US Bytes

14th March 1997 at 00:00
* Apple's eMate 300 has been named one of the year's top 100 greatest achievements in science and technology by the editors of Popular Science magazine. The first of a new class of mobile computers designed for the education market, the eMate 300 features the Newton operating system and enables students to share data and files that they create on it with both Mac OS and Windows-based PCs. The eMate 300 has also already been named a finalist in BYTE Magazine's "Best of COMDEX Awards". It is scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 1997, and will initially be sold only to Apple USeducation customers.

* Recent research from the Center for Applied Special Technology in Massachussetts claims to show that pupils who use on-line resources perform better with other school tasks. The study was conducted nationally with 500 children aged 9 to 11 from nearly 30 schools. Its aim was both tomeasure performance in real world tasks and to gain insights into what makes for effective use of on-linecommunications in this kind of work with pupils of this age. Those who had access to on-line resources - Scholastic Network and the Internet - were judged to have produced better projects than pupils who usedconventional methods; they seemed to be more competent at effectively bringing together different points of view and presenting a fuller picture of the topic, and were generally more efficient in their use of material.

* Parents in Orange County, Los Angeles, should soon be able to scrutinise their children's progress at school via the Internet. A centralised computer system will make homework assignments and school reports available via the World Wide Web. A California company hasjust won a contract to design asystem to link the county's 28 school districts so that families can have considerable access to schooldata and records.However, there is concern about children's rights. Shelley Pasnik of the Center for Media Education, in Washington DC, a child advocacy group, commenting on the move, claims that, "particularly as they grow older, students are entitled to their own space". Bill Habermehl, assistant superintendent of the Orange County Department of Education, sees the advantages: "The major deterrent for parents I especially those who work, is the lack of time to visit the schools. (The Internet) I is a way of breaking down classroom walls."

* Amid continuing concern about standards of numeracy and literacy in American schools, President Clinton has announced proposals to re-finance public education. These include a deal which - if passed by Congress - will double the amount of money spent on preparing teachers to use technology in their classes.

* A new project - Read to Write - which aims to make the connection between reading and writing begins this month and runs until the end of April. Students will learn to analyse a particular genre of literature and apply their findings to improve their own writing in that genre.To register, contact the project co-ordinator, Noelle Kreider ( or go to the Read to Write Project home page: http:www. which is where the final student writing will be posted.

* MayaQuest is an interactive expedition followed and driven by hundreds of thousands of children, teachers and families. By way of the Internet, the on-line audience can vote on the team's route, help the team make decisions, and collaborate with the world's top archaeologists. Theproject starts from the premise that although it may be too late to reverse the trend towards destruction of this ancient environment, children can still be empowered to understand how they might make a difference. Aclassroom kit allows followers tointeract directly with the team, and a resource guide helps teachersintegrate the project into their curriculum. To get involved, visit the MayaQuest web site: http:www.mecc. commayaquest

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