The purpose of this program is to support grants to eligible entities to enable them to develop, produce, & distribute innovative educational & instructional programming that is designed for use by elementary schools or middle schools & based on challenging State academic content & student academic achievement standards in reading or mathematics.

An eligible applicant is a local public telecommunications entity, as defined in section 397(12) of the Communications Act of 1934, that is able to demonstrate a capacity for the development & distribution of educational & instructional television programming of high quality. Section 397(12) of the Communications Act of 1934 provides that: The term public telecommunications entity means any enterprise which: (A) Is a public broadcast station or a noncommercial telecommunications entity; & (B) Disseminates public telecommunications services to the public.

Estimated Available Funds: $2,300,000. Estimated Range of Awards: $250,000 to $2,300,000 per year. Estimated Number of Awards: 1 to 4.

For more information:

http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/announcements/2002-3/071702c.html

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The School Connectivity Project, which is being administered by Catholic Relief Services, aims to connect 80 secondary schools in Southeast Europe with approximately 15 schools in the United States to promote mutual dialogue and understanding using a common curriculum. The School Connectivity project encourages teachers and students from Southeastern Europe and U.S. to increase their understanding of the concepts of shared history, cultural similarities, mutual understanding, citizenship, and tolerance through the use of technology and collaborative internet communication. They will undertake projects that require collaboration between European and U.S. students and teachers and might correspond to classes in Western Civilization, European History, Morality and Ethics, or Journalism. Through an open merit-based competition, high schools in participating countries will be selected to receive computers and internet connections. The program will provide training and support for developing and disseminating joint thematic projects on topics such as shared history and culture.

For more information:

http://exchanges.state.gov/education/citizens/students/
eurasia/connectivity.htm

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Student-built computers to save Mississippi nearly $2 million

Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s office asked Moss Point computer teacher Anne Davis last month if she knew of any students who would be willing to help build 6,000 computers for the state’s public schools.

Nine students and four days of work later, 85 computers were ready to be shipped to schools throughout the state.

Davis teaches a class called ExplorNet that teaches kids how to take computers apart and put them back together. Moss Point High School is one of 12 sites in Mississippi that are building the 6,000 computers needed to put a computer in every classroom in the state.

The program not only provides hands-on job training, but also is expected to save the state nearly $2 million. Buying computer components separately and putting them together is about $300 cheaper than buying computers that are already assembled.

The Moss Point teens started work July 10. They hope to complete their share of the work—500 computers—by the end of the year.

For 18-year-old Marlen Bogan, spending the day wielding a screwdriver for $8 an hour beats last summer’s job working at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“I think this is the best summer job you could have,” said Bogan, who graduated in May.

Like many of the students, he is remarkably comfortable with the technology. He has been playing with computers since he was 8 years old.

“It was fun taking them apart,” Bogan said. “I wanted to know, what does this do?”

Installing the software is the hardest part of the job, he said. Although all the computer parts should be the same, they don’t all respond to the same commands.

“It’s like they have a mind of their own,” he said.

After he gets a degree from a junior college, Bogan plans to get a job as a computer technician to pay for the rest of his schooling. He said he wants to get a degree in software engineering.

Davis said Bogan’s experience putting computers together this summer is transferable to real-world jobs paying $30,000 to $45,000.

Davis said she plans to have Moss Point High School students build computers for local residents once the computers for the state are finished in December. She hopes enough orders will come in to make the program self-sufficient enough to continue indefinitely.

Links:

Moss Point High School
http://www.mphs.edu

ExplorNet
http://ms.explornet.org

Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove
http://www.governor.state.ms.us

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St. Louis schools unveil virtual-reconnaissance tool

Newly developed software could allow emergency personnel to conduct virtual reconnaissance of two St. Louis schools to hasten response time in a crisis.

The need for such a tool came to light following the 1999 Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colo. Officials in Colorado voiced concerns that police intervention might have been delayed because officers were unfamiliar with the school’s layout. The terrorist attacks of 9-11 underscored the need.

Working with St. Louis police and school administrators, a Saint Louis University lab has created CD-ROMs that show 360-degree panoramic views of every classroom, cafeteria, gym, and office in two of the city’s largest high schools.

The discs also feature satellite images and aerial photographs of the buildings’ exteriors and neighborhoods to show routes in and out of the schools, and possible evacuation and staging areas.

