Up to $12.8 million for school lunch equipment

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides a $12.8 million one-time appropriation to California for equipment assistance grants to school food authorities (SFA) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The NSLP equipment assistance grants are to improve the infrastructure in the NSLP; however, the authority for the grants was provided in the context of the overall effort to stimulate activity within the American economy. The program serves sponsors of the National School Lunch Program. This program focuses on sites in which fifty percent or more of the enrolled children qualify for free and reduced-price meals.


eSchool News May 2009

mayDon’t miss these highlights in your May issue

eSN Publisher’s Report: Accelerate Learning: How the SMART Classroom Suite supports 21st-century instruction.
— Sally Thiel

Product Face-off: How the top library-management programs stack up.
— Meris Stansbury

View the May 2009 Issue today…
View online as a Web-Book in your web browser

Download eSchool News May 2009 Issue in Adobe (PDF) format.

What’s News

  • New standards to bolster eLearning (pg 1)
  • ‘Open access’ sparks debate (pg 1)
  • Six technologies soon to transform schools (pg 1)
  • Students want mobile devices, online courses (pg 6)
  • Microsoft offers free software for high schoolers (pg 8)
  • Duncan:Prepare for ‘new era’ in science teaching (pg 10)
  • Next campus IT challenge: Streaming video games (pg 12)
  • Schools begin receiving federal stimulus money (pg 14)
  • Study questions plagiarism-detection software (pg 16)
  • Student fitness bill raises data-tracking questions (pg 25)
    • Default Lines (pg 4)
      Fox at the henhouse.
      Gregg W. Downey
    • Letters to the Editor (pg 4)
      Our readers respond with their opinions.
    • eSN Online Update (pg 6)
      Join our free webinar on school video use.
      Nancy David
    • Grants & Funding (pg 26)
      Six tips for securing federal stimulus money for your schools. Plus,new grant deadlines.
      Deborah Ward
    • Education in Focus (pg 27)
      Review seeks clarity in projector debate; new portable, low-cost unit makes video conferencing easy.
    • Security Checkpoint (pg 30)
      Internet might be safer than you think; judge blocks charges in ‘sexting’ case.
    • State Tech Perspectives (pg 36)
      New Jersey seeks to INCLUDE all students through universal design principles.
      Laurence Cocco
    • Prime-Time Product Preview (pg 37)
      New product information from eSN advertisers.
    • Tech Buyer’s Marketplace (pg 38)
      Buying wisdom from our K-20 Tech Solutions Center.
    • eSchool Partners (pg 38)
      Key organizations that support the eSchool movement
    • eSN.tv Viewer’s Guide (pg 39)
      This month’s highlights from our video news archive
  • Departments

View the May 2009 Issue today…
View online as a Web-Book in your web browser

Download eSchool News May 2009 Issue in Adobe (PDF) format.


Today’s technology helps train tomorrow’s teachers

While Mari Anne Fell, an elementary education senior at Southern Miss, is practicing her teaching skills at Jackson Elementary School in Pascagoula, miles away, her professors are watching her every move at their office at the University of Southern Mississippi Teaching Site in Gautier, reports WLOX. Using a web camera connected to a laptop computer, and a Skype video conferencing account, the assistant professors can observe and evaluate Fell and 17 other online elementary education students who are working in the field. "We started the program because we saw a need," said Assistant Professor Kelley Samblis. "There were a lot of teacher’s assistants [who] were not able to come to school, come to face-to-face classes. So we thought, let’s offer an online venue for them." The assistant professors can communicate with their students through a Bluetooth earpiece and give them instant feedback. "If there’s a problem, we can just whisper in their ear with the headpiece when we’re talking on the microphone," said Assistant Professor Holly Hardin Hulbert. "But if not, we just let it alone and we talk to them as soon as it’s over." The USM professors are working with a leading educational technology vendor to improve the online program and expand it nationwide…

Click here for the full story


Stanford students concoct iPhone applications

Stanford student Luke Ekkizogloy is writing an iPhone app that controls the lights in his house, but he has bigger dreams. "I have what everyone has in mind, and that’s to make money," Ekkizogloy told Wired.com. Ekkizogloy, like many other students enrolled in Stanford’s iPhone programming class, is aiming to strike it rich by selling software through Apple’s prolific iPhone App Store, which surpassed one billion downloads last week. Stanford is so serious about training the next army of iPhone developers that the tech-savvy university hired Evan Doll, a senior iPhone engineer for Apple, to teach CS193P–a computer science course titled "iPhone Application Programming." Doll taught Stanford’s first iPhone class in fall 2008, and the current quarter is now running in its fifth week. In the class, students are building programs using the iPhone software development kit, which requires learning Objective-C–the iPhone’s programming language. They’re also learning the basic fundamentals and principles of coding for the iPhone, such as memory management, interface construction, and animation design…

