Oct 31 2006

Letters/Reader Spotlight

Readers share their views on student information systems, ex-military personnel in the classroom and the exchange of ideas.

Wireless Disconnect

The Tech Debate section in the Fall 2004 issue (“Squaring Off on Wireless”) interested me because I manage the point-to-point wireless system in our 10,000-student public school.

We stepped into wireless to help us increase digital bandwidth among school buildings scattered over a 98-square-mile district. The expense and limited capacity of leased lines were hurting us, so we began moving our buildings to wireless connections three years ago. However, we have not been sold on deploying wireless to the classroom on any large scale because of the cost and performance issues of wireless networks compared with wired networks.

How did Mr. Hohman and his district determine that “Tablet PCs and wireless greatly enhance learning”? Did they find or perform research that supports this conclusion, or are they convinced by their own results?

—Thomas D. Cox, Assistant Director, Center for Information Technology in Education, Anderson Community School Corp., Anderson, Ind.

Although District 86 has not yet completed any studies pertaining to wireless capabilities in the classroom, we have gathered anecdotal data and conducted classroom observations over the past year related to our Tablet PC program. To date, we have witnessed an increase in both teacher-to-student interaction and student-to-student interaction, as well as an increase in content absorption among students as a result of deploying the Tablet solutions. We invite you to contact us if you’d like to learn more about our initiative.

—Tim Hohman, Director of Technology, Hinsdale Township High School District 86, Hinsdale, Ill.

Make That Two Developers

Thank you for the wonderful article in the Fall 2004 issue of Ed Tech (Reader Spotlight) regarding the Indicator Reporting and Information System, which provides teachers with Web access to a database of student information. IRIS is a wonderful tool for our district, and it is great to have a forum to share the hard work of our employees.

I would like to make one small correction to your article: IRIS was co-developed by a current district employee, Amy Hersman. Hersman is now the lead programmer and developer of IRIS and, along with Michelle Stoffan, continues to refine IRIS into a stronger application. Without her hard work and dedication, IRIS would not have been possible.

Again, thank you for taking the time to highlight such a significant accomplishment for the Elyria Schools.

—Brian Kokai, Data Services Coordinator, Elyria School District, Elyria, Ohio

A Salute to More New Teachers

In “Midcareer Teachers” by Catherine LaCroix (Teaching the Teacher, Fall 2004), the story didn’t mention military personnel who retired or left the service and went into teaching. In our staff of 13, we have three ex-military personnel teaching. Two of them retired from the military service. I am one of them.

I have been teaching here for nine years, installing technology and keeping track of statistics. Don’t forget us: There are thousands of us finding a new career in teaching and serving our country again.

—Rory Waters, Technology Coordinator/Technology Instructor, Starkville School District, Starkville, Miss.

Thank you for your inspiring letter. We plan on covering how this nation’s veterans continue to serve in the field of education. We appreciate the idea. Look for that article in the Summer 2005 issue of Ed Tech.

Sparking Creativity

Although the Wireless Handhelds Improving Reflection on Learning program that was profiled in “Luring Them to Learn” (Applying Technology, Summer 2003) has officially ended, we are still working with the software we developed and the handhelds and other technology provided by the program. The program was very rewarding—lots of work but also a valuable experience for teachers and students. The training, software and hardware will continue to have an impact on our classrooms for years to come.

I enjoy Ed Tech magazine and have observed with interest as the format of the magazine has evolved. I find the articles and ideas useful and hope that I can continue to read about all the teachers, grants and programs that you highlight. Any publication that lets educators peek into another classroom and school has the potential to spark more ideas and new creativity. We often do not have the chance to leave our little worlds to see the more global picture, and that is one of the major shortcomings of the current educational system.

Thank you again for your interest and assistance.

—Catherine Beckham, Teacher, Shell Point Elementary School, Beaufort, S.C.


E-mail your letters, comments and feedback to edtech@cdwg.com. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Letters chosen for publication may be edited for length and clarity. All submissions become the property of CDW•G.

Reader Spotlight

To share and gain knowledge from other schools with notebook PC programs, Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn., will host its third annual Laptop Institute from July 17 through July 20, 2005.

The conference is open to technologists and educators interested in learning about ways to integrate notebook technology into the school curriculum and how to support and administer notebook programs. The registration fee of $250 includes most meals and all materials.

“We’re trying to assist schools with laptop programs,” says Stewart Crais, director of technology and media services at Lausanne. “The majority of what we’ve done is what we’ve learned from other schools. We want to make it possible for schools to come together and share what they’ve done.”

In spring 2001, Lausanne, which offers preschool through grade 12 education, decided to incorporate a notebook PC program in its curriculum by equipping its students with IBM ThinkPads.

By working with administrators, teachers and parents, Crais ensured that the new computers would be integrated into classroom assignments. Lausanne students use productivity technology tools such as spreadsheets in math, e-mail for peer editing in English and real-time weather reports for geography coursework. They’re also developing critical thinking skills while determining the credibility of Web sites for various school projects, Crais says.

The event coordinators are looking for attendees, presenters and sponsors with insights to share about integrating technology into the curriculum and supporting the technology once it’s in place. The program also will include tracks for schools that are considering notebook programs.

For more information about registration or being a presenter or sponsor, contact Crais at scrais@lausanneschool.com or visit the event Web site at www.laptopinstitute.com.