2005 application window to open Dec. 14

Though the status of eRate applications from 2003 should be resolved shortly, most 2004 applicants will still be wondering how much eRate funding they are to receive before it’s time for them to apply again for 2005 funding.

The SLD announced on Nov. 5 that applicants will have 66 days in which to file applications the 2005 funding year. The application window, which is scheduled to open more than a month later than previous years and is shorter than the typical 75 days, will open Dec.14 and close Feb. 17.

“In essence, we lose [several] days of the window, but statistics say the majority of people don’t file until the very end [anyway],” said Gary Rawson, infrastructure planning and eRate coordinator for Mississippi’s Information Technology Services department and chairman of the State eRate Coordinator Alliance, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Related story:
  • eRate flows again–’04 apps still pending

    Opening the window early doesn’t really benefit applicants, because they have too many questions each year that need to be resolved, Rawson said.

    The SLD is encouraging applicants to start the process early–whether filing online or by paper. Although there will be a new Form 470 for the 2005 program year, the SLD is strongly encouraging applicants to use an old form and start posting it before the window opens. (Form 470 must be posted to the SLD web site for 28 days before any contracts are signed and before applicants file their Form 471–meaning the latest schools can post a Form 470 and still meet the filing deadline is Jan. 20.)

    “There is no need to wait for the opening of the filing window to post Forms 470,” the SLD said on its web site. “If the existing Form 470 is used, that will be all that will be required for 470 posting for 2005–no additional action will be necessary.”

    The SLD continued, “If applicants wait for the opening of the filing window to file the Form 470, they may have difficulty completing the procurement process and filing the Form 471 by the close of the filing window.”

    A new Form 471 for the 2005 funding year will be available on the SLD web site when the filing window opens.


    Document cameras a boon to tech-infused elementary school

    The Skagit Valley Herald of Mount Vernon, Wash., reports on the completion of a $7 million remodeling project at a local elementary school. The changes have turned the school into one of Skagit County’s most technologically advanced. Among the most popular new items are document cameras that replaced the school’s old overhead projectors. The cameras broadcast a space the size of a sheet of paper onto a big-screen monitor at the front of the classroom.


    S.F. superintendent against another high-tech charter school

    The San Francisco Examiner reports that San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is opposed to Envision Schools request to set up a new high-tech charter school because the district has not had time to assess the value of another school the company has already opened. She also spoke out against the idea of setting up a second charter school that offers the exact same educational program as the first.


    Computer animation elective surprise hit at Texas high school

    The Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Texas, reports that one of the most popular classes at a local high school is a computer animation course taught by a teacher who was originally expected to be a part-time employee. In the first year of the elective class, 189 students have already signed up to take it.


    College students overwhelmed by tech-happy lecturers

    The Chronicle of Higher Education writes that some college students are unhappy with lectures that involve too much use of technology–particularly those that are overloaded with PowerPoint presentations. The dilemma reflects the fact that many colleges have not devoted enough resources to teaching professors how to make the most effective use of their high-tech tools.


    Virtual school boom cause for alarm in Colorado districts

    The Denver Post reports that an increase in the number of Colorado students opting for virtual schools has raised concerns among officials in the states’ smaller districts. Whenever a student leaves public school for an online learning program, the student’s district loses some of its state funding. As a result, more and more Colorado districts are setting up their own online schools to prevent loss of funding.


    T+L² message: Raise the bar on ed tech

    A clear theme emerged at the National School Boards Association’s annual T+L² Conference in Denver Oct. 27-29: School technology has come a long way, but it’s time to take the next step.

    Educators who traveled to Denver for the 2004 conference were treated to three days of tremendous optimism about technology’s future in learning. From the bustling exhibit hall, where more than 200 vendors touted many new solutions for the challenges faced by schools, to a parade of featured speakers urging administrators to embrace the role of technology in a new learning paradigm, all signs indicated that the future will belong to school leaders willing to meet 21st-century needs with 21st-century approaches.

    Building on the momentum from last summer’s National Educational Computing Conference in New Orleans, T+L² offered more evidence that the economy has rebounded for technology companies–and that addressing schools’ needs is a big priority. Several of the vendors who spoke with eSchool News mentioned that they had recently added employees. Meanwhile, educators were quick to note the increased focus on technology in their districts and an increase in school leaders willing to embrace high-tech solutions.

