Primary school using video conferencing to collaborate with schools in China and US

[ClickPress, Wed Feb 28 2007] Rosie Medhurst has been Head Teacher at Northwood Primary School in Bexley, Kent since 1995. Rosie explains how with help from ICT Coordinator Paul Greenwood, she is able to offer her pupils a way to collaborate with other children and subject experts across the curriculum enabling them to share ideas and invaluable knowledge of the world around them. This has been achievable for the school through the innovative use of video-conferencing technology supplied by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL).

Pupils at Northwood Primary School are able to communicate via video conferencing with children in other London schools, and also in schools as far away as China and the USA, all as part of their daily lessons. According to Head Teacher Rosie Medhurst, this has "enabled communication and collaboration in ways we could not have conceived possible!" Northwood Primary School, an Excellence Cluster School (formerly a Beacon status school), is maintained by the London Borough of Bexley and has seven teachers, all of whom use video-conferencing technology regularly across their seven classes, benefiting 194 pupils. Through a safe, secure and high-speed broadband connection to the National Education Network (NEN), Northwood´s innovative usage of video-conferencing sets a clear benchmark for other schools to take advantage of the infrastructure services and learning services strands of the National Digital Infrastructure (NDI). The NEN provides schools with access to a consistent set of resources, services and applications and is available through LGfL to every school across London. The NDI is the Government´s vision for education being implemented by Becta to transform the way the capital´s school ICT services are specified, procured, delivered, supported and connected to other educational technology. Infrastructure services and learning services are concerned with the seamless integration of services and the management, provision and availability of learning content.

Video-conferencing has enabled Northwood pupils to build relationships with children at a school in Hong Kong and to learn first-hand the martial art of Tai Chi. Rosie says: "The children´s enthusiasm and dedication from both schools has been phenomenal, with the Chinese pupils and their parents even coming into school in the evenings to allow for the time difference. To provide these classes for the children with a Tai Chi professional would have been impractical and costly, but through this technology we are able to offer our pupils this wonderful experience. To offer this technology has been exceptional and has given us great inspiration into how we can further develop collaboration with other schools around the globe."

Rosie says: "We have links with primary schools across the USA, including a school in Texas. American children have taught our pupils about their US tradition of Thanksgiving and our pupils have taught them all about Christmas and sung them Christmas carols." Learning about culture and tradition is an important part of life at Northwood School as over half of pupils are Yoruba from Nigeria. In October 2006, pupils took part in LGfL´s annual London Live event which is the largest pan-London video-conference exclusively for schools. As the only primary school taking part, Northwood pupils performed a Nigerian song, retold a traditional Yoruba tale, showed their Nigerian clothes and explained the meaning of their special names to thousands of students across over 50 secondary schools. Rosie says: "It is incredibly important to us that our pupils are able to appreciate and share their history and culture at such a young age with their classmates and other children. London Live has enabled them to do this and also to experience other cultures and traditions."

Northwood is not only using video-conferencing to communicate with other schools, but also to provide pupils with access to experts in areas of the curriculum. Rosie says: "One of our aims at Northwood is not only to provide a broad curriculum but to extend this to offer our children a rich educational experience. Bringing video-conferencing into our daily lessons in a managed way enables us to do this and provide a new way of learning for our pupils." Through LGfL´s work with London museums and galleries, Northwood is using video-conferencing to visit places of interest which gives them access on a more regular basis than would be possible through school trips. Pupils have interacted with experts at The National Maritime Museum, The National Portrait Gallery and at The War Rooms at the Imperial War Museum. Rosie says: "The virtual visits to London´s galleries and museums are easy to set up and incredibly beneficial to our pupils. Teachers can connect at a time convenient to them, at no cost, and the pupils benefit from the undivided attention of an expert at the venue. We also combine the virtual sessions with actual visits to establishments and find it very rewarding to share the children´s excitement when recognising things they have previously seen over video-conference."

"At Northwood, our teachers feel it is important for other schools to appreciate that video-conferencing does not replace good teaching but is a tool to extend this. It adds a different dimension to traditional teaching methods and gives pupils access to a huge variety of different resources and experiences. We are constantly looking for new ways to use video-conferencing and would encourage other schools to benefit from the experience."


Pokémon Learning League–Teaches Students

NEW YORK (Feb. 28, 2007)–A growing amount of research, including the study published in Psychological Science in July 2000, indicate that students´ prosocial skills have a significant impact on academic achievement. In addition, teachers view character education as an important tool for helping students participate in society in a meaningful way. To that end, Pokémon USA, Inc., has added new topics to Pokémon Learning League that focus on relationship-building, prosocial behavior and bullying prevention. The online educational suite of animated, interactive lessons in language arts, math, science, and life skills for grades 3-6 is aligned with state and national standards to support teachers and reinforce classroom lessons.

