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CoSN Study Opens Doorsto Open Technologies

A new report shows educators how open source programscan be rolled out successfully—and affordably.

In Brief

WELL EQUIPPED: Open source is
putting 1-to-1 computing within reach.

A STUDY INTENDED to help educators assess and implement open technologies is available now from the Consortium for School Networking as part of CoSN’s ongoing K-12 Open Technologies Initiative. The study covers Indiana’s ACCESS (Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student) program, focusing on the state’s Linux Desktop initiative, which placed 22,000 Linux workstations in language artsclassrooms.

By considering the five case studies in the report, schools that once determined they did not have the resources to implement a 1-to-1 initiative may well discover the goal is not out of reach if they too use open source operating systems and applications. For example, Indiana’s first pilot program equipped three high school classrooms with 30 computers each. The state purchased $199 desktops and $99 monitors from a discount chain and loaded the machines with free software—a suite of opensource applications.

The CoSN study also provides details about meeting challenges such as securing districtwide buy-in for open source, and providing adequate training on new systems. In one case, exploring the Monroe County Community School Corporation’s use of ACCESS funds to equip nine language arts classrooms with open source technology, MCCSC’s information services director, Karen Portle, reports on ways she found to resolve a student logon glitch, make tech support economical by automating annual maintenance, and assess the costs of licensed software versus the total cost of ownership of opensource.

Preceding the Indiana implementation study in a series of reports is a document examining the adoption of enterprise Linux in the Saugus Union School District in California. (The district was chosen as a 2006 innovator in the December issue of T.H.E. Journal.) “In both cases, schools had to carefully research their transition to open technologies, test applications, and then communicate with the end users,” a spokesperson at CoSN says. “The administrators in charge of these initiatives say the open source systems have proven to be reliable, robust, and cost-effective.” The results speak for themselves: Saugus has saved $54,000 a year by escaping recurring costs for its former operating system, and between $50and $200 per desktop for software.

“These studies provide step-by-step information about how to use open technologies in support of educational goals,” says Michael Jay, co-director of the CoSN initiative. “As education leaders plan for technology-rich learning environments, it is vital that they think through the role open technologies play in achieving goals related to both education and the business of educating.”

1105 ACQUISITION HIGHLIGHTS FETC CHILLY AIR AND RAIN didn’t dampen spirits at the Florida Educational Technology Corporation’s (FETC) annual conference, held in Orlando January 24-26. The mood was electric among the thousands of attendees— teachers, principals, district administrators, curriculum designers, media specialists, and technologydirectors.

Main attractions at the show included keynote addresses by Bill Nye, “the Science Guy,” and Joe Caruso, author of The Power of Losing Control—not to mention more than 200 concurrent learning sessions and 250,000 square feet of the latest ed tech products lining the exhibit hall. Sponsors included The Princeton Review, Riverdeep,and Pearson Education.

FETC, which held its first show in 1981, aims to help educators learn about emerging technologies and how to integrate them across curricula.

At this year’s event, 1105 Media, parent company of T.H.E. Journal, announced its acquisition of FETC. Mike Eason, FETC’s executive director, says, “The acquisition of FETC by 1105 presents a terrific opportunity for us to grow the event and serve even more administrators and educators who seek to transform education throughtechnology.”

Larry Nanns, president of the FETC board of directors, adds, “The corporate depth and experience of 1105 will enhance an already successful conference.”

:: Industry News

In Brief

IT ALL ADDS UP: SpanishTutor
helps ELLs learn math.

MATH SOFTWARE HELPS ELL STUDENTS. AutoSkill has added a new module to its Academy of Math intervention software. Called SpanishTutor, it’s designed to help Spanish-speaking students understand math tutorials and instruction. AutoSkill software can be deployed on a local or wide area network; it can also beprovided by the company as a service.

TETRADATA CONVENES ED TECH LEADERS. TetraData is inviting educational leaders and IT professionals from across the country to attend “Leading the Quest: Discovering the Treasures in Your Students, Your Educators, and Your Data.” The networking and training event will take place April 24-26 in Charleston, SC.