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  • Exhibitor news
  • Conference Information Center

    The mood at the Colorado Convention Center reflected the boost this event gave to T+L² organizers, who just a few months ago had questioned the conference’s future. Not only will T+L² be back in 2005; it also will return to the same location where it enjoyed such success in 2004.

    NSBA president-elect Joan E. Schmidt said this year’s conference had drawn 2,300 paid registrants–a 77-percent increase from the lackluster 2003 event. T+L² also brought 1,300 exhibit personnel to Denver, for a total attendance of 3,600 people.

    While the overall tone was positive, messages aimed at educators–particularly those in decision-making positions–were sober. Simply bringing technology into schools could never be enough, the lecturers agreed. Making a student’s education relevant to his or her world was the bottom line, and for the most tech-savvy generation in history, this would only be possible by stressing learning outcomes that require the use of technology.

    Susan Patrick, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) Office of Educational Technology, was a center of attention. Patrick was on hand to discuss ED’s 2004 national ed-tech plan and the bright future of technology in American classrooms.

    Teaching tools reminiscent of video games are sure to catch the attention of a generation that has grown up with technology. In her presentation, Patrick noted that students typically spend the bulk of their lives immersed in technology–but in schools, their high-tech exposure drops to a national average of only 15 minutes per week in front of a computer.

    ED wants to align learning environments with students’ real-world environments, and these are packed with technology. Patrick stressed the importance of one-to-one computing and the dissonance experienced by students who have computers at home but find it difficult to access them in schools.

    “The world around us has changed dramatically,” she said. “Students show up in our schools and wonder how these environments are relevant to their world.”

    ED’s Susan Patrick was the center of media attention after she spoke at the New Heights Leadership Forum. (eSchool News photo by Dan David)

    Patrick said Secretary of Education Rod Paige is “huge advocate” of how technology can transform education, and ED keeps a close eye on how it is being implemented. She noted the role of online assessment in informing instruction and the instant feedback technology offers, enabling assessment to take place more rapidly than ever before. She also said ED is keenly aware of emerging technologies and the future they might have in education.

    “We want to transform education, not just modernize instruction,” Patrick said. “Technology integration is a limiting term. Simply integrating technology doesn’t transform the experience. It assumes the current way of doing things is right. We have to look at new ways.”

    Keynote speaker Michael Hawley, the director of special projects at MIT, focused his presentation on the role of students and teachers. A true renaissance man, Hawley is a talented pianist who won the Van Cliburn piano competition, a passionate sports fan, and the founder of Friendly Planet, which produces books about how young people learn in the developing world.

    Hawley told two very personal stories. In the first, he described his “up close and personal” experience watching Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France. A longtime cycling fan, Hawley recalled how MIT researchers had helped a younger Armstrong analyze his cycling style, and how this led him to improve by as much as 10 percent. Hawley noted Armstrong’s willingness to learn from others, including non-traditional sources such as the MIT scholars. He also said part of what makes Armstrong such a great student of his sport is a belief in teamwork and his personal graciousness. After losing a grueling leg of the Tour, for example, Armstrong told reporters that just seeing the joy in his victorious competitor made him happy as well.

    In another story, Hawley spoke directly to teachers, marveling at the role they can play in an individual student’s life. He recalled his own piano tutor at Yale, who just happened to be the head of the piano program at the university’s music school. After hearing Hawley play piano once, this professor convinced him to turn away from football and soccer and instead make the most of his musical talent. Hawley said this professor’s continued support in the years after he left college helped motivate him to compete in the Van Cliburn competition.

    His message to teachers: No matter how much technology might come into classrooms, it is still up to teachers to use this equipment to give students a different perspective on life that motivates them to improve themselves (like Armstrong) or explore new areas (like his own experience with the piano).

    As if in sync with Patrick’s call for a transformation of the learning experience, Hawley called on school leaders to “think about stuff differently.”

    Focus on the learner

    Day Two of the conference featured two speakers who hammered home this theme of transforming education in a pair of inspiring lectures that raised key questions about the future of technology in schools.

