A joint effort between Mattel and Intel Corp. has produced a computer-enhanced microscope that lets kids magnify and display objects on their PC screens. The QX3 Microscope uses the same technology common in digital cameras. The microscope, intended for children ages 6 and up, allows you to magnify, examine, and capture still, moving, and time-lapsed images. And unlike a traditional microscope, the imaging unit can be detached from the base to let kids roam and explore things around them. CD-ROM software and accessories such as prepared slides, containment dishes, sample jar, plastic tweezers, an eyedropper, and handbook are all included. The software allows kids to capture video and still images, manipulate them with paint tools and other special effects, and create time-lapse movies. The QX3 Microscope retails for $99.
Internet Products Inc. has introduced iPrism, a simple, transparent, plug-and-play internet access control solution that protects students from accidental or intentional viewing of inappropriate web sites. The iPrism server appliance filters web sites by their URLs, not by keywords or IP addresses, while providing flexible control that can be customized on a group-by-group or user-by-user basis. Analysts continually review web sites and categorize them according to content within a master database of more than 40 classifications. Database updates are automatically downloaded to the iPrism system each night through a subscription service. The system is compatible with virtually all existing network topologies, firewalls, and proxy servers. The unit simply plugs in to the IP network and requires no modification to existing software or hardware.
Compaq has rolled out a new line of palm-sized personal computers with an advanced, high-resolution color display that’s easy to read anywhere, even in direct sunlight. The 2100-Series handheld features a high-resolution TFT screen with reflective technology, an upgradable Microsoft Windows CE operating system, 10-hour rechargeable battery, car adapter, touch-sensitive display, and one-handed operability. The handheld allows users to access calendars, contacts, eMail, and the internet from virtually anywhere. Priced from $369.
MC2 Learning Systems Inc. has announced the release of its updated cross-platform server for K-12 schools, FirstClass Collaborative Classroom Gold. The software promotes team-based learning in a communication-rich environment by offering simple-to-use features, such as calendaring, enhanced web capabilities, and document editing. Its personal and group calendar options feature daily, weekly, and monthly views and are intended to help students, teachers, and administrators manage their time more effectively. With FirstClass’s new image support features, students and teachers are able to design professional-looking web pages with no knowledge of HTML. FirstClass also helps teachers create and edit forms, allowing them to create everything from course outlines, to syllabi, to lesson plans. Additionally, the new Internet Message Access Protocol installed in the program helps educators manage their incoming calls, and pager support can notify users of messages and calendar events via pager.
With the advent of the internet, school bake sales might become a relic of the past. Shopforschool.com is the latest in a fast-growing trend of web sites that aim to transform the idea of the school fundraiser by tying it to online sales of merchandise. At Shopforschool.com, teachers, parents, and family members can purchase books, clothing, music, computers, gift certificates, and more from some of the leading online brand-name merchants. Up to 25 percent of each purchase is donated to the school of the buyer’s choice. The site’s partners include Barnes & Noble, The Gap, IBM, CDNOW, Lands’ End, and OfficeMax. Schools that team up with shopforschool.com are served by a local account manager who can answer questions and help them to promote the program in their community. “Our goal is to make it easier and safer for the more than 106,000 U.S. schools and 51 million students to raise the additional funds they need for everything from playground equipment to computer labs,” said Gary Blackford, the site’s chief executive. “Parents can continue their everyday habits of online shopping and benefit their children’s school at the same time.”
Started by former teachers in 1993, Children’s Software Revue began as a quarterly 12-page newsletter. Over time, the publication has evolved into a full-color magazine containing 100 to 200 authoritative reviews and ratings, as well as helpful articles, tips, and spotlights on each school subject. The publication’s web site offers a database of more than 4,000 reviews, called the Children’s Software Finder, which is searchable by title, publisher, rating, platform, grade level, or subject. Reviews are conducted independently by three or more different qualified parties and include feedback from test families, libraries, or schools. In addition, the reviews are open for public comment, so you can see what others have to say about a particular title. Software is rated on a scale of one to five, according to six different criteria: ease of use, child-appropriate, educational, entertaining, intelligence of design, and value.
This site from the U.S. Department of Labor explores the rapid changes in American workers and the workplace. A detailed report, released for Labor Day 1999, examines trends in the workforce, wages, work and family, workplaces, and technology and globalization, with an eye on the challenges that lie ahead for educators and other policymakers to ensure that students are well-equipped to enter the workforce of the 21st century. The report documents technology’s impact on the U.S. economy and offers a glimpse into the jobs that will be most in demand in the coming years, underscoring the need for schools to produce students who are well-versed in technology if they want to succeed. The site includes links to other relevant resources as well.
NetTech, the Northeast Regional Technology in Education Consortium, is a partnership designed to assist K-12 schools in planning, implementing, evaluating, and refining effective educational uses of technology. Led by the City University of New York (CUNY), the group lists Brown University, Ohio State University, and the University of Maryland among its partners. Resources on the NetTech web site include “Forum on Student Learning & Technology: Assessing the Outcomes,” a report on a 1998 NetTech forum on how best to measure technology’s impact on learning; “Leadership and the New Technologies,” a web page produced by NetTech partner Education Development Center that offers information on developing and implementing a technology plan, with an eye on emerging technologies; and “School Data Collection on the Web,” a Brown University report demonstrating how HTML forms and Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts are helping state education departments collect school data over the web.
Responding to the desire of teachers to incorporate technology in the classroom and the growing popularity of laptop computers among students, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has created a new web-based resource to help educators incorporate laptops into K-12 science, math, and technology instruction. The site features lesson plans from the 20 winning entries in the 1999 Toshiba/NSTA Laptop Learning Challenge grant program, which can be used as models for innovative laptop learning projects. In addition to the winning lesson plans, the site includes tips for teaching with laptops and suggests ways that educators can use laptop learning methods in their professional development programs as well.
Launched at the National School Boards Association’s Technology and Learning Conference Nov. 10, Microsoft Lesson Connection is a new set of free tools designed to help teachers search for lesson plans that match their local or state curriculum standards. Using the site’s wizard, educators can embed search criteria based on Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) standard subjects and topic keywords into their own web-based curriculum standards documents. Then, when a teacher clicks on a hyperlink inserted in the document, Microsoft Site Server-based technology searches through lesson plans indexed from multiple sites on the internet. If a school district has not yet published its local curriculum standards on the web, teachers can search for lesson plans according to their state standards of learning using the site’s search engine. Through a relationship with Classroom Connect, the Microsoft Lesson Connection site also gives teachers free access to Classroom Connect lesson plans in key subject areasmath, science, language arts, social studies, and American history.