Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

Teacher Tech Use Stuck in the Past

A new survey shows that although today's teachers are happier than their predecessors, they are not taking full advantage of useful technologies.

In BriefTHE 25TH-ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the MetLife survey conducted by market research company Harris Interactive, questioned students, teachers, and principals in 1,000 public schools throughout the country. The results of The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Past, Present, and Future are in, suggesting that although the morale of K-12 teachers is better today than it was 25 years ago, their on-the-job technology use seems stuck in the past.

According to the survey results, teachers today feel more satisfied in their careers, more respected, better prepared, and more supported than teachers in the past. Today's teachers also have brighter views of the academic quality of their districts: The number of teachers who rate the academic standards in their school as excellent has doubled since the first MetLife survey was given in 1984, from 26 percent to 53 percent, and the number of teachers who rate their school curriculum as "excellent" or "good" rose from 81 to 89 percent.

The gloomier data from the survey involves technology use. Although a large percentage of teachers surveyed believe in technology's potential in education-- 90 percent say it enhances their ability to teach-- they're not taking full advantage of it: Forty-three percent of them never communicate online with teachers outside their district, 72 percent have never read or written a blog about teaching, and 60 percent have never taken an online course.

The student responses perhaps offer the strongest evidence that teachers need to boost their use and knowledge of technology tools: Twenty-six percent of students rated teachers' abilities to teach about computers and the internet as "fair" or "poor"-- teachers' worse showing than in almost all of the other subject and skill categories on the survey.

The survey also identified a digital divide independent of the one separating students and teachers. According to the responses, teachers of different generations place different values on technology in education: Sixty-six percent of teachers in Generation Y (age 30 or younger) "strongly agree" that technology enhances their ability to teach, compared to 58 percent of those in Generation X (ages 31 to 43) and 49 percent of baby boomers (ages 44 to 62). And in general, principals use technology and digital communication more often than teachers.

The full survey results are available for download here, and the entire 25-year series of MetLife surveys can be found at the Education Resources Information Center website.

Green Spot

LUTRON LAUNCHES GREENOVATION PROGRAM

Lutron Electronics, a lighting control solution manufacturer, has aligned with the Green Schools Alliance and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International for its new Greenovation program, an effort to help schools combine energy-efficient classroom lighting with K-12 curriculum and community outreach.

Schools can begin the program by upgrading to Balance LC, a high-performance, sustainable lighting system designed to decrease energy consumption up to 60 percent. The lighting system includes sensors that adjust brightness based on available daylight and turn the lights on or off as needed, and comes with a data box that reads energy usage in real time and sends it to the Greenovation website.

Participating teachers can go to the Greenovation website to view their school's energy usage data and pair it with Lutron's standards-aligned supplemental curriculum. Each Greenovation lesson, which includes online modules and activity guides, uses the lighting system as a basis for learning about scientific concepts surrounding energy use.

The Greenovation website also offers tools that foster discussion, collaboration, and outreach around energy conservation, including a secure social networking feature and activity guides.

:: Awards and Contests

ROSETTA STONE ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP CONTEST. Rosetta Stone, a provider of language learning software, has launched the Communicate and Connect Scholarship for ESL students who will be graduating from high school this spring. To enter the contest, high school seniors who have learned English as a second language must submit 500- word essays that demonstrate how learning English has impacted their lives. One winner will be chosen by a panel of judges to receive a $3,000 college scholarship. Students can visit here to download a submission packet and read the complete contest rules. Entries must be submitted by May 15.

In BriefSEARCH FOR THE GREENEST SCHOOL BEGINS. K-12 schools across the country can compete for the title of America's Greenest School, a contest sponsored by school bus manufacturer IC Bus that runs through April 30. Interested K-12 students should visit www.americasgreen estschool.com and submit 500-word essays describing their school's commitment to going green. Essays must describe school practices that teach students the value of green living and demonstrate their school's dedication to encouraging environmentally friendly transportation to and from school. At the beginning of May, judges will post 10 finalists to the America's Greenest School website, where the public will vote for the winner. The winning school will win a hybrid school bus from IC Bus, and the student who submits the winning essay will win a $5,000 scholarship. Sponsoring teachers may receive $3,000 to use toward educational materials.

SCIENTIFIC LEARNING LAUNCHES VIDEO CONTEST. The Scientific Learning BrainGain School Video Contest invites educators and high school students ages 13 and older to share how its Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant products have boosted student learning in their class, school, or district. Contest entrants must create a three-minute video that tells a learning success story and upload it on SchoolTube by May 8. Judges will score submissions based on creativity and uniqueness, effective communication of the subject matter, compelling storytelling, and overall presentation. One entry will be chosen as the grand-prize winner and will receive a video camera and an award ceremony videotaped at the winner's school by SchoolTube. In addition, one educator entry and one student entry will each win a $250 Best Buy gift card. To enter, visit here.

:: Industry News

WEBSITE PROVIDES MASS NOTIFICATION GUIDANCE. Technology solution provider CDW-G has created the Mass Notification Toolkit, a website that gives schools tips and tools for the successful deployment of mass notification systems. The toolkit, which can be found here, covers a variety of important elements, including what a mass notification system IT infrastructure looks like, who should be involved in system development, what features are available for these systems, and how to craft an effective message.