    Sir Ken Robinson, senior adviser to the President of the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, gave the day’s opening speech. An expert in developing creativity and former education professor at Great Britain’s Warwick University, Robinson was knighted in 2003 for his service to the arts. He showed the T+L² crowd why he deserved this honor, and why he was honored as Europe’s business speaker of the year, with a memorable 40-minute presentation that mixed first-rate stand-up comedy with deep insight.

    Ian Jukes, speaking at the day’s Showcase Luncheon, also combined wit with a clear passion for learning. During his high-energy presentation, which lasted 65 minutes, Jukes directed forceful words at education leaders, all but pleading with them to re-evaluate the role of technology in their schools and ensure that individual student learning remained the focus, regardless of the high-tech equipment used.

    It seemed more than a coincidence that Robinson’s and Jukes’ lectures built on a thread in the opening-day speeches by Hawley and Patrick. Both Hawley and Patrick urged their audiences to recognize that today’s world is fundamentally different from that of previous generations, and that the very nature of education must change with the times–keeping the focus on the learner and emphasizing real-world relevance in curriculum-related choices.

    Robinson wasted no time making this same point. He began by discussing what he called a “hierarchy in schools,” in which languages and math are at the top of an inverted pyramid, towering over science, the humanities, and, lastly, the arts. Noting that no country teaches dance on a daily basis, he complained that schools are still only educating people from the neck up.

    Questioning the lack of emphasis on arts and physical education, Robinson pointed out that many societies associate a subject’s relevance with its potential economic benefit. In mainstream Western culture, the arts are scorned, he said, because of the perception that there is no money in them for anyone but truly gifted people. As a result, the notion of creativity becomes separated from, and less valued than, the concept of intelligence–even though creativity is just as important and is often what drives the greatest human achievements.

    Robinson pointed to a British study in which 1,600 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were tested for their level of “genius.” In this age group, 98 percent of the children qualified as geniuses. Three years later, in the same test, only 32 percent of the same group were still classified at the genius level. By high school, only 10 percent retained this status, and when 200,000 25-year-olds took the test, only 2 percent qualified. Robinson blamed this phenomenon on schools.

    “We are inhibiting the capacity for original thinking in schools,” Robinson said. “Our present education system was invented in the 19th century and designed for an industrial economy. But this is no longer an economy in which 80 percent of the workers are performing manual labor, and those with a college degree are no longer guaranteed a job.”

    In the next 100 years, however, Robinson noted that it will be crucial for Americans to educate young people for the post-Industrial Revolution, because the jobs for which students have long been trained–and which form the basis of most curricula–are moving to Asia.

    Robinson concludes that it is therefore time for American educators to recognize that intelligence is diverse, and creativity should be encouraged, rather than stifled under the weight of outdated thinking. As for technology in schools, he sees a bright future. He urged education leaders to find and use high-tech tools that bring creativity out of their students, which inevitably would lead to breaking away from a limiting educational model.

    “We must first do away with the hierarchy of subjects. And we must recognize that technology is not just some add-on to an existing curriculum. It is a means by which the future will be created,” he said.

    Robinson received a standing ovation for his remarks. Jukes was also well-received, although he went a step further in challenging his audience to finally deliver the “long-awaited technology revolution in education.” Jukes insisted that most schools have failed in their efforts to recognize the value of the technology on which they spend so much money.

    “The value and place of technology is still being questioned,” Jukes said. “Why is that? Why is it that schools lag in the use of these tools?”

    Jukes cited considerable research that backs up claims of technology’s power in school buildings, but he faulted school leaders for failing to understand the bigger picture.

    “The use of technology is still largely on the periphery,” he said. “Technology is not transforming learning.”

    Why are schools failing to maximize their technology investments? Jukes argued that our society continues to look for a cause-and-effect relationship between the presence of technology in schools and the improvement in test scores–a relationship that by itself does not exist. At the same time, he faulted educators who scorn technology for threatening traditional learning tools, including books.

    “I respect their opinion, but they are wrong,” Jukes exclaimed. “Our living in a technology-rich society is a reality. … It is an undeniable fact that the world has changed.”

    Jukes pointed to three levels of technology in education. The first level, known as the Literacy Level, focuses on technical skills such as keyboarding and mastering specific software packages. Jukes said most U.S. schools have never gone beyond this level.

