives from the industry have tried to solve the interoperability problem, according to Lee Wilson, vice president of marketing for Chancery Software and a member of SIF’s board of directors. But “I truly believe this one will succeed,” he said.

A big reason for such optimism is Microsoft’s leadership in the project, Wilson said. Microsoft initiated SIF earlier this year, but the company recently turned over control of the project to the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) to assure its competitors that SIF truly would be an open standard.

“Microsoft deserves an enormous amount of credit for using its presence in the market to get all the vendors together–there are only a few companies that would have the clout to do this,” Wilson said.

Microsoft has “insisted that it be an open project,” said Wilson. “I know there’s a lot of skepticism about Microsoft, but my experience [with the project] has been very good so far,” he added. When Microsoft came out with an initial version of the standard that was somewhat proprietary and representatives from other companies objected, Wilson said, Microsoft listened and came back with a truly open model based on Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards.

The company also has worked hard to get its direct competitors involved, Wilson noted: “I really applaud them for how they’ve handled this project. At times, it’s been like herding cats.”

In November, membership in the SIF working group numbered 48 technology companies—up from 18 when the initiative was first announced in February–and included Microsoft rivals Apple, Oracle, IBM, and Sun Microsystems, among others. As many as 10 additional companies have expressed interest as a result of the conference, Kamp said.

To take part in the SIF initiative, a company must sign a two-year commitment and invest money in the project, Kamp said–so participants are making a significant investment in the project’s success.

Another reason SIF is likely to succeed where other attempts have failed: Given the nature of school computing today, there’s a huge demand for a solution. “Before wide area networks, this wasn’t as much of an issue,” Kamp explained. “Now that it is, schools are really demanding interoperability in the systems they purchase.”

No more redundancies

Count Ballston Spa Central School District as a believer in the project as well. “We’re excited being on the cutting edge as part of the pilot,” said Jayson Crair, the district’s computer information specialist. “Now, for the first time, we can do live, accurate reporting of our student information. Once information is entered into the system, it’s automatically propagated into the other systems, saving us redundancies in data entry.”

Ballston Spa tested SIF in its middle and high schools using Chancery’s Open District student information system, Advantage Learning Systems’ Perfect Copy instructional software, DataTeam Systems’ Lunch Express food service system, and Creighton Manning’s Versatrans transportation software.

The district, which serves 4,200 students in five buildings, was chosen to participate in the pilot because it already was using Chancery’s WinSchool, which is part of Open District, and Versatrans.

The project was tested on-site in October, with representatives from all four vendors on hand. A server in the central district office running Zone Integration Server (ZIS), the software that enables SIF-compliant programs to communicate with each other, drives the system.

Though data transfer worked very well between the systems, the pilot wasn’t without its flaws. Ballston Spa halted the project temporarily for vendors to make some improvements but plans to run the system with live data in January.

“We learned an enormous amount from the pilot,” Wilson said. “For one thing, we had to increase our security measures for protecting the data.”

But already, the district has noticed a difference. Explaining the importance of SIF, Crair said, “We used to find that data was entered differently in different buildings, even though we had a standard way of doing it. People either weren’t familiar with the rules, or they just ignored them.”

Once, Crair found that data were being entered at the high school in lower case letters, while data from the middle school were being entered in upper case letters. The end result: duplicate records for each piece of information, meaning the data had to be “scrubbed” frequently.

The new SIF-compliant system will also benefit new families moving to the area, Crair said. Parents will be able to go to one central location to register their kids in school, instead of going to multiple sites. If the families are coming from other districts using SIF-compliant systems, the districts will be able to transfer the children’s records with no interoperability problems.

The bottom line for schools, Wilson said, will be much more accurate data for decision making, because the data will be entered in only one place and will be updated throughout other systems from different vendors automatically. Also, because district personnel won’t have to enter the same student information more than once, efficiencies will increase.

“The software people have seen the writing on the wall, and they better jump on board,” Crair said. Once the standard becomes final, “why would schools ever buy anything that wasn’t SIF-compliant?”

Though a preliminary developer specification exists, the final release spec and compliance process have not yet been established, Wilson said, so “anybody that says they’re SIF-compliant now is a liar.” But schools can ask prospective vendors if they are active participants in the SIF initiative, and they should include this as a requirement in future requests for proposals (RFPs), he added.

Kamp said she expects to see SIF-compliant products–that is, products that have been tested and approved by the SIF working group—on the market by the fall of 2000.


Software and Information Industry Association

Microsoft Corp.

Chancery Software

Ballston Spa Central School District


ISTE creates curriculum tools to support its tech standards:

Educators who are struggling to integrate required curriculum standards with the new technology their schools are installing at breakneck speeds found a comprehensive resource at their fingertips the first of the year.

On Nov. 18, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) held a briefing to announce the first publication in a series resulting from its National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) project.

The new publication, “NETS for Students: Connecting Curriculum and Technology,” provides 373 pages of classroom tools and lesson plans to help teachers meet and exceed the basic technology standards established through the NETS project. The book is the result of a collaboration between more than 2,000 educators who wrote, tested, and revised the learning activities.

“Our educational system must support technology-capable kids,” said NETS program director Lajeane Thomas. “Despite the new sets of standards in this country, technology has not been addressed until now.”

