April 2-3
Minneapolis. Connected Classroom Conference
. This conference, sponsored by Classroom Connect, is held in 10 cities each year as a forum for educators to discuss the incorporation of technology and the internet into classroom instruction. Individual workshops are structured according to skill level for beginner, intermediate, and advanced, with several workshops for all levels. Hands-on labs also are available at an additional cost. Contact: (800) 638-1639 ProfDev/Conferences

April 3
Cumberland, Md. Accessing the Fundamentals: Accessible Information Technology in Education
. Sponsored by the Maryland Technology Assistance Program, this conference is comprised of two concurrent sessions: Accessible Distance Learning and Accessible Software Evaluation and Procurement. Registration is limited to 100 people. Contact: (800) 832-4827

April 11-15
Anaheim, Calif. National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) 82nd Annual Convention and Exposition
. Educators who attend this show will be invited to participate in full-day learning workshops, concurrent discussion sessions, and exhibits featuring the latest innovations for school administrators. Featured topics include data-driven decision making, improving the quality of urban schools, and the betterment of national early-childhood programs. Contact: (800) 386-2377

April 16-19
Dallas. National Business Education Association (NBEA) Annual Convention: “Educating for Success in Business and Life.
” K-12 instructors, college administrators, and NBEA members are invited to this event to explore technology’s impact on education by participating in hands-on computer workshops, professional development seminars, and general discussion sessions focused on preparing students for success in the business world. Contact: (703) 860-8300

April 23-26
Portland, Ore. Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) Annual Conference
. Now in its 32nd year, this conference brings teachers, principals, and administrators from Oregon and other northwestern states together to discuss the coordination of activities related to the instructional use of computers and other school technologies. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss equality in technology education, promote the use of successful best practices in technology integration, and debate proficiency standards for top-notch ed-tech programs in schools. Contact: (360) 650-4760


May 8-10
Anaheim, Calif. Computer Using Educators (CUE) 2003 Spring Conference:
“Providing the Tools.” Educators are invited to participate in free, hands-on technology sessions at this event sponsored by CUE, a California-based nonprofit organization supporting the integration of technology into the classroom. Attendees will observe best practices in ed-tech integration via student-led demonstrations and discuss ways to collaborate on their technology efforts with institutions of higher learning. They’ll also be able to purchase access to the conference exhibit hall, where the latest technologies will be on display. Sign up five teachers from your school and one administrator goes to the show for free. Contact: (510) 814-6630

May 14-16
New York City. Education, Technology, and Curriculum Summit 2003.
Sponsored by the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, this conference features the theme “New Models for Individualized Instruction.” It will focus primarily on 12 hot-button topics in K-12 education, spanning from adequate yearly progress and the digital divide to testing, assessment, and professional development. Contact: (888) 464-9950


June 18-20
Pottersville, N.J. edACCESS Technology Conference: “It’s All About Communication.”
Sponsored by edACCESS, a national association of administrative professionals at small schools and colleges, this 12th annual conference gives educators and administrative computing personnel the chance to address some of the more common problems in the ed-tech arena. Through a number of hands-on activities and peer-to-peer discussions, stakeholders will be encouraged to test new solutions to today’s technology challenges. Contact: (413) 774-1422

June 23-28
Honolulu. World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia, and Telecommunications (ED-MEDIA) 2003.
The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education invites educators and technology experts from across the globe to discuss several major topics, including technology infrastructure, tools and content applications, new roles of the instructor and learner, human-computer interaction, best practices, and universal web access. These and other topics will be addressed through a number of channels and networking activities, including tutorials, interactive presentations, discussion sessions, and keynote speeches. Contact: (757) 623-7588


Partners Index

Acer America Corp., a subsidiary of the Acer Group with U.S. headquarters in San Jose, Calif., offers a broad spectrum of IT products and services. Visit Acer’s web site: (800) 733-2237 See Acer’s ad between pages 28 and 29

