OTEC Home Page

Annotated Reference List

Reference Topics "Works in Progress"

This page is a work in progress. It contains some topics that may eventually be addressed in enough detail to be deserving of a page of their own.

Artificial Intelligence

Authentic Assessment

Concept Mapping

Cost of Education

Digital Divide; Culture; Diversity, Equity

Free and/or Open Source Software


Graphic Images Libraries

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation


Research on Effective Uses of IT in Education

Roles of IT in School Reform

What Works (No child Left Behind)

Artificial Intelligence

The terms Artificial Intelligence and Maachine Intelligence can be used interchangeable. Artificial Intelligence is the name mostly used in the US, while Machine Intelligence is mostly used in Europe.AI is a field of study and research at least to the late 1940s. The general idea is one of developing computer systems that exhibit intelligent-like behavior.

The educational implications are enormous. Here are two topics that seem particularly interesting and challenging to educators and our educatoinal system:

  1. If a computer system can solve or help solve a problem or accomplish a task (in a cost effective manner) that we have traditionally taught students to do without the use of computer systems, what changes should be make in this aspect of our educational system?
  2. tI is common to talk about a continuum of Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. In the past, people have maintained that only humans could have knowledge. But, progress in AI challenges this assumption. We can now store data and information in computer systems in a form that the computer system can apply (make use of) the data and information to solve problems and accomplish tasks. In essence, we are replacing the static storage of data and information with a more dynamic "I can do it for you." type of storage. This leads to an educational question similar to #1 above. Moreover, there are many things that computers can do for us that take a long time to learn how to do, or are beyond human capability. Some of these are relevant to being educated. Which of these should we include in the curriculum?

Some Simple-minded Examples

Most teachers and other educators tend to think of AI as an esoteric field that is not of any particular interest to PreK-12 education. In this section we will explore some simple examples of AI (Machine Intelligence) that are relevant to our current PreK-12 educational system.

To begin, consider the inexpensive handheld calculator. For under $5 one can purchase such a machine that can add, substact, multiply, divide, take square roots, and contains a memory (the M+ , M-, and MR keys). Let's talk about the "intelligence" of this machine.

We know that humans have developed algorithms (step by step procedures) to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.. These algorithms overtax the mental arithmetic capabilities of a typical human, so that paper and pencil versions of the algorithms are taught in our school systems. Prior to having students memorize the algoriour math curriculum works on having students memorize one-digit number facts, learn to handle simple addition and subtraction of whole numbers by "counting on" or "counting backward," learn some things about the number line, and to begin to develop an intuitive understanding of quantity.

Many people find that it is relatively difficult to memoprize the paper and pencil algorithms, and to develop a reasonable level of speed and accuracy in carrying them out.

But, a calculator can carry out these algorithms with considreable speed and accuracy. Thus, in some sense, a calculator has a certain (quite limited) type of intelligence. Of course, it makes no difference whether we call this AI or machine intelligence. What makes a difference is how we deal with this machine capability in our educatinal system. We can teach people to compete with calculators, we can teach people to work with calculators, or we can aim at some inbetween compromise.

Since about 1979, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Superisoprs of Mathematics have aimed at the middle ground. They want students to gain both paper and pencil arithmentic compuatoinal skills and calculator computational skills. Over the years they have moven in the directoin of having schools spend less time on the paper and pencil algorithms and more time on math problem solving. In the math problem solving students are to make use of mental arithmetic, mental estimation, simple paper and pencil calculations, calculators, and computers.

--- This section is still being written ----


An excellent introduction to AI is provided by:

AI Overview [Online]. Accessed 9/29/02: http://www.aaai.org/AITopics/html/overview.html

Although progress in AI has not been as fast as many AI researchers initially predicted, the field has made great strides. There are many ways to think about this AI progress and how it might affect education. Two topics that seem particularly interesting and challenging:

  1. If a computer system can solve or help solve a problem or accomplish a task (in a cost effective manner) that we have traditionally taught students to do without the use of computer systems, what changes should be make in this aspect of our educational system?
  2. It is common to talk about a continuum of Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. In the past, we maintained that only humans could have knowledge. But, progress in AI challenges this assumption. We can now store data and information in computer systems in a form that the computer system can apply (make use of) the data and information to solve problems and accomplish tasks. In essence, we are replacing the static storage of data and information with a more dynamic "I can do it for you." type of storage. This leads to an educational question similar to #1 above. Moreover, there are many things that computers can do for us that take a long time to learn how to do, or are beyond human capability. Some of these are relevant to being educated. Which of these should we include in the curriculum?

As we begin to implement ideas from #1 and #2 into our curriculum, we will need to make substantial changes in assessment. "My computer machine and I can solve a wide variety of problems and accomplish a wide range of tasks. It makes no sense to assess my capabilities and limitations in such areas when I don't have my computer available as a partner."

Johan de Kleer was recently designated as an ACM Fellow. A very informative interview with him is available at [Accessed 10/11/02] http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/
interviews/j_dekleer_1.html. The interview provides insights into research at the Palo Alto Research Center, AI, the Web, and so on. The following two paragraphs are quoted from the interview.

Johan de Kleer is Manager of the Systems and Practices Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Widely published in the areas of qualitative physics, model-based reasoning, truth maintenance systems, and knowledge representation, he has co-authored three books: "Readings in Qualitative Physics," "Readings in Model-Based Diagnosis," and "Building Problem Solvers." In the award designating him an ACM Fellow, de Kleer was praised for his "seminal contributions of effective techniques for qualitative representation and reasoning about physical systems, and leadership in building research teams that span multiple disciplines."

DE KLEER: The biggest thing was coming to PARC and watching how people actually use technology and learning to manage and see how organizations actually function. And discovering that all learning is social. Perhaps now I'm being too social, but you have to balance the two. One without the other gets you nothing. Getting back to the physicist: the path he envisions will take far longer than he ever expects. He needs a far deeper understanding of what he is actually looking for. Pure bottom-up approaches have not created the breakthroughs in science, and I do not believe they will succeed in artificial intelligence. Remember, studying feathers and birds did not get us flight.

K-12 Experiments in Robotic Software [Online]. Accessed 11/19/02; http://prime.jsc.nasa.gov/ROV/. Quoting from the Website:

The ROVer Ranch is a place to learn about robotic engineering. You can learn about the development of robots, their elements and systems, and use a 3D VRML simulation to build and run your own robot.

The ROVer Ranch learning activities are open to everyone without registering. If you'd like to use the robot simulations you need to register for an ID. When you register an ID and password, the ROVer Ranch software creates a workplace for you to store your robots, paths, scripts, and simulation information so they don't get lost or mixed up with someone else's robot work.

The ROVer Ranch uses JAVA 1.1 and a VRML plugin. The Login/Member area does not work with most Macintosh versions of browsers.

Authentic Assessment

Perhaps the main issue here is that as students come to make routine use of IT, they need to be assessed in the same type of environment. This means providing students with routine use of IT during assessment and designing assessment instruments that assume such access to IT.

Concept Mapping

IHMC Concept Map Software: A Toolkit of [Online]. Accessed 6/13/01: http://cmap.coginst.uwf.edu/.
This Website provides (free) downloadable Concept Mapping Software developed by Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC). The software is available for both Macintosh and PC (Windows) platforms, and the Website contains a tutorial. Quoting from the Website:
Mapping Software empowers users to construct, navigate, share, and criticize knowledge models represented as Concept Maps. The toolkit is platform independent and network enabled, allowing the users to build, and collaborate during the construction of concept maps with colleagues anywhere on the network, as well as, share and navigate through others' models distributed on servers throughout Internet.

Through a flexible architecture, the toolkit allows the user to install only the functionality required, adding more modules as needed, or as new modules with additional functionality are developed.

FreeMind (n.d.). FreeMind—free mind mapping software. Accessed 10/27/05: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.

This free software is available for Microsoft Windows, Mas OS X, and Linux operating systems. Quoting from the Website:

FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map) software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click "fold / unfold" and "follow link" operations.

Cost of Education 

From: PEN@PublicEducation.org
Subject: PEN Weekly NewsBlast for March 25, 2005
Date: March 24, 2005 11:47:22 PM PST
To: newsblast@lyris.publiceducation.org
Reply-To: newsblast@lyris.publiceducation.org

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
The nation's public school systems are sinking further into debt, the
Census Bureau has reported. They were saddled with over $250 billion in
red ink in the 2002-03 school year, up 11 percent from the previous year.
Many districts are stuck with huge debts to pay for new buildings to
accommodate a surging student population. Nationally, enrollment grew
slightly to 47.6 million, up 1 percent. Other districts have struggled to
find money to fix older buildings or hire more teachers. The data, the
latest available, also reflect the first full school year after the No
Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in January 2002. The sweeping
reforms aimed at upgrading school performance are a cornerstone of
President Bush's education policy. Collectively, spending for public
elementary and secondary school systems increased roughly 4 percent to
$453 billion in 2003. That included over $38 billion in that school year
alone for construction costs. Overall, the nation's public school
districts spent $8,019 per student, up about $400 per student from the
previous year. The per-pupil costs do not account for construction or
other capital needs. Spending varied widely, with Northeastern states
again atop the list. The District of Columbia, New Jersey and New York
each spent over $12,000 per pupil. Utah ranked last in per-pupil spending
at nearly $4,900, while Arizona and Mississippi each spent less than
$6,000 per student.


Census: Nation's schools amass more debt

According to Census Bureau data for 2002-2003, the first full school year since NCLB was signed into law, school district debt surpassed $250 billion nationwide -- up 11% from the previous year -- while student enrollment nationally inched up to 47.6 million, a 1% increase. Spending nationally for public elementary and secondary school systems grew about 4% to $453 billion -- more than $38 billion of which went for construction costs in that school year alone.   The Boston Globe/Associated Press (3/17)

ASCD SmartBriefs 3/18/05. Note that this is about $9,500 per student.

Costs of education. http://www.stateline.org/stateline/?pa=story&sa

Wednesday, December 1, 2004
School spending on the rise

By Eric Kelderman, Staff Writer, Stateline.org

The District of Columbia spent $13,317 on average educating each student in its public school system this year, a sum that makes it first in the nation in per-pupil public school spending, a new report showed.

New York ($12,059), Connecticut ($11,773), New Jersey ($11,390) and Massachusetts ($10,772) filled out the top five in average per-pupil spending, according to the annual ranking by the National Education Association, a teachers union with 2.7 million members.

The report, compiled from state education agencies, found that median per-pupil spending rose to $8,208 for this school year – a 3.6 percent increase from last year.

Nevada ($6,230), Mississippi ($6,137), Arkansas ($6,005), Arizona ($5,347) and Utah ($5,091) remained at the bottom of the rankings on per-pupil spending for a second year, despite spending increases in all of those states.

Teachers’ salaries rose at a rate of 2 percent nationally to an average of $46,726. California had the highest average teacher salary of $58,287 and Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey and Michigan rounded out the top five in that category.

South Dakota had the lowest average teacher salary of $33,236. Mississippi, North Dakota, Alabama and Oklahoma were also in the bottom five for annual teacher pay.

Digital Divide; Culture; Diversity; Equity

This is a major issue at the local, state, national, and global levels. One aspect of the topic is the significant differences in the quality of teachers that different groups of students have. Another aspect is the significant difference in levels of funding that are available to schools. Here are a few interesting references.

Camphire, Goeff. Are Our Teachers Good Enough [Online]. Accessed 11/12/01: http://www.sedl.org/pubs/
sedletter/v13n02/1.html. Quoting from this Website:
A few years ago, Dallas Independent School District's Robert Mendro started comparing the test scores of elementary school students. He had a hunch that the teachers a student had made a difference in that student's test scores. But Mendro, the district's chief evaluation officer, says even he was startled at the size of the achievement gap he uncovered.

After three years with very effective teachers, students were able to raise their test scores by 16 percentile points in both reading and math. By contrast, classmates who started out performing at the same level but had been assigned to very ineffective teachers for three years in a row saw their scores drop dramatically - by 18 percentile points in reading and 33 percentile points in math (see chart).

Digital Equity Toolkit [Online]. Accessed 2/2/02: http://www.nici-mc2.org/de_toolkit/. Quoting from the Website:

Edited by Joy Wallace, Senior Associate, National Institute for Community Innovations and developed as a free resource for educators, professional developers and teacher-education faculty by the National Institute for Community Innovations and made possible in part through funding from the U.S. Department of Education's PT3 (Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology) and Technology Innovation Challenge Grant programs, this Digital Equity Toolkit is committed to continually enhancing the Toolkit's contents. To get the most recent version of the Toolkit, please go to www.nici-mc2.org/de_toolkit/pages/print.htm.

Policy Implications of Long-Term Teacher Effects on Student Achievements (Multiple authors.). Accessed 12/13/02 http://www.dallasisd.org/depts/inst_research/
aer98rm1/policy_implications.htm. Quoting the first three paragraphs from this rep[ort prepared for the Dallas, Texas schools:

It is clear that teachers have large effects on student achievement, that effects have strong additive components over time, and that teacher effects are large enough to dwarf effects associated with most other educational interventions. The impact this information has on local educational policy should be immediate for it strikes at the very basic issue of equal access to a quality education for all students and the guarantee that all students have opportunities to learn and achieve.

Implications for Policies Relating to Student Equity

Much of the recent focus of educational policy is concerned with equity in student access to a quality education (Kozol, 1991; Oakes, 1990; Glazer, 1987, Darling-Hammond, 1987). This focus is grounded in the belief that all students deserve a quality education, and schools must be organized around this goal. This is the foundation of the United States' concept of "comprehensive schools" (Berliner and Biddle, 1995).

Results from this study indicate that equal access to a quality education is jeopardized for students who receive a less effective teacher. The bias analysis indicates that students with low achievement tend to be assigned to less effective teachers and students with high achievement tend to be assigned to the most effective teachers. This is most likely due to the fact that most of the effective teachers teach honors courses or upper-level courses, beginning in the upper elementary grades. While this is not in and of itself unequal, the fact that a similar caliber of teacher is not available to the low achieving students is relevant.

Proefriedt William A. (November 20, 2002 ) Other People's Children. Education Week on the Web. Accessed  

Free and/or Open Source Software

There is a very interesting and important struggle going on between people who feel that the Web as well as many other aspects of Information and Communications Technology should be free, and those that approach it from a money-making, commercial point of view. It is easy to generate issues along these lines that really stir people up. For example, consider the statement and question:

  1. A high quality, free, and convenient education is a birthright of every person on earth.
  2. But, who will pay for it?

There are many people who are willing to contribute their time, money, and other resources to contribute to #1 a reality. There is a huge and steadily growing amount of high quality educational materials available for free on the Web. This OTEC Website is an example of that type of for-free endeavor. Many organizations have been created to help people work on achieving #1. Here are a few examples and references.

101 Fabulous Freebies

Author (11/15/06). The good, the bad, and the ugly. itWorldCanada. Retrieved 12/23/06: http://www.itworldcanada.com/a/The-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly
. Quoting from the Website:

There's never been a better time to be a cheapskate. Free utilities? We've got 'em. Want a full-fledged image editor? A few gigabytes of mail storage? How about an entire office software suite? We can top that, easy. Take the whole earth and solar system. Free!

If you thought that the golden age of free stuff ended when the dot-com bubble burst, guess again. The past few years have seen an explosion of giveaways -- both Web-based services and free software -- that make the anemic home-page building apps and first-generation Web mail services of the late 1990s pale in comparison.

Web-based free office products accessed 3/24/06

Older References

AbiWord [Online]. Accessed 5/16/02: http://www.abiword.com/. Quoting from the Website:

AbiWord is a free word processing program similar to Microsoft® Word. It is suitable for typing papers, letters, reports, memos, and so forth.

AbiWord has been created by a worldwide group of volunteers and currently supports many languages and operating systems.

AbiWord is GNU Free Software software, which means that you will always have the freedom to use it, make copies of it, and improve it. You are encouraged to make use of these freedoms and share the program with your family and friends!

Duin, Steve (5/25/03). Oregon is still a soft touch for Microsoft. The Oregonian. Reference from the Oregonian. Accessed 5/25/03: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/
Quoting from the Website:

Paul Nelson is hard-core on open-source software. He admits it. When Riverdale High School launched last year with 80 computers running Linux, the school saved $40,000. The system runs so well that Nelson, the school's full-time network administrator, is teaching three-quarters time.

The computers cook. The software is free, meaning Riverdale isn't in hock to Microsoft for licensing fees and costly upgrades. Nelson thinks this aggressive pursuit of open-source software is nothing less than due diligence for a school -- or any other bureaucracy -- facing a budget crunch.

FreeMind (n.d.). FreeMind—free mind mapping software. Accessed 10/27/05: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.

This free software is available for Microsoft Windows, Mas OS X, and Linux operating systems. Quoting from the Website:

FreeMind is a premier free mind-mapping (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map) software written in Java. The recent development has hopefully turned it into high productivity tool. We are proud that the operation and navigation of FreeMind is faster than that of MindManager because of one-click "fold / unfold" and "follow link" operations.

Linux [Online]. Accessed 3/22/02: http://www.linux.org/ . Quoting from the Website:

Linux is a free Unix-type operating system originally created by Linus Torvalds with the assistance of developers around the world. Developed under the GNU General Public License , the source code for Linux is freely available to everyone. Click on the link below to find out more about the operating system that is causing a revolution in the world of computers.

Here is a brief news item related to the above:

Linux Predicted to Become Dominant Operating System

Linux will emerge as the dominant operating system in corporate data centers, according to a new study by Goldman Sachs, which says the ascendance of the open source software will enable IT managers to take advantage of lower-cost, higher-performance Intel-based servers, and to avoid "premium-priced proprietary systems." The report, titled "Fear the Penguin," predicts that eventually, Linux-based systems will displace those running on Unix and RISC processors: "Many observers confine Linux's enterprise opportunity to the market for low-end 'edge' servers such as file, print, Web and e-mail servers. But we are confident that the technical developments and market forces are in place for it also to become the dominant OS on the higher-end servers of the enterprise data center." The winners in this scenario will be "independent PC semiconductor companies (Intel and AMD) and Intel-based server businesses (Dell)." The emergence of Linux is also expected to buoy the fortunes of "open" infrastructure software vendors, such as BEA Systems, BMC Software, Oracle and Veritas. However, with regard to archrival Microsoft, Linux will "hamper the movement of Windows into the enterprise data center, an area that Microsoft has only recently begun to target for growth," by providing an easier migration path from current Unix-based systems. "This shift will limit Windows' market opportunity in the data center for both its OS and its applications that run on that platform," concludes the study. (NewsFactor Network 15 Jan 2003) http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/20471.html (NewsScan Daily, 16 January 2003)

Duin, Steve (05/25/03). Oregon is still a soft touch for Microsoft. The Oregonian. Accessed 5/25/03: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/

Logo (Programming Language) [Online]. Accessed 6/5/02: http://education.ed.pacificu.edu/charlesm/
mathsci/turtlegeom/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

Logo is a computer programming language that students of many different ages can use to explore mathematical ideas. It was developed at the MIT Media Laboratory by a team of people led by Dr. Seymour Papert. Papert wrote a book called Mindstorms back in 1980 that has had a significant impact on how people think about technology and education. In fact, some describe Logo as an educational philosophy as much as it is a particular computing language. Logo was designed as a computer language to learn with instead of a language to learn about. These days there is a website dedicated to Papert and some of his thinking and projects--see http://www.papert.org/.

Logo is available for free on the web for either the Windows or Mac platform.

MSW Logo is for Windows computers and available at http://www.softronix.com/logo.html

UCB Logo is the original code used in creating MSW Logo. It is a Macintosh program written by Brian Harvey and known also as UCB Logo. To directly download a stuffed copy of UCB Logo onto your computer, go to http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/

If you're interested in a powerful multimedia capable version of the program, see the Microworlds website at http://www.microworlds.com/. You directly download a free 15 day trial version of MicroWorlds Pro, their most capable product, at http://www.microworlds.com/solutions/mwpro.html

Making decisions About Open source Software (OSS) for K-12. Accessed 3/25/04: http://www.netc.org/openoptions/. This Website is a very good source of information for educators. Quoting from the website:

Open source is a special kind of software. Anyone can change or share it. The "source" is the source code of a program: the engine underneath what you usually see and use. Most of the software you use is probably closed source or "proprietary." Only the software company can change or share proprietary software.

Open Knowledge Institute [Online]. Accessed 3/22/02: http://web.mit.edu/oki/ovrvw/index.html. Quoting from this MIT Website:

The Open Knowledge Initiative is defining an open architectural specification to be used for the development of educational related software.

Its architecture will provide a modular and extensible development platform for building both traditional and innovative educational applications to help institutions leverage existing infrastructure.

The OKI product is designed for broad adoption in the university setting.

It will simplify the methods of assembly, delivery and access to educational technology resources, while creating a large collaborative community.

OpenOffice [Online]. Accessed 10/21/05: http://www.openoffice.org/. Quoting from the Website:

OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the productivity suite that individuals, governments, and corporations around the world have been expecting for the last two years. Easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0 realises the potential of open source.

With new features, advanced XML capabilities and native support for the OASIS Standard OpenDocument format, OpenOffice.org 2.0 gives users around the globe the tools to be engaged and productive members of their society.

Download it now. If it is not ready today in your language, it will be shortly. OpenOffice.org 2.0 is yours.

Open Source Initiative (OSI) [Online]. Accessed 3/22/02: http://www.opensource.org/ Quoting from the Website:

Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for the good of the community, specifically through the OSI Certified Open Source Software certification mark and program. You can read about successful software products that have these properties, and about our certification mark and program, which allow you to be confident that software really is "Open Source." We also make copies of approved open source licenses here.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.

We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.

Open Source Initiative exists to make this case to the commercial world.

Open source software is an idea whose time has finally come. For twenty years it has been building momentum in the technical cultures that built the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now it's breaking out into the commercial world, and that's changing all the rules. Are you ready?

Red Hat Launches Nation's First K-12 Red Hat Linux Education Program; Helps Improve Computing Access for All Students [Online]. Accessed 5/8/02: http://www.redhat.com/about/presscenter/
2002/press_education2.html. Quoting from this Press Release:

RALEIGH, NC&emdash;May 7, 2002&emdash;Red Hat, Inc. (Nasdaq:RHAT) today announced its K-12 Red Hat Linux Pilot Program, designed to extend the availability of the Internet and computing technology to all schools, regardless of size or budget, improving the overall learning experience for all students. As part of its open schools initiative, Red Hat will assess the computing needs of participating schools, install open-source software and applications, and provide technical support. Seven North Carolina counties have already joined Red Hat's program -- Chatham, Clay, Durham, Lee, Orange, Scotland and Tyrrell.

Schools participating in the initiative will be provided with Red Hat software and services at no cost. Red Hat will assess the current and future computing needs of each school and then install the appropriate open source software and programs. Each school is providing its own hardware, and has agreed to meet the minimum requirements set by Red Hat.

Software Freedom Day--July 4 [Online]. Accessed 6/3/02: http://k12ltsp.org/software_freedom.html.

This Website contains pointers to a variety of free and open software. It talks about the success that the Portland, Oregon Public Schools have had in making use of such software. Quoting from the Website: For the last 7 years our local Linux User Group (PLUG - Portland Linux/Unix Group) has helped our schools use free software to bring technology to our classrooms. Now ALL of our students and teachers have email. Teachers publish web pages with homework and classroom news. Students publish reports on the web and use presentation tools instead of poster board. Our classrooms enjoy reliable and safe Internet access for research. We can collaborate with other schools and communicate with guest experts on a wide range of topics. We've established learning partnerships with schools around world over the Internet. Access to reliable technology has made us more productive learners and we're having fun at the same time.

StarOffice [Online]. Accessed 3/22/02: http://www.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/.

This comes from Sun Microsystems. As of 3/22/02 the company is in the process of having one version of the software remain "free" while a person can also purchase the software and get some technical support. Quoting from the Website:
Key Applications: The StarOffice 5.2 productivity suite includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. It also has support for AutoPilot Web page design software, 3D graphics, diagrams, HTML editing, and calendar, newsgroup, browser, email and scheduler, photo editing, and other applications.

Key Specifications: A complete set of rich, easy-to-use office productivity tools in a unified desktop environment makes it easy to share documents with friends and colleagues using Microsoft Office applications. StarOffice 5.2 software can be downloaded at affordable, low cost from the Web and is available in 11 languages.

Key Benefits: Interoperability with other desktop productivity suites, including Microsoft Office Support for Solaris[tm] Operating Environment, Microsoft Windows, and Linux operating systems An intuitive graphical interface that's easy to learn and use.

Note added 5/15/02: The following is quoted from Edupage, May 15, 2002:


Sun Microsystems has announced that when it starts charging for StarOffice, formerly available free, the price will be $75.95, still significantly less than competing Office software from Microsoft. Sun announced earlier this year that it would start charging for the package of software and would provide improved user support. Sun's move is aimed directly at Microsoft's Office suite, which currently holds 95 percent of the office software market. Officials at Microsoft said customers are willing to pay for the quality of Office, and analysts at Gartner noted that switching software involves costs beyond the purchase of the application, including file migration and staff retraining. Still, Sun is optimistic that customers will be drawn to the open-source nature of the StarOffice code, and that Microsoft's recent move to subscription services for its software will push other customers to Sun. CNET, 14 May 2002

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. (UNESCO). UNESCO Free Software Portal. Accessed 1/18/02: http://www.unesco.org/webworld/

As of 1/16/03 the site contained 433 links and documents. Quoting from the Website:
Free software faces difficult challenges and dangers In an article for UNESCO Free Software Portal, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and the author of the GNU General Public License (GPL), and the developer of software like gcc and Emacs, outlines the development in this area since 1984. "I'm grateful to UNESCO for recognizing that, in the domain of software, free software disseminates human knowledge in a way that non-free software cannot do" says Stallman.

With its Free Software Portal, UNESCO intends to provide a single interactive access point to information for users who wish to understand and follow the Free Software movement, to learn why it is important and to apply the concept.

Graphic Images Libraries

Pics4Learning [Online]. Accessed 12/2/01: http://www.pics4learning.com/. Quoting from the Website:

The Pics4Learning collection is intended to provide copyright friendly images for use by students and teachers in an education setting. The original photographers of each image retain the copyright to these images and have graciously allowed their use in this collection. The images may not be sold as an image collection or partial image collection. Images in the Pics4Learning collection may be used by teachers and students in print, multimedia, and video productions. These could include, but are not limited to, school projects, contests, web pages, and fund raising activities for the express purpose of improving student educational opportunities.

Media Server [Online]. Accessed 12/43/01: http://media.globalc.org/.

Twelve collections of images are available in the "View" section of "Collections." Quoting from the Website:
M.E.D.I.A. Server allows people to create multimedia presentations in minutes using images, sounds & movies provided by M.E.D.I.A. Server or other digital sources.

The M.E.D.I.A. Server was developed by and in collaboration with SURWEB and other MATRIX consortium members. SURWEB was established in 1995 in Utah by the Southeastern Education Service Center (SESC) with a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USDoED).

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

IT is attention-grabbing and many students find it to be intrinsically motivating. Research on intrinsic motivation supports that such motivation is highly desirable in education.


The following is quoted from the May 9, 2001 issue of Public Education Network PEN@PublicEducation.org


Paraprofessionals and teaching assistants are a mainstay in many schools, especially in special education and inclusion classrooms. Most help with daily classroom activities, but some have special assignments, such as assisting non-English-speaking students and conducting home visits. More than 500,000 full-time paraprofessionals are estimated to be working in schools. And the number is growing: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of paraprofessionals employed as instructional aides increased by more than 40 percent from 1990 to 1997; during the same period, the number of teachers increased by less than 15 percent. Policy experts predict that schools will continue to hire paraprofessionals to fill positions created by critical teacher shortages and new federal staffing requirements.


Research on Effective Uses of IT in Education

Recommendations for Research and Development in Information Technology in Education [Online]. Accessed 6/10/01: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/

Moursund, D.G., and Smith, I. (2000). Five Research Summaries on IT in Education [Online]. Accessed 11/20/01: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/

Center for Applied Research in Educational Technology (CARET) [Online]. Accessed 6/12/01: http://caret.iste.org/. Note that this site is still under development.

ER Online (AERA). Accessed 12/13/02: http://www.aera.net/pubs/er/eronline.htm Posted below is a brief news item about this Website.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN EDUCATION Recent federal legislation, such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and related policy initiatives, has focused the attention of policymakers, researchers and practitioners on the nature and value of "scientific" research in education. In the November issue of Educational Researcher, eight scholars representing a broad range of approaches in educational research discuss key issues and what constitutes rigorous research in education. http://www.aera.net/pubs/er/eronline.htm (PEN Weekly NewsBlast for November 29, 2002)



Roles of IT in School Reform

Many school reform movements include a significant role for IT. This goes back at least to the 1983 report: A Nation at Risk.

April 1983. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform [Online]. Accessed 11/12/01: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/. The first two paragraphs of the report say:
Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

Gill, Brian P. , Timpane, P. Michael, RossKaren E., Brewer, Dominic J. (2001). Rhetoric Versus Reality: What We Know and What We Need to Know About Vouchers and Charter Schools. Accessed 12/7/01: http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1118/.

This is a PDF version of the full book (paperback, $15) published near the end of 2001. Quoting from the Website: This book seeks to identify and articulate the full range of empirical questions that must be answered to fully assess the wisdom of policies that promote either voucher or charter policies for our nation's public education system.

Public Education Network: Strategic Interventions [Online]. Accessed 11/12/01: http://www.publiceducation.org/interventions/. Quoting from the Website:

What does it look like to have parents, business leaders, taxpayers without children in school and other community members taking responsibility for public education?

More than a simple list of ways that LEFs go about their work, the following interventions are the Public Education Network's blueprint of engagement for community change:

  • Community Dialogue
  • Constituency Building
  • Engaging Practitioners
  • Collaboration with Districts
  • Policy Analysis
  • Legal Strategies

Because of the natural overlap across the interventions, these strategies are not intended to be implemented in isolation. Individually, they represent different ways of working to engage the community in school improvement. When all six interventions occur together, communities have the synergy and momentum to create lasting change for the public education system.

No single organization, no matter how well organized or how representative of the community, can create systemic change by itself. And no one group can possibly implement all of the interventions. In some instances, local education funds may lead or direct the action; in others, LEFs may be a participant. This changing role for LEFs is an important part of building leadership for long-term community change.

What Works (No Child Left Behind)

The No Child Left Behind program focuses on research-based curriculum and interventions designed to improve the quality of education that students are receiving. This section of the OTEC Website will cover:
  1. General information about NCLB.
  2. Research areas that seem to be receiving support from NCLB and that are also of possible interest in the field of ICT in education.
  3. ICT-related research that seems relevant to NCLB.

Report: Uh, it's like student writing is bad. CNN.com./EDUCATION. Accessed 4/27/03: http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/04/25/

This news article summarizes some findings about how well students write (how poorly students write). The article is based on information provided by the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges. It contains recommendations that much more time be spent at various grade levels and in all subject areas having students write.

As with each subject area in our curriculum, the goal is for students to achieve a reasonable level of expertise. What constitutes a "reasonable level" has gone up substantially during the past 200 years. Moreover, more and more subject areas have been included in the curriculum, with expectations of students achieving a reasonable level of expertise in each one.

Of course, the result is that it is not possible for schools to devote enough time in each subject area so that a level of student expertise can be reached in each area that is satisfactory to the critics in each area. If substantially more time is to be spent on writing, then less time will be spent in other subject areas.

If the representatives of certain subject areas achieve adequate political power, they can force much greater emphasis in their areas. Tis is certainly happening in the NCLB era. As an example, take a look at the art and music curriculum in schools.

What Works Clearinghouse. Accessed 4/27/03: http://www.w-w-c.org/. Quoting from this Website:

T he What Works Clearinghouse was established by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences to provide educators, policymakers, and the public with a central, independent, and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education. It is administered by the Department through a contract to a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research and the Campbell Collaboration.

On April 2, 2003, the WWC announced the first group of topics that it will examine in an effort to determine what the research base says about effective programs and practices. The seven topic areas are

  • Interventions for beginning reading.
  • Curriculum-based interventions for increasing K&endash;12 math achievement.
  • Preventing high school dropouts.
  • Programs for increasing adult literacy.
  • Peer-assisted learning in elementary schools: reading, mathematics, and science gains.
  • Interventions to reduce delinquent, disorderly, and violent behavior in and out of school.
  • Interventions for elementary school English language learners: increasing English language acquisition and academic achievement.

The WWC is working on an aggressive timeline, and plans to release the first reports this fall. While the work of the WWC holds the potential for improving educational practice, a number of researchers and educators have expressed concern that the WWC, as well as the NCLB, may define research too narrowly.

NCLB defines scientifically based research as research that

  • Involves rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge. Employs systematic, empirical methods that draw on observation or experiment.
  • Involves data analyses adequate to test hypotheses and justify conclusions.
  • Relies on measurements or observations that provide reliable and valid data across evaluators and observers, multiple measurements and observations, and studies by the same or different investigators.
  • Is evaluated using experimental or quasi-experimental designs in which individuals, entities, programs, or activities are assigned to different conditions and with appropriate controls to evaluate the effects of the condition of interest, with a preference for random-assignment experiments, or other designs to the extent that those designs contain within-condition or across-condition controls.
  • Ensures experimental studies are presented in sufficient detail and clarity to allow for replication or opportunity to build on their findings.
  • Has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal or approved by a panel of independent experts through rigorous, objective, and scientific review.