    The second level, known as the Integration Level, works technology into a traditional curriculum. At this level, a student might effectively use the internet to research a paper, or use a spreadsheet program to produce a report. While the Integration Level is a step in the right direction, it is not enough for Jukes.

    “The question should be if I take the technology away, will the learning and teaching be the same?” he said.

    Jukes encouraged educators to strive for the highest level of technology in schools, the Transformation Level. In this framework, the focus is on targeting learning outcomes that can’t be achieved without the use of present-day technology. He gave one example of students instructed to recommend a travel destination for an upcoming weekend. These students would go to the internet and research the available options. They would then use the internet and spreadsheet software to predict and compare the weather in each city. Their ultimate achievement of the assigned task would come from a sequence of activities not even possible for previous generations.

    The key would be learning by doing. Technology would be part of the experience of learning.

    “Am I teaching technology in this situation?” Jukes asked. “Yes, I am. … And no, I am not.”

    Jukes also called for professional development models that instruct teachers to learn with technology in a similar fashion, because most teachers would be able to instruct others only in the way they were themselves instructed.

    Also on Day Two, NSBA and the Center for Digital Education announced the culmination of a joint survey to examine how school boards are applying technology. The survey also ranks the top 10 school boards nationwide for using technology to enhance their ability to function. Rankings are available on the NSBA web site.

    Board members from the top 10 boards explained why they made the leap to going digital. Among those responding was Nancy Roche of Forsyth County, Ga., whose school board finished sixth overall.

    “When we had kindergartners giving PowerPoint presentations at a school board meeting, we decided it was time to lead them by example, not the other way around, so we decided to move toward technology,” Roche said.

    Remember to engage

    Cile Chavez was shown on giant TV screens as she spoke to educators at the T+L² closing session on Oct. 29. (eSchool News photo by Dan David)

    The message to take school technology use to the next level was delivered one last time in a conference-ending speech by former Littleton, Colo., Public Schools Superintendent Cile Chavez. She reminded school leaders that they are the gatekeepers of children’s trust, and that they can’t afford to fail their students by delivering an outdated learning experience.

    “Even with the advanced technology we have, we must remember to engage,” Chavez said.

    Chavez noted that responsibility placed on educators is even greater today, because the wider society often seems to forget the value of education. She lamented that a recent issue of Time magazine examining “Visions of Tomorrow” left out education altogether while including subjects such as fashion and celebrities. Because educators are often left out of a wider cultural emphasis, the burden falls on them to remain focused on the importance of their task.

    “The key question is: What do we do now with what we know?” Chavez said. “School leaders must make manifest a compelling sense of purpose. Of all we could do, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What must we do?'”

    Calling on her audience to rethink the meaning of learning, Chavez reminded them that most people seek only two things–to be deemed good and to do something significant with their lives. Only educators can simultaneously transform a young human being in both areas, and to do that, they must maximize the potential of technology. Viewed only as a tool, technology could not possibly play a role in true learning.

    “We can foster the goodness of children and inspire their genius,” Chavez said. “This is more than teaching automation. This has everything to do with transformation.”

    Echoing several other T+L² speakers, Chavez said it was time to really listen to students because, in many cases, they had as much knowledge about technology as their teachers. Stifling students’ voices would be counterproductive at best.

    “Let’s stop doing the very things that impede learning,” she urged. “Let’s stop doing the things that we did 50 years ago.”

    Before Chavez’s speech, a group of K-12 students showed just how much they knew about technology as they presented winning entries in the NSBA/Apple Computer MovieFest competition. As part of the competition, students across the United States were challenged to produce 60-second public service announcements that demonstrated the need for more technology in schools.

    Student-produced films demonstrated how the world has changed. In one film, a youngster struggled with Wite-Out and erasers as he wrote a paper, while a classmate breezed through the same exercise using word-processing software. In another film, a high school student’s back was crushed by the weight of books in his backpack, while another was able to transport massive amounts of learning materials on his small, handheld computer.

    Ann Flynn, director of NSBA’s Educational Technology program, presented the week’s final Technology Leadership Network Salute to Colorado Springs District 11. Terry Bishop, the district’s deputy superintendent in charge of technology, noted how his team helped increase graduation rates by 3.8 percent. Successful programs in Colorado Springs include a digital school at a local shopping mall and a student-produced cable television channel. He also noted the long-term success of an early decision to turn each school’s librarian into a resident technology expert.

