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Classroom Connection With Haiti Grows Stronger
Posted by John Sullivan at 03:39:57 PM Fri 03/11/2011

Written by guest blogger, Christine Berg

Editors Note: This article is a follow- up to a previous article, published in May 2010.  You can read the first article about Christine and Rondout Valley High School's correspondence with a school in Haiti here. For more information, including how you can help support the Haitian school, please contact John Sullivan at Digital Wish.

This past November, four teachers from the Haitian school visited Rondout Valley High School to give a video presentation of their school and what they have been doing with the funds we have been sending them since the January 2010 earthquake.  The presentation was filmed using the Flip camera, and they thanked us profusely for sending it because they feel that it has given them a way to communicate with the outside world and with potential supporters.  It really has been amazing to see the effect that such a small device can have on the lives of so many people!

The teachers at the school are focused on becoming self-supporting through sale of their art and the art that the children make at the school.  The Flip Camera is helping them to gain exposure for what they are doing in the United States.  They are so hardworking, and their goal is to rebuild Haiti by teaching the children to be productive.

This has been a life-changing experience for me and my students.  The Haitians we have met are such resilient, courageous and truly beautiful people.  I would like as many people as possible to know about what they have accomplished in the face of such tragedy.

Check out footage from the Haitian's Flip Cameras below!

Editors Note: These short clips were filmed with Flip Camera models from 2009 and are not representative of the HD picture that is captured with the Flip UltraHD™ cameras currently on Digital Wish.

Where to Find Funding for Technology
Posted by John Sullivan at 07:44:43 PM Fri 02/25/2011

By Heather Chirtea
Executive Director, Digital Wish

It’s not always easy to find funding for your favorite technology products, but here
are a few ideas you may not have thought of.

Recycle Old Technology to Buy New Technology
The Recycle Forward program from Digital Wish allows you to earn money for new technology products by recycling your old cell phones, ink cartridges, and other technology items. Simply print signs, set up a drop-box, and print free shipping labels. Our local school raised $850 during a community drop day.

Your Training Budget Might Cover Hardware
Many schools have a surplus of training funds and a deficit of hardware funding. Talk to your hardware vendor and see if they will provide professional development together with the equipment you are purchasing. If so, you could ask your vendor to give you a quote on "training with hardware included.” Your technology purchases might suddenly qualify for training budgets. Be sure to check what is allowable with each grant or funding source.

Target the Copy Budget

Consider distributing your school newsletter by email to save money on copies.
Then, use the savings to purchase new technology. Also, calculate the cost
savings that will be made with a paperless system. The copy budget would
be dramatically reduced, in fact slashed, if all your students suddenly turned
in their work electronically. There's also a fantastic move to "go green,” save
trees, and reduce your school’s footprint by reducing your paper consumption.

Target the Textbook Budget
It would certainly take a major re-work of the school's curriculum to eliminate even a single textbook, but consider calculating the cost of textbook purchases versus computer purchases. You may be able to fund a computer for every student at a similar cost over a 4-year period. Computers have recently dropped dramatically in price.

Title 1
If your school has "school-wide" designation for Title 1, then it may be possible to use Title 1 funding for school-wide computer purchases. These regulations may vary by state.

Have Students Bring Computers From Home
If you are planning a one-computer-per-child initiative, do a quick survey to find
out how many students have computers at home that might be used in school.
Your school’s IT Coordinator will need to equip these home systems with the
school’s virus protection and internet filtering, but the cost may be appreciably
less than purchasing a brand new computer for every student.

Consider Refurbished Computers
Again, for a school considering the purchase of one-computer-per-child, you can often get three times more refurbished equipment for the same price as new computers. If you go this route, be sure to purchase the maximum extended warranty.

Fundraise on Digital Wish
Have your teachers make technology wish lists at www.digitalwish.org, then invite parents and community members to donate! The site also offers special educator-only discounts and grants, like a 2-for-1 promotion on Flip video cameras. Contributors can purchase items directly from a teacher’s technology wish list, or make any contribution large or small.

You may republish this article and the images (together) in your newsletter, as long as you include the following credit:

By Heather Chirtea, Executive Director, Digital Wish, heather@digitalwish.org

Digital Wish is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. Invite your teachers to make their technology wish lists at www.digitalwish.org, then invite parents and community members to donate.  Flip video cameras are available to US schools through a 2-for-1 matching program. Digital Wish has brought technology grants to over 22,000 classrooms and maintains a vibrant community of over 50,000 educators.