“Connecting Curriculum and Technology” is the second phase of a four-part plan to provide educators with the tools they need to implement technology through standards-based learning, according to Thomas.

The first step was the creation of a set of National Education Technology Standards (NETS), released by ISTE in 1998.

The just-unveiled second phase, “Connecting Curriculum and Technology,” provides lesson plans that are organized by NETS standards but linked to content standards, so teachers can meet math, science, and social studies standards—to name just a few—while simultaneously meeting ISTE’s technology standards.

The third phase in ISTE’s plan is to establish a national forum to define standards for teachers, so teachers can receive the training they’ll need to integrate the technology and curriculum standards in their classrooms.

Finally, ISTE hopes to identify assessments and evaluations that will allow education leaders to determine if America’s investment in technology is really paying off.

“Connecting Curriculum and Technology” expands upon the NETS standards by providing educators with profiles for technology-literate students, which can help teachers recognize the technology skill levels of their own students by giving them scenarios to illustrate what is meant by proficiency at each grade level.

The book also provides an extensive list of lesson plan ideas for integrating technology into the subjects of language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, and it divides these lists into skill levels for grades pre-K through 2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

Thomas Carroll, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology grant program, emphasized the importance of programs such as NETS, which create a yardstick for measuring the progress of technology education in schools.

“This is an investment comparable to what we invested in the 1960s in the space program. It’s like launching a rocket in education. Now we must teach educators how to fly this rocket,” he said. “We’ve built an infrastructure, and now we must learn to use it. It’s like the Wright brothers. They built the plane first, and then had to figure out how to fly it. The “Connecting Curriculum and Technology” book is our flight manual.”

ISTE seeks to promote the use of information technology to support and improve learning, teaching, and administration in K-12 education. The group provides an interactive forum for national and international dialogue concerning the appropriate use of technology in education.

Copies of the new book, “NETS Standards for Students: Connecting Curriculum and Technology,” can be obtained through ISTE for $26.95 (ISTE members) or $29.95 (non-members) by sending an order form to ISTE, 480 Charnelton Street, Eugene, OR 97401-2626, or by calling (800) 336-5191.

U.S. Department of Education

International Society for Technology in Education


Excerpts from ISTE’s Connecting Curriculum and Technology

Profiles for technology-literate students

In 1998, ISTE released a set of technology standards for K-12 students—performance indicators that could be used as benchmarks to define “technology-literate” students at each grade level. The new ISTE publication expands upon these benchmarks by providing illustrations of classroom scenarios in which students demonstrate the desired skills.

For example, according to ISTE’s technology standards, prior to the completion of grade eight, students should be able to:

1. Apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems that occur during everyday use;

2. Demonstrate knowledge of current changes in information technologies and the effect those changes have on the workplace and society;

3. Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors when using information and technology, and discuss consequences of misuse;

4. Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, web tools) to support learning and research;

5. Apply productivity/multimedia tools and peripherals to support personal productivity, group collaboration, and learning throughout the curriculum;

6. Design, develop, publish, and present products (e.g., web pages, videotapes) using technology resources that demonstrate and communicate curriculum concepts to audiences inside and outside the classroom;

7. Collaborate with peers, experts, and others using telecommunications and collaborative tools to investigate curriculum-related problems, issues, and information, and to develop solutions or products for audiences inside and outside the classroom;

8. Select and use appropriate tools and technology resources to accomplish a variety of tasks and solve problems;

9. Demonstrate an understanding of concepts underlying hardware, software, and connectivity, and of practical applications to learning and problem solving; and

10. Research and evaluate the accuracy, relevance, appropriateness, comprehensiveness, and bias of electronic information sources concerning real-world problems.

Here’s an illustration of a classroom scenario that meets performance indicators 4,5,6, and 7 from the above technology standards, taken from “Connecting Curriculum and Technology” (page 23):

“Lakeisha’s eighth-grade class began a unit on rocks and minerals. They explored topics using CD-ROM encyclopedias and stored the information they found and results from their laboratory sessions, including a week-long rock simulation program, in their databases. When their studies were complete, Mrs. Perkins helped the students create HyperStudio presentations to share with the class. After she found an internet site called ‘Ask a Geologist,’ Lakeisha and her classmates were able to eMail questions about rocks and minerals to the geologists who were sponsoring the site. Lakeisha and her friends were fascinated with the information they received on rocks and minerals in their native area. Lakeisha’s science teacher organized a local geologic dig to help students begin their own rock and mineral collections.”

Curriculum integration

In addition to profiling technology-literate students and classrooms, Connecting Curriculum and Technology provides an extensive list of lesson plan ideas for integrating technology into the curriculum, while at the same time meeting national standards for language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies classes.

Each lesson plan outlines the purpose, description, preparation, procedure, tools and resources, and methods of assessment to be used, as well as the national curriculum standards and NETS performance indicators the lesson will address.

In “Wall of Fame,” for example (pages 44-47), students in grades 3-5 locate, evaluate, and collect information and use a variety of media to communicate their ideas effectively:

1. To engage students, have them research several famous people from different times and cultures using a variety of web sites, electronic resources, and print reference works.

2. Students present their findings and reflect on what makes a person famous or great. At this stage, presentations can be created electronically or simply given as quick oral reports.