Book Systems Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., provides high-quality, innovative solutions for library management, including affordable library automation software that lets you tap into the internet. Visit the Book Systems web site: (800) 219-6571 See the ad for Book Systems on page 9

CDI Computers, of Markham, Ontario, remarkets high-quality refurbished computers and instructional technology equipment across North America, with the goal of increasing student-to-computer ratios while stretching school technology budgets. Visit CDI’s web site: (888) 226-5727 See CDI’s ad on page 14

eBook Systems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., is the creator of FlipAlbum, a program that allows you to create and share virtual photo albums on your PC, via compact disc, or online. Visit the FlipAlbum web site: (866) 532-8080 See the eBook Systems ad on page 13

EnGenius Inc., of Livonia, Mich., provides a wide array of software and hardware engineering services and custom application development. Visit the EnGenius web site: (734) 522-2120 See the ad for EnGenius on page 25

Gateway Inc., of San Diego, is a Fortune 250 company focusing on building lifelong relationships with businesses, schools, and consumers through complete technology personalization. Visit the Gateway web site: (800) GATEWAY See the Gateway ads on pages 2 and 3, 19, 21, 24, and 47

GTCO CalComp Inc., of Columbia, Md., is a leading manufacturer of interactive digital input devices—including desktop tablets and drawing boards for use with graphics and imaging software, large-format scanners, and wireless electronic whiteboards—for use in the classroom. Visit the GTCO CalComp web site: (800) 344-4723 See GTCO CalComp’s ad on page 16

Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif., is a leading manufacturer of all the essential components of technology infrastructure—servers, storage, management software, imaging and printing, personal computers, and personal access devices. Visit the HP web site: (800) 752-0900 See HP’s ads on pages 10, 11, and 35

Hi Resolution Systems Ltd., of Columbia, Ill., has been creating and marketing software solutions for Macintosh operating systems since 1989. Visit the Hi Resolution Systems web site: (800) 455-0888 See the Hi Resolution Systems ad on page 5 IBM Corp., headquartered in Armonk, N.Y, provides powerful tools that help enrich educational programs. Visit the IBM web site: (866) 426-0524 See IBM’s ad on page 55

LeapFrog SchoolHouse, of Emeryville, Calif., publishes award-winning preK-8 curriculum and assessment content specifically designed for the classroom. Visit the LeapFrog SchoolHouse web site: (800) 883-7430 See the ad for LeapFrog SchoolHouse on page 12

McGraw Hill Digital Learning, of Columbus, Ohio, provides research-based, standards-aligned technology solutions that improve student performance and teacher productivity. Visit McGraw Hill Digital Learning’s web site: (614) 430-4226 See McGraw Hill Digital Learning’s ad on page 39

Meridian Creative Group, of Erie, Pa., provides math software for every student. Visit the Meridian Creative Group web site: (800) 530-2355 See Meridian’s ad on page 32

MiLAN Technology, of Sunnyvale, Calif., is a leading provider of physical-layer networking products and a pioneer in the field of media conversion. Visit MiLAN’s web site: (800) 466-4526 See the ad for MiLAN Technology on page 7

Oracle Corp., with world headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., is a global leader in business-to-business software and services, including internet-enabled database, tools, and application products, along with related consulting, education, and support services. Visit Oracle’s web site: (800) 529-0165 See Oracle’s ad on page 15

Pearson Education Technologies, of Tucson, Ariz., is a leading provider of educational software and learning solutions to K-12 schools and adult learners. Visit the Pearson Education Technologies web site: (888) 627-LEARN See the ad for Pearson Education Technologies on the back cover

Rediker Software Inc., of Hampden, Mass., is a leading provider of school administrative software for educators and administrators worldwide. Visit the Rediker Software web site: (800) 213-9860 See the ad for Rediker Software on page 27

Sagebrush Corp., of Minneapolis, is a fast-growing leader in serving K-12 library media specialists in their efforts to provide access to information, stimulate interest in reading, and improve student performance. Visit the Sagebrush web site: (800) 328-2923 See the Sagebrush ad on page 8