Increasingly, education leaders are focusing on educating the whole child, an approach that embraces a full curriculum to address all areas of children´s development. Educators must find ways to address students´ emotional and social development in the classroom, not just the counselor´s office. School counselors are stretched thin. According to the American School Counselors Association, the average ratio of students to school counselors is 488-to-1.

Pokémon Learning League´s engaging and innovative lessons offer educators a supplemental resource to reinforce prosocial skills, which students need to maintain healthy relationships, cope with challenging situations and succeed in school and in life. Comprised of a narrative tutorial (watch), guided practice (try) and an interactive challenge (apply), each Pokémon Learning League lesson delivers a supportive and scaffolded learning environment for students.

Teamwork, one of the new life skills topics added to Pokémon Learning League this month, is an important skill all students need in the classroom, in sports, in school organizations, and later, in the workplace. Through an interactive lesson, students learn along with the Pokémon characters that by having a positive attitude and working together they can achieve better results. Additional topics added this month include Making Friends and Bullying.

"In addition to direct instruction, it simply takes practice and cycles of meaningful feedback to change deeply engrained habits, such as how we respond to conflict, set goals, or eat nutritionally," stated Laura Parker Roerden, former director of publications for Educators for Social Responsibility and an advisory board member for Pokémon Learning League. "Pokémon Learning League is particularly well-suited to help children develop a toolbox of skills they can use to make healthy choices in their lives. The topics offer children a unique opportunity to acquire these new skills through a medium that is both relational and private enough for children to take risks in their learning that they might feel uncomfortable taking in front of peers. Pokemon´s familiar characters help to create both a sense of safety and intimacy necessary to do this work. Additionally, the skills that are being developed in school can more easily be translated into skills used and reinforced in the home."

The Pokémon themes of sharing, collaboration and helping others are also woven into academic lessons in math, science and language arts. Pokémon Learning League´s mission guides are diverse characters that serve as mentors to students, leading them through the lessons and demonstrating positive attitudes and life skills such as cooperation and perseverance. Students and the Pokémon characters work together to solve academic challenges.

The program is available to schools, households, and after-school programs through paid subscriptions. For more information, visit

About Pokémon USA

Pokémon USA, Inc., a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, manages the property outside of Asia and the Pokémon Trading Card Game outside of Japan. This includes licensing, marketing, an animated TV series, home entertainment, the official Pokémon website, and online retail center Celebrating its 10th worldwide anniversary in 2006, Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 for play on Nintendo´s Game Boy® and has since evolved into a global cultural phenomenon. Pokémon was introduced in North America in September 1998 and today is one of the most popular toy and entertainment properties in the world.


Carnegie Learning, Inc. Launches First Diagnostic Math Solution

NEW ORLEANS, LA, February 28, 2007 — Carnegie Learning, Inc., a leading publisher of math curricula for middle school, high school, and postsecondary students, today announced a new research-based course developed specifically to improve student performance on state exit exams. The announcement was made in conjunction with the 2007 National Conference on Education in New Orleans, hosted by the American Association of School Administrators.

Carnegie Learning Math Prep incorporates content from multiple math curricula including Algebra and Geometry, and adapts to diverse implementations from a full-year course to supplemental intervention programs. Carnegie Learning Math Prep National Edition and customized state editions for California, Florida, and Texas are available immediately. State editions include content correlated to the state´s exit exam, while Math Prep National Edition is the universal version of the course designed for students in states for which there is not yet a state-specific edition. The National Edition is based on NCTM standards.

Carnegie Learning will release additional Math Prep courses correlated to state-specific exams throughout the next several years, including a solution for the State of Washington later in Spring 2007.

Math Prep, the newest in Carnegie Learning´s suite of Cognitive Tutor® software solutions, was developed to address the American workforce´s demand for a greater number of high school graduates with solid mathematics skills. Last week, the National Assessment Governing Board reported that nearly 40 percent of high school seniors scored below the basic level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math test.

"Nearly half the states require that high school students pass exit exams to earn a diploma, yet there is a lack of reliable tools to help students who are at the greatest risk of failing," said Dennis Ciccone, Chief Executive Officer of Carnegie Learning, Inc. "Educators across the country have the daunting responsibility of turning around a critical mass of students who are unlikely to pass their exit exams, and re-teaching two or three years of math is impractical, if not impossible. Our Math Prep software solution assesses each student´s weakest areas and focuses the learning where it´s needed most, which we believe will ultimately increase concept retention and accelerate progress."

