Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

GenYES Founder Calls For Student Tech Input

A prominent industry voice says kids should play a role in the development and execution of technology plans.

In Brief

CAN WE HELP YOU? Student contribution
can be key to the success of ed tech planning.

DENNIS HARPER literally wrote the blueprint on how to work with students to create technology plans. “From Vision to Action: Including Student Leadership in Your Technology Plan” is Harper’s eight-page report on incorporating student input into school or district technology planning, now available for free download from the Generation YES (Youth and Educators Succeeding) website that Harper founded.

A leading voice in education technology, Harper argues that if students are given the chance to shape a technology plan, they will feel a sense of ownership toward it, which makes school technology programs more likely to succeed. Planning together also gives educators and students a forum to discuss internet safety, online learning opportunities, and other issues related to technologyacquistion, implementation, and use.

The GenYES program grew out of a grant designed to foster cooperation between students and teachers in the integration of new technology. To date, GenYES has worked with more than 50,000 teachers in teaming up with students, bolstering professional development efforts while giving kids experience problem solving and collaborating, not to mention allowing them to speak up about what equipment they want for theirschools.

“From Vision to Action” offers six models on revising technology plans to allow room for student voices: students serving on committees; students as trainers and support systems for staff and teachers; students as tech support agents; students as resource developers—for resources such as help guides, video how-tos, and class websites; students as communicators; and students as peer mentors, peerreviewers, and peer leaders.

Harper wraps up the document with notes about offering students incentives for their participation in technology planning, and a worksheet for outlining goals and translating them into action steps.

In BriefONLINE CONTEST AIMS TO SPUR MATH INTEREST

A veteran math teacher, David Rock (pictured) chafes at the ongoing stigma attached to his life’s work. “Why is it socially acceptable to be illiterate in math?” he asks. “We’ve got to change that.” And Rock is working to do just that. Now dean of Columbus State University’s College of Education (GA), Rock has popularized math for thousands of students through an online contest he originally created with a colleague a decade ago at the University of Florida. The contest resides here and features the Problem of the Week, which presents a math problem, a function for submitting the answer, and a list of the students who submitted the correct answer. Problem of the Week has attracted responses from across the United States, Spain, Scotland, China,India, Greece, Sweden, and Egypt.

The other sections of the site— Algebra in Action, Middle School Madness, and Elementary Brain Teaser—deliver math problems in a similar format to Problem of the Week, but are geared to specific audiences.

Answers to active questions are not displayed on the site, but a student may contact the site’s staffers for a hint. If a student is struggling with an archived question, a link is available for viewing the answer.

:: Awards and Contests

TETRADATA WINS ED TECH HONOR. TetraData’s Dash dashboard and data portal, which lets administrators monitor daily attendance, student scores, graduation rates, and other data related to their districts, has won a 2006 Innovation in Education Award from InnoVision.

PCS EDVENTURES! RECEIVES ET3 AWARD. The Education Technology Think Tank (ET3) has honored PCS Edventures! with its Technology to Empower Community (TEC) Championship Leadership Award. The annual ET3 awards program is designed to recognize“visionary leaders who fosterecology of community transformationand establish a legacy of education andeconomic empowerment in traditionallyunderserved communities across America.”PCS Edventures! provides tools foreducation administrators as well ashands-on learning labs in engineering,robotics, electronics, and other subjects.

:: People

LEARNINGSOFT APPOINTS FIRST CEO. LearningSoft, the handheld computing and assessment company that sells the popular Indigo Learning System, has hired Corey E. Brady as chief education officer, a newly created position. In the new post, Brady will be responsible for overseeing education market research and strategy, working on pilot projects, and communicating with educators. Brady was co-editor of the guidebook The Experts’ Guide to the K-12 School Market(Internet Monitor, 2002).

Seth D. Radwell

Seth D. Radwell

NEW PRESIDENT NAMED FOR SCHOLASTIC AT HOME. Seth D. Radwell has been appointed president of Scholastic at Home, a division ofScholastic.

