Oregon Technology in Education Council (OTEC)

A non-profit organization dedicated to improving formal and informal
education systems in Oregon, the nation, and the world.

Updated 2/27/07

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David Moursund, Webmaster

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FAQ: ICT in Education

Integrating ICT Into Each Subject Area

Lesson Plans and Websites

Oregon ICT Organizations, Projects, & Contacts. Updated 11/13/05.

Preservice Teacher Education & Continuing Professional Development in Oregon

Parents & Their Children

School Administrators

Special & Gifted Education

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References (Annotated)

Visits to this page
since 11/15/00: many

Announcements

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) continues to improve. 1/13/07.

101 Fabulous Freebies. 12/23/06.

Ray Kurzweil and David Gelernter discuss possiblity of conscious machines. 12/07/06.

Oral History Archives Project. 12/07/06.

Research on the testing of writing in hands-on computer and in hands-off computer. 11/27/06

Technology in Schools: What the Research Says. Precollege education. 11/19/06.

Free online games lift spirits of seriously ill kids. 11/06/06. Related article and more resources. Ben's Game. SparkTop.org. Osmosis Jones.

Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning. 137 page October 2006 free NACOL report.11/07/06.

Google Docs & Spreadseets. Use a word processor and a spreadsheet provided free on the Wewb by Google. 10/23/06

New free book from Moursund. Moursund, D.G. (August 2006). Parents' Guide to Computers in Education. 8/17/06.

New Blog from Moursund. 6/21/06.

New free book from Moursund. Introduction to Using Games in Education. 6/21/06

Over 10 million digitized historical documents from the US Library of Congress. 6/14/06.

PK-20 Redesign of Oregon's Educational System. 5/24/06.

Computational thinking. A very good, short article by the head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie-Mellon University. In my opinion, this is "must" reading for all educators. 5/7/06.

More than 100 digitized historical films available free online from Google. 4/26/06.

Ordering Pizza in 2010, when the pizza company knows a lot about you. Funny and frightening. 4/15/06.

Digital Universe Website. Read about this exciting new idea and project by clicking here. The idea is an outgrowth of the Wikipedia. 4/7/06.

Dave Moursund has created a Website on uses of games in K-12 education. 3/30/06.

Is Computer Science Science? An excellent April 2005 short article by Peter J. Denning. 3/30/06.

A 1975 Computer Literacy Quiz. (Good for a laugh!) 1/05/06.

Extending Moore's Law beyond 2015 by use of nanotechnology. 12/30/05.

New free book on ICT and TAG Education from Dave Moursund. 12/29/05.

University of Oregon ICT in Education 11/17/05.

Oregon ICT Organizations, Projects, & Contacts. Updated 11/13/05.

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Archived Announcements

Brief News Items

Continuing progress in voice recognition. 1/10/07.

U.S. students average over 72 hours a week using multimedia. 12/08/06.

Silicon chip produces light beams, allowing much faster computers. 9/18/06.

New computer speed record: 200 trillion operations per second. 6/23/06. Moursund's comments.

Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA) is a virtual public charter school serving students in grades K–10 throughout Oregon. 6/8/06. Moursund's comments.

Online, for profit, high school starting in state of Washington. 5/9/06. Moursund's comments.

Holograms Break Storage Record. Learn about commercially available holographic disc storage. 3/30/06.

2020 Computing: A two-way street to science's future. Short article on how computer modeling is becoming a central component of science. 3/23/06.

Digitizing a million books. A nice, short article about Carnegie Mellon University's seven years of progress on its digitizing project. 3/07/06.

Moore's Law may well continue to hold for another 10 to 15 years. Microcomputers are continuing to make rapid gains in cost-effectiveness. 2/27/06.

A nice interview of J. Presper Eckert, one of the inventors of the ENIAC, a computer that became operational 2/14/1946. 2/15/2006.