    Reported and written by Online Editor Dan David, with exhibitor information developed by Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.


    eSchool News Conference Information Center

    NSBA T+L² site


    Highlights from the T+L² exhibit hall

    More than 200 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s T+L² Conference. They were represented by more than 1,300 employees and other exhibit personnel.

    The editors of eSchool News have put together a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering software, hardware and other services in 11 major school technology categories.

    Choose a category below to read about solutions showcased in Denver:

    Note: Exhibitor information compiled and written by Online Editor Dan David, Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.

    Hardware and peripherals
    Curriculum software Projectors/presentation systems Digital video solutions Assessment and data management Network administration tools Communication solutions School library solutions Online learning Professional development Research

    NSBA T+L² — Hardware and peripherals

    More than 200 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s T+L² Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering hardware and peripherals:

    Although it did not have a booth at T+L², AlphaSmart Inc. was well represented in Denver. The company provided its Neo computer companion to nearly 20 educators who volunteered to serve as eSchool News conference correspondents. Weighing only two pounds and offering more than 700 hours of use on three AA alkaline batteries, the Neo was a big hit with the educators, who were thrilled with its ease of use and powerful functionality. Its built-in word processor even offers large fonts to accommodate visual impairments. AlphaSmart’s line also includes the AlphaSmart 3000 and Palm OS-based Dana Wireless and Dana. Because AlphaSmart’s products are less expensive than any laptop on the market, the company claims to deliver one-to-one classroom computing solutions with the lowest total cost of ownership. Education discount pricing for Neo begins at $229.

    Related items:

  • More exhibitor news

  • NSBA T+L² recap

    Apple Computer was on hand to demonstrate a number of new and revamped products, including the company’s latest Wireless Mobile Labs. The wheeled carts come with a choice of 10 or 20 iBook computers, giving students and teachers wireless internet access from anywhere in the building. Also on display were products such as Apple’s new Powerbook G4 notebook computer, the powerful iMac desktop, and the popular eMac. Priced under $600, the sleek, all-in-one eMac continues to dominate Apple’s classroom sales. Apple also unveiled a new Educator Toolkit, intended to help teachers better meet the individual needs of today’s digital learners. The toolkit includes an Apple iBook G4 laptop computer, plus a wide array of tools for teaching digital literacy in the classroom and using technology to boost student achievement.

    Brother International Corp., a maker of printers, fax machines, and other equipment for schools and industry, is extending a special offer for education customers. Now through Dec. 31, schools that purchase any 10 eligible models, including HL-7050N and HL-420CN printers, MFC-8440 multi-function printer-faxes, and PT-1600 electronic labeling systems, will get an eleventh product for free, according to the company.

    CDW-G recently worked with educators in Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, Calif., to develop a thin-client type computer infrastructure that would enable the school to boost processing power in a cadre of aging desktop PCs, without spending beyond its means to do so, the company reported. Teacher and technology coordinator Mark LaPorte worked with a group of 20 students who helped hatch the plan. Based on CDW-G’s advice, the school purchased seven e325 IBM servers and then began the process of converting the aging desktops to the new thin-client environment. Now, LaPorte says, computers that were previously considered unusable are again functional, and the district is poised to make the jump to 64-bit computing.

    GTCO CalComp Peripherals came to T+L² shortly after releasing Version 3.0 of its InterWrite PRS classroom assessment system software. This stand-alone product works with the company’s InterWrite PRS device to combine interaction and assessment.

    With InterWrite PRS in the classroom, the company said, all students are able to participate in quizzes using infrared wireless remotes. With a wireless tablet computer, teachers can manipulate the data for instant charting and displaying of results–enabling them to measure student comprehension of a particular topic. A teacher can walk around his or her classroom, helping individual students based on data collected through the PRS. The PRS device can also be used for taking attendance and eliminating other classroom-related paperwork.

    GTCO CalComp had been in the electronic whiteboard business for six years before acquiring Educue and its PRS technology earlier this year. The InterWrite device has been part of the higher-education landscape for years, but GTCO CalComp has now brought it to the K-12 arena. The company held off on marketing the product heavily until it had replaced the previously bundled Educue software with its own.

