Google considers online book future

The BBC reports that Google has suggested it may establish an online book store. CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters at the Consumer Electronics Show that this iniative would depend on permission from copyright holders, and that its plans for an index to all of the world’s books have run into resistance…

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Steve Jobs introduces Intel-based Macs

Cnet.com reports that just seven months after announcing that Apple would move to Intel chips, CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first Intel-based Macs, introducing a new high-end laptop and a revamped iMac…

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NSBA moves tech conference from New Orleans to Dallas

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), the nonprofit federation of state school board associations across the country, is moving its annual technology conference from New Orleans to Dallas this fall, the organization announced yesterday.

NSBA no longer will hold its 2006 T+L² (Technology, Leadership, and Learning) Conference in New Orleans from Nov. 1-3. The major educational technology conference instead will be held in Dallas, Texas, from Nov. 8-10. NSBA said the difficult decision not to hold the conference in the hurricane-ravaged city was based on the needs of the organization, its attendees, and vendors.

“I used to live in South Louisiana. I know how much they need to rebuild their economic base,” said Ann Flynn, Director of Education Technology for NSBA. “Ultimately, we … needed to do what we felt would be best for our own economic longevity. After many conversations with exhibitors [and] vendors, our concern was that New Orleans would not quite be ready [by November].”

In addition, Flynn said, NSBA would rather hold its conference in the city at a time when local educators can fully participate in the conference.

“We rely on the local support of educators, city and state, when holding a conference,” Flynn explained. “They have many things on their plate right now [i.e., the reconstruction of the city and its education system]. We feel like the local schools should be more robust, and [their personnel be more] able to attend, and have conferences on their mind, rather than the issues they have to attend. We really felt that this was the best possible solution.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the T+L² Conference, making it the second oldest ed-tech conference at the national level behind the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE’s) National Educational Computing Conference (NECC), which debuted in 1979. As recently as 2004, however, the fate of future T+L² events was in doubt. NSBA officials say a rebound in paid attendance at that 2004 meeting was the only thing that kept the show in business for 2005 and beyond (see story: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=5320).

Don Knezek, chief executive officer of ISTE, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve teaching and learning by advancing the effective use of technology in K-12 and teacher education, said he can sympathize with the NSBA’s decision.

“The last three years or so have seen the Adequate Yearly Progress figures required by the No Child Left Behind Act threatening individual school and district budgets. Other accountability and economic issues also have made it more difficult to attract school boards to technology conferences over the past few years,” Knezek said. “That’s where I think the challenge has come for the T+L² Conference. As people … have been seeing that you need technology to meet NCLB requirements, a comeback has started to take place. But I think these conferences still need to gain heavier attendance and a higher priority. Technology is certainly a concern of administrators, but it’s dropped from first or second to fourth or fifth because of state budget deviations.”

Knezek continued: “If [T+L²] were as strong a conference as NECC, then they could take a chance and support New Orleans. [But] if I were an administrator for NSBA right now, I would probably have found a more stable venue for the conference. It has no reflection on the need to support New Orleans. I think the T+L² Conference is in a unique situation–the school technology funding recovery is starting, but isn’t on the exponential curve it needs to be on. It’s [still] a conference at risk, and I don’t think it’s a wise decision for administrators of that conference to take a chance–[and] possibly in some ways compromise their comeback–to support the needs of New Orleans, which we all agree are great.”

In October, NSBA announced that it would change the venue of its 66th annual general conference from New Orleans to Chicago. That conference runs from April 8-11.

To support the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region, NSBA says it has donated more than $10,000 in cash and other supplies, and it is working closely with the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama state school boards associations to assess the critical needs of local school districts. In addition, NSBA says it has been deeply involved at the federal level in strongly advising Congress and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to approve adequate relief money for education and to send those funds directly to local school districts in the affected areas.

Through a federation of state organizations, NSBA reportedly represents 95,000 local school board members throughout the United States. The organization represents the interests of school boards in working with federal government agencies and national organizations that affect education, and it provides vital information and services to state associations of school boards throughout the nation.

NSBA says its T+L² Conference is co-sponsored by more than 25 leading education organizations. Last fall, the conference reportedly attracted more than 2,200 school leaders from throughout the United States, as well as internationally. The conference is designed to highlight the many effective ways to improve school performance and student achievement through the judicious use of technology across instructional, administrative, and parental outreach applications.

“We’re actually quite excited about going back to Dallas,” said Flynn. “The conference was held in that city for its first eight years. If there’s a city where we should be celebrating a major milestone [such as the 20th anniversary of T+L²], it would be Dallas.”

Flynn said the conference has been scheduled to run in New Orleans in 2008.