Click here for the full story


Norway tests laptop exam program

About 6,000 students in Norway are taking exams on their laptops in a trial that soon could be rolled out across the country, the BBC reports. Every 16- to 19-year-old in Nord-Trondelag county in Norway has been trying out the laptop-based system. The students are given a laptop by the government when they turn 16 to help them with schoolwork. During exams, the specially tailored software springs into life to block and record any attempt at cheating. The software works as a keylogger, taking screen shots so "we can very easily get a graphic of what the students have used or have done," said Bjorg Helland, project manager for digital literacy at Nord-Trondelag county council. "Exactly what we are looking for may vary, depending on what exam it is," said Terje Ronning, a spokesman for computer firm XO Expect More, which has worked with Nord-Trondelag to get the system working. Although students can turn to spell checkers to help proofread their answers, the use of anything more sophisticated is banned. Just as with paper-based exams, those caught cheating fail the test…

Click here for the full story


Cyber crooks churning out trick flu eMails

Cyber crooks are capitalizing on influenza fears with torrents of eMail promising "swine flu" news but delivering malware or dubious offers for potency drugs or penis enlargement, AFP reports. An alert posted April 30 at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also warns that scammers have launched web sites hawking bogus products "that claim to prevent, treat, or cure" the H1N1 flu virus. The FDA said it is "informing offending web sites that they must take prompt action to correct and/or remove promotions of these fraudulent products or face immediate enforcement action." "Zombie" computers infected with a dreaded Conficker virus that became an online scourge this year are among machines being used to spew flu-related spam crafted to trick eMail recipients, according to computer security firm Trend Micro. "The thing making it worse is the misinformation out there about swine flu," Trend Micro threats research manager Jamz Yaneza said. "These guys have picked up on all the fears people have. With all the hysteria of swine flu, some people click on these eMails."

Click here for the full story


Sources: Apple to introduce more affordable Macs

Determined to grow its share of the personal computer market during the worst economic climate in its corporate history, Apple is tailoring changes to a pair of its offerings that will help drive down prices of some of the most popular Macs, AppleInsider reports. Word of the changes comes just weeks after Cupertino-based company became the target of a renewed advertising blitz from rival Microsoft Corp., which is using a new series of controversial television spots to cast Macs as overpriced novelty PCs that command a premium purely for their distinctive aesthetic. Still, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s move toward more affordable Macs isn’t so much a response to Redmond’s marketing antics as it is an interim solution to combat the proliferation of budget notebooks — often called netbooks — until the company is ready to introduce its own take on the market in the much-rumored Newton-like web tablet, a project that is taking considerably longer to complete than anticipated…

Click here for the full story


Iconic texts still missing from e-libraries

A growing number of schools are embracing books in electronic format, but many classic titles that have become staples of the English curriculum still aren’t available as eBooks.

Getting permission to release a book in electronic form can be as hard–or harder–than writing it: It took six years get J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy released in eBook format, more than half as long as Tolkien himself took to write all three books.

"The Tolkien estate wanted to be absolutely confident that eBooks were not something ephemeral," says David Brawn, publishing operations director at HarperCollins U.K., which announced last week that the late British author’s works–among the world’s most popular–would at last be available for downloading.

"We were finally able to convince the Tolkien estate that the eBook is a legitimate, widespread format," Brawn said.

Tolkien’s addition to the e-club fills a major gap, and, with eBooks the fastest (and virtually only) growing sector of publishing, other authors and their estates have softened as well.

Former holdouts Tom Clancy and Danielle Steel have allowed their books to be digitized, and John Grisham will reportedly do the same. Grove/Atlantic Inc., which has published William Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, and Malcolm X, expects many of its older works to become available.

"We’re getting less resistance every day," says Grove associate publisher Eric Price.

But you could still build a brilliant collection with the books that remain offline. They include, most notably, the Harry Potter series and countless other favorites: Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22; Lolita and To Kill a Mockingbird; Atlas Shrugged and Things Fall Apart; The Outsiders and Fahrenheit 451.