3. Based on the findings, develop class criteria for fame or greatness.

4. Working alone or in small groups, students select an individual biography to read. Students also look for information on their person using the web sites and electronic resources used in the first activity. Using the information they have located and their criteria for greatness, students determine the important aspects of the person’s life.

5. On a class Wall of Fame timeline, have students place pictures of their famous people in the most appropriate decades.

6. Have students discuss what a symbol is and how it can represent important characteristics of a person or place. Have students design a personal symbol for their famous person and add their symbols to the Wall of Fame timeline.

7. Students or groups develop a multimedia presentation on the famous person’s life to share with classmates, emphasizing characteristics and actions that make the person famous. Students can then evaluate each person presented using the agreed upon criteria for fame.


Talking Martian

I dreamt the Martians shot down our polar lander last month, and the government and news media immediately tried to divert our attention with a clever but ultimately faulty ploy. They dropped a starburst of NASA officials into the talk show orbit. These talking heads deftly proceeded to put a sunnier spin on the lander’s ominous disappearance, claiming it was merely a victim of NASA’s so-called “faster, cheaper, better” policy.

Many of your colleagues, and perhaps even you yourself, had to miss NASA’s TV gabfests. That’s because so many were helping teachers write lesson plans for the Mars landing and getting classrooms hooked up to watch the event via the internet. So, if you haven’t heard of the “faster, cheaper, better” policy, it’s perfectly understandable. It apparently was cooked up by the suits at the space agency as a way to accelerate launch schedules while cutting costs. (School board presidents usually call this “doing more with less.”)

The logical termination point of that policy, NASA now explained, was a Mars Polar Lander (MPL) suddenly gone missing. The MPL was absent without leave, NASA officials said, because they were trying to do too much, too fast, with too little.

Nice try, NASA. But as an excuse, this gambit is a flameout.

NASA does so much valuable work with educators that you’d think its spokespeople would know better, too.

Any educator on earth (or any other planet) certainly could have told NASA that blaming a disappointment on having too much work and too little money would never fly in the excuse department.

You and your colleagues have been doing more with less for decades. In fact, the condition has persisted so long in education that, by now, it passes pretty much without comment. It probably seems like just the natural order of things. That’s why no educator would ever dream of trying to blame a let-down on a lack of resources.

And if any educator ever did have a dream like that, now might be a good time to wake him up.

With school technology at least—as we report in our front page budget story—any lingering temptation to blame the lack of resources soon should fade a little for us all. The federal budget just signed by the president contains more money for school technology than has ever been spent by the feds before. True, $768 million doesn’t represent that big a piece of the $7 billion-plus that K-12 educators are expected to spend on technology this year, but maybe state and local taxpayers will follow the federal funding lead.

Stronger funding from federal, state, and local sources would be one thing. Another would be the numbers reported in the column to my left (your right).

As our “By The Numbers” department on this page shows, demand is beginning to ease, at least in one technology spending category. Together, higher funding combined with moderating hardware demand just might lead to something unprecedented: nearly adequate funding—for at least one year, in at least one education line item.

I know. I’m probably being overly optimistic about this, still giddy perhaps with the joy of knowing we’ve all escaped the destruction of Y2K. But if something in education actually did receive adequate funding for once, wouldn’t that simply be out of this world?

Then, if I woke up and the government tried to tell me the Martians hadn’t shot down our polar lander after all, I still could hope the exhilarating school funding news would spread so far so fast that even our taciturn MPL might hear about it.

MPL, if you’re listening, I’ve got the details on this. I’ll read them to you. Phone home.


By The Numbers:

Could there ever be enough computer equipment in schools? A recent report by Quality Education Data (QED) suggests that, after years of intense investment in computer hardware at the K-12 level, schools might finally be reaching a saturation point for spending on hardware.

The Technology Expenditures report, which forecasts K-12 spending on technology in the current school year, indicates that overall technology spending will drop slightly in 1999-2000, after years of steadily increasing. According to the report, the average dollars spent per student will dip from $142.21 in 1998-1999 to $132.57 this year.

Perhaps more telling than how much schools are spending on technology is where they are spending their allotted dollars. The most significant change noted in the study is a sharp decrease in hardware spending, from 42.6 percent of the budget per student in 1998-1999 to just 35.4 percent of the budget this year—an average decrease of $13.58 in spending per student on hardware.

It appears that some of this money not spent on hardware will be redistributed elsewhere. Researchers note a nearly $10 increase in spending per student on networks, a $2.22 increase per student in the purchase of peripherals, a $3.47 increase per student in software purchases, and a nearly $3 increase in service and support.

Interestingly, researchers only noted a $0.55 increase in spending on professional development. Professional development is defined as “instruction given to teachers…that goes beyond the teaching of basic computer applications…such as how to integrate technology into a given curriculum.” Computer training—defined as “instruction given to teachers that involves basic computer applications”—will experience negligible change in overall spending this year.

The numbers suggest that after years of rushing to pump computer terminals into schools, K-12 administrators may be acknowledging that it’s time to begin learning how to make better use of the equipment they have—and they’ve adjusted their spending budgets accordingly.


New internet site nabs term paper cheaters:

A new internet site that checks material for originality is catching term paper cheaters in a web of deceit. The site,, checks material against millions of pages online, identifying pseudo-scholars with the click of a mouse.