Researchers plan to develop similar software for as many as 170 St. Louis-area schools, allowing emergency responders to conduct immediate, interactive reconnaissance of any the buildings with a few taps on a computer keyboard.

“A good analogy is a high-definition computer game, where you can virtually walk through space,” said Jim Gilsinan, dean of Saint Louis University’s College of Public Service, which includes the Geographic Information Systems lab developing the software.

Workable on any computer, the so-called Crisis Intervention Response Application seeks to bolster safety of emergency crews, give an on-the-spot picture of how to best approach a violent setting, and offer schematics of nearby neighborhoods.

Police officials will have the ability in seconds to click on any area they wish to view.

With software potentially more helpful than conventional diagrams, “the bottom line is it increases the efficiency and effectiveness of an emergency crew’s ability to respond,” Gilsinan said.

Such technology is long overdue, said Harold Brewster, vice president of the St. Louis school board.

“If something terrible were to happen, knowing the nuances of these old buildings—the nooks and crannies—might be valuable,” including showing where children might hide to escape flames and smoke, said Brewster.

For local firefighters, applications for now might be limited by the lack of computers on fire trucks, though “we’re going to have it,” Fire Chief Sherman George said.

“We do have some knowledge of buildings, but memories often aren’t as clear as what you can get from a computer screen,” he said. “This would be a very important tool” in giving firefighters visuals of a building’s entry points and water sources.

To create the CD-ROMs of Soldan and Beaumont high schools, the college students and staff took panoramic photographs of each room, then combined them with blueprints of each school’s layout, aerial photos, and satellite images.

Gilsinan said the work was being done in stages under a contract with St. Louis Public Schools. The college might eventually spin off the technology to another vendor if the district wants computerized mapping of each school, given that “this is a very labor-intensive kind of activity,” he said.

The university has been working on creating maps of two more local high schools.

Other school districts nationwide have taken similar steps since April 20, 1999, when two teenage gunmen fatally shot 12 classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves. Police and firefighters there have said uncertainty about Columbine’s layout added to confusion when they responded to the nation’s deadliest school shooting.

Under a pilot program unveiled last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency planned to lead testing across several Western communities with similar software.

Although Columbine and the terrorist attacks have underscored the need for such a system, Gilsinan said, he believes the tool eventually would have been developed anyway. “Those two events just accelerated it,” he said.

Even so, said St. Louis school board member William C. Haas, “I hope we spend as much energy finding the causes of such tragedies as Columbine as we do figuring out how to handle them when they arise.”

Links:

St. Louis Public Schools
http://www.slps.org/

Saint Louis University
http://www.slu.edu/

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Matching grants for innovative proposals that use technology to enhanc

Intel Corp.’s Model School Program gives every school in the United States the chance to apply for potential seeding of equipment. To apply, schools must submit an innovative proposal for using technology to enhance instruction, and if Intel likes what it sees, it will match grant recipients with companies that can provide the equipment necessary to meet their needs. Whitney High School in Cerritos, Calif., and Miami Carol City Senior High School in Miami are the program’s first two recipients.

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ACLU sues to ask and tell what sites N2H2 blocks

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging portions of a 1998 law—the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)—which makes it illegal to write and publish programs that decode the lists of web sites blocked by some types of internet filtering software.

The lawsuit has relevance for researchers, parents, and thousands of educators and librarians who want to know what the software actually is blocking, according to the plaintiffs.

The ALCU asked a federal court in Massachusetts July 25 to rule that a computer researcher has First Amendment and “fair use” rights to examine the full list of sites contained in an internet blocking program and to share his research tools and results with others.

Ben Edelman, fresh out of Harvard, has spent much of his young programming career pressing software companies that make internet filters for schools and public libraries to reveal how their products work.

He worries some programs harm the free speech rights of users by blocking too many sites that aren’t really violent or pornographic. But some software companies say revealing such information would amount to giving up a trade secret.

“When you look at the details of what the programs actually block, there’s a troubling systematic trend in the systems blocking more than just porn,” said Edelman, who will attend Harvard Law School this fall. Edelman is now at the center of a suit which is seeking permission for him to conduct such research, and challenging DMCA provisions that forbid the dissemination of information that could be used to bypass copy-protection schemes.

The suit is a new way of attacking a law that has been upheld by courts in other contexts.