Stratacache, of Dayton, Ohio, is a maker of acceleration products that enable fast, bandwidth-efficient delivery of web content. Visit the Stratacache web site: (800) 244-8915 See the ad for Stratacache on page 26


Stimulate a discussion of racism in America today with this PBS web site

On the morning following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Elliott&mdasha third-grade teacher from Riceville, Iowa—decided the time was ripe for a risk. What might it feel like to be black, she asked her class. It was a lesson her students would not soon forget. Now, more than 30 years later, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) celebrates Elliott’s courageous attempt to confront racial prejudice in the classroom with “A Class Divided.” The web site, which complements a Frontline documentary by the same name about Elliott’s remarkable “blue eyes/brown eyes” exercise, enables students to view the documentary in its entirety and provides resources to stimulate discussion about the state of racism in America today. It also contains a number of readings and links for students to conduct follow-up research. For teachers, there is an online guide with several lessons corresponding to the documentary. There’s even a discussion section where educators can seek answers to questions, as well as a published interview with Jane Elliott herself.


Witness the search for extraterrestrial life at this NASA web site

The tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew Feb. 1 hasn’t deterred NASA from its search for new worlds. This search is being conducted over the next 15 years through a series of NASA missions using the most sensitive instruments ever made. On the agency’s “PlanetQuest” web site, students can learn all about these instruments and the missions they are being used in. Students can find out how scientists discover new planets and determine whether a planet is habitable, search an “atlas” of planets to see what planets have been discovered thus far (there are 102), or tour a multimedia gallery. Resources for teachers and focused learning activities for students also are provided.


Use this site to track the development of the atomic bomb

On Dec. 6, 1941, the U.S. government pledged $2 million to the Manhattan Project, charging scientists with the task of developing the world’s first atomic bomb. Four and a half years later, President Harry S. Truman ordered the deployment of two such bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 170,000 Japanese civilians. While the bombings are credited with bringing a quick and decisive end to World War II, they remain two of the most horrific and deadliest attacks ever committed in modern warfare. Now, thanks to this web site created by Doug Prouty of California’s Costa County Office of Education, students can follow the historic development of the U.S. atomic weapons program from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to those two fateful days in August 1945 when so many lives were lost. The site provides students with a timeline following the gradual development of the bomb, as well as information about the physics of atomic energy. There are also resources to conduct follow-up research assignments, complementary lesson plans, and historical biographies profiling some of the major players of the atomic era.


Congress tries again to crack down on child pornography

The U.S. Senate on Feb. 24 approved a bill that would give prosecutors powerful new tools to fight child pornographers. The bill aims to help authorities track down internet pedophiles while avoiding free-speech concerns that toppled a similar law last year.

The measure makes it harder for producers of computer-generated child pornography to evade prosecution, creates new crimes aimed at those who would entice minors into sexual activity, and requires greater proof from pornographers that they are not using children.

“We have a compelling interest in protecting our children from harm,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who sponsored the bill along with the panel’s top Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. “The ‘Protect Act’ strikes a necessary balance between this goal and the First Amendment.”

The Senate bill, which passed on an 84-0 vote, grew out of a Supreme Court ruling last April that struck down most of a 1996 law to ban “virtual,” or computer-generated, child pornography. The court, in its 6-3 decision, said the law was unconstitutionally vague and overreaching because it prohibited images that only appeared to, but did not actually, depict children engaged in sex.

The Hatch-Leahy bill was written with that decision in mind, and the Bush administration said it strongly supports the revisions. Passage “would be an important step in protecting children from abuse by ensuring effective child pornography prosecutions,” a White House statement said.

There was no indication how quickly the measure would be taken up in the House.

Child pornography has become more widely available in recent years as pedophiles worldwide use internet chat groups and visit web sites featuring child porn.

