Schools can strive to furnish students with computing devices and online education tools, but the purpose is defeated if students don't have high-speed Internet access in their homes.
The Central Unified School District in Fresno, Calif., is taking a novel approach to providing its 15,500 students with bandwidth. According to Director of Technology Services Luke Draper, the 21-school district plans to equip all students with ASUS tablets in the next school year and has struck a deal with a cellular provider to provide for 4G mobile broadband access.
E-Rate funding will pay for 80 percent of the Internet access costs; the remaining 20 percent will be covered in equal parts by the California Teleconnect Fund (a program of the California Public Utilities Commission) and by the district itself, at a monthly cost of about $3 per student.
"All the stars kind of aligned for us to do this: inexpensive tablets, the funding to reduce the cost of the data plans and providers willing to work with organizations like ourselves," Draper says.
Roughly 40 percent of CUSD's students don't have Internet access in their homes, adds Superintendent Mike Berg. Many are from low-income families, and others live in rural neighborhoods where broadband isn't available.
The tablets and Internet access will go a long way in evening out the playing field for the community's disadvantaged youth, Berg says. "We are bridging that digital divide by putting a device in everyone's hands and making sure they can leverage it to learn."
To comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act, the district's web filter vendor, Lightspeed Systems, is building software into the tablet's operating system that will ensure that all web traffic is filtered through the district. That, Draper says, will prevent students from accessing inappropriate materials.
In Colorado, meanwhile, the Boulder Valley School District has launched a pilot with the city's housing authority to provide free Internet access to students who live in low-income housing. Building Housing Partners (BHP) built a wireless network that connects to the district's fiber network, providing students with filtered Internet access in one low-income housing community, says Andrew Moore, BVSD's CIO.
The pilot launched this spring, and if it's successful, BVSD and BHP will extend the service and provide free Wi-Fi access to students who live in other low-income housing developments in the community, Moore says. "Learning environments need to be 24/7," he explains. "Our students can't go home and not have access."
Dr. Gordon Dahlby's insight:
80%... an interesting number. Wonder what constitutes that calculation for USAC?
The Hudson Board of Education approved a plan that will provide all secondary students access to a Chromebook of their own by 2017.
The One to One Chromebook Initiative will begin in fall 2014 with Chromebook tablets being made available to all sixth-graders and HHS students in the STEM+ Academy...
Dr. Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Confused by "reallocation of an AV technician to technology technician from 192 days to 250 and a .5 technology support position specific to Chromebooks and infrastructure related to one-to-one systems."
Opposite of Google sales pitches and sponsored webinars. Plus...if not kids or staff, why 58 more work days plus another part timer?
6 Best Cloud-Based Technologies Uses in the ClassroomGroup Projects Group projects used to require you to do all of your work in school, or take a trip to the group leader's house. Not so anymore. Cloud-based programs, many of which are available for free, allow multiple users to work on the same projects simultaneously, each from the comfort of their own homes. For projects that can be completed in a digital format, like reports and power point presentations, these tools can be invaluable.
Classrooms Imagine being able to learn a foreign language directly from a native speaker, without ever having to leave the country. Cloud-based classroom environments can do this and more. Say you're taking a class in French. What better way to learn than to set up a webcam in your classroom and another one in a classroom in Paris. The English-speaking students can learn French from native speakers, and the French-speakers can learn English the same way. This could also be used to bring teachers into environments where they could otherwise not go, via webcams and microphones. Furthermore, some eLearning websites are social media friendly. For example, at Ratatype young typists can compete in typing speed and accuracy with their Facebook friends.
Mobile Access Never worry about missing an email or an assignment again. Cloud-based classroom tools have the added bonus of mobile access, keeping people connected wherever they may go. Teachers can create assignments and projects, and students can access and work on them from a smart phone or other compatible mobile device. People are constantly connected thanks to the popularity of mobile devices.
Lectures Programs like SideVibe allow instructors to build interactive lectures and lesson plans on top of already existing websites. Students can visit a customized URL to view the lesson, and teachers and students can interact from home without ever having to visit the classroom at all.
Educational Technology in the Classroom Educational Technology has advanced to a point where it has become very common in the classroom. Many schools have installed touch-sensitive smart boards in place of the traditional white board. These boards allow the teacher to create customized lessons complete with animations and videos, and play them from an iPad or other mobile device all without the need for a computer or a bulky overhead projector. Specialized stylus style pens allow the students and teachers to draw directly on the board. Students can complete a math or science problem and be rewarded with an animation or a cheering sound effect. All of this is only possible because of the adoption of cloud-based technologies at the classroom level.
Classroom and Student Management Long gone are the days of paper referrals and hand written requests for class changes. Cloud based programs like LiveSchool easily replace all of this, allowing the information for all the currently enrolled students to be kept in a single digital cloud. Instead of digging through a dusty overfilled filing cabinet for information on a student, a teacher or administrator merely needs to search his or her last name in the data base, and all of that information is available at their fingertips. This makes things like assigning classes, managing problem students, and keeping track of attendance and other variables much easier.Cloud-Based Technologies in the Classroom and Privacy Concerns?
There are a number of people who are worried about the swift adaptation of cloud-based technologies at the classroom level, simply because of its inherent vulnerability. The programs are online, and this makes them less secure than the standard paper and pencil teaching systems. Parents, teachers, and students can take every precaution imaginable but there are still a few back doors that unscrupulous hackers could exploit to steal student information. Many of these programs do employ the highest level of encryption currently available to the civilian market, though, so there are not as many hacking incidents as people would lead you to believe.
