Stakeholders advise on national ed-tech plan

internetresizedTrain every pre-service teacher to teach online in teacher-education programs at colleges and universities; invest in the development of open courseware with federal and state funding; encourage the use of technology to create new forms of assessment that better measure student learning gains; provide national standards for school IT support, with recommendations for optimal staffing levels and required skill sets: These are some of the many recommendations the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has received so far as officials prepare a new National Education Technology Plan.

ED is accepting public feedback as it develops the new plan. A department spokesman did not know how long the public comment period would remain open, saying only that ED hopes to release the new plan in early 2010.

As of press time, more than 200 comments had been submitted to, the new plan’s web site. Many posts simply describe a particular education technology product, resource, or initiative that school stakeholders should know about. But some posts offer specific suggestions for federal officials to consider as they draft the new plan.

One set of recommendations comes from Susan Patrick, the person who oversaw creation of the last national ed-tech plan. That was in 2004, when Patrick was director of ED’s Office of Education Technology. (See “ED outlines new tech priorities.”) Patrick now heads the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and her comments urge ED officials to consider ways to expand online-learning opportunities to more students.

“Online course enrollments are growing at 30 percent annually, but fall short of [student] demand,” Patrick writes. “National surveys show that the [percentage] of [middle and high school] students [who] are interested in taking an online course is 40 percent. … [That’s] far more than the 2 million enrollments today. Outdated laws, policies, teacher preparation, professional development, and funding models limit student choices … made possible through online learning.”

To address these shortcomings, Patrick recommends that the new plan:

– Call for teacher-education programs at colleges and universities to train every pre-service teacher to teach online.

– Provide incentives for portability of credits among institutions and across state lines to support virtual learning.

– Provide incentives for true reciprocity of teacher professional licensure for online teaching.

– Encourage states to expand online-learning opportunities for students by making this a requirement for federal innovation and ed-tech funding.

– Invest in the development of open courses and curriculum with federal and state funding.

– Finish the job of ensuring ubiquitous internet access in schools and at home.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop submitted a white paper that describes how investing in technology tools, network access, professional development, and personalized curricula can help schools address ED’s reform goals and meet the needs of 21st-century learners.

In a section titled “Using Technology for New Assessments and Family Engagement in Learning,” the paper encourages the use of technology to create new forms of assessment that better measure student progress.

For example, “parents and teachers need to document the progress students make as they learn to read,” the paper notes. “Traditionally, this might be done using a ‘running record.’ As a supplement or possible alternative to this process, educators can use a camera and microphone connected to a notebook computer to record the student reading text from the screen (or a book). These data [would] become part of the student record [or] portfolio and can drive progress.”

In another section, titled “What Schools and Districts Should Do for Title I Students,” the paper recommends that at-risk students should take part in a technology-rich summer school program, “so they can avoid the ‘summertime slump’ that tends to victimize low-income children and contribute to the achievement gap.”

Although the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University says two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap can be attributed entirely to differences in summer learning opportunities, “most states and districts have not made summer learning a priority,” the paper says. “A superb resource for summer-school program information, including ways to integrate learning technologies, is available at”

Esther Wojcicki, chair of the Creative Commons project, notes that teacher professional development needs to be made more relevant–and the new National Education Technology Plan can help encourage this transformation.

“I work in a district where the only professional development is done like it was 20 years ago–lecture method to tired teachers,” Wojcicki writes. “There needs to be some kind of monetary incentive for districts to try new digital approaches that would individualize instruction for teachers and make it more useful and relevant.”

Tom Steele, director of technology for the Manteno Community Unit School District No. 5 in Illinois, observes that K-12 schools “continue to lag in recognizing the importance of a skilled, qualified technical staff. All this wonderful technology only works when a reliable, robust infrastructure is in place to support it. Many K-12 districts still have the mindset that you can take someone skilled in curriculum (i.e., a classroom teacher) and expect [that person] to have the technical expertise to manage what, in private industry, would be considered a medium to large IT operation with hundreds or thousands of computers and users.”
To help combat this misperception, Steele writes, the new plan should include “an infrastructure support aspect with recommendations for staffing levels, skill sets required, etc. This information would be useful both for districts maintaining their own staff and for those choosing to outsource.”
One anonymous poster advocated for the creation of a national “virtual library” with resources that are age-appropriate for K-12 students.

