Self-managing server technology could reduce costs

Beginning with its next generation of network file server software, Microsoft Corp. said it will offer new technologies designed to help business and school customers automatically manage the flow of computing power and resources to match their workload.

The new technologies will enable school information technology (IT) staff to spend less time defining requirements and validating that applications work, which will reduce deployment costs and network downtime, Microsoft said.

The Redmond, Wash., company formally announced its “Dynamic Systems Initiative” March 18. The effort is similar to others already under way at competitors, such as IBM’s “autonomic computing” program.

The central idea for all these efforts is that the networks of large enterprises, such as companies and school systems, should be able to monitor themselves, shift processing power, and dedicate storage where and when it’s needed. By instructing the networks to manage themselves, system administrators will be freed up to focus on other matters, rather than baby-sitting the network.

Microsoft’s initiative focuses on new technologies to create and support “smart” programs that know how to anticipate such needs, said Bob O’Brien, Windows Server group product manager. For example, every time someone places an order on a web site, the underlying program can be instructed to make a certain amount of storage available.

“If the application knows … what kind of resources it will need, it starts to see that work load increase, [then] it knows how many resources to put on,” he said.

In addition, Microsoft is working with hardware manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp., EDS, and Opsware Inc. to deliver infrastructure that works seamlessly with these applications.

Windows Server 2003, Microsoft’s newest server software release which was in April, will include some of the technology, and Microsoft expects to release more tools in the next three to five years, O’Brien said.

IBM announced its “autonomic computing” initiative about 18 months ago. “The complexity of technology is growing exponentially,” said IBM spokesman Michael Loughran. The goal, he said, is “to have IT people focus on the business and not focus on the actual infrastructure anymore.”

The IBM eServer product line, which incorporates autonomic computing, has the ability to self-configure, self-heal, self-optimize, and self-protect. That means the servers configure and reconfigure autonomously both at boot time and during run time; detect hardware and firmware faults instantly and then contain the effects of the faults within defined boundaries; measure the performance or usage of resources and then tune the configuration of hardware resources to deliver improved performance; and protect against internal and external threats.

Although school technology directors were intrigued by the possible benefits of these new technologies, many said the severe budget shortfalls they now face mean they could be slow to adopt such systems.

“At the moment, we are fighting to keep technology funding. I would like to test and use new products, but find this to be challenging,” said Sandra Becker, director of technology for Pennsylvania’s Governor Mifflin School District.

See these related links:

Windows Server 2003
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/default.mspx

IBM’s “autonomic computing” initiative
http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/autonomic

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Tennessee seeks emergency eRate relief

In a highly unusual move, Tennessee has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to change eRate service providers before receiving a funding decision letter so 900,000 students statewide won’t lose internet access.

Tennessee’s 2002-2003 eRate funding is being withheld pending the outcome of a joint state and federal investigation into how contracts were awarded during the administration of former Gov. Don Sundquist. Tennessee officials want the FCC to pay another service provider, BellSouth Corp., to maintain internet access in the state’s schools while the investigation continues, thereby circumventing the company currently managing the system.

Last year, Nashville-based Education Networks of America (ENA) won a $106 million, five-year contract with the state Department of Education to run the statewide network, called ConnecTENN. But 70 percent of the money for the contract comes from the eRate program, which gives telecommunications discounts to schools and libraries.

The network provides internet access to 900,000 students and 97 percent of the state’s public schools.

ENA is one of several companies whose contracts are under scrutiny by the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the state comptroller’s office as part of the contracts probe started in December.

In an April 17 letter to the FCC, William Coulter, a Washington attorney hired by Gov. Phil Bredesen to handle the ENA negotiations, said the investigation “may continue for several years” and the state needs alternatives to pay for the network.

“In the situation at hand, ENA is unable to file for its reimbursement,” Coulter wrote. “As a result, subcontractors cannot be paid—and service to the state and its schools is imperiled.”