Educational technology is constantly a part of our lives, and as such it only makes sense that cloud based technologies have moved into the classroom. These new tools provide a great new way to teach a generation that was raised on computers, iPads and smart phones. This new generation can learn things and learn in ways that those of us who are now adults could never have dreamed of. In 10 or 20 years, when that new generation starts school, it may have changed again, but currently, cloud-based technologies at the classroom level are quickly becoming some of the best and most versatile tools on the market.
Consumer adoption of 802.11ac access points is set to accelerate drastically this year. In 2013, about 8 percent of consumer APs supported 802.11ac. That figure is expected to swell to 45 percent this year.
The Mendon-Upton Regional School District is looking to further incorporate electronic textbooks into its curriculum.
The district's school committee heard a presentation on the books from Miscoe Hill Middle School personnel at its meeting last week. Superintendent Joseph Maruszczak told the committee that the purchase of the books was part of a significant investment the district hoped to make in next year's budget.
The presentation reviewed the various benefits that e-textbooks provide, included videos, audio and the ability to take notes and highlight sections of text.
"We have them for grades 6, 7 and 8, in literature, social studies, science and math," said Miscoe Hill Principal Anne Meyer. "The only thing we didn't do was grammar, because we didn't find any books better than our 1960 edition."
Meyer said the books can be updated regularly, noting that the school had previously been working with textbooks that, in some cases, dated back to 1997 or 1998.
Meyer said the students are more involved in lessons when they interact with the textbooks.
Maruszczak said the district was currently looking to enter into a contract with the publisher of the textbooks. He said prices range from $3,000 to $7,000 per grade and per year of content.
"Their structure is for either a one-year or six-year deal," he said, noting that a six-year deal has a lower cost per year.
School Committee member Liana Moore said she had some concerns about the program.
"Obviously, there are a lot of pros, but there are also a lot of cons," she said. "I want to make sure that hard copies (of the textbooks) are available."
Meyer said they would be.
"We've been very responsive with parents - any time they want a paper copy, we can provide it," she said. "Of course, there are times when the Internet is down, and you don't want to mess up a lesson. There are a lot of times when books are really great."
(Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Students in Rob Lake's introduction to statics class use their Texas Instruments wireless calculators at Kearns High School, February 5, 2014 in Kearns, Utah. Each student has a calculator that transmits its data onto a screen for all to see. The Utah Legislature is looking into infusing millions of dollars for technology in Utah classrooms. Kearns High received a $1 million grant 3 years ago, allowing every student to get an iPod touch to help in the classroom. The results were mixed. As Utah lawmakers weigh a $200 million to $300 million investment in devices, results from the state’s first digital experiments are mixed.
By Kristen Moulton
| The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Feb 09 2014 09:32 am • Last Updated Feb 12 2014 01:22 pm
Fourth-graders with a range of disabilities, each toting an iPad, vie for teacher Ana Park’s attention at Newman Elementary in northwest Salt Lake City.
"What do I do next?" "Can I show mine?" they clamor on their second day with the iPads, which are being distributed in every classroom at the 480-student school this winter.
0 9Newman is one of 10 schools chosen to join Utah’s Smart School Technology Project; three of them are in the second year of having an iPad for every student.
The project, funded with $5.4 million set aside during the past two legislative sessions, is a big deal in these 10 schools, but it looks downright puny against the massive digital infusion envisioned by House Speaker Becky Lockhart.
The Provo Republican is proposing that Utah spend $200 million to $300 million to buy digital devices for Utah’s 612,500 students, to train educators and to build the infrastructure in schools.
The Utah Board of Education is asking for a more modest $50 million, which before Lockhart announced her idea on Jan. 30, appeared pie-in-the-sky.
Both proposals, coming at time when Utah is more flush with cash than in recent years, reflect a national push to better prepare students for a digital world.
Only one state so far, Maine, has one-device-per-student statewide, which is Lockhart’s goal. (Idaho voters rejected a statewide one-to-one plan after the state Legislature approved $180 million in funding).
In the rush to adopt technology, many states, districts and schools have made missteps, believing devices alone — without teacher buy-in or preparation — can make a difference.
"It’s a mixed bag," says Howard Pitler, program director forMcREL, a Denver-based research and development nonprofit, and co-author of a book for teachers on how to use technology.
There are no good data that look across a spectrum of schools to see if, overall, technology in the classroom is worth the cost.
"I can point to shining examples of transformative learning," says Pitler. "And I can point to other examples where nothing has happened other than spending a lot of money."
‘The million-dollar question’ » At Newman Elementary, Principal John Erlacher is eager to finishdistributing the iPads, funded with $373,550 from the state and a matching amount from the Salt Lake City School District.
"If technology will help kids learn quicker and in a deeper sense," says Erlacher, "I’m all for it."
In Park’s resource class, fourth-graders use Educreations software to draw out multiplication problems on their iPads. They record how they arrive at their answers, and share the recordings with classmates on a projector.
"The more they can visualize it," says Park, "the more cemented it becomes."
Teachers at Newman spent two Saturdays in the fall learning to use the iPads in school, and, for the first year, they’ll have both an IT person and a "coach" to help them in their classrooms.
Erlacher’s goal is for teachers to get comfortable using the devices this year and more creative next year. It will be a couple of years before he knows the project’s success.
"Is it just a gadget or has it improved our language arts, math and science scores? Has it made our teachers better teachers?" he asks. "That will be the million-dollar question."
At a glance
Who has the tech?