    “It amazed us that college professors saw such value in this product despite the limitations of the software,” said Rob Meissner, vice president of marketing and product management for GTCO CalComp Peripherals. “On Sept. 1, we issued our software and began to create more of a message around the complete solution.”

    Meissner also stressed that the purchase of an InterWrite PRS device is a one-time proposition with no annual licensing fee. Many colleges use the technology because an individual student’s PRS can be used in a wide variety of courses.

    Originally released four years ago as an exercise in philanthropy by Onset Computer Corp., the iScienceProject HOBO data logger is fast becoming a standard piece of equipment in school science classes, particularly at the middle-school level, the company said.

    The portable, battery-powered data loggers enable students to record heat, humidity, light sensitivity, and several other conditions. Students can then attach the device to a computer and run it through the iScienceProject software–turning their data into colorful charts that can be exported into Microsoft Excel.

    iScienceProject offers its $129 product free of charge for two months. If a school manages to create a new lab or activity for students using the data logger, it can keep the equipment free of charge. More than 2,500 schools have taken iScienceProject up on this offer, and 50 percent of those loaned devices end up being kept in exchange for a lab or activity, according to Rich Marvin, a former middle school teacher who is education program manager for iScienceProject.

    In September, the company announced its new HOBO Energy Challenge, a contest program for K-12 teachers and students. The contest, which runs until May 1, 2005, is designed to promote energy awareness within schools while offering students of all ages a fun, hands-on science learning experience with the HOBO data loggers. Students are challenged to use data loggers to find examples of energy waste in their schools. Participating classrooms receive a free HOBO Loaner Package that includes everything needed to start investigating energy usage: a HOBO data logger, software, and energy-saving contest activities.

    Handheld computing leader palmOne introduced the latest member of its Treo “smartphone” family, the Treo 650. The device combines a compact, full-featured mobile phone with an organizer, text-messaging capabilities, and eMail and web access. “Today’s school administrators live and work in a mobile society and need to be productive while on the go without sacrificing access to important school and personal data,” said Mike Lorion, vice president of vertical markets at palmOne. With features such as Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memos, the Treo 650 helps administrators and teachers organize and simplify their school and personal lives, while also staying connected from wherever they are, Lorion said.

    PASCO Scientific unveiled a powerful new graphing datalogger, the Xplorer GLX. For $299, the device gives students and teachers ultimate flexibility in setting up a science lab wherever they need it, with or without a computer, the company said. PASCO took the best aspects of a computer–including a high-resolution display, large memory (10 megabytes), an operating system, a file-management system, and direct connection to a printer–and incorporated them into the Xplorer GLX, enabling students to capture data in real time; graph, analyze, annotate, and store a full day’s worth of lab experiments; and print the data by connecting directing to a printer. Because the Xplorer GLX is small and highly mobile, it’s perfect for field experiments, PASCO said. The unit contains four built-in sensors (two temperature, one voltage, and one sound) and four additional sensor ports. A high-resolution, backlit screen (320 x 240 LCD) allows data to be viewed even in bright sunlight or low-light conditions, and a voice annotation feature allows students to relate events to collected data easily during later analysis.

    Spectrum Industries, a manufacturer of computer lab furniture, introduced three new products for K-12 schools. The H3 Laptop Cart is designed to meet the ever-growing need for reliable, convenient, and secure storage of laptop computers. It features a retractable, 20-foot cord reel; two-point security locks on both ends; perforated sheet metal to allow for natural heat dissipation; a charging power outlet for each laptop; an additional 7-outlet power strip for any peripheral equipment; and individual pull-out trays that provide easy access to each laptop unit.

    The Ascending FPM Desk uses a super-smooth, automotive-type gas cylinder that instantly turns a traditional classroom desk into a computer lab desk. When the monitor is in the lowered position, the compartment is virtually undetectable, giving users an uninterrupted work surface. The lowered position also provides uninterrupted sight lines. When the monitor is in the raised position and used with an adjustable-height chair, students are ready to compute.

    The Media Manager embodies the next generation of technology lecterns. It can hold a full complement of rack rail equipment, house a tower CPU, and securely store a laptop and document camera. The work surface has ample room for desktop and laptop computers, projectors, or other equipment, and a Locking Laptop Storage Drawer doubles as a keyboard tray, featuring a flip-down, padded wrist rest.