Carnegie Learning´s Math Prep solution, like the company´s algebra readiness, Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II curricula, is based on cognitive science research at Carnegie Mellon University studying how students think, learn, and apply new knowledge in mathematics. The Cognitive Tutor software utilizes an artificial intelligence model to identify weaknesses in each student´s mastery of mathematical concepts and then provides a personalized, differentiated learning path that meets each student´s unique needs.

"Exit exam preparation is fairly uncharted territory and educators often toggle together solutions that combine existing materials with those they create themselves," said Susan Keipper Meell of consulting firm MMS Education. "It is very difficult to encourage students who are already struggling to attend after school courses or to sit through an overwhelming amount of curricula. With Math Prep, Carnegie Learning has developed a model that allows for an in-school, full-year or supplemental class customized to each student´s remedial needs. The approach is focused, efficient, and flexible."

Carnegie Learning´s Math Prep includes a diagnostic software pre-test, 130 hours of math intervention software, a printed Teacher´s Guide, hands-on Professional Development, a software post-test , and printed practice tests modeled upon the format of the state exam. State-specific courses also include reports of student progress against state standards. Carnegie Learning software runs on both Windows® (2000, XP) and Macintosh® (OSX 10.3 or higher) operating systems.

About Carnegie Learning, Inc. (

Carnegie Learning, Inc. is a leading publisher of core, full-year mathematics programs as well as supplemental intervention applications for middle school, high school, and postsecondary students. The company´s Cognitive Tutor® programs are helping more than 475,000 students in over 1300 school districts across the United States succeed in math by integrating interactive software sessions, text, and student-centered classroom lessons into a unique learning platform for algebra readiness, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, high-stakes test preparation, and Integrated Math programs. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes Carnegie Learning´s Cognitive Tutor Algebra I program as one of only two math curricula scientifically proven to have significant, positive effects on student learning. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Learning was founded by cognitive science researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with veteran mathematics teachers.


Governors craft reform strategy

America’s governors are facing up to some harsh realities: Their states’ schoolchildren are not ready for the 21st century, their workers are not trained for the new jobs created every day, and their businesses are not competing as strongly as they must to keep ahead.

The only way to thrive amid globalization is to change, and states are past due for a sweeping transformation of education, worker training, and economic development, governors agreed Feb. 26 after days of discussions at the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

“The plain fact of the matter is the world has changed,” said Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat who sought to convince her fellow state leaders that globalization is their problem. “We must have a sense of urgency as governors. … What we’re doing now does not suffice.”

Meetings over four days hammered home her point. School teachers, business leaders, scientists, and pollsters all delivered the same message: Overhaul school curricula, retrain workers, and revamp economic development so that businesses build upon each other, rather than pit one state against another.

The nation’s governors heard from Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway; Robert Rubin, former Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration; President George W. Bush’s top trade negotiator, Susan Schwab, and many others.

“Governors’ jobs are no longer to [chase] smokestacks–now it’s to build vibrant economies, state by state,” said Carl Schramm, president and chief executive of the Kauffman Foundation, which encourages entrepreneurship.

Governors agreed on a framework for change and are hoping to get federal support through legislation in Congress on workforce training, education, and research and development. Among their ideas:

•Refocus on science, technology, engineering, math, and foreign language proficiency. They are seeking programs to encourage students and teachers in those subject areas.

•Make worker training more flexible, coordinate training with regional needs, and make progress measurable.

•Create federal “competitive innovation grants” to encourage states to develop regional hubs that build on existing strengths, such as computer development in North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area.

Education is the foundation of a 21st-century economy, but state systems don’t come close to delivering what is needed, said William H. Schmidt, a Michigan State University professor who studies education.

In many other industrial countries, by the end of eighth grade students are two years ahead of American students, he said: “That’s why Europeans view the first two years of our university system as basic high school catch-up.”

Schmidt added: “These children, we’re putting them at a disadvantage. This makes it more than an economic issue, it makes it a moral issue.”

One of the speakers was Republican pollster and strategist Frank Luntz, who told governors they need to engage the public on the need for change but find the right way to talk about it.

“Innovation is about the future,” he said. “This is not about us versus them, us versus the Chinese or Utah versus Alaska. … That’s not how the public views innovation. They see it as everyone wins.”

But he warned that while many Americans see the country as being powerful, they don’t see it as being particularly innovative–and many are worried about how the country will manage the challenges of the future.

Many governors said they recognize the need for change, but making it happen is much more difficult.