Specifically, the bill prohibits the pandering or solicitation of anything represented to be obscene child pornography. Responding to the court ruling, it requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person intended others to believe the material was obscene child pornography.

The bill also plugs a loophole where pornographers could avoid prosecution by claiming that their sexually explicit material was computer-generated and involved no real children. Under an “affirmative defense” provision, the defendant would be required to prove that real children were not a part of the production.

The bill narrows the definition of “sexually explicit conduct” for prosecutions of computer-created child pornography and requires people who produce sexually explicit material to keep more extensive records so that they can prove that minors were not used in making it.

It also creates a new crime—the use of child pornography by sexual predators to entice minors to engage in sexual activity or the production of new child pornography—and increases penalties for child pornographers.

Still, Leahy said he was worried that some provisions of the bill would be challenged in court. “The last thing we want to do is to create years of legal limbo for our nation’s children,” he said.

Leahy mentioned language that would allow prosecution of anyone who “presented” a movie intended to cause another person to believe that a minor was engaging in sexually explicit conduct. By that definition, he said, a movie theater presenting the movies Romeo and Juliet or American Beauty would be guilty of a felony.

Youthful sexuality is a venerable theme in art, from Shakespeare to Academy Award-winning movies, the Supreme Court ruled in striking down key provisions of the 1996 law. That law would call into question legitimate educational, scientific, or artistic depictions of youthful sex, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Another section of the 1996 law was not challenged and remains in effect. It bans prurient computer alteration of innocent images of children, such as the grafting of a child’s school picture onto a naked body.

Bill Lyon of the Free Speech Coalition, an adult entertainment trade group that challenged the 1996 law, said the Hatch-Leahy bill appeared “much more confined to the specific area of child pornography.” The original bill, he said, “went way beyond protecting kids and was really a covert attempt to destroy the entire adult entertainment industry.”

The Senate bill is S. 151.

See these related links:

Sen. Orrin Hatch

Sen. Patrick Leahy


New student tracking system launched, despite concerns

After a two-week delay, a federal computer system designed to track international students in the United States went online Feb. 15, despite lingering concerns.

Reaction among foreign students has been mixed, and some critics have complained the program is too intrusive. Even the program’s supporters say the electronic tracking system has loopholes that could allow foreign students to escape detection.

The internet-based system—called the Student Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS—was announced last May by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The system links U.S. consulates with every immigration port of entry and all 74,000 educational institutions eligible to host foreign students.

SEVIS is meant to be a faster-moving version of long-standing procedures that require colleges to monitor the academic status and addresses of foreign students. Elementary and secondary schools do not participate in the program.

Instead of maintaining the files on campus, SEVIS requires colleges to forward this information to a national computer database. The program actually was authorized in 1996, but implementation gained momentum in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some of the terrorists entered the country on student visas.

Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), said 3,907 colleges and universities were ready to participate when SEVIS went live, and 1,941 more have applications pending. Originally scheduled to be operational on Jan. 30, INS delayed the rollout to resolve last-minute problems with the system and to allow the participation of more schools.

Colleges lacking INS approval to participate in the system will be prohibited from enrolling new foreign students.

Schools must notify the INS if an international student fails to enroll or is arrested. Students are responsible for reporting status changes—such as a new address—to their respective schools. The INS may share its data with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

“If it works seamlessly, the foreign students shouldn’t know it even exists, unless a fee is imposed to finance SEVIS,” said Victor Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers. “It’s information they’ve already supplied to international offices anyway.”

Bentley said foreign students will not be penalized for system glitches or reporting delays from colleges.

“As for individuals who do something to jeopardize their immigration status, yes, they could be held accountable for that,” he said. Penalties include deportation.

Jun Yoshizaki, a doctoral student and president of the Japanese Scholar and Student Association at North Carolina State University, said foreign students have accepted SEVIS as a condition for attending college in the United States.

But Rebecca Thornton of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said SEVIS is “just another instance of the government collecting massive information, trying to get leads for terrorism suspects by really casting a broader net than is effective.”

