Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

UNESCO Launches ICT Standards Effort

The international project sets the bar for tech-savvy teachers.

In BriefTHE UNITED NATIONS Educational, Scientific,and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has joined with theInternational Society for Technology inEducation (ISTE) and a selectgroup of partners to launch the first phase ofthe Information and CommunicationTechnologyCompetency Standardsfor Teachers (ICT-CST)project.

UNESCO spearheaded the ICT-CST project after finding that, in many cases, teachers lack the ICT skills necessary to effectively integrate technology into their classrooms, while curriculum and training providers haven't given them a clear set of internationally recognized ICT professional development guidelines. The project aims to give worldwide guidance on how to improve instructional practice through ICT, with the ultimate goal of better preparing students for life and work in the 21st century.

At the recent Moving Young Minds conference in London, UNESCO introduced a set of three booklets that were created with support from ISTE, Cisco Systems, Intel, Microsoft, and Virginia Tech. The booklets explain the rationale, structure, and approach of the project; present a matrix of skill sets for teachers; and provide a detailed syllabus of the specific skills that teachers should acquire within each skill set.

"These standards consist of modules that will help trainers prioritize their needs and design training curricula adapted to specific requirements and resources, reflecting UNESCO's conviction that countries must occupy the driver's seat of educational planning," says the director-general of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura.

UNESCO acknowledges that many attempts have been made by governments, academia, and the private sector to address ICT professional development for educators, but stresses that universal terminology or standards in this area had never been established. The organization hopes that by streamlining global efforts and creating a common language, the ICT-CST project will advance the effective use of technology in the classroom.

But while the new standards identify the competencies needed to successfully incorporate ICT into classrooms, it will still be up to government and private education providers to deliver the curricula and training programs that target these competencies. The next phase of the project will involve establishing a mechanism to endorse training programs that comply with the UNESCO standards. Organizations interested in participating in the ICT-CST framework must submit an application describing their proposed course offerings for approval by the ICT-CST Endorsement Board.

To find out more about the project, download copies of the booklets, join a discussion board, or gather information about how to participate in the ICT-CST framework, visit here.

NASA, SALLY RIDE JOIN UP ON SCIENCE EDUCATION MISSION

SALLY RIDE SCIENCE, a scienceeducation company founded by itsnamesake, the first Americanwoman in space, has teamed upwith NASA toexplore the moon's anatomy andhistory and will share its findingswith students.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission will send two twin spacecraft around the moon in tandem orbits, collecting information that will help scientists reveal the moon's subsurface structures and thermal history, and gain insight into how Earth and other planets formed.

The mission will leverage the control center for NASA's EarthKAM (Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) program, located on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, where UCSD students will develop the software to run cameras on the GRAIL spacecrafts. From inside their classrooms, middle schoolers will then be able to study the moon from the point of view of the spacecrafts' orbit.

To complement the GRAIL mission, set to launch in 2011 as part of NASA's Discovery Program, Sally Ride Science will develop Educator Institutes to train teachers in science curriculum related to the moon and gravity. In addition, the company will develop workshops about the moon to feature at its science festivals for fifth- through eighth-grade students.

:: Industry News

ECHALK AND THINKRONIZE TEAM UP. Thinkronize and eChalk, developersof education technology products, haveformalized a joint effort to offer schoolsaround the country a safe and secureonline learning environment with standards-based digital content. The partnershipgrew out of the two organizations'successes with the Technology ImmersionProject in Texas.

JOURNEYED ACQUIRES CCV. Online higher education reseller Journey Education Marketing has announced its acquisition of CCV Software, a K-12 education reseller. CCV will become the K-12 division within JourneyEd, expanding the company into a new market.

PROMETHEAN AND VERNIER FORM PARTNERSHIP. Vernier Software & Technology, a leader in science data-collection technology, has entered into a partnership with interactive learning provider Promethean to converge Vernier Logger Pro and Logger Lite software with Promethean Activclassroom for use with science experiments in K-12 classrooms.

GLOBALSCHOLAR.COM ACQUIRES EXCELSIOR. GlobalScholar.com, a member of the Knowledge Universe Education family of companies, has acquired Excelsior Software, a provider of assessment management solutions for the K-12 education market. The acquisition will provide educators and administrators with the Pinnacle Education Solutions suite of products paired with a curriculum and instructional management solution, and a set of intuitive collaboration tools.

:: Awards

DISTRICTS RECOGNIZED FORPARENT CONNECTIONS. At theAmerican Association of School Administrators NationalConference on Education in Tampa, FL,held Feb. 14, Miami-Dade CountyPublic Schools (FL) and HamiltonSchool District (WI) were named corecipientsof the 2008 Connect-Ed Leadershipthrough Communication Award.The districts were honored for demonstratingexemplary leadership in theenhancement of school-to-parent communicationwithin their school systemsand the communities they serve. Formore information about the award, visit here.

FIRST WOMAN COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION IN TEXAS HONORED. Longtime educator Shirley Neeley, the first woman Texas Commissioner of Education, was honored at last month's Women of Educational Distinction Awards in Dallas for her commitment to impacting the achievement of all students across the state, including disadvantaged and at-risk children. The award was sponsored in part by Spectrum K12 School Solutions, a provider of special education and IEP (Individualized Education Program) management software.

IOWA RESEARCH TEAM WINS AWARD. The Iowa Lighthouse Research Team from the Iowa Association of School Boards received the 2008 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence in School Boards Association Leadership at the National School Board Association's recent annual Leadership Conference, held in Washington DC. The team was selected for its innovative research on the school board/student-achievement link, which benefits school districts all over the country.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.

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