Ten schools have received Smart School Technology Project grants, which the Utah Legislature funded during the past two years for a total of $5.4 million.
iSchool Campus, a Park City-based business, was given the contract to run the project. Southern Utah University’s College of Education and Human Development is evaluating it.
Three schools were funded beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, receiving 100 percent of the money it took to give every student an iPad and teachers both iPads and laptops for three years. Those are:
Gunnison Valley Elementary (Gunnison), 450 students, $813,600.
Dixon Middle School (Provo), 900 students, $1.6 million.
North Sevier High School (Salina), 243 students, $439,344.
Seven more schools were chosen last year, and awarded grants that the schools have to match over three years. Those are:
Utah Career Path High School (Kaysville), 175 students, $130,393.
Myton Elementary (Myton), 164 students, $122,196.
Freedom Preparatory Academy (Provo), 285 students, $212,354.
Beehive Academy (Sandy), 316 students, $235,452.
Pinnacle Canyon Academy (Price), 326 students, $242,903.
North Davis Junior High (Clearfield), 1,033 students, $769,688.
Newman Elementary (Salt Lake City), 500 students, $372,550.
Source: SmartSchool Technology Program Report 2013
Today, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland to announce major progress on the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content.
Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet fewer than 30% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to connect to today’s technology. Under ConnectED, however, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income.
As the President announced today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will invest $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America's schools and libraries -- connecting more than 20 million students to next-generation broadband and wireless. He also announced that private-sector companies have committed more than $750 million to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including:
Apple, which will donate $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products, along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged U.S. schoolsAT&T, which pledged more than $100 million to give middle school students free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three yearsAutodesk, which pledged to make their 3D design program "Design the Future" available for free in every secondary school in the U.S. -- more than $250 million in valueMicrosoft, which will launch a substantial affordability program open to all U.S. public schools by deeply discounting the price of its Windows operating system, which will decrease the price of Windows-based devicesO'Reilly Media, which is partnering with Safari Books Online to make more than $100 million in educational content and tools available for free to every school in the U.S.Sprint, which will offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 millionVerizon, which announced a multi-year program to support ConnectED through up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments
For more information on how ConnectED works, click here.
Dr. Gordon Dahlby's insight:
key word is adequate. 1 in 3 is not good.
So many schools do not know what great connectivity is as they are used to little or getting by or having alternate lesson plans in case things don't work correctly.
Christophe Fiessinger is a senior product manager on the enterprise social team.
You can add a real-time social layer to your SharePoint site with the Yammer App for SharePoint. By using Yammer and SharePoint together, you can encourage team and company-wide conversations, facilitate collaboration around files and projects, and make it easier for people to connect. This helps make collaborating a more social, mobile, and engaging experience.
Last June, President Obama unveiled ConnectED, a five-year initiative designed to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless—and also equip public schools with the tools to make the most of the enhanced connectivity.
“That’s a big deal because only about 20 percent of classrooms right now have broadband,” says Richard Culatta, deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education. “But just getting those kids online and giving them mobile devices doesn’t actually help much. What does help is when you use those devices to give them access to better, more interactive, engaging, high quality digital material that are aligned to college and career-ready standards.”
Culatta spoke to DA about a new online registry designed to help educators easily find the best resources for their needs.
What were you hearing from teachers?
They said the problem is that there are really great resources out there, but they are very hard to find. Likewise, there are a lot of resources that are easy to find but aren’t so great. They were spending far too much time trying to find quality resources aligned to the instructional standards they were trying to teach to kids. There are a lot of sites, but no one was really sharing from one site to another.
A teacher in California, for instance, may give a thumbs up to a video on that state’s resource site, but if a teacher pulls up the same video in another state, it won’t have ratings from teachers across the country. That’s silly. Why not share what you know? That’s the whole value of having standards.
What was the answer?
We realized that this was an area that was not being filled, so we launched the Learning Registry at learningregistry.org. It’s an open listing of digital learning content and the standards to which they are aligned. It currently lists close to 400,000 resources and continues to grow.
How does it work?
The best way to describe it is to think of a card catalog in a library. Books exist all over the library, but there is a central catalog that shows you the book title, where it is located and so on. That’s what the Learning Registry does, but with one key difference: Anyone can come in and pull up a “card” and add information to it. They can say, “We used this in class with this particular standard and it worked great.”
Then they put it back in the file. So you create this open digital card catalog, if you will, that everyone can update. You have one place and one easy way to share valuable information about high quality digital learning content.
So it’s a wiki of sorts. What kind of protections are there for the content?
Well, you don’t interact with the actual resource, but the information about the resource. But what you ask is important because you still have a question of quality. How do you know that someone hasn’t pulled out that card and written a bunch of junk on it and stuck it back in? What we’ve done is to allow whoever is using that information in that card catalog to view only people’s comments that they trust.
Let’s say, for example, I’m in California, and we want our teachers to see ratings or standard alignment information that other states have put in. We know Michigan does a really good job of vetting its content and making good alignment decisions, so anytime they’ve put information on one of these cards, we’ll show that to our teachers.
But maybe there’s another state that just puts in all kinds of dubious information. Even though they’re adding information in the Learning Registry, we can choose to ignore it and not show it to our teachers. Think of a Twitter feed where you choose who you want to follow.
Who makes those decisions?
It’s up to whoever is implementing a state’s resource website. Illinois is a great example. The state has a Shared Learning Resources site and a team whose job it is to review content and make these decisions. But anyone who has an education site can make the decision of what resources they want to show.
How widespread is the participation?
It’s hard to know because it’s an open system. People don’t have to tell us when they use it.