“It’s a very effective way of searching the more than 800 million documents out on the internet,” said John Barrie, the University of California, Berkeley, doctoral candidate who came up with the idea.

Barrie’s entry into the field of cybercheating began as a teaching assistant when he decided to give his students the real-world experience of peer review by having them post their work online for classmates to assess.

The project was a striking success. But soon came disturbing rumors that the papers involved were getting a second life, appearing in other classes under assumed names.

Enlisting the help of eight colleagues, Barrie began working on a way to catch the copycats. Last spring, the system got a test run on the papers of 300 students in a Berkeley neurobiology class.

Interestingly, although the students had been warned that their papers would be checked for originality, 45 (15 percent) turned in papers that were less than original.

“They either thought we didn’t have the technology to catch them or they had been getting away with it for such a long time that whatever we did wasn’t going to change that,” Barrie said.

Berkeley has contracted to use the service this spring. It is also being tested at a number of other schools, and negotiations are under way for a pilot program in Britain, Barrie said.

Teachers or professors who sign up for the service individually pay $20 for a class of 30, 50 cents for each additional paper. The charge is $1 per paper for campus-wide agreements. works by registering the class and having students turn in papers electronically. Papers are checked against web material using the top 20 search engines and are also compared to a database of other manuscripts, including term papers from every school or university that licenses the service.

The program highlights phrases of eight words or more that match material in the databases.

Students had mixed reactions to the service. They liked the idea of weeding out cheaters, but were worried about being judged by a computer.

“Sometimes students forget to cite (references) and that’s kind of an honest mistake,” said Jennifer Shen, a senior studying political science at Berkeley who serves as student advocate for campus government. “I would say that the professors are welcome to use it so long as they don’t just go on the report, but they actually look at the reasons behind it.”

Barrie said the system makes it “crystal clear that no computer, not us, not any technology will ever tell you if someone has plagiarized material. An instructor or department chairman … has to make that determination.” He also suggested that instructors forgive the first instance of plagiarism and not begin disciplinary action.

Shen said she’d like to see some sort of agreement in which students would have a chance to vet their papers first to catch things like forgotten footnotes.

Berkeley graduate student Leslie Woodhouse said she, too, would want to know “how the program is set up—and is there a way to account for honest mistakes?”

Cheating, though, is certainly a problem, she said, noting that one undergraduate class had to eliminate a homework drop-off box because people were stealing the completed assignments out of the box and copying them.

Instructors say the point-and-click world of the internet has put cheating into overdrive. In addition to scores of reference works, online term papers are offered at sites such as

“It used to be if you wanted to use somebody else’s paper, you had to go to the library, get a hold of the book, check out the book, and type the paper,” said Jeanne Wilson, president of the Center for Academic Integrity. “(Now) you can go on the internet … you just cut and paste directly from the web and then turn out a beautiful paper that you had nothing to do with.”

University of California, Berkeley

Center for Academic Integrity


Indiana University offers technology audits, other assistance to K-12 schools

A new program being developed by the the Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT) at Indiana University, Bloomington, called TechAudits, could be a boon to school districts that want a comprehensive assessment of their schools’ technology for better planning and accountability.

The audits are just one of several K-12 technology initiatives the center has been working to develop since its launch last July.

“Through the eRate and other initiatives, there has been a lot of technology coming into schools,” said Thomas Duffy, director of the center. “But there’s not much support for the technology and, many times, school districts don’t really know what they have.”

A TechAudit is an examination of all aspects of technology use in a school district. The audit is conducted by a team of nationally recruited external auditors who have extensive experience with technology and education.

The TechAudit team will work closely with district leaders to come up with a plan to fit the district’s needs. The audit also includes surveys of a large sample of faculty, staff, and students, as well as classroom visits for live interviews. The team also examines any reports and documents relating to technology use within the district.

TechAudits will be marketed by Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI) and should be available to school districts this spring, according to PDKI’s Alan Backler, director of the program.

Burlington School District in Vermont and Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, Ind., will serve as test runs for the program, Backler said.

The fee for a TechAudit will range from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on reporting options and the size of the district. The audit includes a week-long, on-site visit by the TechAudit team and customizable reporting available in either traditional paper form, multimedia, or a combination of the two.

Other resources

CRLT, which takes over for the now-defunct Center for Excellence in Education, is making the most of several multi-year, multi-million-dollar grants to initiate a variety of projects in areas such as professional development for teachers, interactive distance learning, and classroom uses of technology.

Another project under development at the center is called the Internet Learning Forum (ILF), a $1.4 million initiative funded over three years by the National Science Foundation. This program will feature a virtual community in which math and science teachers can share their experiences in an online environment.

“If we’re going to develop teachers’ pedagogical practices, then those teachers need a community in which they can talk to each other and share ideas,” Duffy said.

ILF will feature a “community of practice,” in which teachers will not only share ideas, but also share common goals, methods, history, and identity. Central to the project will be recorded video of teachers in action. A film team will visit classrooms to interview teachers and record their lessons.

The forum is still in the development stage, Duffy said, with a public launch of the web site expected Feb. 1.

A third project currently under development at CRLT is the Learning to Teach with Technology Studio (LTTS), an internet-based, anywhere-anytime professional development environment to support K-12 teachers in integrating technology into the classroom.

