School faces questions in wake of deadly shootings

Virginia Tech officials and local law-enforcement authorities faced pressure April 17 to explain how a gunman apparently avoided detection after killing two people and then went on to kill 30 others two hours later in the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

Police identified the gunman as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a senior from South Korea. Seung-Hui killed himself in a classroom at Virginia Tech after opening fire on students and staff during class in an apparently premeditated massacre April 16.

Police said he appeared to have used chains to lock the doors and prevent terrified victims from escaping the building. Fifteen others were wounded, including those who were shot and those hurt jumping from windows in a desperate attempt to flee the gunfire.

Many students expressed outrage that they were not warned of any danger until more than two hours after the first attack at a dormitory, and only then in a series of eMail messages from the university.

“We knew that there was a shooting, but we thought it was confined to a particular setting,” Virginia Tech President Charles Steger told reporters, explaining the lack of more urgent measures, such as evacuating the sprawling grounds or shutting down the whole campus, which has more than 25,000 students.

The shootings ended with the gunman committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33 and stamping the campus in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with unspeakable tragedy, perhaps forever.

“Today, the university was struck with a tragedy that we consider of monumental proportions,” Steger said on the morning of the attacks. “The university is shocked and indeed horrified.”

But he was also faced with difficult questions about the university’s handling of the emergency and whether it did enough to warn students and protect them after the first burst of gunfire. Some students bitterly complained they got no warning from the university until an eMail message arrived more than two hours after the first shots rang out.

Wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition, Seung-Hui opened fire about 7:15 a.m. on the fourth floor of West Ambler Johnston, a high-rise coed dormitory, then stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. Some of the doors at Norris Hall were found chained from the inside, apparently by the gunman.

Two people died in a dorm room, and 31 others were killed in Norris Hall, including the gunman, who put a bullet in his head. At least 15 people were hurt, some seriously.

Alec Calhoun, a 20-year-old junior, said he was in a 9:05 a.m. mechanics class when he and classmates heard a thunderous sound from the classroom next door–“what sounded like an enormous hammer.”

Screams followed an instant later, and the banging continued. When students realized the sounds were gunshots, Calhoun said, he started flipping over desks for hiding places. Others dashed to the windows of the second-floor classroom, kicking out the screens and jumping from the ledge of Room 204, he said.

“I must’ve been the eighth or ninth person who jumped, and I think I was the last,” said Calhoun, of Waynesboro, Va. He landed in a bush and ran.
Calhoun said that the two students behind him were shot, but he believed they survived. Just before he climbed out the window, Calhoun said, he turned to look at the professor, who had stayed behind, perhaps to block the door.

The instructor was killed, he said.

At an evening news conference, Police Chief Wendell Flinchum refused to dismiss the possibility that a co-conspirator or second shooter was involved. He said police had interviewed a male who was a “person of interest” in the dorm shooting who knew one of the victims, but he declined to give details.

“I’m not saying there’s a gunman on the loose,” Flinchum said. Ballistics tests will help explain what happened, he said.

Young people and faculty members carried out some of the wounded themselves, without waiting for ambulances to arrive. Many found themselves trapped behind chained and padlocked doors. SWAT team members with helmets, flak jackets, and assault rifles swarmed over the campus. A student used his cell-phone camera to record the sound of bullets echoing through a stone building.

Trey Perkins, who was sitting in a German class in Norris Hall, told the Washington Post that the gunman barged into the room at about 9:50 a.m. and opened fire for about a minute and a half, squeezing off about 30 shots.

The gunman first shot the professor in the head and then fired on the students, Perkins said. The gunman was about 19 years old and had a “very serious but very calm look on his face,” he said.

“Everyone hit the floor at that moment,” said Perkins, 20, of Yorktown, Va., a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “And the shots seemed like [they] lasted forever.”

Erin Sheehan, who was also in the German class, told the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, that she was one of only four of about two dozen people in the class to walk out of the room. The rest were dead or wounded, she said.
She said the gunman “was just a normal-looking kid, Asian, but he had on a Boy Scout-type outfit. He wore a tan button-up vest, and this black vest, maybe it was for ammo or something.”

Students said that there were no public-address announcements after the first shots. Many said they learned of the first shooting in an eMail message that arrived shortly before the gunman struck again. Students subsequently surfed the web looking for more details.