We do know that a number of states are using it—I’ve already mentioned California, Illinois and Michigan. New York is in the process of integrating it, as are a number of others. But it is also open to various organizations and foundations as well.
Our hope is that eventually all states, at a minimum, will be participating.
But isn’t there value in knowing who is using it and what they are looking for?
Of course. Just because we don’t know who is using it doesn’t mean we don’t have an active community of people and developers who are giving us feedback and building code and resources. It’s truly an open project, like Linux, where the core developers create and share great content. Anyone is free to use it, but they don’t necessarily know who is using it.
How will the Learning Registry identify gaps in learning materials?
One of the promises of the Learning Registry, as we get more of these resources registered, is that we can run a report that says, here are some standards that have only one or two—or no—resources aligned with them. That can be important for, say, a philanthropic organization that wants to fund the creation of better resources or even for commercial publishers.
We hope to get to the point where we have enough data that we can see not just where there are gaps in the resources, but where teachers across the country have given them low ratings. There may be a whole bunch of resources aligned to dividing fractions, but if everyone thinks they stink, this will let us get better ones in there.
The Common Core standards, as well as things like teaching evolution, are being debated in many states. How do you keep one side or the other from driving the conversation when it comes to commenting on these resources?
That’s a great question. We are not a curation department and we don’t intend to be. We leave that to the people who are making the decisions.
You may have somebody who says, “These are resources that we have rated low because they don’t align with our ideological perspectives.” They can publish that in the Learning Registry. That’s totally fine. And if I’m in another state looking for quality resources, I’ll pull that card and I will see those negative comments. But if I also see another five or six comments that rate the resource as high quality, I will check them—going back to the Twitter analogy—and ignore the rest.
If I see a list of resources from PBS for example, and I trust PBS, I am inclined to listen to them. In the same manner, if I see resources from someone I don’t know or don’t trust, I can choose to ignore them. That’s a decision left to the user. We will at least make it possible to share all the information about the resources, but whether it is used is your decision.
How can educators get involved in this?
We want to make it as simple as possible. Teachers can use our tools that are being built on top of existing registries—like free.ed.gov, ilsharedlearning.org and others—to have access to thousands of free, highly rated resources from around the country that are aligned to standards.
My message to people who develop or own sites, like state sites or teacher portals, is to absolutely, please, connect with the Learning Registry. If there are resources that those groups have already identified as high quality, then by all means publish them in the Learning Registry. It’s an easy process.
And through their sites, they can now share great resources that other people have identified. You don’t have to go to thousands of different sites just to find the right teaching materials for your class.
Is it transparent on other sites?
We don’t promote the Learning Registry directly. We don’t want it to be a landing page. The whole point is not to create something new, but to be able to go to wherever you already feel comfortable going and connect to the Learning Registry through that favored site. The site owner can identify it as such or not.
I believe this completely changes how we distribute and share quality learning content, which has been a problem we have had for decades, being stuck in the print phase of education. This has great potential for rethinking how we find good quality down the road.
The legislation in Kansas that would have made it nearly impossible for cities and towns in that state to offer broadband service to residents was originally scheduled for debate in the Senate today.
That hearing ended up being canceled after public outcry forced the bill's author, the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), to rethink its tactics.
FURTHER READINGWHO WANTS COMPETITION? BIG CABLE TRIES OUTLAWING MUNICIPAL BROADBAND IN KANSAS
Lobbyist for Comcast, Cox, TWC wrote bill to stifle rivals like Google Fiber.
But that doesn't mean the bill is going away forever. Cox, a member of the cable lobby group, blamed the early struggle on "misinformation" but said there will be "continued discussion."
"Cox Communications was prepared to participate in Kansas legislative hearings regarding Government Owned Networks," the company said in a statement sent to Ars. "With approximately 22 other states having some type of restriction on the use of taxpayer dollars for these kinds of facilities, we thought it a relevant topic worthy of our involvement given our significant investment in the communities we serve and our public-private partnerships. There was enough misinformation regarding the legislation that made it appropriate for the committee to defer action at this time. We look forward to a continued discussion with all parties on this issue."
The KCTA said yesterday that it requested the cancellation of today's Senate Commerce Committee hearing to "allow time to meet with the interested parties about the legislation." (As it turned out, a snowstorm canceled all of today's legislative sessions.)
The bill would have forbidden municipalities from providing "video, telecommunications, or broadband service" except in areas where nine out of 10 residents have no service at all. The bill also placed restrictions on government partnerships with broadband companies.
Google says private sector can’t solve broadband problem alone
This drew opposition from within Kansas and from a variety of tech companies and consortiums who sent a letter to state lawmakers. The letter was signed by Google, which chose Kansas City as the first site for its Google Fiber service. Signees also included Alcatel-Lucent, the American Public Power Association, the Atlantic Engineering Group, Calix, CTC Technology & Energy, the Fiber to the Home Council, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, OnTrac, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the Utilities Telecom Council.
"We, the private-sector companies and trade associations listed below, urge you to oppose SB 304 because this bill will harm both the public and private sectors, stifle economic growth, prevent the creation or retention of thousands of jobs, hamper work force development, and diminish the quality of life in Kansas," the letter said. "The private sector alone cannot enable the United States to take full advantage of the opportunities that advanced communications networks can create in virtually every area of life. … SB 304 would prevent municipalities from working with private broadband providers, or developing themselves, if necessary, the advanced broadband infrastructure that will stimulate local businesses development, foster work force retraining, and boost employment in economically underachieving areas."