Other programs to be offered by the center include:

• Technology for Engaged and Active Middle Schools, a project in which groups of teachers look for ways to effectively use technology in the classroom through student-centered projects.

• Leadership Training for Technology Coordinators, which provides district-level technology coordinators from across the state of Indiana to network with colleagues, explore and experiment with new tools, and discuss trends in instructional technology.

Contact CRLT for more information on these fee-based programs.

Burlington School District

Center for Research on Learning and Technology

Indiana University, Bloomington

Metropolitan School District of Perry Township

Phi Delta Kappa International


Installing filters without training spells frustration in NYC:

The New York City Board of Education took some heat recently over its systemwide internet filtering application; teachers and students have complained that the program has stymied their legitimate attempts at research on the web.

Norman Siegel, head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also complained in a letter to the Board of Education that “the blocking program sweeps far too broadly.”

The problem appears to stem from the fact that the district implemented the filtering solution, called I-Gear, with one-size-fits-all, company-configured categories—and then failed to communicate its filtering policy effectively with teachers and other stakeholders.

One city teacher told the New York Times that students studying the Middle Ages had been blocked from web sites about medieval weapons—including the American Museum of Natural History—despite the fact that these sites would help students better understand the curriculum.

“The Board of Education has left me high and dry,” Debra Sandella, a fifth-grade teacher at the Manhattan School for Children, told the Times. “It’s a technical world, and if they can’t get access through technology, these children will be at a severe disadvantage.”

Responding to the criticism, the Board of Education said schools and teachers can modify the filter—but it will take up to two months for the board to train school staffs to use the software and modify it as they see fit.

“This is the typical, orderly process of putting new technology in place,” said Chad Vignola, general counsel to the board.

The city recently expanded its internet offerings, thanks to a $100 million federal grant acquired through Project Connect. According to the Board of Education, the grant has allowed for high-speed internet access to all 1,100 city schools, with nearly all of them connected to the web through the board’s central server.

It is that server to which the board installed the I-Gear filtering solution.

Jan Shakofsky, who teaches government and history at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens, said the filter kept students out of the National Rifle Association web site while debating gun control. They found the last chapter of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” blocked, because of a scene in which a woman lets a starving man drink milk from her breast. And students couldn’t research diabetes, because one of the disease’s side effects is erectile dysfunction.

“Kids can’t do their work,” said Shakofsky.

But Vignola said the I-Gear filter “was selected for its flexibility.” For example, in any given school, computers in the library could be programmed so that nothing is filtered out, while computers in individual classrooms or even during certain times of day could be blocked from accessing certain types of material. And while elementary schools might want to block sex education, high schools could allow such material in.

“The turning on and off of any particular feature can be done by the user, a group of users, or it can be done in a classroom,” said Gary Warren, vice president of Symantec, the California-based company that produces I-Gear.

About 7 million students use I-Gear in a variety of school districts, from Fairfax County, Va., to Cleveland, as well as in Canada and Scotland, Warren said.

New York City has the largest school system in the country, with 1 million students in 1,100 schools. The Board of Education has spent $100 million to connect every one of those schools to the internet. Vignola said that training in the use and modification of I-Gear is ongoing.

Gregg Betheil, assistant principal of Martin Luther King Jr. High School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, agreed that there are problems with the filter, but he seemed confident that they could be solved.

“The complaints are real and justified,” he said. “At the same time, they’re short-term. We have a long way to go, but they’ve done an incredible job of getting schools connected to the internet that didn’t have it before.

“What we’re seeing is the Board of Ed moving from the Industrial Age into the Information Age,” Betheil added. “With that goes some growing pains.”

New York City Board of Education



eSchool News’ Second Annual Impact 30

From researchers to rabble-rousers, a small band of high-impact players has had a powerful effect on technology in the nation’s schools. Some of these men and women have done great things for education, some have set schools back. But count on this: Because of the movers and shakers you’re about to meet, education technology will never be the same again.


William Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

As chairman of the federal agency that shapes telecommunications policy in the digital age, Kennard exerts a huge influence over the implementation of modern telecommunications infrastructure and internet access in schools.

A consistent theme in his leadership so far has been to ensure that all Americans—no matter where they live or what special needs they may have—have access to the technologies that are driving our economy and shaping our society. Toward that end, he has lobbied hard for the eRate, and last year he fought to restore the program’s funding to $2.25 billion, the maximum allowed under the its current rules.

Kennard also has developed a reputation as a champion for competition, believing that a robust marketplace will produce better services at lower prices for schools and consumers. As FCC chairman, his leadership will go a long way in determining the outcome of potential mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications marketplace, such as the proposed merger of industry giants MCI WorldCom and Sprint.

Kennard was sworn in as chairman of the FCC in 1997, and his term expires on June 30, 2001. A native of Los Angeles, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1981. Before becoming chairman, Kennard was the FCC’s general counsel, its principal legal advisor and representative in court.

Kate Moore, president of the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co.

Moore took over the helm of the group responsible for administering the eRate in August 1998, when the program’s future was tenuous. Her predecessor, Ira Fishman, had resigned amid criticism from opponents of the eRate in Congress that his salary was too high—just one of many criticisms leveled at the program in its first year. Under Moore’s leadership, however, the program has gone on to flourish, distributing nearly $4 billion in discounts in two-plus years. Applications are now being taken for Year Three, which also features a streamlined process.