Voice input and computer translation. This field has a long way to go, but is making significant progress. Article provides a nice overview. 2/14/06.

Computational modeling and simulation lies at the heart of many ground breaking applications of computers. 11/03/05.

A nice article on new Web services that are becoming available. 10/29/05.

Teacher salaries fail to keep pace with inflation. Comment by Dave Moursund.

Research suggests high-stakes testing in NCLB is a poor approach to trying to improve education. 9/30/05.

Carry on a conversation with a computer program that is this years winner in the Turing Test contest. 9/24/05.

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Archived News Items

News Item Sources

Partial support for the development of this Website was provided by The Quiet Revolution, a Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology project in the College of Education at the University of Oregon. The PTTT project which ended 5/30/05 was funded by a 4-year $1.2 million grant from the US Department of Education, with an equal amount of matching funds provided by non-federal sources.

Computer Speed

Dave Moursund 6/23/06

I took a job at the University of Oregon beginning in fall 1967. The UO had recently built a new building to house its new IBM 360/50. I think it was about three years later when the UO added a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 timeshared system.

The IBM 360/50 had a memory cycle time of 2 microsceonds, and the the PDP-10 memory cycle time was 1 microsecond. The 360/50 was first sold in 1965, while the PDP-10 was first sold in 1967. According to data available at http://homepage.virgin.net/roy.longbottom/cpumix.htm, the PDP-10 could average about 450,000 operations per second and the IBM 360/50 could average about 150,000 operations per second.

The article discussing a new speed record of 200 trillion calculations per second does not say what a "calculation" is. This term is sometimes taken to mean "floating point operation." In any event, just for the fun of it I took the two pieces of data from the IBM 360/50 and PDP-10, and compared them with the number 200 trillion.

(IBM 360/50; vintage 1965, 41 years ago) 200 trillion divided by 150,000 is about 1.33 billion.

(PDP-10; vintage 1967, 39 years ago) 200 trillion divided by 450,000 is about .44 billion.

Very roughly speaking, the new speed record is about 2**28 times the speed of the PDP-10 from 39 years ago. Similarly, very roughly speaking, the new speed record is about 1.5 * 2**29 times the speed of the IBM 360/50 from 41 years ago.

In browsing for some data to use in this discussion, I saw an article that claimed it costs $150 per CPU hour to rent time on an IBM 360/50. At this charge rate per computation, not taking into consideration inflation, it would cost 200 billion dollars an hour to use the new, fast machine. If we included inflation, the cost in current dollars would be about a trillion dollars an hour. That is, the entire gross national product of the United States would pay for just a little more than a half day's use of the new machine.

Finally, a quote from the article discussing the new speed record:

The software used for the simulation is named Qbox and written by a former Livermore researcher, Francois Gygi, now a professor of applied science at University of California, Davis. The software was written specifically to run on Blue Gene L, a computer at Livermore that IBM constructed out of 131,000 processors and that was intended from its invention for running quantum calculations.

Merely getting the software to run on Blue Gene L took two years.

They had to orchestrate among thousands of processors while handling 6,500 gigabytes of data — equal to about a quarter of the Library of Congress' print collection.

"It's very hard to imagine up front if someone had come to you a few years ago and said, 'I'm going to build a computer with 131,000 processors,' most people would have said, 'No, that's not going to work. You can't get that many processors to work together,'" he said.

The team that set the new performance record got all the processors to cooperate and run at more than half their theoretical maximum power, a rarity for most supercomputers.

Notice the number of processors—131,000 is a large number. Think of having that many microcomputres all working on the same problem at the same time.

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Here is a quote from Edupage, June 26, 2006, of a still faster computer to be available in two years.

