Company paints new picture for wireless network security

InformationWeek reports that a Silicon Valley company is selling a special paint that it says can be applied to walls to protect the security of wireless signals within any room or building. The paint, which contains aluminum and copper, reportedly cuts down on the leakage of wireless signals.

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Neighboring schools in N.H. take different tech spending routes

The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H. reports that two local schools are working hard to increase their technology integration–but taking different approaches. One purchased 125 new computers, while the other is reviewing and revising its IT priorities so that it can get the most out of the equipment it has purchased.

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Suburban Philly schools crack down on cell-phone usage

The News-Herald of Perkasie, Pa., reports that local schools are cracking down on students’ use of electronic devices, particularly cell phones. The Upper Bucks County Area Vocational Technical School had to be especially vigilant, because many of its classes require students to change clothes, and the school was concerned about privacy rights and the use of camera phones.

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$2.25 billion in telecommunications discounts

Nonprofit schools and libraries in the United States have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to apply for Universal Service discounts on their eligible telecommunications services, internet access, and internal connections–the wiring, routers, switches, file servers, and other equipment necessary to bring internet access into classrooms–for Funding Year 2005 of the eRate, which runs from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. Applicants qualify for discounts of 20 percent to 90 percent of the cost of eligible services, depending on the number of students they serve who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches and whether they are considered urban or rural. To apply, schools must follow a three-step process: (1) Submit a Form 470 application listing all eligible services not currently under contract for which they will be requesting discounts; (2) wait at least 28 days before signing contracts or choosing service providers, during which time vendors may contact applicants and submit bids for their services; and (3) submit a Form 471 application after contracts are signed, requesting eRate discounts on all eligible services. Because a Form 470 application must be posted to the SLD web site for 28 days before a contract can be signed and a Form 471 submitted, applicants must file all Forms 470 no later than Thursday, January 20 to be eligible for Program Year 2005 discounts.

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$104 million for early reading instruction

The Early Reading First Program supports local efforts to enhance the oral language, cognitive, and early reading skills of preschool-age children, especially those from low-income families, through strategies, materials (including software), and professional development that are grounded in scientifically based reading research. ED is particularly interested in applications from preschools that operate full-time, full-year early childhood educational programs, and projects in which at least 75 percent of the children enrolled qualify to receive free or reduced-priced lunches. A competitive priority is given to first-time applicants under this program. Awards will range from $750,000 to $4.5 million in size, with an average size of $2.8 million. The Feb. 7 deadline is for pre-applications only, which are required; applicants who are invited to submit full applications based on the promise of their pre-applications will have until May 2 to do so.

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$25M for distance learning, telemedicine projects in rural areas

Distance learning and telemedicine grants are specifically designed to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for people in rural America. Administered by the Universal Services Branch of the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), these grants fund the use of advanced telecommunications technologies to help communities meet those needs. The grants may be used to fund telecommunications, computer networks, and related advanced technologies. The maximum amount of a grant in FY 2005 is $500,000, and the minimum amount is $50,000.

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$60,000 to support exemplary school-business partnerships

The Council for Corporate & School Partnerships is accepting applications for its 2005 National School and Business Partnerships Awards, which recognize outstanding examples of collaboration between businesses and schools to improve the student educational experience. The Council presents six awards per year. Those selected for the award receive national recognition, and the schools or districts receive $10,000 to support their partnership efforts. Applications are judged using a number of criteria, including: (1) The strength of the partnership’s foundation, as evidenced by shared values, and the school and business partner’s ability to define mutually beneficial goals; (2) The success of the partnership’s implementation, as evidenced by such factors as the management process and determination of specific, measurable outcomes; (3) The partnership’s sustainability, based on such factors as support by school and business leaders and by teachers, employees, students, and other constituents; and (4) The partners’ ability to present a clear evaluation of the partnership’s impact, as measured by evidence that the partnership was developed with clear definitions of success for all parties, and that it has resulted in improvements of the academic, social, or physical well-being of students. Judges may also consider the uniqueness of the partnership and the value of third-party support.

