At the Plano Independent School District in Texas, Associate Superintendent for Technology and Academic Services Jim Hirsch is preparing for the future.

At a time when the internet, once strictly an informational resource, is being transformed into a virtual hub of web-based services and applications--giving users viable alternatives to expensive, proprietary school software applications--Hirsch has been traveling the country, talking to colleagues and painting a picture of what he sees as the next evolution in educational technology.

Within five years, Hirsch predicts, not a single desktop in this 52,000-student school system in


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