DOE CONTRACTS FOR PETAFLOP SUPERCOMPUTER

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered the first petaflop supercomputing system and an upgrade of its Blue Gene system from Cray. DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced the $200 million arrangement last week, with plans for completion of the new supercomputer in 2008. The new system reportedly will attain 1,000 trillion floating-point operations per second (teraflops), or one petaflop. Oak Ridge scientists plan to use the system to tackle problems in energy, biology, and nanotechnology. The lab also expects to offer computing time to other researchers through a program that grants supercomputer access to academic and corporate institutions. Federal Computer Week, 26 June 2006 http://www.fcw.com/article95010-06-26-06-Web

Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA)

Dave Moursund 6/8/06

Quoting from the OCRA Website:

Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA) is a virtual public charter school serving students in grades K–10 throughout Oregon. ORCA is authorized by the Scio School District 95C school board.

ORCA provides a new form of public school that students can attend from home. This is a unique program that combines the strong parental involvement of homeschooling, the expertise and accountability of publicly funded education, and the flexibility of online classes.

Notice that this is a public school being run by a school district in Oregon. Much of the work of running the school is done through a contract with a for-profit company that also runs schools in about ten other states. The State of Oregon provides funding for public schools in Oregon. The amount of funding is sufficient to provide students in the OCRA school with free computers, software, distance learning instruction, and so on. My guess is that the income the school district receives more than meets its expenses. Quoting from the Website:

Parents pay no tuition for students to attend ORCA. Students are considered to be enrolled in a public school. All materials, including the computer and reusable curriculum materials must be returned if the student is no longer enrolled. Students are required to take all state-mandated, standardized tests in person at locations designated by the school.

This particular virtual school requires a significant commitment from parents of the children who are enrolled. The parents must agree to spend a substantial amount of time helping their children with the academic work.

Thus, in some sense this school is a cross between home schooling and more "traditional" virtual schools, providing some of the benefits of both. Parents who might consider home schooling their children can use this type of school to have the state pay for curriculum materials, computer facilities, and an organized curriculum designed to meet state standards.

It is interesting to think about the future of this type of school. The amount of money the state pays to support public education is now enough to make it "profitable" to a public school system, a for-profit management company, and the parents/children. Over time, the distance learning materials will get better, and economy of scale may make them less expensive. Thus, the quality of education students are receiving will improve, and there will be more money available for the school district and private company, and to provide benefits to the parents/children. Indeed, it would not surprise me to see that some of this money is paid to the parents for their activities.

Right now, only approximately one percent of students in the US are being home schooled. Suppose that the money available to pay to parents grows to a level that a group of parents can afford to collaborate in hiring one parent, or an employee, to be an all day "baby sitter/teacher" for a group of a half dozen students. All of a sudden, we are back to the one room school house! Might this approach lead to a substantial increase in home schooling? Might such an increase have a substantial impact on the public schools? Hmmm. Education as a distributed, cottage industry. If a parent or group of parents wants to add individual tutoring in a foreign language, all that needs to happen is to hire a native speaker who "telecommutes" from their native country via the Web, and who gets paid perhaps 10% to 20% of the amount that such a tutor/teacher would cost if hired by a school district in the US.

My conclusion is that "the times, they are a changing."

Online, Private, for Profit High School

Shaw, Linda (5/9/06). First online high schooling state planned for fall. The Seattle Times. Retrieved 5/9/06: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2002981361_insight09m.html.

The company starting the school is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and the school will be in the Quillayute Valley School District, a small district on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Quoting from the article:

"The company would provide each student with a laptop, Internet access and a printer. Students could choose from 140 courses taught or overseen by Washington teachers — everything from Advanced Placement courses to remedial ones. Students would pay no tuition."

The school will receive about $6,000 per student per year from the state, with 6% of this going to the school district. The school district will also receive 25% of the profit that the school makes, if it manages to make a profit.

The article does not make clear whether the school will have other sources of income. The average per pupil income for high schools in Washington's public schools is probably about $8,000. Income above what the state provides comes from local or regional sources, federal sources, and so on. If none of these sources are available to the private school, then it is expecting to make a profit with an income slight less than 3/4 of what it is costing to run public high schools.