“We were already contracted to go to Nashville in 2007, which is why it was not just a one-year postponement,” she said.

Links:

NSBA’s T+L² Conference
http://www.nsba.org/t+l

International Society for Technology in Education http://www.iste.org

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PBS finds a recipe for “Making Schools Work”

A companion web site to the PBS television series “Making Schools Work,”this online resource invites educators to follow host Hedrick Smith and his production team into classrooms from coast to coast to see how different communities, large and small, are coping with the challenge of preparing students for success in the face of higher federal standards and a new global economy. Among the site’s many features are best practices detailing effective reform efforts underway in individual schools; a look at district-wide initiatives in New York City, San Diego, and Charlotte, N.C.; and a library of community-focused resources meant to help teachers and parents gauge how much work still needs to be done in their schools. “The common denominator”of all these programs, producers note as they welcome visitors to the site, “is results–lifting scores and closing achievement gaps, not just for a few hundred children but for nearly 2 million, from our inner cities to rural America.”

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Supreme Court allows Univ. of Texas to block spam

The Associated Press reports that the United States Supreme Court declined to intervene in a dispute between the University of Texas and an online dating service. The court let stand a federal appeals court’s ruling that UT did not violate the constitutional rights of White Buffalo Ventures when it blocked 59,000 e-mails in 2003…

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State funds for higher-ed to top $66 billion

Insidehighered.com reports that state appropriations for higher education will top $66 billion for the 2005-6 academic year, a 5.3 percent increase over last year. Only four states reported appropriating less money this year than last…

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NY Gov.: More math, science teachers needed

The New York Times reports that in his State of the State address, New York governor George Pataki calls for more math and science teachers, as well as scholarships for new math and science teachers. This puts New York into the center of the national quest to reverse decades of decline in the study of science and engineering… (Note: This site requires free registration.)

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Bush pushed on science, innovation

If Sen. Lamar Alexander, R.-Tenn., a former U.S. education secretary, gets his way, President Bush will make science and technology education and research highlights of his annual State of the Union address later this month.

America’s future depends on “brain power,” Alexander pointed out in promoting an ambitious, $10 billion annual boost in government spending on science and technology education and research.

Alexander met with President Bush just before Christmas to urge him to focus on math, science, and technology in his State of the Union address–and for his remaining three years in office.

“The president was very interested,” Alexander said last week after giving a speech on the proposals to a receptive audience in his home state that included officials from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, and the University of Tennessee.

“I am encouraged because he understands these issues very well,” Alexander said of Bush. “He knows that we are in a competition for our jobs around the world. He is a former governor, so he knows and understands the issues in education. So I am encouraged, but I don’t have any kind of commitment.”

Alexander–a former Tennessee governor and U.S. education secretary in the administration of the current president’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush–sought guidance early last year from the National Academy of Science. A blue-ribbon panel responded with 20 recommendations in a report in October titled, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.”

The report noted that U.S. industry is spending more money on lawsuits than research and development, China is producing 600,000 new engineers a year compared with only 70,000 in the United States, and this country’s 12th graders are performing below the average of students from 21 nations in math and science.

Among the panel’s proposals:

  • Create four-year scholarships to attract 10,000 students a year to math and science teaching careers.

  • Increase national investment in basic research by 10 percent annually.

  • Create a research division within the Department of Energy to study long-term energy challenges, similar to the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency that pioneered the internet.

  • Provide one-year visa extensions to international students seeking employment in the United States after receiving their doctorates from U.S. universities.

  • Establish new tax incentives and credits for innovation and research.

    Alexander is working with New Mexico Sens. Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat, and Pete Domenici, a Republican who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, on legislation to implement these recommendations. The three briefed Bush on their plans at the White House on Dec. 15.

    “It has been true since World War II that most of our good new jobs in America came from science and technology,” Alexander told his audience on Jan. 5. “It is going to be more true in the future.”

    In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats in November unveiled an ambitious plan of their own to boost science and technology education and research. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced her party’s five-pronged “innovation agenda,” including affordable access to broadband technology for all consumers and incentives for students to pursue careers in science and technology, on Nov. 15 (see story: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStoryts.cfm?ArticleID=5978).

    Links:

    U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander
    http://alexander.senate.gov

    Bush administration
    http://www.whitehouse.gov

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    Education reform shows modest results

    Stateline.org reports that a new study shows that state efforts over the past decade to improve public education through stricter standards and testing have increased student scores on national math tests but have failed to boost reading scores…

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    Google introduces software starter kit

    The Associated Press reports that Google Inc. is distributing a free software startup kit designed to make computing safer and easier. The suite of programs is designed to make it easier to install and maintain basic applications that have helped turn the PC into a hub of information, entertainment and communications….

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