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Top 10 ed-tech stories of 2004

The past year brought a number of important developments affecting users of school technology. And, while larger issues–such as the presidential campaign and its impact on ed tech, or the sudden halt of eRate funding earlier this year–dominated the headlines and perhaps carried more overall significance, several other stories captured readers’ attention enough to pass them along to their colleagues. Here are the top 10 most recommended eSchool News stories of 2004, according to our readers:

10. Student deserves ‘A’ for homework-ware

For class credit, a Canadian high school student created a web-based homework management system that allows students to hand-in assignments electronically. He now is offering the service to schools across North America at no charge …

9. CoSN profiles ‘must-have’ technologies

Datacasting, radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, student web logs (blogs), and intelligent essay graders are among a dozen technologies likely to emerge as must-have solutions in the nation’s schools, according to a report unveiled Nov. 3 by the Washington, D.C.-based Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) …

8. Tech-savvy schools reclaim millions

San Diego is one of dozens of school systems nationwide reportedly benefiting from the use of new technology designed to track, monitor, record, and report on the delivery of special-education services. Not only do these electronic tools promise to reduce dramatically the amount of paper pushed across administrators’ desks on a daily basis, but some say the technology also is helping foot the bill for special-needs children–giving schools a much more efficient means of applying for and collecting millions of dollars in state-provided Medicaid reimbursements …

7. ED gives preview of new ed-tech plan

Student data management, online assessment, and eLearning will be key objectives in the next national educational technology plan presented to Congress by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), according to Susan Patrick, director of the department’s Office of Educational Technology …

6. Schools, colleges flock to Internet2

Move over internet: Internet2 has arrived. According to a bi-annual survey presented to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Oct. 6, more than 25,000 K-12 schools, libraries, and museums in 34 states have graduated to the super-fast internet backbone, which works at a hundred times the speed of the fastest T1 line …

5. Studies validate laptop programs in U.S., Canada

Two recent studies of schoolwide one-to-one computing initiatives–one in the United States and one in Canada–suggest that using laptops in the classroom can help improve students’ writing skills and bolster overall academic success. The studies come as an increasing number of states and school districts are rolling out laptop programs of their own …

4. Bookshare.org offers 17,000 royalty-free digital texts

For special-education teachers, providing required reading for blind and learning-disabled students is a significant challenge. Now, thanks to the aid of Bookshare.org, a nonprofit digital book service based in Palo Alto, Calif., educators have access to a library of thousands of titles they can download and reproduce for use on screen readers or as MP3 files for as little as $6 per text …

3. ED unveils new educator training site

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Oct. 5 unveiled a new professional development web site for teachers and administrators. Its architects hope the free resource–built by teachers for teachers–will encourage the use of proven classroom strategies and provide more effective ways of using data to improve instruction in the nation’s schools …

2. Textbooks dumped in favor of laptops

No textbooks? No problem. A revolutionary new high school outside Tucson, Ariz., plans to do away with the bulky, hardcover tomes altogether in favor of laptop computers, making it one of the first schools in the nation to abandon the use of traditional textbooks for the educational value of the internet …

1. Video on demand boosts students’ math scores

Short video clips that reinforce key concepts are effective in increasing student achievement, according to a second research project. An earlier study found that video can improve learning in science and social studies. Now, brand-new research shows that judiciously selected video clips also can produce statistically significant gains in algebra and geometry scores …

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Tacoma leaders making plans for high-tech high school

Seattle’s KING-TV reports that Pierce County, Wash., might be opening a high-tech high school on the University of Washington Tacoma campus. Local leaders expect taxpayers to fund about 75 percent of the school, which would be attended by up to 400 students. (Note: This site requires registration.)

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Framingham State’s courses now catering to wireless laptops

The Boston Globe reports that an initiative at Framingham State College has made it possible for students in about 80 percent of the school’s courses to do all of their coursework with wireless laptops. Framingham State has been a testing ground for what is seen as the future of colleges and universities, rooted in a belief that portable computers can improve the quality of education.

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