“I’m trying to move the economy of Tennessee from a low-skilled, assembly-line approach to a more high-tech approach,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat. “We’re not going to be successful with trade barriers. It’s going to have to be through a very flexible economy and engaging in innovation and change.”


National Governors Association


Edvantia Announces 2007 National Institutes for Educators

CHARLESTON, WV-Edvantia, Inc., a nonprofit education research and development firm, will hold national institutes for educators this summer in Tennessee. Attending one or both institutes prepares teams and/or individuals to incorporate research-based strategies in their ongoing school improvement efforts. These strategies can work in schools of all levels and in all locations.

Effective Questioning (QUILT) Training for Trainers trains teachers and administrators (often in teams) to use effective questioning techniques to revitalize classrooms and schools. The model used for this training is QUILT (Questioning and Understanding to Improve Learning and Thinking). QUILT helps teachers and students use effective questioning to raise classroom discourse to a higher level on Bloom´s Taxonomy. It makes metacognition a regular feature of classroom practice. QUILT also benefits the whole faculty by bringing teachers together to learn from one another as they reflect on their own practice. The training-for-trainers format of this institute prepares participants to facilitate the QUILT professional development program in their school or district. Trainers: Dr. Susan Hudson and Ms. Rusha Sams, Edvantia National Faculty members and Tennessee Exemplary Educators (3 days, June 25-27, Radisson Hotel Nashville Airport, Nashville, Tennessee)

Foundations of School Performance Coaching prepares participants to use coaching techniques to help a school or district create community, bring focus to improvement efforts, lead change, develop accountability, build capacity, and grow professionally. This institute presents a research-based framework for supporting school improvement and shows participants how to use coaching standards to achieve results. The training is designed for school and district leadership teams, improvement specialists, math and literacy coaches, and anyone facilitating school improvement. Trainers: Georgeanne Oxnam, former Tennessee Exemplary Educator, and Rusha Sams, Tennessee Exemplary Educator/former Tennessee Teacher of the Year (3 days, July 23-25 or July 30-August 1, Sarah Simpson Professional Development Center, Knoxville, Tennessee)

Both institutes offer early-bird discounts to individuals and teams who register by April 15, 2007. Additional information about Edvantia´s summer 2007 institutes is available on Edvantia´s Web site, Questions should be directed to Karen Witt, or 800.624.9120, ext. 5424.

"These institutes will give educators a chance to learn with and from one another as they examine research, reflect on their own practice, and try out new strategies," says Steven Moats, director of the Tennessee Exemplary Educator program and codeveloper of the coaching institute. "It´s a time for professional growth and a renewed focus on student achievement. Our goal is for institute participants to leave here with the knowledge, practical skills, and enthusiasm needed to make a positive difference in their home schools or districts."

About Edvantia: Edvantia is a nonprofit education research and development corporation, founded in 1966, that partners with practitioners, education agencies, publishers, and service providers to improve learning and advance student success. Edvantia provides clients with a range of services, including research, evaluation, professional development, and consulting.


The PHENOM-ED(TM) Previews on Capitol Hill in Support of Education

FEI will demonstrate the world´s first tabletop scanning electron microscope (SEM) designed specifically for education on Capitol Hill today. The Phenom-Ed provides magnification up to 20,000x — far beyond the range of traditional optical microscopes giving students access to micro- and nanoscale worlds rarely seen in undergraduate and high school studies.

Congressman David Wu (D-OR), Congresswoman Darlene Hooley (D-OR), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Gordon Smith (D-OR), among many other guests, will attend the unveiling.

FEI Company (Nasdaq: FEIC), a global leader in electron microscopes and focused ion beam systems, developed the microscope to bring a new teaching dimension to the classroom and foster interest in advanced science education. It is envisioned that the Phenom-Ed will provide educators a tool to greatly enhance traditional teaching methods and open the door for the next generation of innovative scientists.

"We believe that the Phenom-Ed is the future of science education. It is easy to use, affordable and truly brings the study of science, technology, engineering and math to life for students," said Don Kania, President and CEO of FEI. "The Phenom-Ed embodies the commitment to improving technical education through innovation and will enhance the infrastructure to support the growth of science and technology in the U.S."

The Phenom-Ed promotes active learning and interest in science by giving students an interactive, dynamic and fun learning tool. Fully-automated and easy-to-use, the system is the world´s first electron microscope with an interactive touch screen. About the size of a desk-top PC, the Phenom-Ed is a completely self-contained high-tech laboratory that can inspire students to explore the microscopic and nanoscale structures of such specimens as, bacteria, cells, plankton, insects, pollens, metals, forensic specimens, semiconductors, minerals and more. While teachers make the connection to core curriculum topics, students remain engaged and interested.