“It seems to me that much of the problem concerning lack of [technology] use in elementary schools centers around fear of the global, uncontrollable internet in the hands of young children,” the commenter writes. “Is it possible to create an ‘educational internet,’ much like an online library, only better, that excludes the [inappropriate content] to which parents so strongly object–and which would free teachers to have some technology access … in their classrooms?”

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for school district technology leaders, made several recommendations that address the infrastructure needs of K-12 schools.

“As we create a vision for the next generation of technology in education, we must address the infrastructure necessary to sustain it,” CoSN writes. “The vision for learning, assessment, and teaching with technology assumes seamless, reliable access to networks and computing devices. It assumes applications are intuitive, easy to learn, and responsive to changing needs. It assumes information is secure, integrated, and authentic. To become reality, this vision requires a comprehensive technology infrastructure with massive scalability and micro adaptability.”

To achieve equitable access to technology in schools, CoSN argues, the new national ed-tech plan must “be more specific” about what is meant by terms such as broadband internet access, digital learning devices, and distribution and storage systems–as well as “the human capital required for planning, implementation, and management in these areas.”

Traditionally, CoSN says, schools have measured technology access in terms of computers per students and broadband access per school site. But “the American Digital Schools report makes a convincing argument for calculating network capacity needs per pupil rather than per school to plan for capacity requirements,” the organization writes. “A per-pupil measure ensures that all students in all schools have equitable access to digital resources, advanced and specialized learning opportunities, and peer-to-peer communications.”

CoSN also observes that many districts have stretched their IT resources and achieved success by leveraging the computing power students bring with them to school and by storing data in the “cloud.”

“School districts historically keep their networks closed and private,” the group writes. “It is time for districts to take advantage of the scale and diversity of the entire U.S. public education system to open systems and to engage in massive, small-scale development and cross-boundary sharing to let the best applications proliferate.”

In addition, the new national ed-tech plan should make education technology a stronger budget priority, CoSN says. The group recommends raising the annual e-Rate funding cap and indexing it for inflation, as well as restoring Enhancing Education Through Technology (Title II, Part D) funding to its fully authorized amount.

“Although these are a challenging times to be arguing for new investments in technology for schools, we have an opportunity like no other to transform the enterprise of education with educational technology … if we have the leadership, vision, and policies to make it happen,” CoSN concludes.

To read all the suggestions for the plan, or to leave your own comments, go to


USA Today tests online edition at colleges

Penn State, Indiana, and Missouri universities are the first schools to participate in a USA Today initiative meant to test how students respond to electronic versions of printed newspapers.

The "e-Edition" is free for students, faculty, and staff at the participating schools. USA Today says it’s identical to the newspaper’s print edition but with additional interactive and exclusive content. For instance, the Penn State edition, which officially launched last week, includes a university-themed story selected and written by the school.

Newspapers across the country have been searching for new sources of revenue and readership as they battle the explosion of free online news sources. While newspapers typically make their web sites available for free, many have been selling access to digital replicas of print editions. Students could be a key target group for these products, given the comfort they’ve had growing up with the internet and technology, analysts say.

Students must remember to go to the e-Edition web site each day, or sign up for a daily eMail newsletter that would link to the stories, said Bill Mahon, vice president of university relations at Penn State.

Penn State was picked as a partner because it was the first school to have a program promoting newspaper readership among college students in 1997, Mahon said. USA Today still is involved in that program.

USA Today last month reported the worst erosion in readership in its 27-year history, dropping more than 17 percent to an average circulation of 1.9 million. It was surpassed as the nation’s top-selling newspaper by The Wall Street Journal, whose average Monday through Friday circulation rose slightly to 2.02 million–making it the only daily newspaper in the top 25 to gain readers.


USA TODAY e-Edition


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Have you got what it takes?

The wait is finally over, Saturday nights will no longer be dull and boring and there’s finally a good excuse to stay in. ITV has finally brought back the show of all shows, the show that grips the whole nation, the show that makes us laugh and cry…that’s right, The X Factor is back!