BellSouth, the largest ENA network subcontractor among 24, has agreed “in concept” to act as a paymaster for the federal funding and distribute it to other subcontractors, according to the letter. The agreement would keep federal money away from ENA corporate officials, Coulter wrote.

Under current program rules, an applicant may request a change in the service provider associated with a particular funding request only after the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co., the agency that administers the eRate, has issued its funding decision—a procedure known as a “SPIN change” (for “Service Provider Identification Number”).

The FCC issued a notice April 21 asking for comments on the state’s request. The public comment period ended April 30, and reply comments are due May 5.

FCC spokesman Michael Balmoris said commissioners will review Tennessee’s request and issue a ruling soon. The state is asking for action before the end of the school year so it can avoid a disruption in service, but there is no timetable for a decision, Balmoris said.

Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman Carrington Fox said no decision has been made on the state’s continuing relationship with ENA after this school year.

“All of our actions so far have been solely geared at maintaining service to schools,” she said. “We’ll take any further steps as they come after the school year.”

ENA President David Pierce said using federal eRate money to pay the company’s subcontractors directly is an acceptable, temporary solution to the problem.

“We’re fully supporting what the state is doing,” he said. “We think they are on the right track.”

ENA continues to receive payment from the state for its 30 percent of the contract price, according to state and company officials. As of March, the state had paid nearly $4 million on the contract.

Pierce has laid off 30 of ENA’s 77 employees and warned that ConnecTENN would be reduced to 30 percent of its capacity unless a solution to the funding freeze is found.

ENA has lost more than $1 million a month on the contract by keeping the network at full power, he said.

ENA was founded in 1996 by Sundquist friends Al Ganier and John Stamps. Stamps, a Monteagle, Tenn., entrepreneur, also owns Chattanooga-based Workforce Strategists, which closed its doors in September when agents raided the company offices.

Links:

Federal Communications Commission
http://www.fcc.gov

FCC Public Notice
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-03-1186A1.doc

Tennessee Department of Education
http://www.state.tn.us/education

Education Networks of America
http://www.ena.com/default.htm

ConnecTEN
http://www.connect-tn.org

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Study reveals shifts in digital divide for students

The early part of the 21st century has seen a tremendous surge in internet use among children, regardless of age, income, or ethnicity, according to a study unveiled March 19 by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). But in spite of this technological evolution, the digital divide lingers and—in some cases—is getting worse, experts warned.

The report, called “Connected to the Future,” states that 65 percent of American children ages two through 17 now use the internet from school, home, or some other location. That represents a 59-percent growth rate since 2000, when only 41 percent of children were logging online from similar places.

Despite marked increases in technology access, the study raises a number of red flags that educators and other stakeholders should be aware of, said report author Peter Grunwald, of the independent research firm Grunwald Associates.

“If we are not there already, we are moving at breakneck speed to a time when logging onto the internet is as fundamental to daily functioning as making a telephone call,” the study said. What’s troubling, however, is that many schools still are not equipped to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum.

In schools—where internet use by African-American children ages two through 17 exploded from 12 percent in 2000 to 31 percent in 2002, and where access for low-income children ballooned by 60 percent over the same two-year period—69 percent of all students still say the computer lab is the place where online learning occurs most frequently, the study found.

In fact, at a time when policy makers, educators, and labor authorities nationwide have said that technology skills need to become as much a part of students’ educational repertoires as reading, writing, and arithmetic, less than one-third of all students say they use technology in the classroom.

“If the vast majority of children are using the internet primarily in computer labs, then it’s not unreasonable to suppose that internet-based learning may still be on the periphery of the curriculum,” the study said.

Educators agree: The integration of technology into the curriculum presents an ongoing challenge.

“We are working on making access more available in the classroom, but many teachers separate the use of technology to a time of the day or week as opposed to it being one of the learning tools, like a book or piece of paper, in the classroom,” said Marc Liebman, superintendent of the Marysville Joint Unified School District in California. “We have a long way to go and a lot of mindsets to change before we will be successful at fully integrating technology and the internet into everyday instruction.”