Although the system tightens the restrictions on who gets student visas, some educators say it has loopholes that could allow foreign students to escape detection.

If they wanted to, foreign students could enroll in classes at the beginning of the semester, drop out, and—most of the time—they would go unnoticed until the end of a semester, some SEVIS proponents say.

Participating institutions have systems in place to monitor excessive absences by students; however, the integrity of the program depends on the faculty’s diligence in reporting absences.

Keeping track of student address changes also is a challenge. Under SEVIS guidelines, a foreign student is expected to contact the school or INS when he or she moves. But if a student moves without notifying the school or immigration authorities, the system has no way of telling.

The next deadline for schools is Aug. 1, when they will have to re-enter detailed information for existing foreign students enrolled before Sept. 11, 2001.

See these related links:

Immigration and Naturalization Service

Department of Homeland Security

National Association of Foreign Student Advisers

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights


Weighing in on federal proposals is no longer a hefty chore with

In a step forward for eGovernment, the Bush administration has unveiled a new web site,, that allows individuals to participate in the federal rule-making process more easily. The site enables educators and other users to search for, review, and submit comments on federal proposals and other documents open for comment and published in the Federal Register, the government’s legal newspaper. The idea is to provide one centralized location where stakeholders can go to offer their opinions on major issues—from school reform to technology integration and more—and have their comments considered by lawmakers. The site gives users the opportunity to express their opinions about specific documents, as well as pose questions to particular federal agencies. Regulations are searchable by keyword—or, if it’s a certain agency you’re looking for, just type in the department name in the top right corner of the screen. A section for frequently asked questions explains how comments are solicited, received, and reviewed by federal employees.


Browse through timely research briefs with this new web publication

With the No Child Left Behind Act now requiring schools to adopt only “research-based” programs and activities, it’s more important than ever for school leaders to stay abreast of the latest educational research. Now, education stakeholders have at their disposal a single online resource documenting the findings of several original, interdisciplinary research reports on a variety of topics, such as the training of high-quality teachers, identification of students with learning disabilities, and effects of class-size reductions on student achievement. “ResearchBrief,” from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), is an internet-based publication offering summaries of several well-documented research reports on a variety of educational topics. Every two weeks, the web site provides an overview of a recent study—including research questions, data sources, and findings—as well as its significance for practitioners and policy makers. The publication is overseen by a panel of nationally renowned scholars and practitioners who ensure the quality of studies reviewed, as well as their relevancy to ASCD members.


New FCC phone, web rules send mixed messages

The Federal Communications Commission’s latest attempt to overhaul rules governing competition for telephone and internet services was supposed to herald a new era of clarity in the turbulent telecommunications industry. Instead, analysts say, the FCC’s Feb. 20 decisions reveal discord within the agency itself and spell even more uncertainty for schools and other consumers.

The nation’s four regional Bell companies—BellSouth Corp., SBC Comm-unications, Verizon Communications, and Qwest Communications—complained that the FCC failed to drop outdated rules that let competitors use local Bell networks at discounted prices. Consumer groups praised the decision because it preserves the ability of long-distance carriers such as AT&T Corp. and WorldCom Inc. to offer local telephone service.

But consumer groups also complained that the Bells won dangerous power over the future of broadband internet access, closing out smaller providers and guaranteeing higher prices and fewer choices for residential users.

For now, all that is certain is that the future of communications in America will be played out, once again, in the courts. Congress could step in, but many observers say that appears unlikely anytime soon with so many other issues dominating Washington these days.

“The surprise is not so much that we did not achieve what we hoped to on so many issues,” said Thomas Tauke, top lobbyist at Verizon Communications, the nation’s largest phone company. “The surprise is the disarray within the FCC and the resulting lack of a coherent legal and policy philosophy.”

Competition for local phone service

The FCC was faced with an extraordinarily complex task: to reconsider, by a court-ordered deadline, its enforcement of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Two earlier sets of rules had been rejected by federal judges.