“The real debate going on here is less about filtering programs and more about an act that wants to regulate the production of circumvention tools that one day could be used against an eBook or music,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard Law School copyright law expert who has worked with Edelman but is not involved in the case.

Edelman had asked the Seattle-based filtering company N2H2 for a list of sites that would be blocked by its software, but was rebuffed.

“Mr. Edelman’s proposed research, which should be fully protected by the First Amendment, puts him at risk of liability under the DMCA,” as well as a previous federal copyright act, state law, and a nonnegotiable license with N2H2, the suit alleges.

Under the “fair use” principle of copyright law, the ACLU says, researchers should be able to analyze, discuss, and criticize copyrighted work without fear or prosecution, especially when it concerns a product used at public schools and libraries.

David Burt, a spokesman for N2H2, said the company had not yet reviewed the suit but he did confirm that his company plans to defend its intellectual property rights. He said keeping the list private gives N2H2 a competitive edge.

“We don’t publish the entire list, but we do make our URL checker available if people want to check if a site is blocked,” Burt said. The web site also provides the criteria for the 42 categories under which 4 million web sites are blocked.

The software industry says the copyright protections are essential to protect trade secrets.

“We support the DMCA,” said Jeri Clausing, a spokeswoman for the Business Software Alliance. “It’s been through a lot of court tests. We’ll be following the newest case closely.”

The DMCA has been at the center of suits involving software to “decode” DVDs and download music from the Internet.

Earlier this month in New York, magazine and web site publisher Eric Corley agreed to drop a case over decrypting and copying DVDs that was tied to the law after losing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The DMCA has been used to prosecute a Russian programmer who released a program that disabled protections in Adobe Systems Inc.’s eBook software. Dmitry Sklyarov reached a deal under which he must give a deposition and possibly testify for the government in another case.

Edward Felten, a Princeton University professor who has examined anti-piracy technology, has made a request similar to Edelman’s for court permission to talk about his research in the field.

But now the ACLU is trying a new angle, arguing parents and the governments who purchase such software are entitled to know about the products they buy (some filtering software companies do make such information available).

“Current copyright law and blocking software licenses prevent consumers from looking under the hood of the blocking products they buy,” said Ann Beeson of the ACLU. “These products do not work as advertised, and consumers have a right to know they’re really buying.”

Links:

American Civil Liberties Union
http://www.aclu.org

N2H2
http://www.n2h2.com

Business Software Alliance
http://www.bsa.org/

The Harvard Law School
http://www.law.harvard.edu/

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Experience history through multimedia at “American Memory”

The Library of Congress has added again to its impressive collection of online learning resources, called American Memory. Anyone who wants to hear Buffalo Bill’s own voice or John Philip Sousa’s original band now can tune in by computer. With the addition of its 111th and 112th collections of materials, American Memory now includes more than 7.5 million items, which the library says is the world’s largest collection of online educational material. “Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry” includes more than 400 items from the library’s collection of Berliner’s papers and 108 of his sound recordings beginning in 1894. Berliner was an immigrant from Germany who patented the flat-disc gramophone records that superseded the original cylindrical recordings. Buffalo Bill—William F. Cody—rode for the Pony Express and fought in the Civil War. On the site, he can be heard expressing his views on the situation in Cuba that led to the Spanish-American War. Sousa played in the U.S. Marine Band when he was only 13 and in later life became its leader before forming his own group. The Sousa band toured the United States and abroad for decades, playing some of his famous marches, including “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” The other new collection, “The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820,” contains more than 15,000 pages of original material about areas west of the Appalachian mountains, including comments from several of the nation’s founding fathers about westward immigration and the role of the American Indian.

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Schools use ultraviolet light to zap HVAC health risks

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reckons that 10 million school days are lost because of asthma each year. Many respiratory problems are caused or aggravated by air-borne contaminants, such as those arising from mold and mildew, the EPA says.

To reduce the health risks to students, teachers, and other school personnel, some schools are now using germicidal ultraviolet light to irradiate the cooling coils located within their heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

When heating and cooling systems cycle on and off, condensation occurs in the HVAC units, and they become the perfect breeding grounds for mold and mildew. Portable classrooms are especially susceptible to this health risk.