But if the relationship between technology and the curriculum is still too weak, technology does excel as a research tool, the research showed. According to the report, almost half of the children surveyed said they use the internet in school libraries or media centers for research purposes.

“The fact is that some great teaching and learning can take place in computer labs. In most schools, it is the only place where a teacher can accomplish one-to-one computing for [his or her] students,” said Bob Moore, chairman of the board of directors for the Consortium for School Networking. “One could argue that when you look at student time on the internet for learning purposes, library media centers, computer labs, and classrooms—in that order—can be very appropriate.”

Della Curtis, who coordinates the office of library and information services for schools in Baltimore County, Md., said she thinks the library is an ideal place for students to learn the in and outs of internet technology.

“The library media center is a natural place for students to use technology to access information needed to solve research problems, to learn to use [technology] in an efficient and effective manner, and to learn how to evaluate information,” Curtis said.

Researchers say the discrepancy between technology’s use as a research tool and as a curriculum aide could be attributed to the notion that school infrastructures are not robust enough to support the demands of “simultaneous online users in multiple classrooms.”

Of course, with a majority of state and local governments facing budget shortfalls, it’s anybody’s guess how long it will be before schools can commit the funds to bolster inadequate infrastructures and provide that support, the study said.

In the meantime, “we can make technology and the internet more of an integral part of the instructional program by developing more online curricula, lesson plans, and assessment tools that are easy for teachers to use. Without that, true integration will not happen,” Liebman suggested.

The problem becomes especially critical for children in predominantly low-income, African-American, and Hispanic schools. In spite of recent improvements, students in such schools still have not achieved access equal to what most high-income children enjoyed two years ago, the study said.

“Our challenge in education is to provide learning experiences and classroom environments that allow children to function with technology resources in a natural way and give all children real-life experiences that assist them in outside-of-school learning and working situations,” added Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology at the Plano, Texas, Independent School District.

The broadband divide

Although access from school is one way to use the internet, home connectivity raises other issues—such as the degree of high-speed broadband access in homes.

Between 2000 and 2002, the number of families with high-speed broadband access nearly quadrupled, from 10 percent to just around 37 percent of homes nationwide, the report said.

That’s a significant increase, especially considering that children with broadband access at home told researchers that faster connections have allowed them to spend more time online, encouraged them to watch less television, and even enabled them to achieve better grades.

In fact, among households with broadband internet access, six times as many parents reported grade increases in their children’s schoolwork as reported decreases, the study said. What’s more, 13 percent of parents attributed those gains to the increased functionality of broadband access.

However, some experts worry whether the emergence of broadband—which can cost up to five times more than standard dial-up services—will create a new kind of digital divide: “not over access, but over [high-] quality content,” the report suggested.

According to the report, the average annual income of families with broadband access is at least $72,000, and the average annual income of families who plan to get broadband in the near future is $65,000.

That leaves the majority of underserved families to make do with slower dial-up connections, and it begs the question of whether second-rate access will result in second-rate online experiences for students in years to come.

“I worry about this a lot,” Liebman said. “But I also believe that education is slowly realizing that technology and [the] internet may provide new opportunities and avenues for all students to be successful, especially those who speak different languages and those for whom a traditional education does not work.”

Instead of shying away from new technology trends because they are not affordable or prove difficult to implement, Liebman suggested, schools should search for funds and grant programs that can help provide high-speed access in schools, especially for those students who lack these amenities at home.

“Schools need to figure out how to give more access at school to compensate for those [students who] don’t have access at home,” he said “I am not sure how to do it, but we need to have longer hours where technology is available before and after school, as well as in [the] evenings, so that these students are not shortchanged on access.”

Connected from home

Still, educators and other stakeholders probably will be encouraged to learn that traditionally underserved children, including those from minority and low-income families, are using the internet—regardless of connection speed—at rates much closer to their more well-to-do peers.

