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From DA

You could call it a technological wonder, or a slap to student rights. But the most accurate description might just be Big Mother.

In the first year of the E-rate, schools filed paper applications (some of which got sent back for want of a blue-ink signature) and then waited eight months for funds that looked like they would never come.

At a suburban elementary school in Washington, just outside Seattle, students sometimes learn best when they match the natural beauty of the great outdoors with man-made plastic computers chips. Students at Benjamin Rush Elementary School in the Lake Washington School District walk through nearby wetlands, take digital pictures of plant species, transport them into their color-screened iPaq handheld computers, and sync the handhelds to a computer to research plants on the Internet. Thus, they create a walking guide to plants on the handheld.

Whether you have faith in standardized testing or hope the pendulum swings the other way real soon, you have to admit that there's power in data. The question is how that data is understood and used.

It was only 10 years ago that I wrote the first article for a leading K-12 technology education magazine on the then-new phenomenon called the Internet. I used the Internet to communicate with teacher education colleagues, participate in online discussion groups, do online research and download resources. But relatively few K-12 schools were yet involved. Therefore, in addition to explaining the fundamentals, showing examples of pioneering applications and presenting connection alternatives, I shared my belief that the online exchange of information would likely revolutionize education.

In September, every seventh grader in Maine-and their teachers-will be given their own iBook and free 24/7 Internet access. The following year, every eighth grader will get an iBook. Two years ago, Maine Gov. Angus King caused an eruption of debate when he proposed this laptop plan. At the time there was little if any legislative support. Today, it's the law of the land. King hopes this initiative will serve as a catalyst for reinventing public education and as a means for maintaining his state's quality of life.

If the only knowledge school administrators have of our laptop program in Henrico (Va.) Public Schools is through the media, they might think that giving laptops to students isn't worth the effort. News coverage correctly reported that a small number of students downloaded material they shouldn't have after we gave every high school student an iBook at the beginning of the 2001-02 school year.

Two years ago, when times were flush for both school districts and the companies that sell them technology products, the big question was: When will all the technological wonders being created actually show up in classrooms?

Digital Divide: A Pass? Notion?

Most of the recent political talk about inequities in education has focused on the gap between high achieving schools and those that fail to meet education standards. What happened to the government's concern about the digital divide?

Wireless LANs

Access is just about everything in school. When suburban Kennett Consolidated School district in Pennsylvania went wireless two years ago, it opened worlds to students that would not normally be available.

READING: It's a Destination

Riverdeep-The Learning Company,, Software, $20,000 (20 licenses per site)-$40,000 (unlimited licenses)

It seemed funny at the time. I was in junior high school, seventh-grade Spanish class, to be exact. It was raining outside, so I brought my squirt gun to class. I held it in my lap, hidden from the teacher's view, and strategically squirted the ceiling when she wasn't looking.