Henry Marockie, West Virginia superintendent of schools

During his tenure as head of the state’s schools, Marockie led a forward-looking program that had all students in grades K-6 learning basic math and reading skills with the help of computers and integrated learning system software. The program was cited by a Milken Exchange study as being responsible for a significant gain in students’ skills, as measured by standardized tests. Marockie also served on the board of directors for the Schools and Libraries Corp. in the first years of the eRate.

Jim Geringer, governor of Wyoming

Geringer’s administration is responsible for the Wyoming Equality Network, which connects all schools to the internet and will bring interactive video to all high schools by 2001. His commitment to funding technology has helped the state achieve the lowest student-to-computer ratio in the country, according to a recent Market Data Retrieval report. In July, Geringer was appointed to the new National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, which will develop a strategy to raise the quality of math and science teaching in all of the nation’s classrooms.

J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation Board of Directors

Located in Boise, Idaho, the Albertson Foundation has been the single most important factor in the state’s remarkable transformation into an educational technology leader. In 1998, the foundation donated $110 million to the state’s public schools, more than $80 million of which has been earmarked for technology programs. In one program, Idaho’s schools are eligible to receive $250,000 per district, provided they have a technology plan and a way of measuring results. The foundation’s emphasis on accountability is ensuring that its investment in technology programs will pay dividends for the state’s schools.


Sue Kamp, director of the Software and Information Industry Association’s Education Market Division

As director of the education division for the software industry’s principal trade organization, Kamp has helped the Washington, D.C.-based organization represent more than 1,500 software publishers, developers, distributors, and other companies affiliated with the educational software industry.

Perhaps most significantly, she has assumed responsibility for steering the early development of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), an industry-wide initiative to create a single standard for K-12 software, by serving as SIF’s acting director. Under her leadership, membership in SIF among industry players had swelled to nearly 60 at press time.

Kamp also works with the U.S. Department of Education and educational technology associations to further the integration of technology into schools. She was responsible for the development of the book “Education Software Management: A K-12 Guide to Legal Software Use,” in addition to several other published works, such as “Education Market Report: K-12, Research Report on the Effectiveness of Technology in Schools, Digital Environment, and State Technology Initiative Reports.”

She also helped develop two videos aimed at educating teachers about legal software use, “Don’t Copy that Floppy,” and “Shared Set of Values.” Kamp is an expert in the field of internet privacy and policy and how these issues apply in the educational environment.

Before joining SIIA, Kamp was a special education teacher, a professor at the University of Tulsa, a project manager at the Council for Exceptional Children, and an independent computer consultant. She is a frequently invited guest at national education conferences and often speaks on networking opportunities, copyright protection, and online content rights management.

Karen Smith, executive director of TECH CORPS

Smith recently led her organization’s launch of the “Techs 4 Schools” program, which provides technology mentors to rural or underserved school districts that need technical assistance. Prior to TECH CORPS, Smith was a classroom teacher, administrator, and the director of educational technology initiatives for the Massachusetts Software Council. She also was the primary author of “The Switched-On Classroom Technology Planning Guide,” a guidebook to helping schools develop long-range technology plans.

John Vaille, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education

As CEO of the world’s largest nonprofit professional ed-tech organization, Vaille has been instrumental in supporting the development of National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). He has served at all levels of education and was appointed by the governor to the California Board of Education’s Educational Technology Committee in 1989, where he was the principal author of the 1992 California Commissions Master Plan for Educational Technology.

Cheryl Lemke, president and chief executive of the Metiri Group

Lemke recently left her position as executive director of the Milken Exchange on Education Technology to found the Metiri Group, an independent ed-tech consulting firm. At the Milken Exchange, she authored “Technology in America’s Schools: Seven Dimensions for Gauging Progress” and helped implement several collaborative partnerships and studies of technology’s effectiveness on learning. Under her guidance, the organization became a nationally recognized leader on school technology issues.

Jane Coffey, founder and director of The Read In! program

The Read In! is a day-long reading project for K-12 students worldwide that consists of a live online chat among students, teachers, and authors (this year, it will be held May 11). Last year’s event logged more than 310,000 participants and 22 children’s and young adult authors. Coffey founded The Read In! six years ago while serving as technology support specialist for Earl Elementary School in Turlock, Calif., in an effort to promote global literacy using technology. In addition, the Read In! sponsors online chats with authors throughout the year.


Rick Bauer, chief information officer for the Hill School (Pottstown, Pa.)

The Hill School, a private boarding school for grades 9-12, is at the cutting edge of school technology, with 55 buildings connected by fiber optics, 8,000 data ports available to the 500 students who attend, and 150 faculty and staff computers, thanks largely to the groundbreaking efforts of Rick Bauer.

A renowned educator and technology proponent, Bauer has coordinated a 900-user NT-based network with an ATM infrastructure and taught the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) curriculum to students and the community through Microsoft’s Skills 2000 program.

Bauer also directs a yearly Summer Training Institute for educators and administrators who wish to gain computer skills, and he has created distance learning programs between the Hill School and schools in Australia, London, and Botswana. In addition to supporting an international learning environment, The Hill School has upstream links to Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and the University of California at Berkeley, with corporate education links to Boeing, Microsoft, Intel, and the Washington Post Company.