“I think the university has blood on [its] hands because of [its] lack of action after the first incident,” said Billy Bason, 18, who lives on the seventh floor of the dorm.

Steger defended the university’s conduct, saying authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.

“We had no reason to suspect any other incident was going to occur,” he said.

Steger emphasized that the university closed off the dorm after the first attack and decided to rely on eMail and other electronic means to spread the word, but said that with 11,000 people driving onto campus first thing in the morning, it was difficult to get the word out.

He said that before the eMail messages went out, the university began telephoning resident advisers in the dorms and sent people to knock on doors. Students were warned to stay inside and away from the windows.

“We can only make decisions based on the information you had at the time. You don’t have hours to reflect on it,” Steger said.

Some students and Laura Wedin, a student programs manager at Virginia Tech, said their first notification came in an eMail message at 9:26 a.m., more than two hours after the first shooting.

The message had few details. It read: “A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.” The message warned students to be cautious and contact police about anything suspicious.

Edmund Henneke, associate dean of engineering, said he was in the classroom building and he and colleagues had just read the eMail advisory and were discussing it when he heard gunfire. Moments later, he said, SWAT team members rushed them downstairs, but the doors were chained and padlocked from the inside. They left the building through an unlocked construction area.

Until April 16, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby’s Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself.

The April 16 massacre took place almost eight years to the day after the Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colo. On April 20, 1999, two teenagers killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire. He killed 16 people before police shot him to death.

Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech is about 160 miles west of Richmond. With more than 25,000 full-time students, it has the state’s largest full-time student population. It is best known for its engineering school and its sports teams.

After the shootings, all campus entrances were closed, and classes were canceled through April 17. The university set up a spot for families to reunite with their children. It also made counselors available and planned an assembly for April 17.

It was second time in less than a year that the campus was closed because of a shooting.

In August, the opening day of classes was canceled when an escaped jail inmate allegedly killed a hospital guard off campus and fled to the Virginia Tech area. A sheriff’s deputy was killed just off campus. The accused gunman, William Morva, faces capital murder charges.

Link:

Virginia Tech University
http://www.vt.edu

APA Help Center: Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering From Disasters and Other Traumatic Events
http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=22

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Pokémon Learning League Named a Finalist for Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers

NEW YORK (April 16, 2007)–Pokémon Learning League, the new online educational suite of animated, interactive lessons in core curriculum for grades 3-6, has been selected as a finalist for a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP). Developed by Pokémon USA, Inc., Pokémon Learning League has signed up more than 18,000 registered users since it was launched in October 2006.

Building on the Pokémon tradition of immersive storylines and high-interest animated characters, Pokémon Learning League provides educators with a flexible tool to engage and motivate students in math, science, language arts, and life skills. The product creates the needed link between the interests and activities that students seek outside of school and the concepts that they need to learn in school. Pokémon Learning League is aligned with state and national standards to support teachers and reinforce classroom lessons.

"We are honored to receive this prestigious industry recognition that commends the educational merit and quality of Pokémon Learning League, which our team and advisory board of educators have worked diligently to develop and ensure its instructional effectiveness," said Yves Saada, vice president of interactive media for Pokémon USA, Inc.

Pokémon Learning League joins an elite group of AEP Award finalists. For the past four decades, the AEP Awards have recognized significant and excellent achievement in supplemental educational products. The Distinguished Achievement Awards recognize the best educational materials-such as books, educational toys, software and web sites-within subject categories and by audience. All products submitted undergo a rigorous two-tier judging process by highly qualified individuals who are experts in their respective areas. Judges include teachers, editors, designers, product developers, and curriculum specialists.

Winners of the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Awards will be announced during the AEP Annual Educational Publishing Summit on June 12, 2007, in Washington, D.C.

The Association of Educational Publishers, founded in 1895, is a national, nonprofit association devoted to serving and advancing the supplemental educational publishing industry. With the rapid growth of new educational technologies, AEP members are at the forefront of delivering progressive, educational products and services that address individual learning needs and differences.

Pokémon Learning League is available to schools, households, and after-school programs through paid annual subscriptions. For more information, visit www.PokemonLearningLeague.com.

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 pokemoncenter.com. 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.