Children are jumping online with greater frequency these days from several locales, and they are doing it at a much younger age, the study said. Only 6 percent of children ages two to five used the internet from any location in 2000, the report said. By 2002, however, that figure had expanded to 35 percent of children from the same age group.

More importantly, many of them are going online for educational reasons. According to the survey, one in five students polled said they logged onto the internet from home every day for school-related purposes.

And once children get online, many stay online. Teenagers, for instance, log on more than any other age group, claiming to spend an average 8.4 hours a week online at home.

According to the report, their activities in cyberspace vary from internet surfing to eMail correspondence and entertainment, including playing video games and downloading music files.

But 64 percent of teenagers said education activities constitute at least part of their weekly online experience, putting learning a close second behind general web surfing and exploration, the report said.

All of this, of course, is hard evidence for educators that technology is changing the way Americans—young and old—live their lives.

“Five years ago, you didn’t ask someone for their eMail address,” said Frank Cruz, a CPB board member.

Even television, the revolutionary device that for years has connected homes to the outside world, is losing ground in the face of more interactive digital media. According to the report, teenagers on average spend 3.5 hours per day online, compared with 3.1 hours in front of the TV, which translates to 24 minutes more daily time online than with television.

Part of that increase can be attributed directly to a spike in overall home computer ownership.

By 2002, 83 percent of all family households reportedly owned computers. Computer ownership in African-American families, for instance, has soared in recent years, from 39 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2002, the study said. The same can be said for low-income households: from 45 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2002.

While these numbers still lag behind the rates for Caucasian and high-income households—87 percent and 97 percent, respectively—the increases have opened the door for the internet to play a far greater role in students’ everyday lives, from communication to schoolwork.

The pervasiveness of that influence is partially represented in the number of households that now not only have computers but also claim to provide internet access—via dial-up or broadband—for children from home.

According to the study, 78 percent of children live in a home where they or their parents have access to the internet. That represents a 70-percent growth rate from 2000.

Again, the biggest gains came from children in African-American and low-income families. Internet access in African-American households rose by the near-astonishing rate of 205 percent from 2000 to 2002, but access in low-income homes also rose by a respectable 96 percent during the same period, the study said. Meanwhile, 50 percent of Hispanics said their children now go online from some location, whether in schools, at libraries, or from home.

Researchers say the increases are indicative of a number of trends in internet access for students nationwide. The problem, however, is that with the latest gains emerge new wrinkles in the digital divide. The questions for American households no longer revolve around if and when such access will occur, but rather who plans to go online and how they intend to get there.

“Even with the growing numbers and diversity of children going online from home, striking disparities remain,” the report states.

Growing up online

In terms of ethnicity, the greatest disparity in the digital divide exists between Caucasian and African-American children ages 13 to 17, the report said. Although 69 percent of Caucasian children in that age group use the internet at home, the study revealed that just 37 percent of African-Americans from 13 to 17 have that advantage.

The disparity disappears at younger age levels, the report said. In fact, among students ages two to five, the divide is almost nonexistent—23 percent for Caucasian and Hispanic children and 21 percent for African-Americans, respectively.

Researchers theorize that higher levels of inequality among older age groups could be attributed, in part, to the notion that younger children have younger parents, many of whom have “grown[n] up on the internet.”

Grunwald said he believes tech-savvy parents are the key to helping today’s children better acclimate themselves with the internet. Their familiarity with the technology, he said, lets younger parents play the role of competent guide for their children as they begin journeying into cyberspace.

“If this is true, five years from now we may observe the fading of the ethnic gap for older children as well,” the report said.

Existing gaps and lingering challenges aside, organizers overall were encouraged by the findings.

“This study shows that the internet is fast becoming a ubiquitous tool for a growing number of American families,” said Robert Coonrod, president of CPB. “Kids are using it in unprecedented numbers, and parents believe it is valuable to their children’s learning.”