“Portable classrooms are built a lot tighter than regular school buildings,” said Daniel Jones, business development manager for UltraViolet Devices Inc., a company in Valencia, Calif., that has designed six ultraviolet lights specifically for schools. “There’s no air [flowing] in a natural way, so the building is dependent on the HVAC system for air circulation, and that tends to cause more problems.”

According to the EPA, studies show that one-half of our nation’s schools have problems linked to indoor air quality.

“Moisture damage and humidity can cause mold to grow,” said Christine Miller, spokesperson for the indoor environment division at the Environmental Protection Agency. “When possible, you want to not have mold in your schools.”

Mold and mildew can seriously disrupt learning because they trigger both colds and allergy attacks, she said.

The EPA provides a free online tool kit, called Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools, that school officials can download and use as a guide to assess and correct their schools’ indoor air quality.

For example, schools should regularly inspect ventilation systems, change filters, and make sure books and boxes are not stacked on HVAC systems. “Make sure what you have is working and then take it to the next step if necessary,” Miller said.

That’s exactly what school officials did at the Ontario-Montclair School District in Ontario, Calif.

The district bought 300 AirSword ultraviolet lights and installed them inside air conditioners in portable classrooms where they had problems with indoor air quality.

“The complaints varied from sneezing to headaches,” said Ralph Arrington, lead HVAC technician at Ontario-Montclair. “Usually the teacher does blame the air conditioning, so we’ve installed these units on the air conditioners.”

Since the lights were installed, the teachers haven’t had any complaints. “I don’t know how much was psychosomatic, but they are happier that we have reacted, and their symptoms disappear,” Arrington said.

The district plans to buy as many as 150 more lights to finish equipping its portable classrooms. “We still get complaints from areas where we haven’t installed the units,” Arrington said.

How it works

The ultraviolet light scrambles the DNA of pathogens, leaving them dead. The AirSword is a permanent fixture hardwired into the heating, cooling, and ventilation systems that is left on all the time so mold, mildew, and different spores never have a chance.

“It irradiates the coils and prevents the pathogens from growing on the coil,” Jones said.

Each bulb offers 8,000 hours or approximately one-year of life.

The bulbs use the same technology as fluorescent lights but the glass is clear instead of opaque. Exposed ultraviolet light can cause burns and blindness so it must be completely concealed within the HVAC system.

“It treats what it sees. If there is mold in the wall it won’t treat that, but it will treat the air being circulated from the heating and cooling system,” Jones said.

There are different ultraviolet lights on the market, but only AirSword lights are designed to fit HVAC systems used in classrooms, Jones said.

“The coil surface in these wall units is 32- to 33-inces long. For UVC to do its job, it has to cover the entire surface,” he said. “It becomes a problem when people install shorter lamps in these units.”

AirSword retails for $500 for one unit and replacement bulbs cost $85. In addition to preventing health problems, Jones said, the AirSword saves schools money because their heating and cooling systems will run more efficiently without any mold or mildew residue.

“There’s a health side of it, and there’s an energy efficiency side of these HVAC units,” Jones said.

Links:

UltraViolet Devices Inc.
http://www.uvdi.com

Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/

Ontario-Montclair School District
http://www.omsd.k12.ca.us/

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Defense establishment offers free software to foil hackers

The Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and private organizations have developed security standards and a software program to help users of Microsoft’s Windows 2000 configure their computer systems for maximum security against hackers and thieves.

Similar solutions for other operating systems will be coming soon, government officials said. The standards and software are available free to anyone who wants to use them.

The government’s software program probes computers for known security flaws and makes suggestions on how to eliminate holes used by hackers.

The unprecedented effort is expected to have immediate impact. All Defense Department computers have to meet the standards immediately, and the White House is considering requiring the rest of the federal government to follow suit.

Experts say the keys to success will be extending the standards to school, business, and home users, making the security principles simple enough for the public to understand, and ensuring that the security software stays ahead of increasingly sophisticated computer attackers.

“If it’s just government, it won’t have as much value as it will if it’s government and the private sector,” said Richard Clarke, President Bush’s computer security adviser.

The government’s partners in the private sector intend to broaden the security standards to other operating systems, including those Windows products most commonly used at home.

Maintaining the security of home computers is “a massive problem,” said Clint Kreitner, head of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a nonprofit partnership of companies and American and Canadian government agencies. “[Consumers] slap their systems on the net and get ready to go, then wonder why they get breached in the next 10 minutes.”