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SMART launches second annual World Teachers´ Day video contest

Educators around the world invited to create videos demonstrating classroom best practices
CALGARY, ALBERTA–April 17, 2007–SMART Technologies Inc. announces that it continues to accept entries for SMART?s second annual World Teachers? Day (WTD) video contest. Once again teachers across the globe are invited to submit videos that demonstrate how SMART Board? interactive whiteboards are improving student learning outcomes. Seventy-five winners, selected from five global regions, will win iPod shuffles. The top regional winners will each receive a SMART Board interactive whiteboard, and the overall winner will receive the grand prize, an all-inclusive trip to London, England, for BETT 2008, a leading education technology tradeshow.

WTD aims to raise awareness of, and appreciation for, the vital contributions that teachers make to education. Started by UNESCO to recognize teacher contributions around the globe, WTD is celebrated on October 5 in over 100 countries. The goal of SMART?s World Teachers? Day Video Contest is to showcase teachers? efforts to improve student learning outcomes and engagement. As a global market segment leader in interactive whiteboards and other group collaboration tools, SMART continues to support initiatives that inspire teaching excellence and have a positive impact on every child in the classroom. The winner of last year?s WTD video contest was Harry Hildebrand from Markham College in Lima, Peru. Hildebrand?s video was chosen because it creatively demonstrated a variety of ways to use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard to create a better classroom experience for both students and teachers. View his winning video.
"World Teachers´ Day focuses our attention on teachers everywhere who devote themselves to developing the minds of the next generation," says Nancy Knowlton, SMART?s CEO. "The entries we received in our first video contest last year demonstrated the desire teachers have to share their experiences of teaching with SMART Board interactive whiteboards and showcased the improvement SMART products are making in teaching and learning in classrooms around the world."

Contest details

The contest is open to K?12, and primary and secondary teachers worldwide, in both public and private education.

SMART´s World Teachers´ Day Video Contest 2007 began on March 15, 2007 and closes on June 21. Winners will be announced on WTD, October 5. Prizes will be distributed to winners from five global regions consisting of Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and North America. The total value of all prize packages for the video contest is more than US$20,000. Seventy-five finalists (fifteen per region) will receive an iPod shuffle. Of the seventy-five finalists, five regional winners will receive a SMART Board interactive whiteboard
(one winner per region). Of the five regional winners, one global winner will be selected and will receive an all inclusive trip to attend the BETT 2008 education trade show in London, England. Full contest rules and details are available at www.smarttech.com/wtd. Some restrictions may apply.

About SMART

SMART Technologies Inc. is both the industry pioneer and global education market segment leader in easy-to-use interactive whiteboards and other group collaboration tools. The award-winning SMART Board interactive whiteboard is the most widely installed interactive whiteboard in the world. Many school jurisdictions have standardized on the product, which is used to provide interactive learning opportunities and enhance student achievement. The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is used to teach over 15 million students in more than 450,000 classrooms spanning every U.S. state, every Canadian province, every Local Authority in the UK and in more than 100 countries worldwide. SMART products also include interactive pen displays, interactive digital signage, wireless slates and software. Using SMART products, teachers can access and share the information they need to improve student learning outcomes and streamline lesson planning. SMART´s education customers include New York City Board of Education (U.S.), Oxford University (UK), Kobe City Board of Education (Japan), Barnier Public School (Australia), University of Ottawa (Canada), United World College (Singapore), Stephen-Hawking-Schule Neckargemuend (Germany), Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (U.S.) and Harvard University (U.S.).

SMART is a private company founded in 1987. Employing more than 800 people, SMART is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with assembly facilities in Ontario, and offices in Bonn, Tokyo, Shanghai, New York City, Chicago and Washington DC. SMART has been issued and maintains a broad portfolio of patents with numerous U.S., Canadian and other patents pending. In 1992, SMART formed a strategic alliance with Intel Corporation that resulted in joint product development and marketing efforts, and Intel?s equity ownership in the company. SMART products are sold through dealers across North America and distributors worldwide. To learn more about SMART as a company as well as SMART products and programs visit www.smarttech.com and www.education.smarttech.com.

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Highest Death toll of recent such shooting rampages

With 33 people dead, the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech yesterday became the worst such incident in recent U.S. history.