“This is an affirmation by students and parents about the role technology plays in learning,” said Mary Boehm, president of the BellSouth Foundation, a report sponsor. “But there still is much work left to be done.”

See these related links:

“Connected to the Future” report
http://www.cpb.org/ed/resources/connected

Grunwald Associates
http://www.grunwald.com

Consortium for School Networking
http://www.cosn.org

BellSouth Foundation
http://www.bellsouthfoundation.org

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Viewpoint: Seven leadership challenges for the digital age

Discussions of the status of information and communications technology (ICT) in U.S. schools over the past couple of decades too often have had the character of attempts to convince others that ICT has been successful or to argue that it has failed. Just as opponents of the use of ICT often overstate the irrelevance, waste, or harm from the use of ICT in schools, proponents often overstate the positive consequences that have accrued from the use of computers and other technologies in education.

Many of the highly dedicated and capable people who work with ICT in schools know—often better than the critics—where we have fallen short in the effort to derive the full measure of benefit to students in the use of ICT. It is up to those who know what is possible in the use of ICT in our schools to be clear-eyed and frank in their assessment of the current situation and uncompromising in the expression of what needs to be done to make the possible a reality. The question is: How do we make what we see in schools where ICT is transforming schooling and bringing new life to classrooms and expanding learning opportunities for kids the rule, rather than the exception? What are the challenges we must face to make this happen?

If ICT is to play a role in the creation of a new generation of U.S. schools, structural challenges must be met. This requires action by school leaders, because these are matters of policy that transcend individual classrooms and teachers. Organizations do not typically morph in response to members whose functioning deviates from that which is structurally sanctioned. Organizations might be more or less permissive with deviants, but the consequence of the actions of deviants—whether they are good or bad—generally has minimal enduring impact on the organization after they leave the scene.

The seven challenges that follow pose quite significant obstacles of political, organizational, and structural nature. I present them in an “either-or” framework. The structural changes generated by decisions on these challenges form key elements of the organizational context for ICT in schools.

1. Curriculum integration—or curriculum disintegration?

The call for integration of ICT into the curriculum comes from those who seek to move ICT from being a side show to the mainstream of instructional practices. While the notion of curriculum integration seems to make good sense, the problem often being addressed is: How do we get teachers to use ICT? This is not the problem that needs to be solved.

There are serious deficiencies in the curricula of many of our schools. I use the term “curriculum disintegration” to indicate the need to break open the curriculum, to not accept it as a given, and to reconsider what kids in our schools need to learn as a prerequisite to the consideration of where and how we insert ICT into instruction. Integrating ICT into the curriculum will do little, if anything, to make irrelevant curricula relevant, antiquated information fresh, or useless skills valuable.

2. Achievement—or learning?

Distinguishing between “achievement” and “learning” might seem like a semantic quibble, but the distinction between them actually is quite significant. A good score on an achievement test might or might not be an indicator of learning, if we take learning to mean that the knowledge is “owned” by the student and is durable beyond the test-taking event.

If the goal of a school is to raise achievement test scores, better and more economical ways can be found to do this than installing ICT. Indeed, ICT could be counterproductive, because it might engage student interest and involvement in ways that are not productive in terms of state-mandated standardized achievement tests. Our most gifted teachers find ways to provide these experiences, despite pressure to produce good scores on state achievement tests. But the provision of good learning environments that take advantage of the capabilities provided by ICT should not occur despite school district, state, or federal policies.

3. Professional development—or organizational development?

The contrast between organizational development and professional development is not about whether or not teachers should end up with new capabilities and perspectives. Such is the intended consequence of organizational development as it is with professional development, but organizational development involves explicit attention to changing the organization as its members are changed. The premise is that organizational structures—the policies, customs, and rules—do not naturally adapt and transform in response to the way the organization’s members function. Rather, behavior that is in conflict with the organizational structures is something like a pathogen, and the organizational structure provides its own antibodies that generally overcome the deviant behavior.