Chris Dede, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will speak about next-generation data initiatives, while Victoria Bernhardt will give a talk titled “The Evolution of the Data Warehouse to Ensure Maximum Usage.” Other speakers will address funding, present national perspectives, offer one-on-one consulting services, and describe best practices learned from school districts that are succeeding with cutting-edge programs.

TEXAS ADOPTS NTC TRANSCRIPT SYSTEM. The Texas Education Agency, the second-largest state education agency in the country, has hired the National Transcript Center to develop the Texas Records Exchange (TREx) application, a custom version of NTC’s e-transcript product. The deal will make electronic record exchange possible for 4.5 million students. TREx will allow every Texas school district to transfer digital records to any school in the state, as well as send student transcripts electronically to the state’s public colleges and universities; private schools and colleges will be able to join TREx for a fee. TREx users will also be enabled by their connection to the NTC national server to transmit certified PDFs.

IMPERVA OFFERS FREE SECURITY CHECK. Imperva, a data security and compliance solutions company, has announced the launch of Scuba, a free databasevulnerability scanner. Scuba is a Java utility available for download from Imperva’s website. It’s designed to detect insecure passwords, unsafe processes, and configurations that are not optimal for protecting data, then to generate security assessment reports.

:: Awards

BUNDLE OF COMPROMISES WINS MARCOM GOLD. Find the Fun Productions won the MarCom Gold Award in the education category for Bundle of Compromises, a multimedia DVD about the US Constitution. Executive Producer Howard Egger-Bovet comments: “In the 21st century, media must be the first line of offense. Research shows it’s media that will awaken the text information. Start with media that can truly reach kids.” Find the Fun Productions was one of 5,000 organizations that entered the contest. Other winners included Cisco Systems, Marsteller, and Adobe Systems. The MarCom Creative Awards recognize excellence inmarketing and communication projects.”

Deme Clainos

Deme Clainos (right) is honored.

COMPUTERWORLD HONORS STUDYDOG. StudyDog), a maker of reading programs for young children, has been selected as a 2006 Computerworld Honors Program Laureate. Bob Carrigan, chairman of the program and president of IDG Communications, which publishes Computerworld magazine, says the Honors Program “recognizes organizations for their ongoing efforts to utilize technology in order to benefit society.”

STUDENTS DESIGN TOOLS FOR THE DISABLED. The National Engineering Design Challenge, sponsored by the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Junior Engineering Technical Society, asks high school students to identify workplace problems that thwart people with disabilities, then build technologies to solve them.

The finalists, five teams from across the country, were flown in to Washington, DC, last month to demonstrate their innovations to a panel of judges. The winning team will be awarded $3,000.

:: People

COMPASSLEARNING NAMES ADVISER. CompassLearning, a provider of K-12 software, has appointed award-winning teacher Quality Quinn as an external senior adviser. Founder of Project Early Word, a bilingual initiative between Mexico and the United States, Quinn is also an adviser to the Texas Reading Initiative, through which minority students have achieved some of the greatest reading gains in the country. At CompassLearning, Quinn will provide professional development services and advise the companyon software development.

Dave Berque

Dave Berque

DYKNOW ANNOUNCES ADVISORY BOARD. DyKnow, a leader in interactive education technology, has named the members of its 2007 advisory board. They are: Dave Berque, professor and chair of the computer science department at DePauw University (IN); Kenneth Collura, director of technology for the Columbus Diocesan Department of Education (OH); Vince DiStasi, CIO and associate professor of chemistry at Grove City College (PA); Debbie Rice, director of technology for Auburn City Schools (AL); Ryan Ritz, computer science instructor at Park Tudor School (IN); and Julia Williams, executive director of the Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment and professor of English at Rose HulmanInstitute of Technology (IN).

Glen Pearson

Glen Pearson

SME EDUCATION FOUNDATION SELECTS BOARD MEMBERS. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, an organization dedicated to interesting young people about manufacturing, engineering, science, and technology, has made changes to its board of directors. Glen Pearson has been named president, and Sandra Bouckley will become vice president.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.