The death toll exceeds the 24 killed at a Luby´s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, on Oct. 16, 1991, and the shooting deaths of 22 at a McDonald´s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif., on July 18, 1984 and the Columbine School Shooting in Littleton, Colo., injuring as many as 20 students and killing 15, including the two gunmen on April 20, 1999.
But the Virginia Tech killings also join a long list of multiple slayings on school campuses.

Virginia shooting spree sparks school-safety concerns and concerns of copy-cats around the country. Organizations review procedures after gunman kills 32 in Virginia
Universities, Schools, colleges and other organizations took stock of their own safety and security procedures after news of the deadly Virginia Tech shootings spread to campuses across the country yesterday which rattled some staff, students and other faculty.
Students are looking at this and (are) kind of terrified, wondering Can this happen here? said a Student Government Association President at a local University. It´s a horrible situation that we have to deal with, but hopefully students will continue to feel safe.

Keys To Safer Schools.com
Detection and Prevention of School Violence

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The Bridge of Vocabulary From Pearson Assessments Honored as Finalist in Association of Educational Publishers 2007 Distinguished Achievement Awards

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.–April 17, 2007–Pearson Assessments today announced that The Bridge of Vocabulary, the only explicit vocabulary intervention program tied to evidence-based research and curriculum standards and developed for both general and special educators, is a finalist in two categories of the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) 2007 Distinguished Achievement Awards Program. The product is honored in the "Curriculum: Reading and Language Arts Teaching Resources: Activity Books Category" for both grades 6-8 and 9-12.

The Distinguished Achievement Awards recognize the best educational materials–such as books, periodicals, educational toys and software–within subject categories and by audience. The 2007 AEP award winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet and Gala on Tuesday, June 12, in Washington, D.C.

Developed by Judy K. Montgomery, Ph.D., professor of special education and literacy at Chapman University, Orange, Calif., The Bridge of Vocabulary is brief, focused and flexible and directly links specific vocabulary intervention with a research-based strategy and presents a systematic, intensive approach to help foster vocabulary and language growth. The Bridge of Vocabulary targets five age levels, from preschoolers through adult learners. Early learners use pictures to help them grasp early vocabulary concepts, elementary students use both oral and written activities, and older learners use reasoning skills to master abstract vocabulary concepts.

"The Bridge of Vocabulary offers both general and special education professionals a systematic, intensive approach for fostering vocabulary and language growth in students of all ages," said Carol Watson, executive vice president and publisher, Pearson Assessments. "We are proud to have this one-of-a-kind tool for vocabulary intervention recognized by the education publishing industry."

The activities in The Bridge of Vocabulary provide a continuum of resources that match all tiers of the Response to Intervention (RTI) framework by providing vocabulary building interventions that can be used with an entire class, small groups of students and to meet individual student learning needs. In addition, because it is designed for use by both general educators and special education teachers, The Bridge of Vocabulary fosters the type of collaboration that the new federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act encourages.

The book includes more than 100 professional-led activities, all of which have been field-tested by classroom teachers and speech-language pathologists. An accompanying CD-ROM offers more than 600 additional guided practice activities, independent practice, word cards and picture cards. For more information on The Bridge of Vocabulary, visit www.PearsonAssessments.com or call (800) 627-7271.

About AEP

The Association of Educational Publishers (AEP), founded in 1895, is a national, nonprofit association devoted to serving and advancing the supplemental and educational publishing industry. Its membership represents the many facets of the educational publishing community including publishers, service providers, nonprofit associations, schools, researchers and freelance contributors. With the rapid growth of new educational technologies, AEP members are at the forefront of delivering progressive, educational products and services that address individual learning needs and differences. Please visit www.AEPWeb.org for more information.

About Pearson Assessments

Pearson Assessments (www.PearsonAssessments.com ) provides assessment instruments and data capture tools and technologies for use in education, business and health care settings. Backed by a half century of knowledge and expertise, Pearson Assessments–integrating Pearson NCS and the assessment division of AGS Publishing with the original Pearson Assessments business–offers products and services to deliver the accurate, reliable and usable information that professionals seek. Pearson Assessments is a business of Pearson Education (www.pearsoned.com), the world´s largest integrated education company, which in turn is part of Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the international media company. Pearson´s other primary operations include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.