The effort has brought together some of the biggest names in business, including computer chipmaker Intel Corp., Chevron, and Visa—part of the group that helped create the standards and is encouraging their use.

Microsoft, which is embarking on its own efforts to make its software more secure, has reviewed the standards and made suggestions.

The standards have developed slowly, in part because security in the past frequently has been handled through technical security bulletins written for engineers.

“You’d give a 200-page document to a system administrator, and say, ‘Have a nice day’,” Clarke said. “So no one did it.”

The breadth of the problem is staggering. The technology research firm Gartner recently projected that through 2005, 90 percent of computer attacks will use known security flaws for which a solution is available but not installed.

Most recent attacks were written and released by bored kids testing their skills, officials said, but the government is becoming more concerned about organized attacks against federal computers from terrorists or foreign governments.

Several government agencies have had their own security standards for some time. What’s new about this July 17 announcement is that the various agencies have agreed on a single standard—a difficult accomplishment that occurred about three months ago.

Experts at the CIS, the NSA, and the Commerce Department’s National Institute for Standards and Technology had three different candidates for standards at first. On April 18, the authors met in a room at NIST offices in Maryland.

“They were told they could leave as soon as they came to an agreement,” said Alan Paller of the Sans Institute, a research and education group involved in the announcement. That night, they had a document several hundred pages long describing how to make Windows 2000 secure, but still usable.

That was only half the battle. Clarke, the White House adviser, said they wanted to make it easy for federal network engineers to make the changes.

To fix that, the government created the software tool that grades computer security so that everyone, from the engineers to top executives, understands how secure their computers are. The tool then recommends changes.

“Security is a critical, yet often overlooked problem in education IT settings,” said Bob Moore, executive director of IT Services for the Blue Valley School District in Kansas. “School districts typically lack expertise in the area, and security services and tools are geared to the private sector. We face a paradox in education in that our primary customers, students, can also be our biggest security threats.”

Moore added, “In trying to provide greater access to all kinds of information to our students, staff, and parents, any tool that can help us shore up our security would be helpful.”

Although educators like Moore welcome these new network security standards and software, they say it’s best if schools develop their own network security policies.

Said Marc B. Liebman, superintendent of Marysville Joint Unified School District in California: “The idea of the standards is great, but each entity, including school districts, needs to develop its own security plan and monitor it for effectiveness. We have our own software to detect security flaws and leaks and as a result, though hackers have tried to get into our system, we have not had a major breech in the four years I have been in the district.”

Links:

Center for Internet Security
http://www.cisecurity.org

National Security Agency
http://www.nsa.gov

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Virtual reality gives these students a boost in real life

A $1.5 million virtual reality project has improved the test scores of deaf and hearing-impaired students by an average of 35 percent overall, according to the leaders of the Virtual Reality Education for Assisted Learning (VREAL) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

When hearing-disabled students start school, they’re already at a disadvantage compared to their hearing peers because they’re usually behind in acquiring language skills.

“They can often be one or two grade levels behind,” said Patti Schofield, a resource teacher at Lake Sybelia Elementary School in Maitland, Fla. “We have to give them a sign vocabulary in addition to writing.” Schofield approached Veridian, a company that does national security work for the U.S. Department of Defense, to see if their virtual reality technology could help hearing disabled students learn.

Schools across the country are now challenged by the No Child Left Behind Act to reach every child. Deaf or hearing-impaired students often get left behind by the education system, but VREAL’s developers hope the technology will help more students graduate.

“The average 17- or 18-year-old deaf student is reading at a fourth grade level,” VREAL’s Program Manager Bob Edge said, citing a study from Gallaudet University, a leading college for the deaf and hearing impaired. Sixty percent of hearing-impaired persons younger than 25 are unemployed, and 70 percent are dependent on someone for financial support, he added.

VREAL attempts to address such problems by helping hearing-impaired students improve their language skills early in their school careers. Funded by two education department grants over the past two years, engineers at Veridian developed an elaborate virtual reality environment to help address the gaps between hearing-disabled students and their hearing peers.

Veridian engineers created a true-to-life replica of the Florida elementary school in the virtual environment using photographs and the school’s blue prints. In addition to replicating the school, the engineers created a whole town—complete with a supermarket, a post office, a farm, and a fire station—based on real photographs.