The KCTA denied that its bill is just an attempt to protect cable companies from competitors. “Let me be clear that this legislation was not introduced to prevent other private telecommunications providers from building or expanding their services in Kansas communities," KCTA President John Federico said in yesterday's announcement. "This bill was intended to provide safeguards to all telecommunication providers against government-subsidized competition."
Last week, Federico told Ars that the cable lobby intends to change how the bill defines "unserved areas" to make it a little less restrictive. But the lobby's belief that it shouldn't have to face competition from government-run networks remains as strong as ever.
“Taxpayer dollars are a scarce resource, and legitimate questions about municipal projects that compete with private providers should be addressed in communities where private Internet Service Providers have already invested risk capital to bring high-speed broadband, and other telecommunication services, to Kansas consumers," Federico also said this week.
The lobby will probably have at least some support in the legislature. Two Republican Kansas legislators are part of the leadership of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which says that taxpayer-funded broadband networks "could erode consumer choice by making markets less attractive to competition because of the government’s expanded role as a service provider."
The council's board of directors includes Sen. Susan Wagle, vice chair of the Kansas Senate's Commerce Committee, and Ray Merrick, speaker of the state House of Representatives.
Dr. Gordon Dahlby's insight:
Move here apparently is to keep municipalities from creating own networks (utility) for its citizens which could be needed if private businesses do not provide sufficient connectivity. Could have a chill on options for schools, too.
Glenbrook High School District 225 will begin sharing Internet services with two elementary school districts this year, a move that officials say will save the districts thousands of dollars a year and increase Internet capacity.
The initiative, the Northfield Township Technology Consortium, will allow the smaller districts to take advantage of District 225's wholesale pricing for bandwidth. Because of its size, the high school district pays a fraction of what elementary school districts pay - less than a dollar per megabyte per second, compared to about $15 per megabyte per second.
"For the elementary school districts, it means they get greatly reduced monthly expenses for bandwidth," said Marcus Thimm, district director of technology.
For the district, it means the high school district can "buy larger and larger quantities (of bandwidth) at lower and lower costs," he said.
Consortium members will be able to use the Village of Northbrook's fiber network to tap into District 225's network.
The founding members of the consortium are Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 and Northbrook School District 28. They will begin sharing services July 1. Other districts, such as Northbrook School District 27 and West Northfield School District 31, will likely come on board when their current contracts expire, Thimm said.
At a District 30 Board of Education meeting in March, Superintendent Ed Tivador described it as a "no brainer." The board expects to take action in April.
"Right now we're paying about $3,000 a month," he said. "This will reduce the cost to $500 and it will increase our bandwidth about sixfold."
Because District 30's offices are right next to Glenbrook North High School, the district can splice together its fiber with the high school's fiber without having to do any trenching or digging, officials said.
District 28, which will connect to the Village of Northbrook's fiber, expects to save about $1,000 a month and increase its bandwidth by about five times the current amount, said Sara Kladis, District 28 spokeswoman.
District 225 will serve as the lead agency, contracting with a service provider on behalf of the consortium, and will be reimbursed monthly by the other districts based on bandwidth use. The consortium is being formed under the federal E-rate program, which gives schools discounted rates for telecommunications and Internet services.
The district's Internet needs have been increasing dramatically each year, Thimm said. Students use laptops to access Google applications. Staff needs to access the human resources system and many services are stored in the network.
As the district buys more bandwidth, the cost per megabyte continues to get better, Thimm said, allowing for the sharing of its negotiating power with the elementary school districts.
"For us, the opportunity was really exciting," he said. "It's a really tangible opportunity to save community funds."
Perhaps one of the most powerful expectations of students in an environment of scarcity is that they not question the source of the information. As the modern classroom has become connected, the amount of information available to both teachers and students has exponentially increased. Where teachers once lectured about important ideas and events, or shared their acquired knowledge with their students, today’s classrooms can see every key primary source document, the actual notes of great scientists, and a limitless amount of literary criticism. For students, this abundance of information means not only a changing role from the traditional classroom, but also a drastically different set of skills and expectations.
For generations, being a student meant being the recipient of scarce information. This role of the dutiful recipient came with a certain set of behavioral expectations. The student who could not sit still, or could not slow themselves to the pace of the teacher, was a problem to the class, as her disruption interfered with the sole source of information — the teacher. Without the teacher as the disseminator of information, no student would have the pieces that they needed to construct bigger ideas and higher level thinking.
Socializing with others in class took place during some activities, but overall, the term “socializing” was used as a pejorative. Adding the comment “frequently socializes in class” to a student’s progress report was not considered a positive thing. Furthermore, in order to test whether the content had been effectively inculcated, assessment focused on measuring memorization. In a traditional classroom, a student who could listen attentively, and had the ability to gather and memorize facts, was in their element; however, the active student with the gift for gab, or whose mind went off on tangents, was not.
Teaching in the New (Abundant) Economy of InformationThe skills necessary to be a student in today’s information-rich environment are radically different. In an economy of abundant information, connected students neither need to sit still to access information nor slow themselves to the pace of the teacher or their classmates. They are often free to explore and discover — often at their own pace and on topics of their own choosing.
At the core of finding and evaluating information from a wide variety of sources is the need to question and evaluate its validity to determine its true usefulness and worth. The student who actively challenges sources, as well as the thoughts and opinions of others in class, perches at the center of information processing. Social students excel in this environment as they collaborate and commingle ideas from individuals into greater community ideas, making them a potential asset to other students in their class rather than an interference.
While there’s a place and time to be still, moving around the classroom to collaborate with others provides the active student with an outlet. Today, we don’t see classes that buzz with arguing and problem solving as disruptive — we see them as active and engaged.