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Despite the Digital Age, the Library is Not in Danger of Extinction

COLUMBIA, Mo.–Most people would describe it as the place full of books, periodicals, CDs and DVDs. While part of that definition may have been true several years ago, it is outdated, as today´s library is offering a variety of services. One University of Missouri-Columbia professor claims the library is far from being extinct and is actually a portal to an unending wealth of information.

"When television came into homes, people who previously read books also started watching TV, but they still kept reading. People do not trade one medium for another," said Doug Raber, associate professor in the MU College of Education and School of Information Sciences and Learning Technologies outreach coordinator. "The introduction of new technologies, such as the Internet, will cause libraries to adapt and will bring new users into the library."

The American Library Association (ALA) reports that the majority of libraries in the United States have Internet access. According to Raber, libraries usual incur the cost of subscriptions to Internet databases and academic journals to bring these services to their patrons for free. This is access to information that most people cannot get just from simply surfing the Web at home. Librarians also provide guidance and knowledge about where to find information.

"The library also presents itself as a neutral space for many meetings and gatherings," Raber said. "Literacy programs for adult learners often take place in libraries. A school may seem more intimidating to them than the library, since that may have been a place where they did not experience success."

The National Center for Education Statistics found that 30 million adults in America have below basic literacy skills, including seven million who are considered to be non-literate in English. Ninety-four percent of public libraries serving more than 5,000 people provide literacy services, and 75 percent of public libraries partner with other agencies and organizations in their communities to provide adult literacy services.

In the survey conducted for the ALA and The Campaign for America´s Libraries, Americans named the four most important characteristics or services of public libraries as being that the services are free (79 percent) and that the library "is a place where I can learn for a lifetime" (71 percent), "enhances my education" (65 percent) and "provides information for school and work" (65 percent). Moreover, three-quarters of respondents strongly agreed that because it provides free access to materials and resources, the public library plays an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed.

"The School of Information Sciences & Learning Technologies at MU is committed to graduating librarians prepared to use traditional sources and new technologies to ensure that everyone gets this chance," Raber said.

Laptop Institute Announces its School Spotlight Award Recipient

The Laptop Institute–the K-12 conference for 1 to 1 programs–announces the School Spotlight program. Beginning at the July 15-17 event in Memphis, Tennessee, the Laptop Institute will recognize 1 to 1 programs that have led the way both with innovation and expertise. These programs have effected change across the school, with administrators and faculty as well as technology staff members committed to teaching effectively with laptops and tablets. Their classrooms demonstrate best practices in information literacy and emerging technologies, serving models and mentors for fellow schools locally and nationally (and often internationally). Spotlight schools bring a cadre of teachers, administrators, and tech staff to the Laptop Institute and offer a strand of sessions each day that provide an in-depth look at an exceptional program in action.

This year, the Laptop Institute is pleased to spotlight The Urban School of San Francisco.

Urban´s laptop program has attracted attention from educators from due to the school´s highly integrated approach to technology which is purposefully holistic: technology skills and related computer projects are integrated throughout the curriculum to foster active, student-centered learning. At Urban, technology is used to enhance communication, collaboration, organization, and production (writing and project creation) in all classes rather than taught as a discrete subject. This de-emphasizes the specialization of computer technology as use becomes seamless, ubiquitous, and normal. Rather than directly training students on computer and application use, students instead "learn as they go," relying on their own inquisitiveness, peer support, and mini-lessons from teachers where necessary.

All students and teachers are issued their own state-of-the-art laptop computers for school and home use. Student computers (currently Apple MacBooks) come fully installed with all the programs used throughout the curriculum such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Macromedia MX Suite, Inspiration, iStopMotion and several other programs used in math and sciences. The school has witnessed an explosion of laptop use in all discipline areas without the need for teacher mandates or minimum use expectations.

For additional information, contact Lorrie Jackson (ljackson@lausanneschool.com) or visit www.laptopinstitute.com.

About the Laptop Institute–The Laptop Institute is an international conference of K-12 educators interested in 1 to 1 programs. The Institute is held each summer in Memphis, Tennessee (USA) on the campus of Lausanne Collegiate School.

