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News Items October, November, December 2000

Web Access for People with Disabilities (12/28/00)

IT Standards for School Administrators (12/27/00)

Executive Summary from the Web Commission (12/20/00)

e-Learning: Putting a World-Class Education at the
Fingertips of All Children (12/15/00).

A New Round of PTTT Grant Funding (12/9/00)

Magnetic Memory Chip (12/7/00)

Laptops Required at University of
North Carolina (12/5/00)

Oregon K-20 Distance Education (11/29/00)

Australia Will Gain Internet Access Speed,
Interactivity (11/23/00)

Boom in IT Training Poses Challenges for
Higher Education (11/8/00

Distance Education Portals (11/6/00)

Microsoft's Vision for Tablet Computers 11/6/00

Voice Input to Search Engine (11/6/00)

Nobel Prize for Inventor of Transistor and
Handheld Calculator (10/12/00)

Who Owns Online Courses and Materials? (10/7/00)


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Web Access for People with Disabilities (12/28/00)

North Carolina's government is moving ahead with efforts to make its computer systems more available to disabled users. Secretary of Administration Katie Dorsett learned that a state employee with a visual impairment was unable to use a function of Netscape Navigator. Upon further investigation, she found that several disabled employees had trouble working with North Carolina's IT. The state Information Resource Management Commission commissioned a group to study the state's IT systems and suggest changes. The commission's group said better training is one step to improving accessibility. Another step is evident on the state's new portal, North Carolina @ Your Service, which employs the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Advocates for the disabled have expressed their support for these standards, and the federal Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board referred to them when proposing its own IT standards. Among other states, New York has adopted a policy that mandates all agency Web sites provide accessibility to disabled users. Maryland, California, Texas, and Connecticut have made moves toward accessibility, but many states do not have laws enforcing state Web site accessibility for the disabled. (Government Computer News/State & Local, December 2000) (Edupage December 27, 2000)

Comment: Notice that Oregon is not on the list of states that have made progress on addressing this issue.

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IT Standards for School Administrators (12/27/00)

A group of education associations led by the International Society for Technology in Education are focusing now on developing a new set of technology standards for school administrators. University of Virginia professor Zahrl Schoeny explains that administrators "are absolutely key to accomplishing integration of technology. They provide the funding, the planning and the release time for teachers to get trained. The administrator really is key to getting the whole plan going." Therefore,though they don't have to learn everything in technology, they do "need to understand the role of technology in education. You have to have an awareness of when technology is worthwhile." (New York Times 27 Dec 2000) http://partners.nytimes.com/2000/12/27/
technology/27EDUCATION.html (NewScan 27 Dec. 2000)

Comment: There is strong research supporting the role of school administrators in school reform. In terms of IT in education, school administrators play an important role in moving a school toward integration of IT into the whole school's curriculum. More information about the work ISTE is doing on National Educational Technology Standards for School Administrators is available at the ISTE Website http://www.iste/org/. ISTE is headquartered in Eugene, Oregon.

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Executive Summary from the Web Commission (12/20/00)

The following is the Forward and Executive Summary of the report: The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice. Report of the Web-based Education Commission to the President and Congress of the United States [Online]. Accessed 12/20/00: http://interact.hpcnet.org/


The Internet is a powerful new means of communication. It is global, it is fast, and it is growing rapidly. Reaching to the far corners of the earth, the Internet is making the world at once smaller and more connected, transmitting information at nearly real-time speed. An estimated 377 million people are currently using the Internet, only half of whom are in the United States. The World Wide Web is bringing rapid and radical change into our lives-from the wonderfully beneficial to the terrifyingly difficult.

For education, the Internet is making it possible for more individuals than ever to access knowledge and to learn in new and different ways. At the dawn of the 21st Century, the education landscape is changing. Elementary and secondary schools are experiencing growing enrollments, coping with critical shortages of teachers, facing overcrowded and decaying buildings, and responding to demands for higher standards. On college campuses, there is an influx of older, part-time students seeking the skills vital to success in an Information Age. Corporations are dealing with the shortage of skilled workers and the necessity of providing continuous training to their employees.

The Internet is enabling us to address these educational challenges, bringing learning to students instead of bringing students to learning. It is allowing for the creation of learning communities that defy the constraints of time and distance as it provides access to knowledge that was once difficult to obtain. This is true in the schoolhouse, on the college campus, and in corporate training rooms.

