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Some things are just meant to roam free, like chickens in a farmyard. But students in a computer lab? Take 30-45 students, sit them in front of unmonitored computers, and you get a free-range social club and an Internet caf?—not a classroom.

Imagine online learning communities. Personal learning networks. An Internet device for every teacher and student. Ubiquitous access to the Web.

With oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon drilling explosion and experts scrambling to discover the elusive solution that will halt the unceasing flow of pollutants, it's time to begin grappling with the necessary question that legislators, bureaucrats and everyday citizens must now address: How do we prevent this kind of disaster from happening again?


VPL-FX30 and VPL-FX500L


$3360, $7080


Smith System

Flavors Seating

Classroom furniture

Facilities, $82-$372

The latest trend in the rapidly advancing and fiercely competitive interactive whiteboard market reflects the ever-increasing popularity and global appeal of this technology: support for multiple languages. A variety of manufacturers have recently added or expanded their language resources because of U.S. demand for teaching ELL students, the use of the devices in foreign language classes and strong sales in countries around the world.

Call it a case of "vertigo." Middle school media specialist Grace Poli was determined to find a way to use technology to help her ELL and special-needs students learn English more quickly. As she watched the Apple ad featuring the U2 song "Vertigo," something clicked.

"I thought, 'This will motivate kids,'" says Poli. After looking into the benefits of music and how audiobooks can help struggling readers, Poli approached her superintendent with a proposal for an after-school iPod program.


WebPlus X4

Web design program

Software, $59.99 for a single education user, school site licenses starting at $1,499


Chirag Patel never knows what may come down the line in his job as a computer refurbisher. But he knows what to expect when work on the equipment — mostly top-of-the-line desktops and laptops from manufacturers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo — is done.


Activist Passes

Author, advocate, and defender of public education Gerald Bracey died Oct. 20 at age 69. Renowned as an expert on standardized testing, he released his final book, “Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality,” earlier this year.