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ANGEL Learning Creates Second Life Experience Open to Public for Virtual World Experimentation

Indianapolis, Ind.–April 17, 2007–A cooperative effort between the product development team at ANGEL Learning and the SLED (Second Life Educators community) has produced a virtual experience within the popular Second Life virtual world designed for educational experimentation. The Island, known as "ANGEL Learning Isle," will open to the public May 15th.

"ANGEL Learning Isle was built specifically for experimentation in the use of virtual collaboration technologies in online learning," said Ray Henderson, chief products officer, ANGEL Learning. "Our first goal was to create a place for faculty and learners new to Second Life to get their bearings and practice new navigational and communication skills."

A key first stop for faculty and students on ANGEL Learning Isle is "SLED Orientation Garden." Created in collaboration with the Second Life Educators community, this space introduces basic navigation and camera controls to new users. "The SLED Orientation Garden is the perfect place to take faculty or students who are new to Second Life for a first experience," said Brett Bixler, lead instructional designer & manager, Instructional Support and Research, Educational Technology Services, The Pennsylvania State University.

After gaining basic navigational skills, ANGEL Learning Isle contains space to practice those skills. Standing on a virtual boardwalk educators simply press a button to generate a virtual classroom complete with slideshow tools. In the "SLED Educators Gallery" instructional designers and educators will find a variety of tools created by members of the SLED community along with instructions on how to copy them for their own use. A "hub" experience lists other islands built by educators for those interested in touring Second Life.

For those who want to build their own tools or spaces in Second Life ANGEL Learning Isle offers the "SLED Sandbox." Similar to the Orientation Garden, this area informs instructional designers and educators on the basic principles of building objects in Second Life. "Newbies to SL can immediately learn the basic grammar and manipulation of building blocks called prims," said Sarah Intellagirl Robbins, SLED project manager for the project. "Building virtual dominoes and toppling them over may seem odd, but it´s a great way to learn construction and the basic physics within SL."

ANGEL´s interests in Second Life also include creating a future presence for extending the ANGEL learning platforms. "Teaching and learning technologies are constantly evolving," said Christopher Clapp, ANGEL Learning president and CEO. "We see it as part of our mission to lead in the discovery of how to best use new technologies for learning. I´ll suggest the ANGEL community stay tuned. We hope to learn from this experiment how we can meaningfully connect our learning platforms to this new collaborative space."

To view a brief movie of ANGEL Learning Isle click here.

To visit ANGEL in Second Life: ANGEL Learning Isle will open to the public May 15th. Search for ANGEL Learning Isle using the search utility in Second Life, www.secondlife.com. Educators who want to learn from the shared experiences of other educators in Second Life or who have questions about how to best use Second Life with educational projects, are invited to start here: https://lists.secondlife.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/educators.

About ANGEL Learning

ANGEL Learning, Inc. develops and markets enterprise elearning software. Our flagship products are the ANGEL Learning Management Suite and the ANGEL ePortfolio system. Our products have been honed by use–with millions of students and instructors served from K to corporate. We enjoy a reputation for creating products with exceptional ease of use, excellent vision into learner progress and for keeping our commitments. ANGEL LMS received the 2006 Software & Information Industry Association CODiE award for Best Postsecondary Course Management Solution. Educators ranked ANGEL first in customer satisfaction in the IMS GLC Learn-Sat awards. Having emerged from the academy ourselves, our core values reflect those of our customers well. ANGEL world headquarters is in Indianapolis, Indiana. To learn more about the ANGEL difference, visit us at www.angellearning.com.

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New technology speeds P2P file transfers

EARTHtimes.org reports that a new peer-to-peer network technology currently under development in the United States could drastically increase file transfer speeds. The technology, named "Similarity-Enhanced Transfer" (SET), looks for so-called "data chunks" that are similar to what is needed for download. This new technology increases transfer speeds by as much as five times when compared to existing techniques…

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/51800.html

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Tools to keep the web safe for children

The New York Times reports that a recent telephone survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 53 percent of parents said they used web filters and 45 percent said they employed monitoring devices. Web filters allow parents to control access to web content in various ways. One can filter by "blacklist," forbidding access based on categories. Or, one can filter by "white list," only allowing access to specifically approved web sites. However, according to Danielle Yates, a spokeswoman for GetNetWise.org, filtering is not a "silver bullet," as bad stuff does get through. One step beyond filtering is monitoring software. While these programs can also block web access, it is really only the beginning. These programs can log activity, enforce time limits on computer use, alert parents of inappropriate computer activity, and even read details of instant-messaging chats…

