$44 million for community technology centers from the U.S. Department of Education
As part of a national effort to expand access to new technologies, the U.S. Department of Education has announced $44 million in grants to establish 214 community technology centers. The centers will make computers and internet access available to low-income residents in urban and rural communities who can’t afford a home computer or internet access of their own.
The awards were made to schools, libraries, community centers, community colleges, public housing facilities, and other organizations. In addition, the Clinton administration has asked Congress for $100 million in the next fiscal yearthree times the current appropriation of $32.5 millionto support some 280 additional grants, which would result in up to 1,000 new centers.
The grants will help build centers in economically distressed, high-poverty communities. Among the services the community technology centers might provide:
• Work-force development and employment informationbasic and advanced computer skills training, résumé writing workshops, and online access to job databases.
• Preschool and family programsavailable at times when parents can bring young children to use age-appropriate software and linked to other programs such as Head Start, family literacy, or daycare providers without access to computers.
• After-school activitiesstructured opportunities for students to use software that offers homework help, academic enrichment, and exploration of the internet.
• Adult educationindividually, or in collaboration with existing programs, GED training, English as a second language instruction, adult basic education, or postsecondary education classes using the latest learning technologies.
Contact: Melinda Ulloa, (202) 205-8811
$5.2 million in IT work-force grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Education
Pennsylvania legislators and Gov. Tom Ridge have directed $5.2 million in grants to more than 130 secondary and postsecondary schools in the state to support programs aimed at developing information technology (IT) and internet education. Known as Information Technology Work-force Development Grants, some of these programs will support curricula that will directly affect an estimated 2,600 K-12 students in Pennsylvania this year.
Innovative programs, such as web-programming summer camps for high schoolers, are intended to draw more students into IT fields. Other projects, such as internships with the Federal Communications Commission, will expose students to the variety of IT- and web-related careers that abound in the state.
The project is part of Pennsylvania’s multiyear Link to Learn program, which aims to expand the use of technology in the classroom.
$140,000 plus computers and equipment from MediaOne
MediaOne, an Englewood, Colo.-based broadband services provider, has named 14 teams of teachers and school administrators as this year’s winners of its COOL Awards for Outstanding Educators. The 14 winning teams, each composed of three educators and one administrator, will receive cash grants of $10,000, plus a computer, printer, and scanner. Winning team members also will receive internet training and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
The competition, part of MediaOne’s Community Outreach and Online Learning program, encourages educators to work as teams to develop innovative classroom applications for video and internet technologies. Judges were looking for projects that demonstrated creativity, leadership, participation, and overall impact on technology-based learning.
At least one team was selected from each state that MediaOne serves (California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Virginia).
“Teachers today need the latest communication tools to help students make the most of their future,” said Blair Johnson, director of MediaOne community outreach. “For instance, the winning team from Jacksonville, Fla., will create an interactive internet web site to help elementary school students build math skills for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test using real-life business examples.”
Another winning proposal will enable Massachusetts high school students to get a bird’s-eye view of immigration and emigration through an oral history project that includes local community members, students in other states, and historical knowledge gleaned from television networks, including A&E, the History Channel, PBS, and CNN.
For information about next year’s contest, visit the company’s web site.
$58,000 in network hardware from Premio Computer
Thanks to a donation of network hardware worth an estimated $58,000 from Premio Computer Inc., Whitney High School, located in Cerritos, Calif., recently became the hub for its district’s computer network. Premio donated three servers, 10 computer systems, and six videoconferencing units, and the company allowed several Whitney students to help install and test the network.
“We chose to support Whitney High School’s program in recognition of the campus’s excellent academic performance and reputation,” said Angelin Tan, a marketing communications specialist at Premio. “Though the school is home to top-performing students, the campus lacks necessary technology equipment, compared with schools in more affluent areas.”
The students’ participation is the first step in Whitney’s plans to build a computer internship program and a web business design curriculumprograms that will prepare students for high-tech jobs by “learning through doing,” said school administrators.
Premio is not helping with the T1 installation, but its internship program already has brought several Whitney students to Premio headquarters (roughly a 30-minute drive from the school) to learn directly from professionals in the company’s networking department. That hands-on training will be applied to the school’s network after the T1 line is installed.
Depending on the program’s success, Premio may open internships to students at other schools in the district, said Tan. The company already supports Whitney’s mentor program with students at Hawaiian Gardens Elementary School by donating computer equipment.
$5,000 in training grants from Inspiration Software
Inspiration Software Inc. of Portland, Ore., has awarded 10 scholarships to teachers “who champion visual learning and the integration of technology into the classroom,” said Mona Westhaver, company president. The $500 awards support attendance at conferences or workshops that provide professional development in visual learning and educational technology.
Inspiration Software is a privately held corporation that develops, publishes, and distributes visual thinking and learning tools for the K-12 community. Inspiration, the company’s award-winning flagship product, is used for visual learning activities, including concept mapping, webbing, and the use of graphical organizers; planning and organizing multimedia projects and administrative tasks; brainstorming; and pre-writing.
Several winners of the awards are instructional technology specialists, and many have said they will use their increased knowledge to enhance professional development in their districts. One winner, high school English teacher Andrew HaLevi, has developed a model vocabulary program in which semantic mapping and other visual learning techniques are used to help students understand the concepts underlying complicated SAT vocabulary words.