In celebration of this fantastic news, the team at GettingPersonal have added some fantastic official X Factor merchandise to their music gifts range and the Personalised X Factor Calendar is the perfect gift for any fan of the hit show.

Ever fancied yourself as a singing superstar? Well now you can see how it feels to have your name up in lights for all to see with this fantastic Personalised Calendar. This amazing gift will see the name of your choice spelt out within each of the stunning X Factor themed images and the front cover that will also display a personalised message of your choice.

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Steam showers – the therapeutic form of Bathroom Showers


All of us are quite familiar with steam showers. These are therapeutic to the core and relax the body and mind by formulating many exhilarating effects. Suitable for skin and mental faculties, Steam showers are a rage in the realm of Bathroom Showers. One would define it as taking a shower with steam rather than water. Inducing the luxury of a spa shower, the steam bathing is very distressing.


The numerous benefits it provides include detoxifying the body from harmful pollutants, making skin soft and supple, enhancing the immune system by increase in the white blood cells count and weight loss. Also, it can cure respiratory diseases like coughing, bronchitis, common cold, asthma, influenza and allergies of many forms. With many health benefits that ultimately reflect in one’s over all well being, steam showers are an apt choice for one and all. Removing the access toxins induces rejuvenation in the body and energizes one to the hilt.


The basic mechanism that works behind it is when the body gets rid of majority toxins, the stress levels in the mind diminishes. A stress free mind generates equilibrium between physical and mental health and have a positive effect on the total well being. Thus, washing out all unhealthy ingredients from the body through steam generates complete health and that is what steam shower accomplishes.


Suitable for all age groups that is all the family members, As a bathroom shower, steam shower is the best rejuvenating experience. So, if you have ailing patients in the family or otherwise then electing a well equipped Steam Shower would be a wise decision.




Two New Members Accepted into E-Rate Management Professionals Association

ADA, OKLA. (Nov. 16, 2009) – E-rate Management Professionals Association, Inc. (E-mpa™), an organization dedicated to promoting ethics in E-rate consulting, has formally accepted Clarity Solutions, Inc. and E-Rate Complete, LLC into its membership.

“These new members have demonstrated their dedication to quality and ethical practices in the E-rate program,” said John Harrington, E-mpa President and CEO of Funds For Learning, LLC.  “We are pleased to see that there is a continuing movement amongst E-rate consulting firms to establish high ethical standards in the field.”

As a requirement for acceptance in E-mpa, members must abide by a self-governing code of ethics that work to strengthen and support the E-rate program.  By maintaining high professional standards, developing and promoting best practices, and requiring ethical conduct for all members, E-mpa sets the standard in excellence and ethics in E-rate professional consulting.

“It is paramount for the schools, libraries and all of the stakeholders in the E-rate program that E-rate consulting firms not only abide by the federal and state regulations governing the program, but also govern themselves and their professional conduct,” said E-mpa Vice President and founder of E-Rate Central, Winston Himsworth.  “Client compliance in the program is our top priority, but it is also important to maintain high levels of integrity by making recommendations with the client’s best interests in mind.” 
For more information about E-mpa, visit

About E-mpa™
Established in 2008, E-mpa strives to strengthen and support the E-rate program by acting as a self-certifying body of E-rate consulting professionals.  E-mpa provides online resources to its diverse and experienced membership along with a forum for discussion and development of best practices in the management of the Universal Services Discount Mechanism for Schools and Libraries (E rate).  The organization provides a collective voice for discussing issues relevant to its members and proposed program changes to the E-rate program.  The talent and experience of the organization’s network of consultants provides a superior resource to help members increase value to their clients, enhance effectiveness of client organizations, and generally aid the advancement of its members and other organizations having related objectives.  E-mpa will also provide certification for E-rate consulting professionals that affirm quality standards of technical competence and professional conduct. For more information, please visit

About E-rate
The Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, more commonly known as E-rate, is overseen by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the guidance of the Federal Communications Commission. The E-rate program provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States in obtaining affordable telecommunication services and Internet access.