One major ruling Feb. 20 was that state regulators will decide where, and at what price, Bells must make parts of their networks available to rivals to ensure local telephone competition. In its 3-2 decision, the FCC rejected arguments from the Bells that existing federal competition rules should be eliminated altogether.

Behind the commission’s divided ruling is a requirement that the Bells lease parts of their local networks to competitors such as AT&T and WorldCom at discount rates. The policy was adopted seven years ago to encourage companies to compete in the Bells’ markets while giving the Bells the chance to offer long-distance service in their regions.

Consumers could benefit from the decision to shift authority to states because local regulators tend to focus more than the FCC on keeping phone bills low, said Kathie Hackler, an analyst with Gartner Dataquest.

“States have more of a capability to deal directly with consumer issues,” she said.

The Bells say the leasing rules allow competitors to use their networks at artificially low prices.

James C. Smith, an SBC senior vice president, called the decision “a pipe dream of people who have spent no time working in the real world.” Smith and officials from other phone companies said they would increase lobbying of Congress and state regulators and appeal the FCC decision in the courts.

The vote marked an unusual defeat for FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who advocated eliminating the network-sharing requirements altogether. Powell agrees with the Bells that competition for local phone service is vibrant in many forms, including wireless phones, eMail, and cable and internet technologies. But Republican Kevin Martin, a former campaign aide to President Bush, sided with the commission’s two Democrats for a 3-2 majority.

Telecom analyst Phil Jacobson of Network Conceptions LLC said he was surprised that Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, wouldn’t compromise on a position that probably was politically untenable, considering that the existing rules let Bell rivals provide local service on 10 million phone lines.

“It hurts his credibility for really being able to accomplish much,” Jacobson said. “It shows that he doesn’t just have a self-righteous attitude—he has a self-righteous attitude even when he’s not right.”

Other observers called Martin’s approach a cop-out.

“We’re going to have this hodgepodge of 50 different regulatory fiefdoms, unless the courts strike this all down,” said Adam Thierer, director of telecommunications studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Martin acknowledged Feb. 21 that the process had been difficult for the FCC and himself personally. He said no matter how the FCC had voted, it would have been challenged in court.

“If everyone is mad at you, maybe you got it right,” he told a Georgetown University conference. “That definitely feels like that’s true today.”

Future of broadband services in question

In another split 3-2 decision, the FCC did free the Bells from having to make new high-speed fiber-optic lines available to competitors at regulated prices. The Bells had long sought this bit of deregulation, saying it was vital for them to compete better with cable modems and get broadband internet access to more homes. They also said they would have no incentive to invest in costly new networks if competitors were to profit from them.

“Their bluff was called,” said Joan Marsh, AT&T’s director of federal government affairs. “It’s time for them to put their money where their mouth has been for a number of years.”

Bell executives countered that because the FCC didn’t do enough to keep their basic landline phone business from shrinking, they won’t have the money to invest in new fiber networks.

Chairman Powell reacted sharply to those statements from the Bells, saying, “Here is a lot of crying crybaby reaction to the decision.” The Bells’ announcements were more like “public affairs reactions” than like reasoned management decisions, Powell said, adding that he was getting tired of the “passion play between billion-dollar self-interested actors.”

Some analysts said the Bells were given an enormous opportunity to confirm their lock on the “last mile” of wiring to individual homes and schools. Indeed, Covad Communications Co., which leases Bell lines to provide digital subscriber line (DSL) high-speed internet access, said it might abandon selling to consumers and concentrate only on businesses.

Although emerging wireless technologies can get around the last-mile bottleneck, those have nowhere near the power of fiber-optic lines.

“If the [phone companies] were to play their cards right, we’d get a lot of new services but we’d have to pay through the nose,” said independent telecom consultant David Isenberg. “It would become a robber baron-type scenario.”

See this related link:

Federal Communications Commission