    Exhibitor information compiled and written by Online Editor Dan David, Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.


    NSBA T+L² — Curriculum software

    More than 200 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s T+L² Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering curriculum software:

    BestQuest Teaching Systems used the conference to promote its family of DVD-based supplemental curricula, including its algebra’scool line, which includes 99 lessons on 20 DVD discs. Highlights include a free DVD player, six instructional units, two student assessments per instructional model, graphing calculator activities, lessons, journal questions, and 25 Live Video Career Profiles, so students can see firsthand how math works for people in the real world. The idea behind BestQuest instructional products is to provide standards-based instruction with real-world relevance, according to the company’s web site.

    Related items:
  • More exhibitor news
  • NSBA T+L² recap

    Holt, Rinehart and Winston–a leading publisher of textbooks and educational materials for grades six through 12–announced the release of Holt Science & Technology, North Carolina Edition, which is specifically developed for North Carolina’s middle school science curriculum and meets the North Carolina academic standards prescribed in the Standard Course of Study. A team of North Carolina teachers worked on the curriculum alignment and provided crucial input during development, a process that sets HST North Carolina apart from other science textbooks, the company said. Holt also launched a complementary Online Assessment resource that diagnoses student understanding of science, assigns interventions, and tracks improvement with benchmark practice tests.

    Kurzweil Educational Systems introduced its Kurzweil 3000 for Macintosh Version 3 software, which helps struggling students learn critical reading and writing skills. The release broadens the popular Kurzweil 3000 for Macintosh product line by adding a new network edition that enables more students to access the software across a network. In addition, new writing, vocabulary-building, and document preparation features have been added in Version 3 to both the network and standalone editions.

    Learning.com representatives were in Denver touting the release of the company’s EasyTech 4.0 product, which provides “digital citizenship” instruction on acceptable computer use and online ethics for students in grades K-8. The company pointed to a recent study by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which confirmed that children and young adults (ages 5 to 24), more than any other age group, use computers and the internet widely for many daily activities. As a result, it’s more important than ever that young people learn the responsibilities that come with technology use.

    A provider of online technology curriculum and integration tools, Learning.com stresses that digital citizenship should be taught at the time when children first encounter technology in school, which can be as early as kindergarten. EasyTech is a technology integration system that includes a K-8 technology curriculum and teaches real-world applications of technology across the curriculum. EasyTech includes built-in lessons, activities, and discussion guides on responsible use of technology. Age-appropriate lessons are featured for grades K-8, including computer rules, acceptable-use policies, and online ethics. Assessment capabilities are built into the software, which also includes Spanish-language support.

    Learning.com provides lesson plans for teachers encouraging young students to develop technology skills. The company also released the results of a study by Brigham Young University professor Gregory L. Waddoups, whose scientifically based research examined the impact of technology integration on learning outcomes for K-8 students. A summary of the study is available at http://www.learning.com/EasyTech/etr.htm. In addition, Learning.com offers schools a free trial of EasyTech, with access to the full curriculum for a 30-day evaluation period.

    Live Ink offers “a new way to read” and has received an Innovation Research Award from the U.S. Department of Education. Live Ink displays text in phrases that are arranged in a cascading pattern on a computer screen. As the viewer reads, he or she reads sentences that have been computer-formatted to improve the brain’s ability to understand the meaning of the words and to build comprehension. Live Ink bases its reading system on the idea that, as people read, their visual systems can only process a small amount of visual data at each fixation. This results in many regressions during reading, where the reader must review what has already been read. Live Ink reading technology is available in online textbooks published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. The Live Ink format of the text is available through a “Reading Help” link.

    netTrekker, a standards-based online search engine for schools, announced that it will include the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) in the State Standards section of the product this spring. Educators will soon be able to access online resources that directly support these important standards, the company said.

    The Sioux City, Iowa, Community School District will now offer K-12 mathematics and reading curriculum to 2,000 students across 18 schools, thanks to an agreement inked with PLATO Learning, the company announced at T+L². The agreement extends an existing relationship between PLATO Learning and the Sioux City Community School District. “PLATO Learning has been used successfully in our Central Campus/Individualized Learning Center for years, and we are thrilled to extend this courseware to more classrooms,” said Larry Williams, superintendent of Sioux City Schools, in a statement.