How to Argue for Technology
Posted by John Sullivan at 06:38:17 PM Fri 02/25/2011

By Heather Chirtea

Executive Director, Digital Wish

We are all feeling the crunch of declining school funding. Technology budgets, which are often viewed as expendable, can take a big hit. In order to secure funding for technology it is necessary to provide a compelling argument to decision makers, explaining why technology is critical to education. You will be hard pressed to find a conclusive body of research that actually draws a connection between technology usage and increased test scores. So, in a recessionary environment of declining funding, how do you convince funders that technology is important?

Change the argument! Test scores are not the answer.

Argue for Economic Development
Try crafting a connection between your technology initiative and the future economic development of the workforce and your community.
Consider this: if students are tech-savvy, then businesses hiring technology workers will be able to hire locally and sustain or grow their operations. Graduates who find local jobs will stay in local communities, raise families, buy houses, contribute to the tax base, and start new local businesses. A technologically rounded education has the downstream effect of promoting the economic development and future growth of an entire community. It sparks systemic change.
Companies and colleges are spending an estimated $17 billion per year to train recent graduates in the basic skills they should have gained in school. Students need technological competence to succeed in the competitive workforce. New entrepreneurs can work from anywhere, start businesses, and bring new growth opportunities to local communities.

Talk about Globalization
America's position in the flattened global economy has declined and shortfalls in the technical workforce are hurting American businesses. Just ask your local businesses. According to Deloitte LLP, only 22% of high school students feel schools have done an "excellent" job preparing them for college. In order to remain competitive in global markets, our school systems must prepare our students with the skills they need to compete globally.

Raise a Moral Question
In a 2007 survey, 75% of educators classified themselves as "often in need of" or "desperate for" technology resources. Bob Stevens, the Executive Director of the Vermont Principal's Association stated that the lack of technology in the classroom can be likened to "educational malpractice." Schools need access to technology so that students can develop the skills they need to thrive.

Point out Relevance
85% of teens ages 12-17 engage in some form of electronic personal communication, including text messaging, emailing, or online social networking. Yet students are faced with a pencil-and-paper education. Relevant technology tools will inspire our students to learn and engage in their education.

Discuss Student Engagement
"...Increases in student engagement" are the #1 most common benefit cited by schools who employ one-computer-per-child initiatives. Here is a one idea to present. The effective life of a computer in a school is approximately 4 years. The effective career of a student through your school is probably similar. You might want to turn over the computers' "pink slips" to students as a bonus upon graduation. This not only saves the cost of disposing obsolete equipment, but students will take much better care of equipment they know is "theirs when they graduate". It is also an added motivation to stay in school at a time when the drop-out rate is so dramatically high.

Focus on Workforce Development

As technology funding erodes, our teachers become progressively less able to prepare students for future employment in the rapidly expanding global economy. The Journal of Industrial Technology reports that over the past 2 decades, enrollment in technical degrees has decreased by as much as 11%, while the demand for technical workers has risen by 29%. Businesses are sounding the alarm. Without students receiving adequate exposure to technology in schools, it becomes increasingly difficult to find and hire technologically qualified graduates from the local economy. It's a silent and cumulative crisis that now threatens to undermine our children's future.

If we don't, then...

Consider what's going to happen to your school and town if you don't modernize schools with technology. Brainstorm the worst-case scenario, then share the story with your potential funders. It will sound something like this, "...if our students aren't savvy, local businesses can't hire. Those who are savvy will leave and never return because there are no job opportunities..."

Tell Stories
It is much easier for a decision maker to fund a "human interest" story than a piece of equipment. This works incredibly well with politicians. If you ever get the opportunity to appeal to your school board or local legislator, don't do the presentation yourself. Rather, invite a few students to speak on your behalf. Let the students explain why they need technological skills to prepare for college and get a job. Remember, you are not trying to put technology in schools, rather you are preparing students for the future workforce in the global economy. You are fighting for your children's future!

Craft a Financial Argument
Many rural states experience a "Brain Drain" wherein graduates leave to attend college and don't return. Consider the financial effect on the state's tax base. Each student who stays in the local area will get a job, raise a family, buy a house, and contribute to the local tax base (which in most states contributes directly to education funding). Regardless of whether your state suffers from a "Brain Drain," you can calculate the annual financial gain to the tax base and local economy based on average salary rates in your state for each student who decides to "stay local." Every 1% of students who stay contribute $XX.XX to the tax base and $XX.XX to the local economy each year. Over a lifetime, a single family can bring an additional $XX.XX to your community. Hard numbers are what decision makers need to justify re-allocating funds. Remember, a savvy student can work from anywhere.

Calculate the Percent of Total Spending
Calculate the total education budget in your funding region (school, district, or state), then consider what percentage of that budget would be necessary to put a computer in every student's backpack. It is a sure bet that you will be able to craft a true and compelling statement such as, "Less than one half of 1% of the total education budget would put a computer on the desk of every single student in our district." You will quickly realize how small that percentage really is.