# # #

For more information, contact:
–John Harrington, E-mpa, 405-471-0900
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., 608-839-9806 or


Key Curriculum Press Releases The Geometer’s Sketchpad Version 5

Emeryville, Calif. (Nov. 16, 2009) – With the release of The Geometer’s Sketchpad® Version 5 for download and purchase, Key Curriculum Press® publisher Steve Rasmussen has set out on an international tour to introduce Sketchpad Version 5 to vendors and publishing partners in Asia.  His itinerary includes Kuwait, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, and China.  “It’s going to be a thrill to share our outstanding new product with them,” Rasmussen said.

Students at more than half of U.S. high schools use Sketchpad, a software program designed to boost mathematical understanding through dynamic, interactive visualization.  Effective in elementary school through college, Sketchpad Version 5 offers new features and updates to help support a hands-on, visual approach to mathematics in the classroom.

Expanded algebra and geometry capabilities allow teachers and students to explore an even broader variety of subjects, while improved presentation capabilities offer a faster, clearer and more dynamic demonstration tool.  Sketchpad Version 5 also lets users import and transform any image with reflection, rotation, dilation, and more.  The new Learning Center, with introductory videos, step-by-step tutorials, classroom-ready activities, and student-friendly tips in comics and videos, makes it easy for teachers to use Sketchpad Version 5.

Current Sketchpad users who would like to learn more about what’s new in Version 5 can register for the following webinar:
Thursday, November 19, at 7 p.m. (Eastern)

To support teachers’ use of Sketchpad in the classroom, Key Curriculum Press offers Sketchpad LessonLink™, which recently won an Award of Excellence from Tech & Learning magazine.  Sketchpad LessonLink is an online, searchable library aligned to leading math textbooks and state standards.  The offering helps teachers integrate Sketchpad into their math curriculum with more than 500 activities designed for students in grades 3-12.  Powerful search options make it easy for teachers to find a relevant Sketchpad activity to reinforce current skills or illustrate new concepts with dynamic, visual exploration.

A single-user license for Sketchpad Version 5 is $69.95.  School licenses start as low as $15 per computer, depending on the number of computers licensed.  Upgrade pricing is also available.  Now through December 15, 2009, anyone who orders or upgrades to Sketchpad Version 5 will receive a free subscription to Sketchpad LessonLink, worth up to $799.

For more information on Sketchpad Version 5 or Sketchpad LessonLink, visit

About Key Curriculum Press
Key Curriculum Press develops effective, high-quality mathematics and science educational materials.  The company is a leading publisher of inquiry-based textbooks, software and supplemental materials for elementary, middle and high school students.  In addition, Key Curriculum Press offers professional development workshops and online courses to provide mathematics and science educators with the training, experience and support they need to incorporate effective teaching strategies.  The company was founded by mathematics educators in 1971 and is headquartered in Emeryville, Calif.  For more information, visit or phone 800-995-6284.

# # #

For more information, contact:
–Leigh Muzlsay Browne, Key Curriculum Press, 510-595-7000 ext. 126 or
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, 608-839-9800 or


Dukane Audio Visual to offer Coretronic products

Dukane Audio Visual ( is expanding its DLP data projector line in partnership with Coretronic, the largest DLP projector manufacturer in the world. Dukane Audio Visual (St. Charles, IL.) currently offers a selection of more than 25 data projectors. The Dukane line includes portable and mounted products for classroom and boardroom use, a series of short throw projectors as well as its line of professional level projectors designed for auditoriums and larger venues.

Dukane’s partnership with Coretronic will be focused on expanding its DLP projector line. Dukane Audio Visual sells extensively to clients in education, business and the religious venue market. “It is our objective to offer our customers the most complete line of products possible. Partnership with a manufacturer the quality of Coretronic is key to our continued growth in our target markets,” says Jim Locascio, President of Dukane Audio Visual.

One of the first Coretronic products to be offered by Dukane will be a 2600 ANSI lumens projector with XGA (1024 X765) resolution, 3000:1 contrast ratio and RS-232 and RJ45 wireless connectivity. The new Dukane 8404 data projector features DLP technology by Texas Instruments to provide a bright, portable projector with remote control.

For more information on the Dukane partnership with Coretronic (, product imagery or other requests please contact Dukane Audio Visual at 1.866.280.4298.

Dukane Audio Visual is a division of Dukane Corporation, whose subsidiaries include Dukane Intelligent Assembly Solutions.