Scholastic at Home provides home learning programs tailored to children’s ages and learning needs. Radwell will be responsible for school continuity programs and Scholastic’s Back to BasicsToys division.

He will remain president of eScholastic, the company’s online informationand eCommerce department.

Hugh Conway

Hugh Conway

SALES TEAM LEAD SELECTED AT DIGITAL DIRECTIONS. New Vice President of Sales and Channel Management Hugh Conway will promote interactive content provider Digital DirectionsInternational’s Help for Math program.

Help for Math is an online supplementary program meant to assist middle and high school students, particularly English language learners, in developing math skills.

“It is a real pleasure to bring such a high-quality product to the market,” says Conway, who has more than 25 years of experience in the education technologypublishing field.

LEAPFROG ANNOUNCES NEW HIRES. Three senior executives are joining LeapFrog Enterprises, a manufacturer of technology-based learning products. Steve Anderson, the new vice president of software engineering, will lead the software architecture and development team. Jeff Grant, in the newly created position of vice president of web products, will be responsible for the development and marketing of LeapFrog’s strategic web initiatives. Hilda West, the new senior vice president of human resources, is tasked with creating a more metrics- and results-driven culture in the company.

:: Industry News

CAROLINA TECHNOLOGISTS TARGET SCIENCE STUDENTS. The North Carolina Technology Association is launching a new program targeting “underrepresented middle school students pursuing college majors and careers in astronomy, physics, and related disciplines.” The program, dubbedROBOTS (Robotics: Opportunities for Building Outstanding Talent in the Sciences),is being introduced in conjunctionwith the University of North Carolina’s North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network.

Students selected for the program— some 210 sixth-graders in all—will work with a curriculum developed by scientists at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). This spring, there will be seven classes covering radio astronomy and the controlling of a robotic telescope. In the summer, 15 classes will cover radio and optical astronomy. And next fall will feature seven classes in optical astronomy, with students exploring the Main Belt (the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter). Students will attend Saturday Academy and Summer Scholars programs, for a total of 200 hours of “contact time” each year.

The program will last two years, with teachers selected from participating districts and trained by PARI. The selection of students and teachers involved in the project will be handled by the precollege programs at each site. The ROBOTS project received a National Science Foundation grant worth nearly $800,000, one of eight grants the NSF funded out of the 153 proposals it received in 2006.

In Brief

WONDER GIRL: The animated
Lia wants to make science cool.

SITE PROMOTES FUTURE SCIENTISTS. At www.iwaswondering.org, a cartoon teenage girl named Lia guides visitors through free, interactive, science-related activities designed for middle schoolers. Additionally, the site, subtitled “Women’s Adventures in Science,” features true stories about prominent contemporary scientists, particularly women in science careers, to inspire girls (and boys) to take an interest in scientific studies. “Remember, all the scientists you read about on this site were once kids like us,” Lia says, “so why not start looking around to see how you can use science and technology to make your room, house, school, and even the world, a very cool place?” The site also includes a section for parents and teachers.

COSN OPENS NEW STATE CHAPTERS. The Consortium for School Networking has opened three new chapters, in New Mexico, Louisiana, and Georgia. An organization of K-12 technology professionals, CoSN provides broad resources such as research and professional development services.

The three chapters were each founded by local chief technology officers involved in education. According to CoSN, the state chapters are designed to “meet the needs of school district education technology leaders in a more local and immediate way.”

In addition to the new chapters in New Mexico, Louisiana, and Georgia, CoSN also has branches in Texas, Maryland, and California.

HM RIVERGROUP ACQUIRES HOUGHTON MIFFLIN. Textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin is being bought out by the newly formed Irish firm HM Rivergroup. Concurrent with the Houghton acquisition, HMR will also purchase Riverdeep, an educational software publisher. HMR says it expects to complete the acquisitions—worth approximately $5 billion—imminently. When the transaction is finalized, the company will change its name to Houghton Mifflin Riverdeep Group PLC.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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