You may republish this article and the images (together) in your newsletter, as long as you include the following credit:

By Heather Chirtea, Executive Director, Digital Wish, heather@digitalwish.org

Digital Wish is on a mission to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. Invite your teachers to make their technology wish lists at www.digitalwish.org, then invite parents and community members to donate.  Flip video cameras are available to US schools through a 2-for-1 matching program. Digital Wish has brought technology grants to over 22,000 classrooms and maintains a vibrant community of over 50,000 educators.

Short Term Opportunity: Recycle Forward Pays Double for Cell Phones
Posted by John Sullivan at 07:56:27 PM Wed 01/12/2011

Cartridges for Kids has announced that they are offering double pay for cell phones donated through Recycle Forward campaigns between January 19th- 21st. All you have to do to get this bonus for your campaign is e-mail contact@cartridgesforkids.com with your school name and zip code, write "DOUBLE PAY" on your shipping labels and arrange to have your boxes picked up by FedEx on one of those three days!

Recycle Forward is a program that allows schools to raise money for classroom technology by recycling cell phones, used electronics, and ink cartridges. Participating schools can set up a community-wide recycling campaign to collect used equipment from parents and local businesses. 100% of the money earned is automatically matched with another 2%-10% in funding on Digital Wish to make teacher's classroom technology wishes come true!

Visit http://www.recycleforwardnow.org/ to sign up and start a campaign for new classroom technology in your community today!

Inspiration for Learning: How Classroom Technology Influenced My Path
Posted by John Sullivan at 05:16:32 PM Mon 11/29/2010

Written By John Sullivan- Communications Manager, Digital Wish

Digital Wish's mission resonates with many across America: to solve technology shortfalls in American classrooms. By helping teachers obtain technology for their classrooms, Digital Wish hopes today's students will be better prepared for the technology dependent jobs of the future.

But some may ask how we can measure tangible results when we're working with students who won't be entering the workforce for possibly another decade or more?

I volunteer myself as a possible example.

Exposed to technology from a young age by my father, who is possibly the most gifted man I have ever seen work with a computer, I have always felt at home working with control panels and (relatively) sensitive system preferences. With all the information available online, once one has even a basic grasp of how to use technology, the world is yours to prod with the digital stick.

But that's besides the point- I would not be a programmer like my father, as endless lines of code held absolutely no appeal for me. The ever- idealist, I was interested in words giving birth to ideas and the life of the harried journalist seemed to be my destiny as I started to apply for colleges.

My birthday that year, however, threw an unexpected wrench into my tertiary education plans with one simple gift: a video camera.

With this tool, I suddenly found a new, creative storytelling medium: video. The ability to splice together short clips like words felt natural to me and I quickly shifted my post- grad plans to cater to this new interest. With the heralded downfall of traditional print media accompanying the rise of the Internet, I saw promise in becoming not a journalist, but a video editor. I transferred my major to a Radio/TV/Film concentration upon arriving at Marist College and never looked back.

Now, working for Digital Wish, I am in charge of a huge range of technology intensive tasks from editing multimedia to coordinating social media efforts, all the while connecting with those who can benefit from our mission, no matter where they are-- and I love the ever- changing excitement of each task.

This is why I get excited whenever I see a new Flip Camera 2- for- 1 package being shipped to a classroom. While my college education more than prepared me for the workforce today, I sometimes wonder how advanced my skills could be if I had had one of these wonderfully easy-to-use cameras in my fourth grade classroom.

I imagine the next Lumiere, Spielberg, or Coppolla getting their first spark of creative energy in an Iowa classroom, fueled by the sight and satisfaction of a completed digital video project. I envision the next Katie Couric or Tom Brokaw getting ready to record a podcast for their Lousiana school's morning broadcast.

Most importantly, I see young versions of me, engaged in school and learning, because they are working with the technology and media of their world, their digital language. They may not become famous, or rich, but they will be ready for the challenges of the coming years and have the knowledge to intelligently collaborate with the global society around them in whatever role they choose to fill.

This is the trend of the age we are in: constant innovation, constant learning, constant excitement. It's not just up to our teachers to fulfill this need, it's everyone's job to bring excitement for learning into our children's education.

Special Bundle on Livescribe smartpens
Posted by John Sullivan at 04:18:31 PM Tue 11/09/2010

Digital Wish and Livescribe are excited to offer special pricing on Livescribe Echo™ smartpens for educators. Digital Wish teachers can purchase the Echo smartpens at the discounted bulk pricing for a single pen. In addition, each purchase will include the education bundle (valued at $49.95), which contains a starter notebook, a USB cable, 2 ink cartridges, a K-12 Deployment Guide and MyScript Software*. Prior to this promotion, this offer was only available on purchases of ten or more pens.