The power of the Internet to transform the educational experience is awe-inspiring, but it is also fraught with risk. As legislators and community leaders, we have the responsibility to develop policies and make informed decisions to ensure that new technologies will enhance, and not frustrate, learning. That is why Congress established the Web-based Education Commission.

For the past year we have been chairing an effort that has explored the ways in which the Internet is changing the delivery of education. Along with Senators Jeff Bingaman and Michael Enzi, Representative Chaka Fattah, and a distinguished group of education and business leaders, the Commission has heard about the tremendous power of the Internet to empower individual learners and teachers. We have also heard about the barriers that frustrate learning in this new environment. Our witnesses urged us to "think big" as we addressed the challenges of a rapidly changing educational landscape.

The report we are now submitting to the President, to Congress, and to the nation reflects the cumulative work of our Commission and a consensus of our findings. It is a call to action to all of those who must be involved if we are to implement real and positive change -- policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels; students and educators; parents; communities; and the private sector. No one group can bring about this change alone.

The Internet is a promising tool. Working together, we can realize the full potential of this tool for learning. With the will and the means, we have the power to expand the learning horizons of students of all ages.

Senator Bob Kerrey, Chair

Representative Johnny Isakson, Vice Chair


Executive Summary

Although web-based education is in its earliest phase, it holds extraordinary promise.

The bipartisan, congressional Web-based Education Commission set out to discover how the Internet is being used to enhance learning opportunity for all learners from pre-kindergarten through high school, at postsecondary colleges and universities, and in corporate training.

In the course of our work, we heard from hundreds of educators, policymakers, Internet pioneers, education researchers, and ordinary citizens who shared their powerful visions and showed us the promise of the Internet-

To center learning around the student instead of the classroom

To focus on the strengths and needs of individual learners

To make lifelong learning a practical reality

We heard that the Internet enables education to occur in places where there is none, extends resources where there are few, expands the learning day, and opens the learning place. We experienced how it connects people, communities, and resources to support learning. We witnessed how it adds graphics, sound, video, and interaction to give teachers and students multiple paths for understanding. We learned that the Web is a medium today's kids expect to use for expression and communication-the world into which they were born.

And we were told first-hand that the Internet could result in greater divisions between those with access to the opportunities of web-based learning, and those without access.

We also understood that the Internet is not a panacea for every problem in education.

By the end of our work, we were able to identify the key barriers that are preventing the Internet from realizing its full potential for enhancing learning. The Commission was urged to help the nation better understand these barriers and offer its recommendations for addressing them.

Based on the findings of our work, the Commission believes a national mobilization is necessary, one that evokes a response similar in scope to other great American opportunities-or crises: Sputnik and the race to the moon; bringing electricity and phone service to all corners of the nation; finding a cure for polio.

Therefore, the Commission is issuing a call to action to:

  • Make powerful new Internet resources, especially broadband access, widely and equitably available and affordable for all learners. The promise of high quality web-based education is made possible by technological and communications trends that could lead to important educational applications over the next two to three years. These include greater bandwidth, expansion of broadband and wireless computing, opportunities provided by digital convergence, and lowering costs of connectivity. In addition, the emergence of agreement on technical standards for content development and sharing will also advance the development of web-based learning environments.
  • Provide continuous and relevant training and support for educators and administrators at all levels. We heard that professional development-for preK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and school administrators-is the critical ingredient for effective use of technology in the classroom. However, not enough is being done to assure that today's educators have the skills and knowledge needed for effective web-based teaching. And if teacher education programs do not address this issue at once, we will soon have lost the opportunity to enhance the performance of a whole generation of new teachers, and the students they teach.
  • Build a new research framework of how people learn in the Internet age. A vastly expanded, revitalized, and reconfigured educational research, development, and innovation program is imperative. This program should be built on a deeper understanding of how people learn, how new tools support and assess learning gains, what kinds of organizational structures support these gains, and what is needed to keep the field of learning moving forward.
  • Develop high quality online educational content that meets the highest standards of educational excellence. Content available for learning on the Web is variable: some of it is excellent, much is mediocre. Both content developers and educators will have to address gaps in this market, find ways to build fragmented lesson plans into full courses and assure the quality of learning in this new environment. Dazzling technology has no value unless it supports content that meets the needs of learners.
  • Revise outdated regulations that impede innovation and replace them with approaches that embrace anytime, anywhere, any pace learning. The regulations that govern much of education today were written for an earlier model in which the teacher is the center of all instruction and all learners are expected to advance at the same rate, despite varying needs or abilities. Granting of credits, degrees, availability of funding, staffing, and educational services are governed by time-fixed and place-based models of yesteryear. The Internet allows for a learner-centered environment, but our legal and regulatory framework has not adjusted to these changes.
  • Protect online learners and ensure their privacy. The Internet carries with it danger as well as promise. Advertising can interfere with the learning process and take advantage of a captive audience of students. Privacy can be endangered when data is collected from users of online materials. Students, especially young children, need protections from harmful or inappropriate intrusions in their learning environments.
  • Sustain funding-via traditional and new sources-that is adequate to the challenge at hand. Technology is expensive, and web-based learning is no exception. Technology expenditures do not end with the wiring of a school or campus, the purchase of computers, or the establishment of a local area network. These costs represent just the beginning.

    The issue before us now is how to make good on the Internet's power for learning and how to move from promise to practice.

    The Web-based Education Commission calls upon the new Congress and Administration to embrace an "e-learning" agenda as a centerpiece of our nation's federal education policy.

    This e-learning agenda should be aimed at assisting local communities, state education agencies, institutions of higher education, and the private sector in their efforts.

    The moment is at hand.

    We urge the new President and the 107th Congress to seize this opportunity and to focus on ways in which public law can be modified and changed to support, rather than undermine, the technology that is so dramatically changing education.

  • We call on federal and state governments to make the extension of broadband access for all learners a central goal of telecommunications policy.

    We urge federal and state officials to adopt a policy framework that will help accelerate broadband deployment in education quickly and effectively. The E-rate program, which has brought 21st Century telecommunications into the nation's schools and libraries, has provided a dramatic boost. Individual state efforts have shown promise and success. Local and state policymakers should consider complementary efforts focused on educational applications of broadband access.

  • We call upon policymakers at all levels to work with educational institutions and the private sector to support the continuous growth of educators through the use of technology.

    We encourage continuing federal and state support for initiatives and models that make just-in-time, just-what's-needed training and support available to educators. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and subsequent Higher Education Act reauthorization offer the opportunity to make this happen and to incorporate the best thinking and practices identified by this Commission. Partnerships that bring together the federal government, state and local agencies, the private sector, and educational institutions offer the best promise of assuring continuing teacher empowerment and growth with technology.

  • We call upon the federal government to create a comprehensive research, development, and innovation framework for learning technology.

    We recommend establishing a benchmark goal for federal research and development investment in web-based learning, consistent with similar benchmarks in other industry segments. This framework would focus on high payback targets of educational opportunity and support the creation of learning communities and tools for collaborative knowledge building and dissemination among researchers, teachers, and developers.

  • We call upon the public and private sectors to join forces in developing high quality content and applications for online learning.

    At the federal level, the Commission recommends that Congress articulate content development priorities, provide seed funding for high need areas, and encourage collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors in the development and distribution of high quality online materials. The federal government should work with all agencies and programs to adopt technical standards for the design of online courses, meta tagging of digital content, and universal design standards for access for those with disabilities.

    The Commission recommends that the education community develop standards for high quality online courses. The current voluntary system of accrediting higher education institutions and programs should continue but with better clarity for the consumer regarding online options. The Commission recommends the convening of state and regional education accreditors and organizations to build common standards and requirements for online learning programs, courses, and certifications comparable to the standards required for onsite programs.

  • We call upon Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and state and regional education authorities to remove barriers that block full access to online learning resources, courses, and programs while ensuring accountability of taxpayer dollars.

    The Commission encourages the federal government to review and, if necessary, revise the "12-hour rule," the "50 percent rule," and incentive compensation requirements that are creating barriers to students enrolling in online and distance education courses.

    The Commission encourages national, state, and regional education policymakers to increase cross-state regulatory and administrative cooperation in web-based education. We also call upon states to develop common and appropriate policies regarding credits, faculty compensation, accreditation, licensing, articulation, student services, and programs to reach underrepresented student populations.

    The Commission endorses the U.S. Copyright Office proposal to convene education representatives and publishers to build greater consensus and understanding of the "fair use" doctrine in its application to online learning.

  • We call upon parents, the education community, and the private sector to develop and adopt privacy and protection safeguards to assure that learners of all ages are not exploited while participating in online learning activities.

    The Commission believes that filtering and blocking software alone is of limited value. Instead, we recommend encouraging developers and educators to collaborate in creating noncommercial, high quality educational "safe zones" on the Web. We also recommend that schools, districts, and states develop and promote programs for the safe, wise, and ethical use of the Internet.

    The Commission also believes some adjustments to the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act may be necessary to allow educational exemptions for the collection of identifiable student data online with appropriate parental consent.

  • Finally, we call upon the federal government, states, localities, and the private sector to expand funding initiatives and to develop new models to bring these policies to reality.

    The Commission believes these initiatives could include tax incentives, additional public-private partnerships, increased state and federal appropriations, and the creation of a learning technology trust fund. The Commission encourages states and localities to aggregate their market strength as a way of bringing advanced technologies to education at a considerably lower cost.

    The question is no longer if the Internet can be used to transform learning in new and powerful ways. The Commission has found that it can. Nor is the question should we invest the time, the energy, and the money necessary to fulfill its promise in defining and shaping new learning opportunity. The Commission believes that we should. We all have a role to play.

    It is time we collectively move the power of the Internet for learning from promise to practice.

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e-Learning: Putting a World-Class Education at the Fingertips of All Children (12/15/00)

e-Learning: Putting a World-Class Education at the Fingertips of All Children [Online]. Accessed 12/15/00: http://www.ed.gov/Technology/elearning/index.html.

The report gives a detailed state by state report on Federal spending for IT in education during 1995-2000. The State of Oregon received more than $55 million in Federal funds for such purposes during 1995-2000. While this is a huge amount of money, it is just slightly over .6% of the total funds dispersed. However, since Oregon's population is approximately 1.2% of the United States, this means that Oregon received only about half as much funding as would have bee predicted based strictly on population.

As indicated in the materials quoted below, the report contains e-Learning goals developed during the past year.

In response to the educational opportunities made available by dramatic technological innovations in the early and mid-1990s, U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley released the nation's first educational technology plan in 1996, Getting America's Students Ready for the 21st Century: Meeting the Technology Literacy Challenge. This plan presented a far-reaching vision for the effective use of technology in elementary and secondary education to help the next generation of school children to be better educated and better prepared for the evolving demands of the new American economy.

Due in large part to markedly increased federal, state, local and private investment in technology for education, the nation has made tremendous progress toward achieving the 1996 national educational technology goals. These investments in computers and Internet access, professional development, technical support and content have allowed many elementary and secondary school teachers and students to reap the benefits of powerful teaching and learning applications.

The latest research and evaluation studies demonstrate that school improvement programs that employ technology for teaching and learning yield positive results for students and teachers. Given that many schools and classrooms have only recently gained access to technology for teaching and learning, the positive outcomes of these studies suggest a future for education that could be quite bright if the nation maintains its commitment to harnessing technology for education.

The adoption of new and emerging technologies by schools and classrooms offers even more reason to be hopeful. With sufficient access and support, teachers will be better able to help their students comprehend difficult-to-understand concepts and engage in learning, provide their students with access to information and resources, and better meet their students' individual needs. If we take advantage of the opportunities presented to us, technology will enhance learning and improve student achievement for all students.

Given the tremendous progress made in integrating technology into teaching and learning and the continued advances in the affordability and capabilities of technology, the need to move beyond the 1996 goals became evident. In the fall of 1999, the U.S. Department of Education undertook a strategic review and revision of the national educational technology plan, in consultation with the full range of stakeholders: educators, researchers, policymakers, students, parents, and higher education, industry and other leaders. The outcome of this strategic review was five new national goals for technology in education.

Working together to achieve these goals constitutes a major leadership imperative facing those seeking widespread improvements in teaching and learning. As a nation, we should pledge to meet these new NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY GOALS:

Goal 1: All students and teachers will have access to information technology in their classrooms, schools, communities and homes.

Goal 2: All teachers will use technology effectively to help students achieve high academic standards.

Goal 3: All students will have technology and information literacy skills.

Goal 4: Research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology applications for teaching and learning.

Goal 5: Digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and learning.

Comment: The Web document provides more detail interpreting the meaning of each of these goals. I find Goal 2 to be particularly interesting. "All teachers will use technology effectively …" The great majority of current teachers know that they do not use information technology effectively. The most often cited reasons for this are a lack of appropriate staff development, a lack of (teacher) time, and a lack of appropriate facilities for use by teachers and students. These

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A New Round of PTTT Grant Funding

The following is quoted from a E-mail message sent by Talbot Bielefeldt of the International Society for Technology in Education, located in Eugene, Oregon.

At the recent PT3 Core Group evaluators' meeting in Washington, DC, PT3 director Tom Carroll confirmed that there would be a new competition for federal grants under this program beginning December 15, with applications due February 22, 2001.

ISTE Research & Evaluation currently has evaluation contracts for four PT3 programs. We are interested in partnering with additional clients. Through our involvement with current grantees and our participation in high-level initiatives such as the Core Group and NETS Project, we believe we have the knowledge to help applicants prepare effective evaluation plans and to submit competitive proposals.

One of the PTTT grants is helping to support the development of the OTEC Website. Dr. David Moursund, the Webmaster for OTEC and recipient of one of these PTTT grants is interested in helping other Oregon groups of educators secure a grant. He is offering free consulting. A copy of his grant proposal is available at:


New PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology) grant application guidelines are now available and may be downloaded from the program Website at www.ed.gov/teachtech/. You may also download a PDF version of the grant application guidelines at http://www.pt3.org/resources/
files/PT3_FY2001_GuideLines.pdf. Applications must be received by February 22, 2001. Awards are to be announced on or around June 1, 2001.

The U.S. Department of Education will award approximately 65 new Implementation grants (ranging from $200,000 to $500,000 a year and averaging $350,000 a year for three years) and approximately 15 new Catalyst grants (ranging from $500,000 to $700,000 a year and averaging $600,000 a year for three years).

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Magnetic Memory Chip

IBM and Infineon are collaborating on developing the next generation of memory chips, which the companies say would greatly expand the battery life of portable devices and could eventually replace current dynamic random access memory (DRAM) technology. Magnetic random access memory (MRAM) will use magnetic rather than electronic charges to store data, enabling the chip to store more information while using less battery power. MRAM will also allow portable devices such as laptops to retain information even when the power is shut off, and such devices could be left on standby for several years, compared to the current limit of about 12 hours. The companies expect to have commercially viable products on the market by 2004. (Financial Times 7 Dec 2000) (NewsScan Daily, 7 December 2000)

Comment: New technology such as is being discussed here would represent a significant breakthrough. We can envision a time when all students will carry a laptop what has wireless connectivity to the Internet. Battery power is a major challenge. Thus, anything that cuts power drain wis important in education.

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Laptops Required at UNC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently mandated that all incoming freshmen must own a laptop computer, becoming the first public university in the United States to set that requirement for its students. School officials say the requirement will give students the computer skills that are vital in today's high-tech business world. At UNC, students learn to build Web sites, design PowerPoint presentations, and use e-mail, instant messaging, and bulletin boards to stay in closer contact with classmates and professors. However, many educators do not yet believe that laptops actually improve a student's education. "Sure it's a fancy tool, but it's just another tool," says Edward M. Neal of UNC's Center for Teaching and Learning. Although students agree that the laptops are building their computer skills, many admit that they are more likely to use the computer for personal e-mail, games, music, or video, even during classroom time. Other educators argue that teaching responsible Internet use--for example, checking the accuracy and reliability of information found on the Web--teaches many of the same research and critical skills that students have always learned at college. (Boston Sunday Globe, 3 December 2000) (Quoted from Edupage, December 4, 2000.)

Comment: A number of higher education institutions require all of their students to have a computer. Moreover, there are a number of precollege schools that have made provisions for all of their students to have laptops. Finally, there are a number of programs within higher education in which students are required to have laptops. For example, this is the case for the Law School at the University of Oregon.

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Oregon K-20 Distance Education Workgroup

(Excellent general background information about Distance Education is available on the Website: Accessed 11/30/00: http://www.uidaho.edu/evo/distglan.html.)

The Oregon K-20 Distance Education Workgroup was created at a meeting held on 11/29/00. While a number of people attending were meeting face to face in Salem, Oregon, there were also attendees from three different remote sites in other parts of the state. The attendees represented K-12 education, Community Colleges, and the Oregon University System (OUS) in Oregon's public education system. Each of the three components of the K-20 educational system presented information about their current activities in Distance Education (DE) and their current needs.

Both 2-way video and Web-based forms of DE are being used at all three educational levels. It seems clear that Oregon education will see substantial growth in both modes of DE delivery during the next few years. Some DE courses make use of both modes, although most courses are designed for one mode or the other.

Currently a large number of 2-way video sites are being installed in high schools and ESDs throughout the state, using funding from SB 622 which was passed during the 1999 legislative session. This funding and installation process ends 31 December 2001. By that time it is likely that there will be about 250 videoconferencing classrooms connected via Oregon Access Network.For more information about the Oregon Access Network see http://www.ode.state.or.us/orAccessNet/.

It was obvious to all who attended that there is a need for sharing of of DE courses, facilities, and staff development. For example, some high school students can benefit by taking DE courses at the community college or 4-year college level. All levels of education can benefit by sharing of connectivity.

The Oregon K-20 Distance Education Workgroup will report on its progress and goals at a meeting of the Joint Boards of Education on January 19, 2001. The initial plan is that the Oregon K-20 Distance Education Workgroup will assess its progress after its first six months of activity, and then decide whether it should continue in existence.

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Australia Will Gain Internet Access Speed, Interactivity

The Southern Cross Cable Network (SCCN) opened recently, providing Australian universities with a 40 Gbps undersea cable link to the United States. With 120 times more capacity than its predecessor, the SCCN will bring Australian universities international Internet access with interactive connections to North America. The network will reduce the cost of downloads for Australian universities and will provide professors with faster access to overseas Web sites. Cable and Wireless, NCR WorldCom, and Telecom New Zealand are among the partners in the SCCN. Meanwhile, NEC says it will create a 640 Gbps fiber-optic cable network that will connect Australia to Japan, providing 500 times more capacity than the existing link. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 20 November 2000) (Edupage, November 22, 2000)

Comment: Notice the more than two orders of magnitude increase in band width of the connectivity talked about in this brief news item. A full length book (just text, no pictures) is about a megabyte. A 40 Gbps connection can transmit approximately 5,000 books in one second.

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Instructional Technology Strategies Conference, January 14-16, 2001

Join OETC for the 2nd Annual Instructional Technology Strategies Conference, January 14-16, 2001 in Eugene, Oregon. We are building on the success of ITSC 2000, so get your team together, identify target areas and send in your team registration today. Early registration deadline extended to December 1! Accessed 11/21/00: http://www.oetc.org/itsc/.

ITSC 2001 is a chance for teams of educators, administrators, and technology coordinators to share, develop and discuss strategies for effectively integrating technology into the curriculum. ITSC is a working conference with large portions of time set aside for your Integration Team to work together along with our educational technology facilitators on issues of specific concern to your school or district.

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Boom in IT Training Poses Challenges for Higher Education

Clifford Adelman, a senior research analyst at the US Department of Education, recently released a study on the growth of IT certification examinations and how this trend is affecting traditional colleges. Titled "A Parallel Postsecondary Universe," the study describes the more than 300 IT certification exams now in existence as a new educational industry separate from higher education. However, Adelman says certain kinds of traditional colleges could move into certification training programs, especially for computer science majors. Although Adelman says certification programs do not reduce the need for traditional degrees, he concedes that in some cases degrees are not necessary for people with IT certification. In his paper, Adelman says the number of certificate holders without a B.A. rose from 19 percent in 1996 to 37 percent in 1998. IT certification has significantly advanced the idea of competency-based testing, and traditional colleges and universities could learn from this example, Adelman says. (Chronicle of Higher Education Online, 6 November 2000) (Quoted from Edupage, November 8, 2000.)

Comment: This topic is important to educators in Oregon. In researching the topic, I came across the Web site:
The Web site discusses a rather general purpose exam developed for use in Virginia. The purpose was to provide evidence to potential employers that a person has IT knowledge and skills. Although it was aimed at college-level students, it appears to me that many high school students could score well on it. In brief summary (quoting from the Web site), the exam covered:
It was no piece of cake. With a break for lunch, the exam took six hours, during which time students were asked to build a Web site with internal and external links, brew up a PowerPoint presentation, manipulate spreadsheets and word-processing programs, and run online searches. One essay question asked the students to ponder the ethical ramifications of a bill, like the Communications Decency Act, restricting content on the Net.

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Distance Education Portals

PC Magazine rates Embark.com (http://www.embark.com/) the best full-service portal site in its review of learning portals that allow people to pursue their full-time or part-time educational goals. Classified as an edu-commerce site, Embark received the PC Magazine Editors' Choice award. The portal is organized into sections for first-time collegians, grad students, online distance learners, and international students, and its Matchmaker wizard delivers the Web sites of desirable colleges. Users can apply online, and a recruiting tool allows them to add personal information. PC Magazine rated MindEdge
and CyberU (http://www.cyberu.com/)
very good, while CollegeLearning.com
and EduPoint.com (http://edupoint.com/)
rated in the good category. Hungry Minds
was rated fair. The learning portal category consists of indexes and search engines that bring together the higher-education industry's buyers and sellers. Ipeds College Opportunities Online
rated excellent. Other notable sites in this category include CampusProgram.com
Peterson's (http://www.petersons.com/),
and College Tip (http://college-tip.com/).
(PC Magazine, 7 November 2000) (Quoted from Edupage, November 6, 2000)

Comment: Oregon has a CyberSchool (http://www.cyberschool.k12.or.us/) that is serving hundreds of secondary school students in Oregon and throughout the world.

Oregon has a Distance Learning Executive Committee that is advisory to Stan Bunn, the Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction. The contact person is Camille Cole (Camille.Cole@odemail1.ode.state.or.us)

Many of Oregon's institutions of higher education are offering distance learning programs.

The Sabin Skills Center [Accessed 11/8/00]: http://sabin.nclack.k12.or.us/ makes extensive use of Distance Learning.

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Microsoft's Vision for Tablet Computers

Dick Brass, who is leading a team of 100 Microsoft designers developing wireless, keyboardless "tablet computers," has predicted that the last printed issue of the New York Times will be published in 2018, and that the jobs of executives in the paper-making industry will be made obsolete by e-books and tablet computers ("I see dead men everywhere," he told them). The high-resolution tablet computer will be an ultra-slim slate about the size and shape of a yellow notepad, and will have an all-day battery and the ability to recognize handwriting; the tablet would always turned on and always connected wirelessly to the Internet. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates will give the first public demonstration of the device at the Comdex show November 12. (New York Times 6 Nov 2000) http://partners.nytimes.com/
2000/11/06/technology/06SOFT.html (Quoted from NewsScan Daily, 6 November 2000.)

Comment: Many people are used to carrying a note pad to classes and meetings. A variety of "Tablets" that are computer input devices are now on the market. The Tablet Computer discussed in the above article is both a computer input device and a computer output device. As an output device, it is an e-book with a screen much larger than the e-books currently on the market.

Note that one might also expect that this Tablet Computer will have voice input. See the Voice Input to Search Engines brief new item.

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Voice Input to Search Engine

Search engine Ask Jeeves, which is known for answering questions typed in via a Web site, is enhancing its system to accommodate questions posed over the telephone, using technology from Nuance Communications and General Magic. The three companies are developing a system that responds to complete spoken sentences, rather than single-word commands or complicated voice mail-type systems. If it works, the Ask Jeeves system could help reduce the need for human operators at customer service centers, a major expense for companies worldwide. International Data Corp. estimates that companies spent $23 billion on call center services in 1998, and will spend $58.6 billion in 2003. (Wall Street Journal 6 Nov 2000) http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/
SB973463641664925109.htm (Quoted from NewsScan Daily, 6 November 2000.)

Comment: The Ask Jeeves search engine is available at http://www.aj.com/. It accepts general text (as distinguished from specific words to be searched on) as input.

Voice input to computers is now commonplace. Tht is, we know that a person can speak to a computer system and have the computer system "translate" the voice pattern into written text. However, the widely used general purpose voice input systems require "training." That is, the computr software needs to be trained to recognize the way a particular speaker speaks. Moreover, accuracy rates in the 90% to 95% are considered to be good.

Thus, the project discussed above faces the problem of taking voice input over the phone, accepting input from anybody, translating it into text, and then retrieving information based on the spoken request. This is a major, challenging task. The educational implications are large. Imagine elementary school students who have developed an initial level of reading fluency but little or no keyboarding skills using such a system to retrieve information. The information system that they are using might be keyed to a particular lesson or learning task they are studying.

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Nobel Prize for Inventor of Transistor and Handheld Calculator

A Nobel prize for physics has been awarded to Jack Kilby, who in 1958 invented the integrated circuit and then co-invented the pocket calculator. By replacing cumbersome transistors, the integrated circuit allowed the creation of smaller and more powerful devices and led to the computer revolution of the 1970s. Kilby said he was "shocked" by the award, because "I had thought that Nobel prizes were not given for accomplishments like mine. To some extent, my contribution was an engineering one and Mr. Nobel did not make any provisions for engineering prizes." Asked to predict the future, the 77-year-old engineer was humble and cautious: "Certainly for some time we're in for more of the same. Electronics will continue to get cheaper and there will be new applications coming alone, which I don't think I've visualized very well." (Reuters/San Jose Mercury News 10 Oct 2000) http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/
breaking/reuters/docs/495938l.htm (Quoted from NewsScan Daily, 10 October 2000.)

Comment: The transistor was invented in 1947. An integrated circuit contains a large number of transistors and other electronic components integrated together in the manufacturing process. A very nice history of transistors is available at: http://www.pbs.org/transistor/ (Accessed 10/12/00).

Prior to the development of the transistor, electronic equipment such as radio transmitters and revceivers, television, radar, and amplifiers all made use of vacuum tubes. A vacuum tube uses quite a bit of power, develops quite a bit of heat, and tends to burn out, just like a light bulb. When transistors first became commercially available in the late 1950s, they cost about the same as a vacuum tube. They were smaller, used less power, put out less heat, and had a longer life than vacuum tubes.

Integrated circuits made transistors inexpensive. Now, a little more than 40 years after the development of the first integrated circuit, some integrated circuits contain 10s of millions of transistors. The cost per transistor has gone down in price by a factor of a million or more. This has make possible inexpensive pocket calculators, powerful desktop and portable computers, cell telephones, digital watches, and so on. And, it has made possible a number of potentially very important changes in our educational system.

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Who Owns Online Courses and Course Materials?

If this topic interests you, you will want to read:

Twigg, Carol A. (2000). Intellectual Property Policies for a New LearningEnvironment [Online]. Accessed 10/7/00: http://www.center.rpi.edu/PewSym/mono2.html.

Comment: We are quickly moving toward the situation in which a significant percentage of teachers at the K-12 level and in higher education put some of their instructional materials on the Web. Do these materials belong to the individual teacher who creates them or do they belong to the institution that hires the teacher? Who gets the income if these materials have commercial value and produce some income?

These are difficult questions, currently being explored through a variety of legal cases. If you are creating or intend to create Web materials that have potential monetary value, you will want to take steps to protect your intellectual property. By reading Carol Twiggs article you will likely get some ideas on what you might want to do.

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Longer Battery Life for Mobile Computing

Quote from http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Fujitsu Ltd. plans to announce Monday that two of its new computer laptops being introduced in Japan in early November will carry power-saving chips manufactured by Transmeta Corp.

The announcement by the Japanese company comes only two weeks after Sony Corp. announced that new models of the VAIO computer PictureBook -- scheduled to reach U.S. stores in October -- would be powered by Transmeta's much-hyped Crusoe microprocessor.

The Crusoe was unveiled in January after five years of highly secretive research and development at Transmeta, an upstart player based in Santa Clara, Calif.

The chip promises to double the life of batteries, and Sony and Fujitsu laptops are poised to be among the first in what appears to be a growing parade of mobile computer products taking advantage of the revolutionary microprocessor.

Hitachi Ltd. plans to start selling Crusoe-powered notebook computers in Novembe [2000]r, while Gateway Inc. and America Online Inc. have said they plan to use Transmeta processors for their jointly developed ``Internet appliance'' products that will go on sale later this year.

Comment: Improvements in battery technology have been relatively slow, as compared to the growing power needs of portable computers. The brief news item indicates a significant breakthrough in making a portable computer that uses less power. This will quite useful in education, as it means that it will be much easier for students to carry a laptop computer or an information appliance, and have enough battery power to last the whole school day.

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Automatic Grading for Mathematical Logic Course

Grade Grinder, a software program developed by Stanford University Professor John Etchemendy, provides real-time tutoring for students working on homework assignments in their logic classes. Etchemendy and co-developer Dave Barker-Plummer believe the software's role as a tutor distinguishes it from software that merely scores students' work, an application that Etchemendy characterizes as dangerous because it encourages only the simplest forms of pedagogy, such as multiple-choice tests. The tutoring program eliminates the need for instructors to grade their students' assignments--a tedious, impractical process in afield where a question may have several hundred correct answers. Etchemendy believes that Grade Grinder best demonstrates the potential of distance learning, alleviating unnecessary work while not completely eliminating teacher-student interaction. Although he and Plummer sometimes monitor the system seeking ways to improve it, he says it is secure, and a student's instructor will be able to view only those answers the student finally submits. The software has handled nearly 220,000 assignments since its 1998 launch. (SiliconValley.com, September 21 2000) (Quoted from Edupage September 22, 2000.)

Comment: One of the keys to learning is to have high quality, timely feedback. That is why students who have individual tutoring learn more and faster than students who don't. Such individual, rapid feedback is a goal in computer-assisted learning. However, the field of Artificial Intelligence has not yet succeeded in developing programs that "understand" free form written input well enough to carry on an intelligent conversation with the learner. As a consequence, most computer-assisted learning (CAL) materials leave much to be desired.

In certain very limited areas (such as mathematical logic, as described in the short news item) it is possible to develop software that provides a high quality interaction with the student. Continued progress in AI and CAL will gradually lead to improvements in highly interactive CAL systems that will have many of the benefits of a personal (human) tutor.

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