Model exemplary teaching practices with the “Digital Edge Learning Interchange”

In August 2001, eSchool News reported that the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the International Society for Technology in Education, and Apple Computer—with funding from the AT&T Foundation—had launched a project to create an online library of videos showcasing best practices for teaching with technology. Based on two sets of nationally recognized standards, the videos are intended to help both current and aspiring teachers use technology in the classroom more effectively. Now, the fruits of this labor are ready for schools’ consumption. Teachers can turn to this site for access to online “exhibits” submitted by National Board Certified Teachers who have participated in the program. Each free exhibit contains a number of professional development resources and suggestions for teachers, including lesson plans, video clips, examples of student work, assessment tools, and teacher-student reflections, enabling teachers to learn from the best as they strive to integrate technology into their own curricula.

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Cheryl Vedoe leaves Apple for Apex Learning

Cheryl Vedoe, the former head of Apple Computer’s Power School unit, has left the company to become chief executive officer for Apex Learning, a provider of online courses and instructional materials for high school students.

In an interview with eSchool News, Vedoe said she was enthusiastic about her role at Apex and was looking forward to leading the rapidly growing company to new heights in the ed-tech marketplace.

“Education has really only scratched the surface as far as the potential that is out there with technology,” she said. “I think there is a tremendous opportunity for educational technology to have an influential effect on student outcomes.”

Vedoe said she hopes to improve upon those outcomes by building on the products and services that have been—and continue to be—key to Apex’s business model. Among these services are ClassTools, a combination of online lessons, exercises, and activities to help strengthen educators’ teaching portfolios; Evaluation Tools, which give teachers the means to assess student progress in a given topic by way of computer assessments; and a growing library of online advanced-placement courses, which Vedoe says gives students with limited course diversification a whole new avenue for exploring their educations.

Still getting comfortable in her new role at Apex, Vedoe said she would prefer to focus on familiarizing herself with the company at present before commenting on her goals and visions for its future.

While looking forward to her new role at Apex, Vedoe refused to comment on her reasons for leaving Apple or the current state of the company’s PowerSchool operations. In September, Think Secret, an online news source for inside information at Apple, reported that the company was displeased with the Enterprise version of its PowerSchool student information system and was reevaluating its plans.

A 25-year veteran of the education and technology industries, Vedoe had been Apple’s vice president of education marketing until June, when she was shifted over to the company’s PowerSchool division. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on her departure.

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PC giant Dell hopes to make mark selling printers

Dell Computer Corp. in September made official what the company has alluded to for months: The personal computer giant is getting into the printer business.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell announced an agreement with Kentucky-based printer manufacturer Lexmark International Inc. to produce Dell inkjet and laser printers and cartridges that will be sold directly to customers.

Dell will offer special packages pushing Lexmark printers during the holiday shopping season. Dell-brand printers will be sold in the first half of next year, said Dell spokesman Jess Blackburn. The companies did not disclose terms or give specific product descriptions.

Dell’s step into the printer market comes two months after leading printer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) severed a partnership with the company, saying it believed Dell was planning to start selling its own printers.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP had let Dell buy printers directly from HP and resell them to Dell PC customers. Dell plans to continue similar agreements with Lexmark, Epson America Corp., Xerox Corp., Brother Industries Ltd., and Canon Inc.

But under that system, Dell misses out on recurring sales of ink refills, which ensure highly profitable and steady revenues for years.

“Dell can very efficiently assemble and distribute printers themselves. The key to the imaging business is not the printer; it’s the cartridges,” said Barry Jaruzelski, a management consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton in New York. “The big question is, how will they decide to price the cartridges? Because that’s where all the profit is.”

Dell won’t yet reveal how much the printers or cartridges will cost, but promises the prices will be very competitive.

HP anticipates Dell will face challenges in the printer market that HP is an expert in, said HP spokeswoman Diane Roncal. HP has promised to grow its imaging business by 10 percent over the next year by focusing on growth areas such as digital imaging and publishing, Roncal said.

“We have strong strategies,'” she said. “We’re more convinced than ever that the strategy is dead-on.”

Analysts said if anyone could challenge HP in the imaging arena, it’s Dell.

“I think it is a challenge for HP at this point. Still, printers are a very big and profitable business for them as a company, and they’re challenged on so many other fronts now with the merger [with Compaq],” said Steve Kleynhans, a Dell analyst with Meta Group. “This is just another place where Dell is going to take a shot at them.”

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N2H2 lays off 20 percent of work force, undergoes restructuring

In an effort to return to profitability by late 2003, N2H2 Inc., a major seller of internet filtering technologies to schools, announced on Sept. 9 that it would undergo a restructuring, including the termination of 18 employees across the company.

The layoffs, which included the company’s chief operating officer and vice president of marketing, constituted nearly one-fifth of N2H2’s work force, according to company spokesman David Burt.

Despite the cuts, Burt said the company has made no plans to alter any of the services it offers to schools.”No one from any of our education divisions was lost” said Burt, who added that the company will continue to build on its presence in the education market by attending trade shows and promoting products like its Bess filtering software for schools.

Last year, the company reportedly lost upwards of $6.4 million. In restructuring its work force, N2H2 said it expects to reduce annual operating expenses by 11 percent, or $1.5 million, and return to profitability late in 2003. The company’s products include filtering software for Cisco, CheckPoint, Microsoft, and Novell firewall platforms.

“We made a promise to our customers and our shareholders that we would reach profitability in the near term,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Phil Welt in a statement. “Our company restructuring plan will help us accomplish this goal and at the same time allow us to continue delivering the quality filtering solutions that our enterprise and education customers have grown to expect.”

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