The 8 GB model is available here: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/product?id=ECHO8

The 4 GB model can be found here: http://www.digitalwish.com/dw/digitalwish/product?id=ECHO4

*MyScript included with the 8GB pen only. 4GB Pen includes all accessories except MyScript software.

Squire Legacy Club Preserves Delone Catholic High School History
Posted by John Sullivan at 07:35:23 PM Wed 10/13/2010

Written by guest blogger, Julia Tutino

For many high school students, summertime is all about living in the moment, but for a dozen Delone Catholic students, the Summer of 2010 was all about living in the past. For seven weeks this summer, these students worked in the school archives, creating a digital record of the school's 70-year history.

Social Studies teacher Julia Tutino established the Squire Legacy Club during the 2009-10 school year. "Several students had told me that they would love to study history in college, but they didn't want to teach. They didn't realize that there are all sorts of positions out there for public historians," says Tutino, "I thought that by taking care of the school's history - their own history - that I could show them what historians do, rather than just tell them about it."

Throughout the school year, Miss Tutino and the students in the club purchased archival quality boxes for the deteriorating scrapbook collection, which had been diligently assembled by volunteers over the years. They also conducted interviews with some of the first students to walk the halls of Delone Catholic and began research for exhibits that they created for display during the celebration of Delone Catholic`s 70th anniversary earlier this month.

The Squire Legacy Club visited homerooms just prior to summer vacation. With hands covered by cotton gloves, they carefully carried a copy of The Oak from 1928 to each class. That copy of The Oak, which was the yearbook for Delone Catholic`s predecessor, Central Catholic, is the oldest item in the school archives.

After that round of "show-and-tell", recruiting students to help with the summer digitization project was easier than they expected. Nathaniel Post, class of 2011, signed up to work on the summer project because he needed to earn school service hours, but after working on several projects, he said, "I don't think a lot of other students in school know about its history. It's interesting, and I think they would want to hear about it."

In all, twelve students worked on the archives project this summer, totaling more than 270 hours. Two students, Alexander Arigo, class of 2011, and Kasey Myers, class of 2013, came in nearly every day. Arigo, a senior who plans to study public history, used digital photography to preserve the scrapbook collection.

"Through researching and reading old artifacts I have learned to capture the exact feel of something," said Arigo, "Archives have also opened up the door for a lot of people to rediscover our heritage and tradition."

He has also learned lessons that he will apply to other school activities. "In the yearbook, it is important to get all the facts right and not leave anything out, like peoples' names. It serves more value to put in the time to make it right the first time."

Myers became an expert at scanning yearbooks and taught the process to other volunteers. While the digitization process has only just begun, the students were able to create over 7,100 images in just seven weeks. The Squire Legacy Club will continue to work on digitization throughout the 2010-11 school year, and again next summer.

Digital Wish Brings 1:1 Computing to Schools Through the eVermont Partnership
Posted by Heather Chirtea at 06:00:52 PM Mon 05/24/2010

Digital Wish is extremely excited to be a partner in e-Vermont, the Community Broadband Project.  Over the coming months we will be working with leaders from participating organizations and exploring fellow 1:1 computing initiatives across the nation. This grant will empower us to bring 1:1 computing to selected classrooms throughout Vermont as a means to strengthen local communities and the state’s economy.

Overall, e-Vermont’s statewide partners will help local groups develop ways to take full advantage of the Internet for job creation, school innovation, providing social services, and increasing civic involvement. Digital Wish will provide essential training so that students, teachers, and parents can use the internet more effectively.  With sets of computers that travel from school to home, internet projects and community engagement will flourish.  When 21st century tools and teaching practices become an integral part of every day, at school and at home, student engagement, motivation, and participation rise across the curriculum.

In addition, by structuring the implementation of the program on the success of Digital Wish’s pilot schools, we will further refine a replicable model for school technology adoption that can eventually be utilized by schools across the nation.

Community, connection, and classroom learning are keys to a successful future, and effective internet use will create a generation of students who will form the basis of a new knowledge economy.

Digital Wish embraces this opportunity to help prepare students for the 21st century workforce and ensure future economic development. We are looking forward to working in classrooms with students, educators, and administrators, as well as with parents and communities. We will share everything we learn, and all the tools we develop, freely through www.digitalwish.org so that all school statewide and nationwide can benefit. We encourage you to contact us with any questions.

For more information about the towns involved and general info about the e-Vermont project please visit http://www.vtrural.org/

We'll see you in the classroom,
 Heather Chirtea
 Digital Wish
 (802) 375-6721 ext. 202

 Eric Bird
 Lead Trainer/Peer Coach
 Digital Wish
 (802) 681-8840

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