"eBooks will be increasingly important as schools try to make content more widely available to students," said Bob Moore, executive director of information technology for the Blue Valley Schools in Overland Park, Kan. "It would be unfortunate if some publishers and/or authors resist the move to online content, as it will ultimately limit the access that people have to their materials. It would be about as foolish as a music recording artist resisting iTunes or similar technology."

No eBooks are available from such living authors as Thomas Pynchon, Guenter Grass, and Cynthia Ozick, or from the late Studs Terkel, Roberto Bolano, and Saul Bellow. Only a handful, or less, have come out from Paul Bowles, Hunter S. Thompson, and James Baldwin.

The reasons are legal, financial, technical, and philosophical.

– The author or author’s estate simply refuses, like J.K. Rowling, who has expressed a preference for books on paper and a wariness of technology. And don’t expect to see A Streetcar Named Desire or any other Tennessee Williams play on your eBook reader.

"Right now, his estate is totally opposed to any kind of electronic licensing," said literary agent Georges Borchardt, who represents Williams’ estate. "They just don’t trust the technology."

– The book doesn’t fit the eBook format. Because e-technology has had limited capacity to handle illustrations, paper–recycled paper–was needed to read Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, the companion to the Academy-Award winning environmental documentary. Rodale Books hopes to release Gore’s follow up, Our Choice, as an electronic text when the traditional book comes out this fall.

– The author, or the author’s representative, is holding out for more money. Agents complain that eBook royalty rates, commonly 25 percent of net receipts, are far too low and should be doubled, saying that digital texts cost virtually nothing to produce and distribute.

"Publishers get a huge profit, more on eBooks than on anything else," says Timothy Knowlton, CEO of Curtis Brown Ltd., where authors include business writer Jim Collins (whose Good to Great is unavailable as an eBook) and religious scholar Karen Armstrong (whose recent work can be downloaded).

"From my perspective, that’s patently unfair–and it’s going to backfire on the publishers who insist upon it."

Knowlton says that HarperCollins is among those giving 25 percent. Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of HarperMedia, a multimedia group at HarperCollins, did not confirm or deny the number, but said the same rate has been offered since 2001.

"We feel it’s the right royalty, one that allows for growth of the format while still returning to authors a respectable amount of money," Allessi said.

– The author, or author’s estate, is open to eBook rights, but still not convinced that the market is big enough to justify the expense and risk of digitizing a text. Arthur Klebanoff of RosettaBooks, an eBook publisher, remembers numerous attempts to get rights to To Kill a Mockingbird and other older classics, only to encounter skepticism about sales.

"Some of the biggest names are still waiting for the market to prove itself," Klebanoff said.

The digital red tape is especially thick for books issued before the Kindle/Sony Reader era. David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, a cult favorite published in 1996 by Little, Brown and Co., is finally expected to come out as an eBook. Grove/Atlantic hopes to have an e-version of Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, released on paper in 1959, ready for the novel’s 50th anniversary.

"We have to go through every single contract to see which ones have a clause that might pertain to electronic rights and which ones didn’t," says Grove’s Eric Price. "When you’re going through thousands and thousands of contracts, it’s a slow, slow process."

Sometimes, just finding out whether a book has e-rights is a complicated process.

A handful of Jack Kerouac books can be downloaded, including Dharma Bums, Wake Up, and the original manuscript (the "Scroll" edition) of On the Road, but not the edited version of On the Road that is known to millions.

The manager of Kerouac’s literary estate, John Sampas, first said that On the Road was not available as an eBook, because the publisher (Viking) had not asked permission. He then called back and said the book was available, but realized he might have been talking about the "Scroll." Sampas suggested contacting Viking, which said it does have rights to the popular edition, has plans to release it, but has not decided upon a date.

School and library representatives said eBooks are one more way to get students interested in reading–and not having the option of an electronic format for some classic texts would be a shame.

"eBooks are … indicative of the changing school library environment, where multiple formats are needed to meet the needs of a diverse student body," said Ann M. Martin, president of the American Association of School Librarians. "Just like in the past, students need to have choice in materials to read, and currently choice is extending into alternative formats. It is not so much a shame that a print book would [not] be offered in eBook format as much as it would be a shame that students would not have the choice to decide which format they would prefer."


American Association of School Librarians

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Empowering Education Through Technology resource center. Integrating technology into the classroom can be a challenge without the right guidance. Go to: Empowering Education Through Technology