Hard Money For Software: Education-software publishers are finally cashing in on their efforts to develop software for the school market. School spending on software increased from $670 million in 1995-96 to $822 million in 1997-98, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Software and Information Industry Association.
The report, 1999 Education Market Report: K-12, says schools will increasingly spend a larger percentage of their technology funds on software and a smaller percentage on hardware. This school year, the association projects schools will spend 9 percent of their technology dollars on software, compared with 6 percent last year. Hardware spending is expected to decrease to 34 percent this year from 39 percent last year.
Government Connections: In the past decade, the U.S. Department of Education has expanded its presence on the Internet with the goal of helping teachers broaden their students’ horizons. Now other federal agencies are getting into the business of educating educators on the Web. The Environmental Protection Agency offers lesson plans on acid rain (www.epa.gov/acidrain/student/student2.html); the Department of Justice provides model lessons on computer-crime prevention (www.usdoj.gov/kidspage/netiquet.htm); and the National Archives and Records Administration offers guidance on using archival materials in the classroom. Even the Central Intelligence Agency is on the bandwagon, sharing intelligence about foreign languages with a Web site featuring foreign-language newspapers and other instructional aids (call.lingnet.org).
About 400 individual sites are also accessible from one section of the Education Department site called Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, or FREE, at www.ed.gov/free. “Internet-based customer service is something that’s evolved,” says Kirk Winters, a policy analyst at the Education Department and a co-chairman of a working group of 40 federal agencies that develop educational Internet sites. The group was formed when President Clinton called on federal agencies in 1997 “to enrich the Internet as a tool for teaching and learning.”
--Mary Ann Zehr and Anjetta McQueen