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Preview: Jim Flowers: Technology and Education

Jim Flowers: Technology and Education

Last Build Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 22:14:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2005 Jim Flowers

Empty Words

Thu, 14 Apr 2005 22:13:49 GMT

Secretary spelling testified recently to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (an interesting grouping -- cradle to grave -- no?).  Anyhow, she says all the right things about transforming our current model of education :

Technology is changing the world faster than our imagination can predict it. Our high schools may be very different places a decade or two from now. The old, regimented "factory"-type model, based on time spent in classrooms, may give way to a new "competency-based" model that measures progress according to what kids have learned, not the date on the calendar.

Such a model would take full advantage of community resources, private sector innovations and the advanced, interactive technologies kids and teachers use at home and school. We already see it in the movement to create "Digital High Schools" and the explosive growth of "Distance Learning." It is a smarter, faster, more student-centric model of learning.

Right on.  So, why is Cobb County spending $100 million without changing the model?  Why is Athens-Clarke reversing the model change that occurred when they adopted the Barnes laptop program?  What is Muscogee County doing with their $53 million for technology?

Back to the bad ol' days

Thu, 14 Apr 2005 11:37:45 GMT

Amid all the negative stories concerning the Cobb County School Board decision to put laptops in the hands of all middle schoolers (see AJC and MDJ today), here is one that speaks, anecdotedly at least, of the success of such a program, one funded by Governor Barnes for three years.

Yet, despite all the evidence given by the Clarke-Athens school board that giving students a laptop to take home, to work with personally as their own can and does produce a positive impact on the quality of education ... the board has decided to take those machines and redistribute them as classroom machines thus reverting to the failed, old model of letting technology sit in the corner only to be used as a "busy" time device.  And of course, this method has yet to prove to be a positive influence on the quality of education received.

When will our administrators learn that technology can help only if you change the way you educate?

BTW, Terry Frazier is absolutely right as to why the Cobb plan will fail.  The Barnes model addressed those issues -- and it succeeded.

On a tangent -- Frazier's analysis is a model of what good reporting on this issue should have produced.  Alas, none of the "professional" media outlets have done such -- in fact, until today, none of the reports on the Cobb laptop program have even alluded to the three year state laptop program.  And, these are the entities that say they defend democracy?

Tue, 10 Feb 2004 22:15:36 GMT

More on RSS - specifically Higher Ed applications

New Chronicle of Higher Education article on RSS. [Scripting News]

Tue, 29 Jul 2003 14:06:51 GMT

VOIP has gotten the FBI's attention.

Read the story (which follows) where the FBI wants the FCC to use its rule making ability to expand surveillance/wire tap rules so the FBI can force ISP's to allow easier monitoring of VOIP activity.  (link)

Fri, 11 Jul 2003 12:54:01 GMT

Why isn't license sharing more simple?

Story talks of difficulty one university would have to license gene splicing technology from Cornell because Cornell licensed the work to DuPont...  We really do go around our elbow to get to our , well, you know what sometimes.

Universities to Share Patented Work on Crops. Several leading universities are joining to share information on their patented biotechnologies and make them more widely available. By Andrew Pollack. [New York Times: Education]

Thu, 19 Jun 2003 15:01:16 GMT

Another one bites the dust.

Need to look at why they are leaving the business -- fodder for discussion on mandated electronic texts in higher ed.


Tue, 03 Jun 2003 15:16:46 GMT

Home Schooling in Cyberspace. Some parents seeking home schooling are enrolling their children in schools that exist only in cyberspace. By Bonnie Rothman Morris. [New York Times: Education]