In BriefFOLLETT INTRODUCES DIGITAL READER. Follett Digital Resources, a provider of digital solutions for publishers and educators, has recently made available its new Digital Reader, which will replace the Adobe PDF technology previously used to download and read Follett eBooks. Follett customers can visit here to download and install the new reader at no cost. The Follett Digital Reader features a simple yet functional interface, allowing readers to easily navigate through digital books, make notes, perform searches, change the page view, and set bookmarks. Images, graphics, and color also maintain a high level of integrity in eBooks viewed with the new reader.

WEB WISE KIDS JOINS WEB SAFETY CAMPAIGN. Web Wise Kids, a provider of computer-based games that teach safe internet practices to youth and their parents, has joined Microsoft's Get Game Smart campaign, which aims to help families develop healthy habits for watching TV, surfing the internet, and playing video games. Web Wise Kids will contribute to the campaign's website, which contains parental control tools, tips, contests, games, and other resources designed to help parents and kids make educated decisions about media use.

WISCONSIN SCHOOLS PARTNER WITH EPALS. Spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association and ePals have partnered on an initiative to provide Wisconsin's K-12 classrooms with the tools to safely connect with classrooms around the world. The initiative, called Wisconsin Connects, provides all Wisconsin schools the ability to sign up for ePals social networking tools and content free of charge, and connect with students, educators, and academic experts in more than 200 countries and territories. The goals of the program are to improve students’ communication and technology skills, improve their understanding of other cultures, and better prepare them to compete in a 21st-century global economy. For more information about the program, visit www.ltgov.wisconsin. gov and click on the “Initiatives” link at the top of the page.

CORE PARTNERS WITH TEACHSCAPE. The Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE), a provider of development and technical support for K-12 literacy and math programs, has joined with Teachscape, a provider of online professional learning for educators, to expand its professional development offerings. Online professional development tools from Teachscape will now be available to educators working with CORE, allowing for anytime, anywhere access to critical training, in addition to on-site training and support.

DELL LAUNCHES ONLINE ED TECH RESOURCE. Technology provider Dell recently launched Edu4U, a website and online community dedicated to enhancing teaching and learning through technology. The new website features blogs, wikis, forums, news, and other resources for students, educators, and anyone interested in education technology.

PEARSON DEVELOPS NEW TEACHER CERTIFICATION TESTS. Pearson Education recently introduced the National Evaluation Series (NES), a computer-based teacher certification program aimed at ensuring that educators have the skills and knowledge needed for success in a 21st-century classroom. The NES provides states with comprehensive exams aligned to national learning standards, as well as test preparation materials for educators. All program content has been reviewed by panels of expert teachers, administrators, and professional development leaders from around the country.

CoSN Announces 2009 Award Winners

Each year, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) recognizes individuals and school districts that demonstrate outstanding innovation and vision in the use of technology to improve K-12 education. Here is a glimpse of some of the 2009 CoSN honorees:

Team Award: North Kansas City Schools (MO)
CoSN’s Team Award honors teams of people who have made a significant impact on technology’s role in transforming learning. NKCS’ technology team jumpstarted the integration of technology into the school system by installing 49 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout the district. Now, by combining technology immersion with professional development, the district is able to use technology to meet its goals, promote partnerships with parents and the community, and enrich teaching and learning.

Withrow CTO Award: Greg Utecht
Greg UtechtThe Lakeville Area Public Schools (MN) technology leader received the award for his innovative technology use. During his 12 years with Lakeville, Utecht has led many technology integration efforts, including networking all of the district’s 14 buildings, consolidating the district’s servers, and implementing a voice over IP telephone system. Utecht was also the driving force behind the district’s plan to allocate funds for ongoing computer replacements, and agreements with other school districts to interlink fiber-optic networks.

Volunteer of the Year: Darnell Walery
The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes an educator who provided exemplary support to CosN. Walery, director of technology at Consolidated High School District 230 in Orland Park, IL, received the honor for the leadership role he took on CoSN’s Emerging Technologies Committee, and for helping to guide the development of important resources, such as the Ed Tech Next mini reports, for CoSN members.

Private Sector Champion: Nick Mirisis
In BriefMirisis, marketing programs manager for SchoolDude, a provider of support tools for operations management, was honored for going above and beyond his job to give back to the education technology community. Mirisis has participated on CoSN’s Marketing Committee and identi- fied innovative ways for SchoolDude to collaborate with CoSN, including SchoolDude University, a four-day professional development event for educators.

:: People

DAUGHRITY NAMED TEXAS CTO OF THE YEAR. The Texas K-12 CTO Council, a chapter of the Consortium for School Networking, has given Bob Daughrity from Pasadena Independent School District its first Texas Grace Hopper Award for Individual Achievement and the title of Texas CTO of the Year. The new award was created to honor Texas CTOs who demonstrate effective leadership and community building and use innovative technology to positively impact learning. Daughrity has improved the quality of education for Pasadena ISD’s students by implementing technology initiatives such as a 21st-century classroom model that incorporates digital whiteboards, networked projectors, document cameras, and streamed content.

GEOLEARNING’S RUSSELL HONORED. Frank Russell, president and CEO of learning and performance management provider GeoLearning, was named CEO of the Year at the 2009 Prometheus Awards, sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa. The annual awards were created to celebrate and help promote excellence within Iowa’s technology industry. Russell was honored for his leadership, and his ability to help GeoLearning successfully maintain financial stability and achieve company growth despite a troubled national economy.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2009 issue of THE Journal.

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