Mr. Gates' Neighborhood: Microsoft Corp. is launching a Web site that company officials are describing as an "online community" for teachers who use technology in the classroom. Called the Microsoft Classroom Teacher Network, it will be an electronic meeting place where teachers can take part in online seminars, share lesson plans, and participate in discussion forums. "Teachers face a challenge the rest of us don't," says Bob Herbold, chief operating officer of the Redmond, Washington-based company. "They are learning to use technology for personal productivity, but also as a teaching tool to empower students." Microsoft also plans to contribute $27 million in software and cash to teacher-training programs through next August. For more information, go to www.microsoft.com/education/k12.
A New Apple For The Teacher: Apple Computer Inc., the former heavyweight sales champ in education and still a major provider of school computers, is trying to regain its title with the iBook, a notebook-sized computer specially priced and equipped for schools. Officials at the Cupertino, California-based company say the iBook-which is also sold in the consumer market-gives educators the capacity for "anywhere, anytime" learning. Though slim with a body shaped to fit easily into a backpack, it's equipped with a sharp color screen, a full-sized keyboard, and a six- hour rechargeable battery. The iBook is an heir to the Apple eMate 300, a rugged, low-cost portable computer popular with educators when it was introduced in 1996.
Milken Unplugged: Officials at the Milken Family Foundation are closing down the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, claiming the two-year-old initiative has achieved its goals of spurring new study of technology issues. Michael Reese, a spokesman for the Santa Monica, California-based foundation, says it will launch a new initiative to improve the quality of teaching. Reese acknowledged that foundation officials were mindful of a perceived conflict of interest between the nonprofit exchange and the Milken family's business ventures. Michael Milken, the fallen junk-bond king, and his brother, Lowell, co-founded the Milken Family Foundation and are part-owners of Knowledge Universe Inc., a California company that owns numerous education-related businesses. "I believe at this juncture there was no competition, no conflict," Reese says. "But could we have said that, with any certainty, of the future? No." The foundation's focus on teacher quality is not entirely new; since 1987, it has sponsored the Milken National Educator Awards to honor outstanding teachers. The Milkens' business has also taken an interest in teaching matters; Knowledge Universe recently formed a subsidiary, Teacher Universe, that offers training for teachers.
Vol. 11, Issue 2, Page 17