There are well-developed techniques that have been produced by organizational development experts and are available to school leaders who wish to employ this approach. An organizational development approach is germane to ICT in schools, because so often teachers with motivation and skills to use ICT in their classrooms run into organizational barriers that hamper their ability to make best use of their capability.

4. Fiscal conservatism—or fiscal restructuring?

School leaders face the painful task of fiscal restructuring if ICT is to be an essential element in the operation of their schools. The tough side of fiscal restructuring for ICT is not the recognition and acceptance of what ICT adds to the budget, but what it subtracts.

Just as there is a mortal flaw in thinking about ICT in instruction as “business as usual with computers,” so also is there a mortal flaw in thinking about fiscal management pertaining to ICT as “spending as usual with add-on money to pay for ICT.” There has been no instance of serious use of ICT in corporations that has been accomplished without substantial fiscal restructuring. There is no reason to expect that this will happen in schools.

5. 19th-century education ideology—or 18th-century education ideology?

During the colonial and early post-colonial era, schools were an element in the mosaic of educational resources—but early Americans believed that the advancement of learning could occur in the household, the farm, the shop, and in the church as well as in the school. Where and how the learning occurred were less important than whether it occurred.

The American public school was an invention of a cadre of persons of exceptional intellect and dedication in the 19th century as the primary agency for the education of the young. The reforms came in the wake of the declining role of the family and church to provide education for the young, especially for those living in the cities. During much of the history of the public school, teachers and textbooks were the chief sources of information for most young children. With radio, then television, and then computers, teachers and textbooks again are now only two of many information sources for children.

School leaders need to recognize that the hegemony of schools as the educational force for our children has ended. Thus, we are actually in an era probably more like the 18th century than the 19th century. Recognition of the impact of media in our children’s lives does not mean that we fold our tent. Rather, this recognition should cause us to work to use ICT as effectively in schools as it is used outside of schools. And, we should understand that a critical skill for all of our young people is the ability to be discerning consumers of what they hear and see on the screens that are everywhere in their lives.

6. Research for advocacy—or research for improvement?

The call for more research is warranted. Yet much of the impetus for ICT research comes from those who want research that will convince the unconvinced that ICT is effective and benefits kids. Those who believe research can pull the teeth of the critics of ICT fail to recognize that the dominant aspect of opposition to ICT in schools is ideological and, as such, is unlikely to yield to empirical finding.

What is needed is research that enables us to move from the trial-and-error and anecdotal phase to the establishment of a knowledge base that can be used to build effective ICT applications in our schools. The improvisation that was perfectly legitimate in the early years of ICT in schools is no longer appropriate at this stage of the saga.

7. Education for workforce development—or education for the ‘pursuit of happiness’?

It has become standard practice to speak of the function of schools in terms of workforce development. Educational leaders should not be reluctant to oppose those who seek to define the work of schools simply in terms of the preparation of good workers. Certainly, teachers want their students to get good jobs and contribute to the U.S. economy, but they should oppose those whose myopia does not allow them to see students as much more than proactive workers.

Thomas Jefferson’s use of the term “pursuit of happiness” along with life and liberty as the “unalienable rights” he cited in the Declaration of Independence was not about hedonism. In essence, pursuit of happiness in the Jeffersonian sense means that one lives a life that is personally satisfying and socially beneficial. Educational leaders should vigorously make the case that we want our students not only to be able to read, but to want to read—that we want our students to appreciate the way in which the arts uplift our spirit, and we want them to make good use of the powerful ways ICT can contribute to a lifelong journey of learning.

James Bosco is a professor of educational studies at Western Michigan University and chairman of the Technology Standards for School Administrators (TSSA) Collaborative. He can be reached at bosco@wmich.edu.

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“Frontline” examines the front lines in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television series “Frontline” has launched a new online feature called the World Fellows Program, which aims to foster new voices in international reporting. In this first installment of the program, students can accompany a University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism student as she makes her way to the Israeli frontier by way of a war-torn path that includes the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon. Along the way, students will read first-hand accounts of the physical, cultural, and historical borders built as a result of the decades-long land dispute between Israelis and Palestinians—a primary source for much of the anger many Arabs harbor toward Americans. Students can witness the historical tension among these warring peoples with the help of interactive maps, photographs, and well-written journalistic accounts encompassing the opinions and attitudes of those who live there today. The site also contains links to recent news stories relevant to the conflict, as well as an introduction to the author and the purpose of her mission. Other resources on the Frontline site include information about the war in Iraq and the escalating tension between the United States and North Korea.

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Stitch together high-quality space science lesson plans with this NASA site

Sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, this interactive and easy-to-use web site provides age-appropriate activities and lesson plans for teaching about the solar system in K-12 classrooms. Each lesson included on the Space Science Curriculum Standards Quilt meets National Science Education Standards. To use the site, you simply choose an appropriate grade level, then choose from any of the illuminated squares on the interactive patchwork quilt. There are 16 subject areas arranged in vertical columns, including the sky, planetary objects, apparent motion, patterns, size and scale properties, stars, and more. Each subject area can be cross-referenced with one of five scientific concepts arranged in horizontal rows: Science as an Inquiry, Technology Connections, Personal Social Connections, Nature and History of Science, and Unifying Concepts and Processes. Once you choose a square, each lesson that pertains to the given topic will appear in a box under the quilt. Teachers then can read summaries of these lessons or view the lessons in their entirety by double-clicking on the highlighted link.

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This interactive music theory site is worth a few notes

Computer science student and music aficionado Ricci Adams first envisioned this free, interactive music site during his senior year in high school. Now, nearly three years later, his Musictheory.net web site has grown to include lessons on a whole range of musical topics, from staff, cleff, and ledger lines to note duration and time signatures. Other topics include exercises on dots and ties, simple and compound meter, steps and accidentals, and more. When logged onto the site, students also have access to a chord calculator, a staff paper generator, and a music matrix. A number of downloadable trainers and utilities enable students to learn the correct finger positions for a variety of brass and string instruments. Whether students are learning how to play guitar or trying their hand at the saxophone, Musictheory.net has a tool to help them learn. Students and teachers also can extend their musical inquiries outside of class using the site’s interactive forums. The content is relevant for all students in grades K-12.

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“eScholar” is a one-stop shop for scholarships, fellowships, and more

Higher education is an expensive enterprise, from tuition fees to travel expenses and even the cost of books. Luckily, there are resources students can turn to for help—and this new web site from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) now serves as a one-stop gateway to these various resources online. The federal government’s eScholar initiative, unveiled March 28, is accessible through OPM’s StudentJobs.gov home page and contains hundreds of government-funded scholarships, fellowships, grants, internships, and cooperative programs designed to help students pay for their education. According to the site, it’s the first internet resource of its kind to offer a comprehensive listing of educational programs from the federal government. Students also can search for jobs and educational opportunities, create personal profiles that are made available to internship coordinators and potential employers, post resumes, and even look for part-time summer employment.

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Make sure your distance-ed programs comply with copyright law

Last November, President Bush signed into law the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act, redefining the terms by which accredited, nonprofit educational institutions throughout the United States “may use copyright protected materials in distance education—including on web sites and by other digital means—without permission from the copyright owner and without payment of royalties,” according to this web site. In response to the legislation, the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy has published a white paper that explains the new law and what it requires of distance-education programs. As with all copyright law, each institution must assess its own needs and values before developing its own interpretations and policies, the site says. This paper provides the necessary guidance and background information to do so.

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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: http://www.acer.com (800) 733-2237 See Acer’s ad between pages 24 and 25

Adobe Systems Inc., of San Jose, Calif., is a leading producer of illustration and design software. Visit Adobe’s web site: http://www.adobe.com (800) 834-3396 See the ad for Adobe on page 10

America Online, based in Dulles, Va., offers schools a safe and easy internet content program at no cost. Visit the AOL@School web site: http://www.school.aol.com (888) 648-4023 See the ad for AOL@School on page 23

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: http://www.cdihomeroom.com (888) 226-5727 See CDI’s ad on page 21

ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS), of Springfield, Va., is the document delivery component of the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC). Visit EDRS’s web site: http://www.edrs.com (800) 443-3742 See ERIC’s ad 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: http://www.gateway.com (800) GATEWAY See the Gateway ad on pages 2 and 3

Grolier Online, headquartered in Danbury, Conn., and now part of Scholastic Library Publishing, provides schools with a wide array of online reference and research materials, from Encyclopedia Americana to the New Book of Popular Science. Visit the Grolier Online web site: http://go.grolier.com (888) 326-6546 See Grolier’s ad on page 24 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: http://www.hp.com (800) 752-0900 See HP’s ad on page 9

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: http://www.hi-resolution.com (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: http://www.ibm.com/shop/edu/g174 (866) 426-0524 See IBM’s ad on page 47

inResonance, of Northampton, Mass., specializes in database solutions, training, and educational applications of Palm handheld computers. Visit the inResonance web site: http://www.inresonance.com (413) 587-0236 See the ad for inResonance on page 17

Jackson Software, of Glencoe, Ill., is a leading provider of student information software solutions for teachers and schools. Visit the Jackson Software web site: http://www.jacksoncorp.com (800) 850-1777 See the ad for Jackson Software on page 28

Macromedia Inc., of San Francisco, provides industry-leading software that empowers internet developers and designers. Visit the Macromedia web site: http://www.macromedia.com (800) 470-7211 See Macromedia’s ad on page 12

Margi Systems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., is a leading provider of multimedia products for mobile systems. Visit Margi’s web site: http://www.margi.com (888) OK-MARGI See Margi’s ad on page 19

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: http://www.mhdigitallearning.com (614) 430-4226 See McGraw-Hill Digital Learning’s ad on page 11

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: http://www.milan.com (800) 466-4526 See the ad for MiLAN Technology on page 7

N2H2 Inc., of Seattle, is an internet access management company specializing in fast and scalable filtering solutions. Visit N2H2’s web site: http://www.n2h2.com (800) 971-2622 See N2H2’s ad on page 33

NetSupport Inc., of Cumming, Ga., is a member of the PCI Group of companies, developers of a range of award-winning remote control and IT training products. Visit NetSupport’s web site: http://www.netsupport-inc.com (888) 665-0808 See NetSupport’s ad on page 8

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: http://www.oracle.com (800) 529-0165 See Oracle’s ad on page 22

Palm Inc., of Milpitas, Calif., is a leading provider of handheld computers for education and other applications. Visit Palm’s web site: http://www.palm.com (800) 881-7256 See Palm’s ads on pages 14 and 20

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: http://www.pearsonedtech.com (888) 627-LEARN See the ad for Pearson Education Technologies on the back cover

Penn State World Campus, from Penn State University, offers anytime, anywhere learning through online continuing education and professional development programs designed around the hectic schedules of today’s busy professionals. Visit the Penn State World Campus web site: http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu (800) 252-3592 See the ad for Penn State World Campus on page 29

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: http://www.rediker.com (800) 213-9860 See the ad for Rediker Software on page 26

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: http://www.sagebrushcorp.com (800) 328-2923 See the Sagebrush ad on page 27

ZT Group International, with offices in New York City and New Jersey, is a leading supplier of computer systems, network services, storage solutions, notebook computers, and peripherals to schools and businesses. Visit the ZT Group web site: http://www.ztgroup.com (866) 984-7687 See the ad for ZT Group on page 39

Correction: The information we published about EnGenius in the Partners section of our April 2003 issue was incorrect. The listing should have read:

EnGenius Technologies, of Costa Mesa, Calif., provides long-range voice and data technologies for homes, schools, and businesses. Visit the EnGenius Technologies web site: http://www.engeniustech.com (888) 735-7888

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