For information contact
Christopher Cudworth            
Phone: 630.762.4045 <>



Archdiocese of Boston Schools Turns to Pearson for Powerful Assessments to Support Tradition of Academic Excellence


BOSTON – Nov. 16, 2009 – The Catholic Schools Office (CSO) of the  Archdiocese of Boston, as part of its commitment to academic excellence, announced an initiative that will use a powerful assessment and data analysis tool from the education and technology company, Pearson. Beginning in March 2010, the 18,000 students in grade 2-8 throughout the Archdiocese will take the Stanford Achievement Tests 10 (Stanford 10), which will measure students’ knowledge in reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, giving their teachers access to data for customizing instruction for all students.  In addition, the CSO will administer Pearson’s Otis-Lennon School Ability Test®, Eighth Edition (OLSAT 8) in conjunction with the Stanford 10 so that educators can compare students’ performance across grade levels in their schools, giving them a complete picture of each student’s overall academic potential.

            The Stanford 10 from Pearson, considered the standard of excellence in achievement testing for more than 80 years, is supported by a powerful data reporting and analysis tool that will allow CSO educators to make timely, targeted instructional decisions. As a result, they will have a clear picture of the unique learning needs of all students so that they can help them achieve at their highest level.

"At Pearson, we believe that the true power of assessment is to inform instruction. When teachers and administrators have easy and immediate access to student test results, they have a window into the best strategies for improving learning for each and every student," said Mike Medernach, Pearson’s Vice President for Educational Assessments for New England. "Over the weeks and months to come, we will work closely with educators from the Catholic Schools Office to help them dig deep into the data they  receive from our assessments and use it to meet the unique learning needs of all of their students."

Key to the successful implementation of any new assessment program is professional development and Pearson will be the CSO’s partner as it introduces the Stanford 10 and OLSAT 8 and their capabilities to teachers. Using the train-the-trainer model, Pearson will work with teachers from across the Archdiocese to prepare them to administer the assessments and, more importantly, to develop strategies for using the resulting data to support classroom instruction.

“Academic excellence has always been a core part of the mission of the Archdiocese of Boston’s Catholic schools, and we are excited to be working on a new level with Pearson, whose curriculum programs for reading and math are also used in some of our classrooms,” said Secretary for Education/Superintendent Mary Grassa O’Neill.  “Pearson will help us build a comprehensive connection between assessment and instruction that will greatly benefit students and teachers.”

Students in the Archdiocese of Boston perform above grade level across the curriculum and Catholic school teachers and administrators receive topflight professional development opportunities throughout the year.  Bringing student achievement to ever higher levels is the primary reason that the Archdiocese’s Catholic Schools Office has engaged Pearson in this latest partnership.

The Catholic Schools Office undertook a year-long study of various testing and assessment options to come to its decision on the Stanford 10 and Pearson.  This process involved gathering both local and national input.  An assessment committee of 15 elementary school leaders, including principals, regional directors, and curriculum coordinators, developed recommendations and came up with a strategic assessment plan.

More information about the Stanford 10, OLSAT 8 and Pearson’s other assessment products is available at


About Pearson

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education and education technology, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about the Assessment group of Pearson, visit

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Archdiocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 2 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 292 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach and in support of a health care ministry that meets the needs of some 1 million patients each year.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit .


For more information, press only:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182,

Adam Gaber, Pearson, 800-745-8489,





Selling lessons online raises cash — and questions

Thousands of teachers are cashing in on a commodity they used to give away, selling their lesson plans online for extra money — a practice that has some officials questioning who owns material developed for public school classrooms, reports the New York Times. "To the extent that school district resources are used, then I think it’s fair to ask whether the district should share in the proceeds," said Robert N. Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. The marketplace for educational plans is too new to have generated policies or guidelines in most places. Beyond the unresolved legal questions, there are philosophical ones, too. Some say the practice cheapens what teachers do and undermines efforts to build sites where educators freely exchange ideas and lesson plans. Teachers like Erica Bohrer, though, see the new demand for lessons as long-awaited recognition of their worth. "Teaching can be a thankless job," said Bohrer, who has used the $650 she earned in the past year to add books to a reading nook in her first-grade classroom and to help with mortgage payments. "I put my hard-earned time and effort into creating these things, and I just would like credit."

Click here for the full story