In the first year, students used the virtual environment to learn life skills such as how to order food at McDonalds, dial 911 in an emergency, handle strangers in the school yard, and what to do during a fire drill.

“We felt life skills were most important first,” Schofield said. “They need to be safe…there are so many people in their life that they can’t connect with.”

Before using the virtual reality program, Schofield videotaped the students to find out what they would do during a fire drill. She found most students got lost or used the farthest exits. “It was a real eye-opener,” Schofield said. “Now the children can find the quickest route out.”

The virtual world allows students to encounter what would be life-threatening situations in the real world, but to do so safely. “They can make mistakes, and they can correct their mistakes without actually being hurt,” Schofield said.

The software has embedded video of the teacher signing the instructions to the student. When students do something wrong in the virtual world, a drop down box appears to explain what they did.

If the teacher needs to interrupt while a student is in the virtual world, the teacher can stand in front of a video camera and sign to the student. The image automatically appears in real-time on the student’s display screen.

Students each take a turn solving the problems in the virtual world. A ceiling-mounted projector displays what’s happening on the computer onto a large screen large in the classroom, so the rest of the class can follow along.

“Each student is learning from each other’s mistakes and corrections,” Schofield said.

Wearing a head-mounted display is not necessary to use the virtual reality program, but doing so provides a far richer experience, because the technology engages more of the senses.

“The head mounted-display fully immerses you, and you feel like you are in the computer,” Edge said. Wearing the head-mounted display, students can navigate through the environment just by moving their eyes.

In the fire drill simulation, for example, a scent generator produces a smoke smell so the children can detect danger.

“This mode of delivery is a multi-sensory approach. We’re able to maximize the senses that they do have,” Schofield said. Although some of the students can’t hear at all, the program nonetheless includes music and such natural sounds as footsteps, doors opening and closing, and the fire alarm.

The technology was so effective at teaching life skills, the developers applied for another grant to expand the technology to teach the students Florida’s third grade math and language arts standards as well. Deaf and hearing-impaired students, even in the fifth grade, are so far behind in their studies that third grade material is still appropriate, Edge said.

Before using the virtual reality environment to learn math and language arts, 60 K-5 deaf and hearing-impaired students took a math pre-test based on the state’s standardized test.

Over seven weeks, the students collectively completed 150 learning problems in the virtual environment. Students were taught, for instance, to help Farmer Bill figure out how many quarts of milk each cow gave by reading a graph shown on the wall.

When the students retook the standardized tests, their average score was 35 percent better overall. “We saw a 41 percent increase in math scores,” Edge said. Researchers from the University of Central Florida analyzed the test results.

Because of the success of the VREAL program, President George W. Bush recently authorized $800,000 for four additional virtual reality machines, one each at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., Ohio School for the Deaf, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.

The program will be expanded to meet each state’s standards, but adding new questions isn’t as costly now that the initial virtual town has been created. “The most expensive part is developing the software,” Edge said.

The technology needed to run the virtual-reality environment costs between $9,000 and $10,000, and the head-mounted display costs between $1,500 and $7,000 depending on the quality of the headset, Edge said.

For schools, the head-mounted display is probably not worth the extra cost, according to Edge.

“With the head mounted display, we found there is some motion sickness,” Edge said. “For the younger kids, it doesn’t fit their head, it kind of slips forward. It’s heavy in the front because that’s where all the electronics are.”

In addition to helping deaf or hearing-impaired students, Schofield said children with autistic tendencies became intensely engaged with the virtual-reality program.

“It appeals to any student. I have yet to see a student not enthralled with it,” Schofield said.

Considering the effect virtual reality had on the academic performance of deaf or hearing-impaired students, Edge said, virtual reality could also help mainstream students improve their performance.

“With deaf and hard-of-hearing [students], we had a sign box. Just do away with that, and [the program] would work for mainstream students as well,” Edge said.

Links:

Virtual Reality Education for Assisted Learning (VREAL)
http://vreal.orlando.veridian.com

Lake Sybelia Elementary School, in Maitland, Fla.
http://www.lakesybelia.ocps.k12.fl.us/

Gallaudet University
http://www.gallaudet.edu/

Ohio School for the Deaf
http://www.ohioschoolforthedeaf.org/

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind
http://www.fsdb.k12.fl.us/

Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
http://www.wpsd.org/index1.html

Veridian Information Solutions
http://www.veridian.com

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