Imagine the consequences for a school in transition where some classrooms operate under the old framework and others under the new. Consider the difficulty for individual teachers whose students might split their time between classes operating on different models. Difficulties could potentially arise in defining “good” student behavior as well as classroom expectations.
Beyond increasing the amount of information that students can access, the new abundant economy of information has far greater implications. It represents both a shift in the way that future classrooms will operate as well as in the student behaviors that we will value and expect.
Tablet and smart phone processors will increasingly shift toward 64-bit architectures, though it will be a few years before these chips power the majority of devices.
The shift is being driven, at least in part, by Apple's rollout of its 64-bit A7 processor, according to market research firm ABI Research.
According to a new report released this week by ABI, "Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Nvidia all announced their first 64-bit mobile processors at Mobile World Congress this year but 64-bit-compliant smartphones are unlikely to hit the market before the release of the next Android update, expected in the second half of the year. By the end of 2014, ABI Research expects shipments of 64-bit mobile processors to exceed 182 million, of which only 20 percent will power Android devices."
While the benefits of 64-bit processing in smart phones and tablets may be debatable at present, in the longer term, the architecture will allow applications to address greater amounts of memory and reap other benefits (including some limited performance benefits), opening the way for more memory-intensive applications (read: serious applications).
In the short term, though, 64-bit is likely to be used "as a catchy marketing strategy to easily communicate differentiation using 'more-is-better' adage previously used for promoting performance in the multi-core processor race," said Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "This is not to say that 64-bit processing will not add any significant value to the Android sphere but the benefits of this technology will become apparent only when its implementation over Android matures."
By 2018, according to ABI, there will be more than 1.12 billion smart phones and tablets shipping with 64-bit cores — 55 percent of all mobile devices.
"Android devices will be leading consumption of these chips with 60 percent market share, followed by Apple's iOS with 30 percent and Microsoft Windows in the third position with less than 9 percent market share," according to ABI.
ABI added that while ARM will remain dominant, by 2018, Intel will have captured 10 percent of the 64-bit mobile processing market.
Xirrus today publicly took the wraps off what it described as the lowest cost 802.11ac access point designed for enterprise, the $775 dual-radio Xirrus XR-620 AP.
With the XR-620 AP, both radios support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies and both 802.11n and 802.11ac standards. It supports data rates of up to 867 Mbps per radio.
"Dual radio 11ac operation enables the XR-620 AP to deliver 30 percent greater 11ac performance compared to 11ac access points on the market today that are limited to only one 802.11ac radio due to their fixed configuration," according to Xirrus. "The XR-620 represents the industry's first 2x2 (two-stream) 802.11ac enterprise solution, capable of 867 Mbps per radio. This represents almost twice the maximum 450 Mbps speed available with 3x3 802.11n, yet the XR-620 is available at a lower price point than today's fastest enterprise 802.11n solutions."
Other features include:
ACExpress (for segregating 802.11n and 802.11ac traffic on different radios);Software-programmable radios;Support for up to 240 users;Integrated controller with ArrayOS;Cloud-based or on-premises management;App control for up to 1,200 groups;Support for Apple Bonjour; andDual gigabit Ethernet ports.
The XR-620 AP is expected to ship this month. Users can purchase an 802.11n version of the unit for $675 and upgrade it for $100 or purchase a pre-configured 802.11ac version for $775. Xirrus also offers the XR-630, a 3 x 3 802.11ac access point.
A (Flash) video demonstrating the new AP can be viewed on Xirrus' site. Additional details can be found at xirrus.com/11ac.
Samsung has taken the wraps off a Galaxy Tab tablet that will be purpose-built for education.
According to Samsung, the device, which will be made available for the 2014–2015 school year, will launch as part of the Google Play for Education program. Google Play for Education is a solution that puts approved educational apps and educator-curated resources on mobile devices, along with tools for simplified setup, "instant" app deployment and Web-based management. Content is organized by grade, subject and standard. Google Play for Education also provides the means for school to buy apps via purchase order.
The forthcoming Galaxy Tab tablet will feature:
A 10.1-inch screen with a WXGA resolution (1,280 x 800);Android 4.4 (Kit Kat);802.11a/b/g/n WiFi support;Front and rear cameras;Near-field communications support;
"Samsung and Google for Education share a commitment to delivering innovative learning experiences to improve student outcomes," said Tod Pike, senior vice president at Samsung's Enterprise Business Division, in a prepared statement. "The new Galaxy Tab with Google Play for Education integration was created to specifically address the needs of today's schools and support our vision for powering education by empowering educators."
The Galaxy Tab with Google Play for Education is expected to ship in April.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools has provided additional details about its move into 1-to-1. The district, which has 350,000 students, will be rolling out 100,000 HP and Lenovo Windows 8 devices by August 2014.
Creativity is not only earned but learned. Educators and teachers as well as educational tools and facilities play an important role in shaping the creative minds of future creative professionals. And in the process of learning, digital media has helped both teachers and students to spread the message across and reach success in every creative endeavor.
To further explore this thought, YTD got the chance to interview Adobe Education Leader, Pete Episcopo. He is a course director at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. He formerly served as lead teacher in the development and operation of the Academy for Digital Arts & Media (ADAM) in Viera, Florida. In the interview below, Pete talks about his career, his role as an educator, Behance, collaboration and share insights on how technology and networking help shape the creative industry today.
I believe the future creative will not simply need to adapt to technology’s forward march, but be someone who can help contribute to its development. The creatives of tomorrow should be able to assist with making and doing things better through innovative thinking and design.
