Thursday, June 19, 2008

ED SEC SHILLS FOR QUALCOMM. . .WHICH THINKS MORE CELL PHONES IN THE CLASSROOM WOULD BE A GREAT IDEA

ANGELA J. CESERE, SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings sat in on a 10th-grade class at High Tech High yesterday. Spellings, in San Diego for a forum on technology, praised High Tech's personalized education. Spellings hosted the last of four roundtable forums, held nationwide over the past 14 months, at wireless giant Qualcomm - where she engaged leaders in education, technology and investment on topics ranging from computers and cellular phones to electronic textbooks and teacher training. . .

Members of the roundtable gave suggestions ranging from offering more flexibility in spending government money to drafting federal technology guidelines. Calvin Baker, superintendent of Arizona's Vail School District, offered an extreme example of technology in education. A Vail high school has gone completely wireless, replacing textbooks with laptop computers. “Technology in and of itself is never going to transform education,” he warned, adding that reform always hinges on quality teachers.

William Bold, a senior vice president with Qualcomm, suggested that the best way to reach students is by embracing the company's favorite mode of technology: cellular phones. Qualcomm is working with the North Carolina Department of Education on a pilot program that uses cellular phones as classroom learning tools. The company last year became the world's largest supplier of cell phone chips. “Cell phones have made an incredible difference in productivity of Qualcomm employees,” Bold said. “This is something kids respond to . . . we are trying to understand how it could be best applied to the classroom.”

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