Besides his work at The Hill School, Bauer runs a consultancy that helps schools acquire and deploy new technology and directs SchoolTECH/21, a program creating centers of technology excellence in schools. SchoolTECH/21 is a partnership with 22 leading hardware and software manufacturers—including Microsoft, Adobe, and Dell—which provides technical support and equipment in exchange for featuring partners’ products in a live educational showroom.

Bauer’s writing on school technology has been published in national magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and the Boston Globe.

Stephen Cohen, technology planner for Paterson Public Schools (N.J.)

Over the past two and a half years, Cohen has secured more than $17 million in eRate funding for his urban rust-belt district, more than $2 million in state funds, and has convinced the district to invest almost $25 million in electrical improvements and networking. The investment has paid off in a big way, making Paterson among the most sophisticated and powerful networked districts in the country, despite its relative poverty. Cohen also was instrumental in founding The Metropolitan Academy of Communication and Technology (MPACT), a high school developed in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and Lucent, among others, and aimed at preparing inner-city students for high-tech careers.

Ken Eastwood, assistant superintendent of instruction for Oswego City School District (N.Y.)

In just a few short years, Eastwood has helped his district turn around its technology efforts to become a national model for integrating technology into the curriculum. By listening to teachers, providing superior professional development opportunities, and building a technology plan around their needs, the district has had huge success in getting its teachers to recognize the value of technology: Within one year of setting up its wide area network in 1997, more than 90 percent of Oswego’s teachers were using technology in their daily instruction.

Paula Conley, fifth-grade teacher and technology specialist at Sorensen Elem. School (Couer d’Alene, Idaho)

Conley served on the committee that researched, developed, and wrote “Connecting Curriculum and Technology,” a new guidebook for implementing ISTE’s technology standards into the curriculum while also meeting national curriculum standards. She has won various awards and honors for her efforts to promote school technology, has secured numerous grants for her school, and is a regular presenter at seminars and conferences.

Sandra Becker, technology director for the Governor Mifflin School District (Pa.)

Becker and her district have gained national recognition for building an exemplary technology plan around the district’s curriculum goals. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, a Classroom Connect STAR award recipient, and last year accepted the district’s Computerworld Smithsonian Laureate Award.



Sue Collins, corporate education liason and member, White House commission on web-based education

With more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, district and state administrator, and hardware and software company executive, Collins is widely acknowledged as a long-time leader in educational technology.

Collins served as senior vice president for software maker Jostens Learning Corp. until she resigned in early November. While with Jostens, Collins oversaw the Marketing, Strategic Planning, and Professional Development Division, where she worked with schools to help educators create dynamic learning environments supported by effective technology tools and curricula.

Previously, she served as director of the North American Education Division for Compaq Computer Corp. and before that was manager of strategic initiatives for the Education Division of Apple Computer.

Collins was recently appointed by President Clinton to serve on the newly formed Web-based Education Commission, becoming one of only three presidential nominees named to the 14-person commission.

During the next six months, the commission will conduct research and hold public hearings in order to recommend an appropriate federal role in evaluating the quality of educational software products to the president and Congress.

In addition to the commission appointment, Collins serves on the Board of Directors of the national Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), the SIIA’s Government Affairs Council, and chairs the SIIA’s Education and Workforce Development Committee. She also is a staff advisor to the CEO Forum on Education and Technology, which issues annual reports assessing the nation’s progress toward integrating technology into America’s classrooms.

Steve Case, chairman and CEO of America Online

As growth of the internet accelerates, Case and America Online are leading the industry in dealing directly with issues such as integrating technology into schools and child online safety. Two philanthropic ventures, the Case Foundation and AOL Foundation, are providing millions of dollars in cash and in-kind donations to the K-12 market. A new AOL-sponsored program, called PowerUP, will help schools and community centers establish high-tech after-school programs.

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Computer Corp.

Behind the leadership of its founder, Dell Computer has become a leader in providing computers and servers to the K-12 market. Michael Dell, who pioneered the direct-marketing approach to selling PCs, launched the company 15 years ago. In that time, sales have grown from $6 million to $23.6 billion a year, and the company is now giving Apple a run for its money in terms of sales to the K-12 market. A key to the company’s success is its relationships with customers, including personalized Premier Pages on its web site for school districts to make online purchases.

Thomas Lapping, president and CEO of JDL Technologies

With more than 17 years of management, marketing, and technical experience in educational computing and networking systems, Lapping has led the design and implementation of over 4,000 ethernet networks. Prior to founding JDL, Lapping provided K-12 networking solutions for the automation of media resources, career guidance, and other systems. He is a past winner of the Prodigy Award for community leadership in educational technology.

Roger Wagner, developer of HyperStudio and education software entrepeneur

Wagner, a former classroom teacher, is the developer of HyperStudio, the multimedia authoring tool used in thousands of schools to help students easily and effectively communicate their ideas on diskette, CD-ROM, or over the internet. During its 20-year history, the company he founded was committed to supporting teachers with a vision of how the meaningful use of technology could foster a more individual and creative learning environment for students. HyperStudio was recently acquired by Knowledge Adventure.


Douglas Van Houweling, president and CEO of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development

As head of the advanced internet project popularly known as Internet2, Van Houweling leads the development of a new-generation internet that will give schools and universities—and eventually society at large—access to an internet thousands of times faster than what we are used to today.