Santa Fe Public Schools is considering a plan to bypass voters and use its authority under a state constitutional amendment to impose a property tax that would raise $55 million for technology upgrades.
The money would be used for infrastructure and to give every one of the district’s 14,000 students a laptop, iPad or tablet — despite problems with similar initiatives at districts across the nation.
Rhonda Gardner of the district’s Teaching and Learning Department told the school board Tuesday night that if the district doesn’t upgrade its online computer systems and tie it to student instruction, “the nation will move on without us. Our kids live in this [computer] world.”
A state constitutional amendment that went into law in 1997 gives school districts the right to impose a property tax without putting the measure before voters. “Under this provision,” said Geno Zamora, an attorney for the school district, “there is no provision for a vote from the public.”
School board member Lorraine Price, who said she hadn’t decided how she would vote, noted that while the board might have the legal right to impose the tax, voters might not like the idea.
However, a poll of about 600 Santa Fe voters conducted by Third Eye Strategies showed that 74 percent of those surveyed support the new tax. The poll cost the district about $10,000.
If the new tax is approved, the district estimates that the owner of a $300,000 home would have to pay about $150 a year in additional property taxes.
The board is scheduled to vote on the tax Feb. 18. The board could choose, instead, to give voters the right to approve a general obligation bond to raise the technology funds.
Nationwide, many districts are moving toward similar technological overhauls and are dealing with unexpected challenges along the way. In Los Angeles, for instance, where all students were given tablet computers, some quickly learned how to hack the school system to access unauthorized social media sites and video games. Other school districts pursuing the same path have encountered problems such as students inadvertently breaking the screens of computers or tablets, or data systems being incompatible with district curriculum.
Superintendent Joel Boyd told Tuesday’s assembly that a larger district like Los Angeles is dealing with 650,000 kids and thus has “challenges we don’t even have to consider here.” After Tuesday’s meeting, Boyd said by phone that Santa Fe Public Schools would face a very real need to “manage access to different aspects of the Internet as well as managing the physical property” if it moves forward with the initiative.
Chief Academy Officer Almudena “Almi” Abeyta said it also will be critical to train teachers in integrating the new technology into their classrooms. She said younger teachers are more versed in computer technology, but older teachers are willing to learn as long as they have strong support.
With school board approval, the district would begin implementing professional development for teachers this summer, starting with the new Niña Otero Community School, El Camino Real Academy — which is replacing Agua Fría Elementary School — and Atalaya Elementary School, where construction is underway. Training at schools undergoing major renovations will follow, such as Kearny and Piñon elementary schools.
It would take five years to implement the upgrades.
This is not the first time the district has sought funding for technology. In February 2012, Santa Fe voters approved a bond to provide $12.7 million per year for six years to fund construction and technological enhancements. The district also invested about $2.4 million in purchasing Apple computers and technology for students in the summer of 2012.
School board member Glenn Wikle said voters likely will remember these actions, and there might be frustration among some who think “we voted for money for technology, and we’re still not there yet.”
Boyd responded, “We just can’t go as far as we need to go as fast as we need to get there. That’s the challenge we have ahead of us.”
For more than a decade now, I’ve internally cringed whenever someone talks about the promise of technology in education. Often, discussions of iPads, video games, laptops for all focus on the potential of access to the software, device, or app rather than how it’s used.
In 1999, my department at UC Santa Barbara decided that all lecturers would hold classes in campus computer labs to demonstrate our progressiveness. We received no training. There was no brainstorming about lessons. We were given no information about the specs of the computer labs. Space was reserved and we were expected to fill it. Not much considered then, but common knowledge now is the grand distraction desktop computers can be when set in front of students in a class that does not carefully incorporate them into the lesson. And so it was that most of my colleagues continued their lecture format unchanged and most students moved from distractedly doodling to checking news, playing games, and absently surfing. Not unexpectedly, there were complaints that the technology was getting in the way of teaching.
But globally, many thought technology would revolutionize education. Despite our collective administrative and pedagogical missteps, it has. Yet, the reasons technologies didn’t work in those early lecture classes are the same reasons we continue to struggle with implementing them now. We are expecting too much of technology if we believe it will single-handedly fix problems with education. The majority of problems with education extend beyond the classroom: they are societal.
No matter how many laptops we put in classrooms or wi-fi networks we set up, if kids are in a district where schools are closing and class time is reduced due to budget shortfalls, learning is going to suffer. No matter how innovative the online textbook system, if kids are in classrooms where the teacher has received no training or even advanced notice that a new system is going to be used, learning is going to suffer. Regardless of how promising the innovation, it will suffer from the lack of technical support in a majority of districts or increasingly higher demands on teachers without appropriate increases in training and support.
Challenges outside the classroom affect learning within. I wonder how a student is expected to thrive academically when parents struggle to make ends meet, where a single parent is supporting a family, where kids are raised in deprived conditions (defined by UNICEF as lacking basic items essential to healthy development, such as three meals per day or a quiet place to study). To put it into context, the U.S. had the second highest levels of child poverty among economically advanced countries in a 2012 UNICEF study and ranked a low 31st among 35 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in providing services to families living below the poverty line.
Facing these societal challenges, clearly technology can level the playing field, but cannot be the only leveller. Education involves multiple facets of which technology is only a part. “Fixing” education involves long-term change, with incremental progress toward results and likely many steps backward in the process. Yet this approach is expensive, requires committed advocates, and will not yield immediate gains.