"The Phenom-Ed brings to life aspects of science and technology that have traditionally been somewhat abstract through classroom instruction," noted Skip Rung of the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute. "This table-top scanning electron microscope makes it possible to teach the scientific investigative techniques and inquiry skills that have traditionally been taught at the advanced university level."

Today´s Phenom-Ed demonstrations will feature experts from the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), an FEI partner in developing the tabletop SEM, as well as scientists and engineers involved in the development of the microscope and professors engaged in the beta-testing phase. They will answer questions for congressional leaders and provide insight into the impact of this technology breakthrough and future opportunities for science education.

The Phenom-Ed is in the final stages of beta-testing at the Ohio State University, Jackson State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Winona State University, and Portland State University.

The development of the tabletop SEM was based upon work supported by the Department of Energy Solar Energy Program under Award Number DE-FG36-06GO86073 and the Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research under Award Number DE-FG02-06ER64248.

The Phenom-Ed will be launched in the third quarter of this year. A similar table-top SEM system, optimized for a wide range of industrial applications will also be released later this year.

About the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI)

Founded in 2003, ONAMI represents a unique collaborative model for regional micro and nanotechnology development. Its community of world-class industry, academic and federal research institutions in the Pacific Northwest forms a vibrant network of nanoscience and microtechnology expertise that is moving nanoscience and microtechnology innovations from basic research through to commercialization.

About FEI

FEI (Nasdaq: FEIC) is a global leader in providing innovative instruments for nanoscale imaging, analysis and prototyping. FEI focuses on delivering solutions that provide groundbreaking results and accelerate research, development and manufacturing cycles for its customers in Semiconductor and Data Storage, Academic and Industrial R&D, and Life Sciences markets. With R&D centers in North America and Europe, and sales and service operations in more than 50 countries around the world, FEI´s Tools for Nanotech(TM) are bringing the nanoscale within the grasp of leading researchers and manufacturers. More information can be found online at: .
This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of the employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.

This news release contains forward-looking statements that include statements about introduction of our new Phenom product and future uses and applications. Factors that could affect these forward-looking statements include but are not delays in releasing the product, failure of the product to perform as expected; delay of cancellation of additional development work to move the product from beta to release; technical problems arising during the beta phase; and problems with our suppliers. Please also refer to our Form 10-K, Forms 10-Q, Forms 8-K and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for additional information on these factors and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. FEI assumes no duty to update forward-looking statements.


Colleges go online to calm the admissions jitters

The Washington Post reports that because more applicants than ever are trying to get into top schools, students’ stress is growing to high levels. This stress is beginning to result in the choking of school message boards, as the top students obsess over test scores, crunch numbers, and analyze their chances of getting in. Now, some schools are responding to this development by having staff members not only read applications and student files, but read message boards and answer questions on school web sites in an effort to humanize the admissions process. Hopefully, these steps not only remove some of the mystery of the process while correcting misinformation, but also might “talk some students off the ledge” …


Disney, Nickelodeon create safe cyber playrooms

USA Today reports that Disney and Nickelodeon aim to change social networking into child’s play. Both companies are offering free, video-rich interactive web sites that target the 14-and-under crowd while placating parent’s safety concerns. While both companies have previously built web sites that cater to kids, this development marks the first time that elementary school children will be exposed to this type of service. Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review, says that these sites “prepare kids for services like MySpace, wikis, and blogs … the same tools that are becoming part of the workforce and culture in general.” …


Teens can multitask–but what are the costs?

The Washington Post reports that many students report feeling more productive and less stressed as a result of multitasking.  However, some researchers aren’t so sure.  Because there haven’t been long-term studies on the subject, experts are unsure about multitasking’s effect on teenage development. Some do believe that moving from task to task could have serious consequences on the ability to focus and develop analytical skills. Because parts of teenager’s brains are still developing, there is special concern over teens’ multitasking. Jeff Grafman, chief of neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke thinks that “Introducing multitasking in younger kids in my opinion can be detrimental. One of the biggest problems about multitasking is that it’s almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you’re multitasking.” …


FCC hits Hispanic broadcaster with $24M fine

The New York Times reports that Univision is expected to be hit with a $24 million fine, which would be the largest the FCC has ever levied against a company.  The FCC is issuing this because of Univision’s decision to characterize a soap opera that some say is really for adults, as “educational for children.” The penalty is expected to send a strong message to broadcasters, who will be expected to meet their requirement to inform and educate children, after years of very lax oversight in this area…