The cost of providing students with a laptop continues to decline. On a large purchase of Apple iBook laptops, for example, the three year cost, with Apple Care during that time, and a buyout after the three years of a nominal cost such as $1 per machine, might be in the range of $300 to $350 per year per machine. Other brands are available at less cost. Thus, providing students with a laptop is somewhat close to 4 to 5% of the cost of public school education. (This percentage varies considerably from state to state, as some states spend much more on education, and some spend much less.)

For the planned private for-profit school, the cost of the laptops might be 6% of the annual budget.

In traditional public schools that are providing each student with a laptop computer, the computer costs tend to be an add on to the budget. In an online school, the computer access and online courses work together as an inherent cost of the education being provided. As compared to a traditional school, an online school has considerable less overhead for its physical facilities. The online school will likely have less personnel (teachers, administrators, support staff) costs per student, even after one factors in the cost of providing the online courses.

It will be intersting towatch the slowly changing economics of online courses and schools during the next decade. Eventually there will be quite a few asynchronous online courses of high quality. As these courses attract increaing levels of enrollment, the cost per course will decrease significantly.

Dave Moursund 5/9/06.

 Computer Simulation of the Human Brain

Dave Moursund 6/16/05

I have recently read the two articles:

Service, Robert (July 2005). Intel's breakthrough. Technology Review. Accessed 6/16/05: http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/07/issue/feature_intel.asp.

Economist.com (June 9, 2005). Grey matter, blue matter. The Economist. Accessed 6/16/05: http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=4054975.

Moore's Law is not really a "Law" in the sense of laws of science. Rather, it is a formula describing the increasing density of transistors in CPU chips, and increasing speed of CPU chips, that has proven relatively accurate over a period of 40 years.

While it is easy to talk about the computer power of a microcomputer doubling in 18 months or so, when this happens for decades, the numbers tend to become mind numbing. As an example, consider the UNIVAC computer that first became commercially available in 1951. The "mass production" of this machine during 1951 to 1954 produced 56 computers. During the subsequent 50 years, the price to performance of computers decreased by a factor of more than two billion! I can now buy a microcomputer for 1/2000 of the cost of the UNIVAC, and that is well over a million times as fast. Two more decades of computer performance improving at the rate it has during the past four decades would add another factor of 10,000 into the speed gain in this UNIVAC example!

A somewhat different way of thinking about this is that when my grandson who was born this past January buys a new computer before going off to college, he may well purchase a computer that has roughly the power of some of today's multimillion dollar supercomputers. This possibility is certainly a major challenge to our educational system.

However, consideration of the educational challenge would move me away from the heart of the story I am telling. The second of the two articles referenced above reports on a new joint project between IBM and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in Switzerland. The quote given below is from that article.

"In a partnership announced on June 6th, the two organisations said they would be working together to build a simulation of a structure known as a neocortical column on a type of IBM supercomputer that is currently used to study the molecular functioning of genes. If that works, they plan to use future, more powerful computers to link such simulated columns together into something that mimics a brain."

The goal is to develop a computer simulation of 10,000 neurons in the grey matter of a human brain. The IBM supercomputer to be used has enough processors to devote several processors to each neuron. It is currently the world's fastest supercomputer. The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne is a world leader in brain research.

Now, special attention to the second of the two paragraphs quoted below, which ties in with the first article's forecast of a continuation of Moore's law .


"This part of the project is expected to take two to three years. From then on, things will go in two directions simultaneously. One will be to “grow” more columns (the human brain contains about 1 million of them) and get them to interact with one another. The second will be to work at a more elementary level-that is, to simulate the molecular structure of the brain, and to look at the influence of gene expression on brain function.