Sun, 13 Apr 2003 14:23:04 GMT

Heavy stuff. Just discussed how the "Really Big Corporate" types are using their political strength to dictate the "battlefield", to use a common term now, on issues of content, infrastructure, and who makes money on what at a luncheon with the Atlanta chapter of the Federal Communications Bar.  Didn't realize we literally had a battle shaping up just down the street. DMCA vs. Free Speech, cont'd. I just heard from folks at the InterZOne conference in Atlanta, where, apparently, conference organizers and two scheduled speakers have been served with cease-and-desist requests. At issue are the "intellectual property rights" of Blackboard Inc. Here's an excerpt from Blackboard's attorney's letter: It recently has come to Blackboard's attention that Billy Hoffman and Virgil Griffith are intending to speak as co-panelists in your upcoming InterzOne II conference on April 11, 2003. The website located at, Mr. Hoffman's website, states that, "The signals to and from several Blackboard readers have been captured, as well as how data is stored on the cards. Using this knowledge Virgil and I have created a drop-in compatible reader, that will work with an existing RS-485 network. Computer code to emulate any reader made as well as hardware specs to wire the readers and control circuits will be launched." Explaining, Mr. Hoffman's website states that "This will show not only did we hack the system, but we hacked it so far we could build functional readers from scratch." The website states that he intends at this conference to "release code to make a computer emulate any Blackboard reader, as well as the hardware designs ... to make a drop in replacement for any Blackboard reader." The website also threatens that, because "Blackboard wouldn't make their system more secure, or tell people how to secure it, I'll simply make compatible ones myself and give them away." Please be advised that the actions described on Mr. Hoffman's website, including the hacking of Blackboard's system, are illegal, and that any effort by either Mr. Hoffman or Mr. Griffith to convey to others at your Conference any information gleaned in whole or in part from such actions, particularly in an effort to cause Blackboard economic harm, would be improper. Please be advised of our view that it would be actionable for you or your conference to facilitate Mr. Hoffman's and Mr. Griffith's announced plans for, among other things, the disclosure of signals captured, the releasing of code, the description of development of functional readers, and the hardware specs to wire the readers and/or control circuits. Please be advised further that the website's use of the Blackboard name and the Blackboard logo is unauthorized and far exceeds the parameters of any nominative fair use, constituting a false designation of origin in violation of the federal Lanham Act, and we caution that we have not authorized Blackboard's name or logo to be used in any seminar or conference materials or in any presentation. We are also examining whether the actions of Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Griffin may have violated other federal laws, including (among others) the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the Economic Espionage Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Wiretap Act, and the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Georgia's Computer Systems Protection Act. My correspondent writes, We're trying to get the word out as fast as possible because this is most definitely not cool. [The Doc Searls Weblog][...]

Sun, 09 Mar 2003 21:22:53 GMT

Technology is not God.

The debate continues, though I think the librarians may be setting themselves up for failure by premising their arguements on free speech.  After all, if the technology worked perfectly, then there would be no need to protest its presence.  Politicians and parents aren't concerned about the sites that are blocked -- very few of them use the net to its full extent anyway.

Computers in Libraries Make Moral Judgments, Selectively. Public libraries can't shield their patrons from the evils lurking in cyberspace, nor can technology eliminate the problems it creates. By Geoffrey Nunberg. [New York Times: Technology]

Fri, 07 Mar 2003 10:29:56 GMT

Which way do we go?

State Republican leaders want us to consider raising tuition -- national Republican leaders do not.  While Rome burns, the fiddle players are sitting on the fence.

Lawmaker Proposes a Measure to Restrain Tuition Increases. A Republican lawmaker responsible for shepherding higher education policy through the House has proposed penalizing schools that raise tuition too quickly. By Greg Winter. [New York Times: Politics]

Thu, 06 Mar 2003 11:09:09 GMT

The myth of technology

We have a state version of CIPA making its way through the legislative process.  It is identical to the federal bill and did not make the cut last year.  One of the problems is that the proponents believe that filters do just as advertised.  And, when you ask them if they would approved tax dollars buying software that only works 75-80% of the time, they respond by claiming protecting children deserves some effort.  Course, they don't have a good answer when you point out that the parents complaining of seeing porn sites (and the definition of porn ranges from victoria secret ads to the real stuff) are parents who go to libraries with filter (see, they don't work). 

Funny, when you try to get funding for a sound info tech project -- they all say the stuff never works as advertised so why fund it. 