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/14/technology/14shortcuts.html?ex=1177387200&en=893aaf7a402bad51&ei=5070&emc=eta1

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Editorial: Repeaters, not reporters

The efficacy of math and reading software has been maligned around the world as the result of careless, inappropriate, and misguided news reports about a study paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The Bush Administration was the proximate cause of this disservice, but so-called reporters supplied the megaphone. All in all, the spectacle was enough to make me want to burn my press pass.

One would have hoped editors and reporters might have learned by now that swallowing whole what comes out of Washington can lead to journalistic indigestion. But it doesn’t look like they’ve absorbed this basic lesson.

Indeed, if any conclusions at all could be drawn from the research released so far, the study boils down to some pretty unspectacular findings, as were cogently enumerated by Computerworld’s senior news columnist Frank Hayes:

•Educational software doesn’t automatically improve test scores;

•Educational software works better when class sizes are smaller; and

•Educational software works better when kids use it more.

At one point, the study itself reveals this astonishing fact: "For a typical 180-day school year, average daily usage is about 10 minutes for all products combined."

Hmm … Using math or reading software for 10 minutes a day doesn’t boost test scores. Or, as Hayes put it: This software doesn’t work … unless you use it.

A valuable insight, to be sure. But we might be excused for asking if that revelation really is worth every penny of the $10 million U.S. taxpayers had to pay for it.

Now, look: ED was irresponsible to release such a half-baked study. The department should have known how its findings would be misused. But at least the study itself contained caveats aplenty.

In fact, speaking of the report, Phoebe Cottingham, the head of ED’s research agency, confided this to eSchool News: "I think it’s premature to draw any kind of conclusions … we don’t feel we’re done yet, and the rest of the world shouldn’t consider that we’re done."

One might tremble at the prospect that there’s more of this sort of thing to come. But Cottingham’s admonition did nothing to dissuade the Fourth Estate from plastering erroneous conclusions all over newspapers, television stations, and web sites.

Sadly, most of these news organizations didn’t bother to delve below the punch lines of the news release. Here’s just a sampling of the kind of negligent messages readers around the world were subjected to after ED released its study:

CNN: Study: No benefit going high-tech for math and reading

China Post (Taiwan): Software has no major impact on student performance: study

Fox News: Study: Computers in Classrooms Don’t Make Kids Smarter

The Age (Australia): No benefit to adding math and science software products to classrooms, study says

USA Today: Software doesn’t help hard numbers of math, science scores [Poor USA Today couldn’t even manage to read the lead of its own story before writing that headline. The USA Today story, of course, actually cites math and reading scores, not science.]

Gulf News (United Arab Emirates): No benefit by adding math software to classrooms

Boston Globe, Business Week, Forbes: Study: Test scores unmoved by technology

WIFR-TV (Freeport–Rockford, Ill.): Education Technology Isn’t Helping

And here, in case you’re wondering, was our own headline for this debacle (see Ed-tech research under fire, http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=6964).

Turns out, that headline of ours was overly optimistic. Knowledgeable observers had plenty to dispute with ED’s work (see Major study questions value of school software, http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=7011), but skepticism in the general press was as rare as socks on a chicken.

The news media at large were gullible, incurious, and downright lazy. They took PR punch lines that defy common sense and mindlessly repeated them. The ill effects of their sloth likely will undermine education efforts for years to come–as latter-day Luddites, imbeciles, yahoos, and cheapskates wave accounts of this so-called "research" whenever legislative sessions and school board meetings convene to consider technology expenditures.

The whole fiasco is a dirty shame. But that’s what happens when the reporters and editors we rely on for news and analysis become nothing but repeaters.

Links:

Ed study of software effectiveness (PDF)
http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pdf/20074005.pdf

"Major study questions value of school software"
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=7011

"Ed-tech research under fire"
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=6964

"Report: Ed tech has proven effective"
http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showstory.cfm?ArticleID=6671

eSN-TV interview on ed-tech research
http://www.eschoolnews.com/video/?v=166&c=10&f=204&cb=1176668245312

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