Assuming that the growth of computing power continues to follow Moore's Law, Charles Peck, the leader of IBM's side of the collaboration, reckons it should be feasible to emulate an entire human brain in silicon this way in ten to 15 years. Such an artificial brain would, of course, be a powerful research tool. It would allow neurological experiments that currently take days in a “wet lab” to be conducted in seconds. The researchers hope, for instance, that their simulated brain will reveal the secrets of how certain psychiatric and neurological disorders develop. But that is probably not the real reason for doing it. The most interesting questions, surely, are whether such an artificial brain will be intelligent, or conscious, or both."

The article about Intel's progress suggests that, indeed, Moore's Law will continue to hold for the 10 to 15 year period discussed in the brain emulation article. I wonder what this means for the future of my youngest grandchild? It is possible that he will reach adulthood about the time we have a supercomputer that, in some ways, is comparable to a human brain. Putting aside possible meanings of intelligence and consciousness, this machine will outperform a human brain in a wide range of different activities. It will not be a human brain, and it way well lack many of the attributes of a human brain (such as consciousness). However, it will be a formidable competitor in many areas where human brains are currently much more capable than computers.

When I think about this vision of the future of ICT, I also think about the educational implication. What should we be doing now in our PreK-12 and higher education systems to prepare students for adult life in a world that includes such computers? My simple answer is that we should be educating students to work with powerful computers in solving problems and accomplishing tasks. The curriculum should have a considerably greater emphasis on problem posing, question asking, and so on, and then humans and computers working together to solve the problems, accomplish the tasks, and answer the questions.

Dave Moursund 6/22/05

Teacher Salaries

On 10/14/05 I read a brief news item titled "2004 Survey & Analysis of Teacher Salary Trend published by the American Federation of Teachers. This article indicated that during the years 2003-2004 the average salary increased by 2.2%, which was less than the inflation rate of 2.7%. The average salary was $46,596.

For the year 2004, the per capita income in the United States was $40,100. This suggests to me that the average teacher is receiving a mid level salary, sort of a "middle class" level of income. The AFT article then goes on to argue that this is too low an average salary.

As I read the article, it occurred to me to think about the slowly growing competition that teachers face from computer-assisted learning and distance learning. The research supporting computer-assisted learning suggests that on average students learn somewhat faster and somewhat better than via conventional instruction. The research on distance learning is less clear. However, for some students (and, an increasing number of students) distance learning is a viable alternative to conventional classroom instruction. Moreover, the continuing decline in the cost of the computers and telecommunications suggest that from a cost-effectiveness point of view. CAL and DL are becoming increasingly cost effective.

I believe that over the long run, Highly Interactive Intelligent Computer-Assisted Learning (HIICAL) will become a steadily increasing component of education. If integrated into the ordinary school classroom, this will gradually change the role of teachers. HIICAL will gradually take over more and more of the role of the teacher as delivery-of-instruction person as well as a person who provides much of the feedback that students receive through and during the instructional process.

This situation has the potential to have a significant fiscal impact on schools. During the time that students are engaged in HIICAL, it may turn out that more and more of them are supervised by a para professional whose rate of pay is significantly less than that of a teacher. It is also possible that an increasing about of this HIICAL student time might be spent outside of schools, with no supervisory costs to the school system.

It will be interesting to see how this develops in the future, and how it affects teacher salaries and other aspects of teacher jobs.

Dave Moursund 10/14/05

Connection to draft Faculty book.

Search the OTEC Website Using Google

The Google access given below has been designed to make it easy to do three different categories of searches:

  • A search on the WWW sites indexed by Google.
  • A search on the domain darkwing.uoregon.edu. This domain includes all of Moursund's Websites and many other University of Oregon Websites.
  • A search on the domain otec.uoregon.edu. Moursund is the Webmaster for this site that focuses on Information Technology in Education.

Directions:

  1. Click on the "Radio Button" to indicate which of the three searches to conduct. (OTEC has been preselected.)
  2. Enter your search term(s).
  3. Click on Google Search.

Google


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