Sides Debate Web Access in Libraries. WASHINGTON, March 5 Two visions of the Internet competed today at the Supreme Court in an argument on whether the government can require public libraries to install antipornography filters as the price for receiving federal financing for Internet access. By Linda Greenhouse. [New York Times: Politics]

Wed, 05 Mar 2003 12:47:27 GMT

Georgia is seeing similar results

The past governor put more than $10 million in a pilot project that actually went far beyond the Maine program, requiring the entire school of middle school students to shift to a technology assisted learning schema.  The results in the pilot schools here are just as impressive as Maine.

Laptops Win Over the Skeptics, Even in Maine. Just six months after Maine began providing laptop computers, educators are impressed by how quickly students and teachers have adapted to laptop technology. By Sarah Mahoney. [New York Times: Education]

Sat, 01 Mar 2003 12:49:51 GMT


Online Library Wants It All, Every Book. The directors of the new Alexandria Library have begun an ambitious effort to make virtually all of the world's books available at a mouse click. By Robert F. Worth. [New York Times: Technology]

Sun, 23 Feb 2003 13:21:36 GMT

Future reading

A Father of Invention Is Retooling. Kenan Sahin's latest venture aims to help companies transform university research into marketable products and services. By Barnaby J. Feder. [New York Times: Business]

Thu, 20 Feb 2003 12:55:13 GMT

More on filtering...

Washington Post article on efforts by the Center for Democracy and Technology to force the Pennsylvania State AG to disclose how he is attacking ISP's in order to block pornographic sites.  The article also provides the following links

Center for Democracy & Technology

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Harvard study to be released today on filtering problem

Mon, 10 Feb 2003 15:58:43 GMT

Teacher Tech Training takes a hit

PT3 is proposed to be eliminated in the federal 2004 budget and may be cut in the 2003 budget.  Thanks to alterego for the alert.

Mon, 10 Feb 2003 12:53:38 GMT

How the rest of the world does it...

Computers take over the classroom. Computers are increasingly becoming a fixture in classrooms across the world and changing the way children learn. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]

Sat, 08 Feb 2003 20:42:53 GMT

Another college try...

UK colleges open doors online. Students from around the world will be able to take advantage of a UK university education online. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]

Traditional American universities have not had a successful launch of an e-university.  This model may have a better chance at success since it uses a unique public-private partnership to create and manage the intellectual property and services required by the going online concern.

Fri, 07 Feb 2003 12:36:28 GMT


Ex-student accused of spying on campus. A former Boston College student is indicted for allegedly installing spyware on more than 100 campus computers and could face up to 20 years in prison. By Declan McCullagh, Staff Writer, CNET [CNET]

Thu, 06 Feb 2003 18:39:30 GMT

Blogs at Harvard

Dave Winer is working to start blogs at Harvard Yard.  This note suggests he is running into the normal campus suspicions as he does so.  Breaking old habits on campus is very difficult.

John Palfrey: "Harvard has always operated as a bunch of highly productive but rarely well-integrated stove-pipes." [Scripting News]

Thu, 16 Jan 2003 21:41:45 GMT

Ebooks + Open Source = ?

Book publisher adopts open-source idea. Prentice Hall, a technical and academic book publisher, embraces the open-source philosophy for a new series of books, the content of which may be freely distributed. [CNET]

Thu, 16 Jan 2003 14:00:17 GMT

$500 -- All you can eat OS.  What a deal?

Lindows license offer targets schools. The software maker launches a program to let educational institutions install its namesake operating system on an unlimited number of computers for $500 per year. [CNET]

Tue, 07 Jan 2003 14:45:31 GMT

Web design, Useability issues

Participo provides notice to this pdf file documenting the re-design of the BBC site.  A nicely done document!

Mon, 06 Jan 2003 17:20:33 GMT

An Educational Equivalent to Digital Government

Thu, 02 Jan 2003 13:56:07 GMT

Professors Vie With Web for Class's Attention. As universities rush to install wireless networks, professors say the technology poses a growing challenge for them: retaining their students' attention. By John Schwartz. [New York Times: Technology]