And if we’re honest, the story of long-term change isn’t as engaging as the story of tech fixes. Pictures of kids eating breakfast at school (social fix) doesn’t have the same resonance as a circle of kids illuminated by iPads (technical fix), perhaps because we assume breakfast should be a basic human right and the iPads promise a brighter future. Public attitudes affect policymakers’ focus, so in moving toward change, we need to pay attention to the stories that engage us.
Speaking of stories, while there is much talk about the “brokenness” of the educational system, less clear is what a successful system would look like. What do we want from education? Popular discussion seems to revolve around low international test scores. Is our aim then to earn higher scores on the PISA test? Are we aiming to improve education to raise our global economic competitiveness? When we compare the U.S. with countries that score high on the PISA test, the U.S. ranks No. 10 GDP per capita, with Finland, No. 16, and South Korea, No. 34. If economic competitiveness is our aim, why rely upon PISA test scores to determine the fate of our schools? How are we measuring success in education? Are we looking at number of diplomas, attendance levels, those who go onto college, unemployment rates, GDP? When determining the competitiveness of our school system, do we compare innovation internationally, perhaps ownership of global companies, or do we want to compare levels of inequality, the spread between our wealthiest and poorest citizens? What specifically needs fixing, why, and how will we know when we’ve fixed it? In other words, how can we expect technology to solve problems we can’t clearly define?
The promise of technology is compelling and I think all of us would like to hope that buying iPads for a local school will improve academic performance, promising kids an improved future that includes college, sustainable professional jobs, and meaningful contributions to the economy and civil society. But as Lant Pritchett points out in The Rebirth of Education (2013), the differences technology can make for a given school represent a very small percentage of the type of momentum necessary for significant progress toward these goals.
No example is more vivid than the efforts by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) to accomplish the ambitions of its name. Now that the project has sold laptops globally, a few implementations have been studied and clear trends are emerging. Despite its founding vision to promote individual ownership of laptops among children, successful programs are those embedded in larger infrastructural initiatives that, as in the case of Uruguay, view the interconnections between education and its citizenry. Emphasizing social support, the Uruguay implementation includes expanding its national wireless connectivity with a focus on schools and creating community hotspots to extend this access. Free laptop repairs are available via post or at community repair centers. A national effort is underway to develop content for teacher training and for classroom instruction that includes programs on YouTube and local cable stations (Kozma & Vota, 2014;Warschauer & Ames, 2010).
In Uruguay’s national discussions, the OLPC laptops are part of a larger effort to improve quality of life through a strengthening of its school system and improved connectivity. As Uruguay’s program continues to grow, it is in stark contrast with a program started in Birmingham, Alabama in 2008 and discontinued in 2011. In Birmingham, the local mayor saw laptops as a promising way to fix the school system and, without consulting said system, purchased 15,000 laptops for students in first-fifth grades. With no investment in improving the technical infrastructure to allow for connectivity in the schools, no investment in the broader community’s technical access (so that parents could support children’s use), and no teacher training, the program was deemed a failure (Warschauer, Cotten & Ames, 2012).
Yet, the Birmingham mayor’s expectations are not completely unreasonable. So many promising stories exist around technology and education that it seems that a laptop might bring drastic improvements.
Cost-wise, an investment of around $300 per pupil for the XO laptop is much cheaper. Long-term improvements involve infrastructural change, investment in families, and a shift in priorities, which are expensive. Elementary and secondary schools, as well as higher education institutions continually face budget cuts, suggesting that the money is just not there to invest in long-term change to our education system. Nonetheless, Joseph Staten made a compelling argument with his infographic comparing the costs of a year at Princeton ($37,000) versus a year in prison ($44,000). The same infographic shows that between 1987 and 2007, spending on corrections increased 127% while spending on higher education in the U.S. increased only 21%. Other studies show the overall costs of long-term incarceration versus education, and the significant differences prison inmates versus college graduates contribute to the economy and larger society. Perhaps a shift in priorities could manifest significant long-term change.
While not the universal fix some may see it to be, technology is important for education. A few moments of browsing the DML blogs will show strong examples of technology’s promise. Yet, until we address the more challenging core societal issues suffocating our schools, we will be continually patching together promising technology fixes with minimal returns.
Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology is a wireless technology that uses multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer more data at the same time. All wireless products with 802.11n support MIMO, which is part of the technology that allows 802.11n to reach much higher speeds than products without 802.11n.
In order to implement MIMO, either the station (mobile device) or the access point (AP) needs to support MIMO. For optimal performance and range, both the station and the AP must support MIMO.
MIMO technology takes advantage of a natural radio-wave phenomenon called multipath. With multipath, transmitted information bounces off walls, ceilings, and other objects, reaching the receiving antenna multiple times via different angles and at slightly different times.
In the past, multipath caused interference and slowed down wireless signals. MIMO technology takes advantage of multipath behavior by using multiple, smart transmitters and receivers with an added spatial dimension, to dramatically increase performance and range.
MIMO makes antennas work smarter by enabling them to combine data streams arriving from different paths and at different times to effectively increase receiver signal-capturing power. Smart antennas use spatial diversity technology, which puts surplus antennas to good use. When there are more antennas than spatial streams, the antennas can add receiver diversity and increase range.
More antennas usually equate to higher speeds. A wireless adapter with three antennas can have a speed of 600 mbps while an adapter with two antennas has a speed of 300mbps. The router also needs to have multiple antennas, and fully support all of the features of 802.11n, to attain the highest speed possible.
Legacy wireless devices use Single-Input Single-Output (SISO) technology. These devices cannot take advantage of multipath, and can only send or receive one spatial stream at a time.
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