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From the Editor

21st-Century Learners


For me, putting dates to paper can ease stress, so I have created A schedule of milestones and associated tasks that the editorial department needs to meet over the next weeks. For example, we’ll be judging the applications for the X-Factor Student Achievement Grant (500 words for $50,000—not a bad deal—and if you are reading this before the October 15 deadline there’s still time to apply!), we’re gearing up for our annual Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products issue (help us choose the winners by commenting on your favorite products at, and I’ll be attending a few education conferences as well as putting a few issues to bed. The schedule I created is your basic Excel worksheet, and now that dates and owners have been negotiated, I’ve been wondering how best to distribute it.

The opportunity is vast for creative and innovative educators.

If I distribute the schedule via e-mail, dozens of additional e-mails will need to be generated to keep it current, and it will no doubt become out of sync. I could put it on our company’s shared server, but that is only available within the confines of the office. Those who work remotely or who are traveling will not have access. Or I could use a Web-based solution. There are many out there, including Google Docs, Zoho Docs, and Office Live, which works in conjunction with Microsoft Office. Our office staff is in the process of testing one as part of a basic intranet. It allows for real-time updates by multiple contributors, involves minimal training, and it’s free! Certain applications have been adopted by the staff, and others have a smaller following, but this solution can be a small step in the right direction toward adopting Webbased communication and project management in school districts. Regardless of our job level, age, or how busy we are, the time has come to update our technology skills and promote the same attitude with our colleagues. Our Web staff, natural early adopters of this method of communication, most certainly agree.

This issue includes several feature stories on 21st-century learning. Steve Dembo, community manager for Discovery Education networks, writes about the potential of the Internet-based virtual world of Second Life for school curriculum and professional development. The opportunity is vast for creative and innovative educators. And of course, teachers and students cannot use many of these new technologies effectively without the skills of school library media specialists. Ann Martin, president of the American Association of School Librarians, shares her views. Adding foreign language programs at the elementary level can better prepare students for their responsibilities as global citizens, and Myriam Met, former director of the National Foreign Language Center, informs us about the various program model options. We welcome your comments on these issues.

Kudos to Peggy Sheehy, Michele McKiernan, Catherine Parsons, and others featured in this issue who are promoting 21st-century learning. I hope they inspire you to find your own ways of bringing your district fully into this new century.


Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor