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Media Workshop Edu-Tech News Digest - week of 12-20-99


December 17, 1999: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For information on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.


**ANNOUNCEMENT: Media Workshop Edu-Tech News Digest will be on hiatus until January 10, 2000. Have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year! See you in the year 2000.


Each week Media Workshop sends out an email highlighting recent news articles about K-12 educational technology...


week of DECEMBER 20, 1999


"How Small Town Standards Can Block a Big City Class"

Anemona Hartocollis

New York Times,

New York City schools that were having enormous success using the Internet for innovative, collaborative online projects just one year ago are now finding it impossible to complete the same projects because of the restrictive filtering software installed by the Board of Education. While the software is supposedly flexible, teachers are having no luck getting technology coordinators at the Board of Education to tweak the categories for what constitutes an off-limits website. It has also been acknowledged that the categories currently programmed into the filtering software are decided by a broad, national consensus, meaning that schools in more politically and socially conservative areas can determine what websites students in a cosmopolitan city such as New York can access from school. NYC schools are disappointed with other aspects of the Internet access provided by the Board of Education as well, especially that schools have to share their limited bandwidth with administrative computers, causing problematic slow-downs for students and teachers.


"Push for Computers in Classrooms Gathers New Foes"

Pamela Mendels

New York Times,

December 15, 1999

The Alliance for Childhood, a new advocacy group, has been formed to heighten awareness about the dangers of introducing technology to young children. The group, who hopes to establish a full non-profit organization sometime next year, has come forth with a report outlining their opinions on the "toxic cultural environment" and unnecessary stress technology imposes on children. The founding members of the Alliance have published this report (found at in draft form in order to gather comments and feedback on the issues they address, including the use of technology at the elementary school level, the goals and objectives for technology literacy, and what is the best age to introduce computers to children. Clearly, the opinions of the Alliance for Childhood are in direct opposition to the current movement towards increasing the use of technology in the classroom, and some of the arguments in favor of technology in the educational context are outlined in the article as well.

"City Plans 10, 000 Computers for Schools"

Vicki Howell

Birmingham News,

December 15, 1999

Birmingham, Alabama has just announced a $52 million commitment to increasing technology access in their school district. The plan, of which $18 million is made possible through a federal grant, seeks to put at least three computers and a dedicated telephone line in each classroom in the city, plus give laptops to 2400 teachers and librarians and provide Internet labs to schools. Professional development for teachers is to be included, although the strategies for teacher training are not outlined in the article.


"Virtual High School Locked in Debate Over State Standards"

e-School News Staff and wire service reports

e-School News,

December 13, 1999

School superintendents in Indiana are criticizing a virtual high school established by Indiana University for not holding up the same standards and levels of accountability required by state law and the Board of Education. Traditional high school students in Indiana must pass a state graduation exam, however, Indiana University's program does not require that test be given. While the diploma received from the virtual high school will be accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Sciences, it will not be accredited by the state of Indiana. Despite this controversy, Indiana University reports that more than 500 people have requesting applications for the program, many of them homeschoolers or out-of-state students.


"Catching Digital Cheaters"

Kendra Mayfield

Wired News,,1383,33021,00.html

December 13, 1999

This article provides some more information on the ways technology makes cheating and plagiarism easier for students, as well as ways teachers can use technology to catch cheaters. Links to popular "term paper mills" such as,, and The Evil House of Cheat are included. There is also a short description of how (a tool for teachers who suspect their student's work is plagiarized from another source) operates.


"Digital Beat: 1999 in Review"

Rachel Anderson, the Benton Foundation

Benton Foundation Communications Policy Mailing List,

December 17, 1999

The Benton Foundation's last issue of The Digital Beat (for 1999, that is) is a wrap-up of the issues and themes they have explored since launching this email newsletter in early 1999. Included are summaries of issues such as: the public's right to the airwaves, the rally behind defeating the digital divide, the many ups and downs of the e-rate, and a look to the future of the Internet and emerging technologies.


summaries complied by:

Jessica Millstone (, Technology Consultant, for Media Workshop New York, a special project of the Bertelsmann Foundation

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Last updated: January 11, 2000