Begun in October 1996 by 34 U.S. research universities, Internet2 today has more than 160 member universities which are working with corporate and affiliate members. The initiative has led to the creation of two super high-speed network backbones, Abilene and vBNS (very high performance Backbone Network Service). According to UCAID, Abilene allows for the transfer of 2.4 gigabits (billion bits) of data per second—1,000 times faster than a T1 line.

Internet2 will allow schools and universities to take advantage of advanced research and learning applications over the web, such as digital libraries, “virtual laboratories” and collaborative research, “tele-immersion” (shared virtual reality), and high-definition television. At the eShool News school technology management conference in October, Van Houweling announced that K-12 schools can participate in the project’s early stages as well by teaming up with UCAID member universities.

While he is serving as head of UCAID, Van Houweling is on leave from his post at the University of Michigan, where he is a professor in the School of Information.

Dale Mann, professor of education at the Columbia University Teachers College, and Charol Shakeshaft, professor of education at Hofstra University

Mann and Shakeshaft led a milestone study of West Virginia’s Basic Skills/Computer Education program, called “West Virginia Story: Achievement Gains from a Statewide Comprehensive Instructional Technology Program.” Funded by the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, the study offers one of the few bodies of evidence to support concrete gains in student achievement as a result of instructional technology.

John Seely Brown, chief scientist for Xerox Corp.

As director of Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center, John Seely Brown has been on the cutting edge of technology innovation for many years. A major focus of his research has been in human learning and digital culture. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and has published more than 90 papers on technology innovation and individual learning.

Hank Becker, professor of education at the University of California, Irvine, and Ronald E. Anderson, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota

Becker and Anderson are leading an ambitious 3-year study on the use of computer technologies in educational reform, called “Teaching, Learning, and Computing 1998.” Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, the research looks at the relationship between teachers’ pedagogy (their teaching philosophy and classroom practices) and how they use computers. The study also will attempt to find out how the formal and informal organization and support structures of schools affect teachers’ pedagogy and use of technology.

Alex Waibel, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Interactive Systems Laboratories

A leader in speech recognition research, Waibel is chairman of the Consortium for Speech Translation Advanced Research (C-STAR), a partnership of 20 laboratories in the U.S., Japan, Germany, Korea, Italy, France, and Switzerland. C-STAR is developing a technology that will allow spontaneous translation from one language to another. The system was tested successfully in a videoconference at Carnegie Mellon last year.


Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft Corp.

To say it’s been a busy year for Gates would be a monumental understatement. From his highly publicized battles with the U.S. Justice Department, to his leadership in the much anticipated Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), to his donation of $5 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has been the epicenter of school technology news in the past year. Like him or hate him, it’s clear there’s no getting away from him.

In February, Gates chose the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference—an event he’d missed the previous year because he was testifying before Congress in the antitrust matter—to unveil SIF, an industry-led initiative to develop a single standard for K-12 software.

While educators appreciated the idea, many were skeptical that such an effort would be successful—or that it would truly be an open, industry-wide standard. But Gates silenced his critics, and achieved further industry support, by stepping back and turning control of the project over to the Software and Information Industry Association in November.

Around the same time came the preliminary ruling in the antitrust case that Microsoft is a monopoly. Perhaps surprisingly, early reaction among educators in a straw poll conducted by eSchool News were largely sympathetic to the software giant; over time, however, reaction proved mixed.

That was also the case last year when Gates donated $5 billion of his fortune to the foundation that shares his name. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes grants to support a range of issues, including education; but that didn’t stop Microsoft’s critics from questioning the timing of the donation, coming as it did in the midst of the whole antitrust affair.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

Jackson made headlines across the world in November with his declaration in a finding of facts that Microsoft is, indeed, a monopoly. The judge’s ruling set off a flurry of speculation about the future of the world’s most dominant technology company—a subject of keen interest to educators as well, since 84 percent of schools use some form of Microsoft software. But Jackson’s surprise appointment of a conservative antitrust judge to mediate the conflict between Microsoft and the Justice Department drew rave reviews from observers, and many were optimistic that a settlement could be reached that will be favorable to all parties.

Ralph Petroff, CEO, and Larry Fullerton, founder and chief scientist, Time Domain Corp.

A breakthrough technology being developed by this Huntsville, Ala., company could revolutionize school networks and communications in the not-too-distant future. Called “digital-pulse technology,” it’s a way to transmit information wirelessly by using pulses of energy instead of radio waves, and technology analysts say it will have exciting applications in three areas: radar, global positioning technology, and wireless communications. If the experts are right, you’ll want to keep an eye on this company and its technology.

Jack M. Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale University

Balkin is the chief architect of a controversial global web site rating and filtering plan being discussed by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a nonprofit social policy organization based in Germany, and other world organizations. The idea behind the plan is a system of self-regulation which would protect students and children from inappropriate internet content, while maintaining free speech. While some question the feasibility of such a plan, others say the mere presence of a dialog on the topic could lead to some sort of global solution one day.

Bernie Dodge, professor of education at San Diego State University

A pioneer in the field of educational technology, Dodge has helped thousands of teachers develop lesson plans that incorporate the internet through his creation of the WebQuest model along with colleague Tom March. Dodge also was the founding president of San Diego Computer-Using Educators and later served on the board of directors of the statewide CUE program.