    The Reading Assistant Manager, a new network-based software program from literacy software company Soliloquy Learning, works with children individually at their own pace to improve their reading skills. With this new software, students in grades one to six will get more practice reading aloud through Soliloquy’s proprietary Speech Recognition/Reading Verification technology. The program listens to students as they read, providing intervention as needed, and then reports the results to the teacher. The company says its speech recognition is extremely accurate and can be matched only by human reading assistants and teachers. Included with the software is a set of earphones and a noise-reducing microphone. Each session starts with a microphone check to ensure that the microphone is picking up the student’s voice properly. When students finish reading a section, they can play back their voice recording to hear how they sound. The Reading Assistant Manager also includes many reporting features for teachers and administrators. The software is sold in packages for five to 50 users starting at $2,000. Current users of The Reading Assistant will receive a discount.

    TelecomPioneers offers a free web site, called Project:Connect, that features six educational, online games that help teach children about today’s technologies while not confusing them or overloading them with information. One of these games is Sattelite:Connect, which teaches students about basic physics, astronomy, and technology by studying satellites. The program also offers Fiber:Connect, which teaches students how fiber optics work, and Cellular:Connect, which teaches students about maps, demographics, and how radio waves work.

    Texas Instruments used the T+L² conference to announce the release of TI Navigator 2.0, adding new power to the Navigator product used by math students in both junior high and high schools. Navigator 2.0 allows an entire class using graphing calculators to participate in group activities through a wireless network. The wireless factor lets teachers roam around the class to give students individual attention.

    “We’ve really changed the landscape with this release,” said Tysun B. McKay, product manager for Educational and Productivity Solutions at TI, who demonstrated Navigator 2.0 in Denver.

    McKay said the product’s latest version is ideal for assessment, because teachers can truly determine if a class understands the individual mathematical concept being discussed before moving on to the next topic. Entire quizzes can be given through the TI-83 or TI-84 Plus family of calculators, and the teacher can monitor each student’s response in real time without exposing these individual results to other students.

    As an example, McKay showed how an entire class could plot points on a graph to show how various equations can affect the slope of a line. She said up to 40 students can participate in an activity at the same time.

    The Tool Factory works with educators as they begin to integrate software into the classroom and into lessons. With software in English, music, mathematics, early learning, science, physical education, social studies, and special education, the company gives teachers many options as they search for educational technologies to use in their curriculum. Tool Factory Workshop is a child-friendly office suite that allows teachers to customize projects to meet students’ needs. Teachers also can subscribe to elementaryzone.com, which gives students access to more than 100 educational activities in English, math, and science. Tool Factory Word Processor is available for grades K-12 and has full multimedia support that enables students to insert video, audio, or clip art into their documents. A built-in voice engine speaks the text as it is typed, and a spell checker provides speech feedback along with visual cues.

    TouchSmart Publishing President Jason Barkeloo, a former teacher, demonstrated his company’s Touch User Interface (TUI) technology, which provides multimedia interaction with content formerly delivered only in print.

    TouchSmart’s mission is to create and distribute exciting and easy-to-use interactive textbooks that connect to digital content by using its TUI technology. A student who touches pages in a book triggers an activity on a computer screen that fully engages the student and enhances the learning experience.

    The technology can go a long way in bridging the digital divide because it is so easily accessible, Barkeloo said. He noted that even a person who has lost the use of all four limbs can still interact with the material, simply by activating sensors with head motions. As such, the company touts its TUI technology as the only complete NCLB solution poised to meet the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).

    “When I showed this technology to a group of superintendents, they became very excited about its potential,” said Barkeloo. “They immediately saw what it could do for special-needs students.”

    TouchSmart faces obstacles from traditional book publishers in licensing content for the new platform. However, Barkeloo said digital media providers are already embracing TUI because it opens new doors for their content.

    London-based Valiant Technology promoted its new MathAmigo software application for handheld devices. MathAmigo aims to boost student performance in mathematics by providing challenging lessons and tutorials that support concept understanding. Students also get feedback from their answers, which promotes higher-order thinking. A Teacher Alert feature assesses student progress while highlighting which students need the most help.

    Exhibitor information compiled and written by Online Editor Dan David, Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.