Friday, April 30, 2010

Parents, Alumni, and other Stakeholders Did You Know That You Can Get Interactive With Your School?

The days of using the Internet as merely a one-way supplier of news are over. With social media tools encouraging a back- and-forth exchange of information, parents, alumni, and other stakeholders can participate directly in the life of their school.

School districts have figured out the great lesson of the web 2.0 takeover of the last decade: The Internet works much more powerfully as a two-way street than it does when information flows in only one direction.

"Today's web is much more than an electronic bulletin board,” says Peggi Munkittrick, senior director of product strategy at State College, PA-based Schoolwires. Peggi's company has developed a website and community management system that integrates a district’s online communication effort via a single, unified platform, using surveys, forms, blogs, and other features to bring a district in closer touch with its constituents. “As web 2.0 technology evolves,” Munkittrick says, “and as social media gets incorporated into more and more websites, a growing number of districts are taking the interactive route.”

By taking the interactive route schools are now extending out to a full slate of social media hotspots—pages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn—therefore as school districts move forward with amendments, referendums, and similar plans they can use online tools to engage the community and alumni.

Although school districts used to simply distribute school news over the Internet, this is a new type of community involvement, and it’s now a standard way of doing business among K-12 districts that want to stay current.


What are your thoughts on using social media and online tools to engage community and alumni?


Reference:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Find Spectrum Industries on Wikipedia

That's right we are spreading our e-marketing wings so you can keep up with what's new at Spectrum.

Recently, an article about Spectrum Industries was added to Wikipedia! Seeing as Spectrum is a SBA-certified small business based in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, this article was added as a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the U.S. state of Wisconsin on Wikipedia; within the scope of WikiProject Wisconsin.
What's on the Wikipedia Page?
Everything from a company overview and history to our environmental responsibility and community involvement.

Visit our Wikipedia Page for more information!
How Else Can You Keep Up With Spectrum?

Follow us on Twitter
Like what we are doing on Facebook
Watch our videos on YouTube
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Visit our Website
Or Blog with us here

What additional networking outlets would you like to see Spectrum using?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why Buy American Made Products?

When this question is asked, most Americans may not really be that concerned as to why they should purchase American made products. Americans, specifically middle class Americans, should definitely be concerned with the buy American issue.

Why? Because they are the ones being most affected, whether they know it or not. For example, on the way to work one might complain about how his or her salary is decreasing while at the same time wearing an imported outfit and driving a foreign car. Yet, as the economy shifts into a recession and globalization increases, more and more Americans are becoming educated as to why this is happening and the importance of buying American.

Why the push to buy American now?
The reason being that drastic numbers of Americans are losing their jobs or taking pay cuts due to the negative effects of deindustrialization.

One solution, Americans should buy American made products. This is true because once Americans start buying more American goods the demand for them will increase. As a result of the rising demand, more factories or plants will be developed. Many good job opportunities will then be available. Not only will the manufacturers benefit, openings in higher paying fields will increase. Hence, when all this is put into action many Americans will be on better economic standing. That means they will once again have high buying power. Rising profits for American base business and their employees will take place. All of this combined will keep the U.S economy and its citizens financially healthy. Sounds good right?

But in order to achieve this, all Americans must be properly informed by the government, as to why they should buy American.

So what's the government doing?
One example of government support of the 'Buy American' phenomenon plays into the recently developed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, abbreviated ARRA and commonly referred to as the Stimulus or The Recovery Act. The ARRA is an economic stimulus package enacted by the 111th United States Congress in February 2009.

The stimulus was intended to create jobs and promote investment and consumer spending during the recession. The rationale for the stimulus comes out of the Keynesian economic tradition that argues that government spending should be used to cover the output gap created by the drop in consumer spending during a recession.

Additionally, the ARRA provides billions of dollars to strengthen education through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF); Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Pell Grants; Federal Work-Study; and other programs. It also provides support for adults with disabilities through the Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants program and the Independent Living programs authorized under the Rehabilitation Act.

Included in the ARRA is the Buy American provision (Section 1605), which is intended to encourage the ARRA funds be spent on American products.

More from the experts:
Some additional information from the Florida Department of Education concerning the Buy American (Section 1605) Provision...

“If an LEA (Local Education Agency) uses Education Stabilization funds for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities or for construction of new school facilities, the LEA must comply with specific requirements relating to the use of American iron, steel, and manufactured goods used in the project. (See Section 1605 of the ARRA.)” www.fldoe.org/arra/word/rfa.doc

“Additionally, if a state uses VR (Vocational Rehabilitation) ARRA funds for construction, it must comply with specific requirements relating to the use of American iron, steel and manufactured goods used in the project (ARRA section 1605), …” www.fldoe.org/arra/word/vrfFG.doc

“For any project funded through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the Local Educational Agency will comply with Section 1605 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (requiring the use of American iron, steel, and manufactured goods)…” www.fldoe.org/ARRA/word/Assurances.doc

“Additionally, if a state or LEA uses IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Part B ARRA funds for construction, it must comply with specific requirements relating to the use of American iron, steel and manufactured goods used in the project (ARRA section 1605), …” www.fldoe.org/arra/word/IDEAGuidance.doc
*Spectrum Industries Inc., is a manufacturer of products made in the USA.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/state-fact-sheets/index.html

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Remebering the plea, 18 years later

Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Environmental Activist

It’s hard to cover the amazing things kids and teens are doing to help the environment without mentioning Severn Cullis-Suzuki. Severn made a giant splash on the international scene when she presented at the first international Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 at the age of 12.

She is known as “the girl who silenced the world for five minutes.”

After single-handedly raising the money to travel to Brazil, Severn represented the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), the environmental nonprofit she founded with some friends at the age of 10, and spoke on behalf of concerned youth to an international audience.

She brought delegates to a standing ovation, and some to tears, after calling out world leaders for failing to protect younger generations from environmental issues.



Severn continues to speak, write and campaign on behalf of the environment today.

Spectrum Industries, Inc. is committed to its pursuit of environmental sustainability through proactive waste prevention, material recovery and recycling, environmentally conscious product design and procurement and being a model facility for our community and industry.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thinking Green for Earth Day Week: What's Green at Spectrum?

Going green has always been a good idea. Conspicuous consumption of resource and profligate production of waste might make sense if energy, raw materials, and landfill space were unlimited, but those conditions have never really existed on this planet. Despite the fact that environmental awareness - "green" thinking - is a relatively recent phenomenon, Spectrum Industries stepped up to the plate several years ago.

In fact, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) awarded Spectrum Industries the GSA Evergreen Awards (under the furniture category) in 2007.

Spectrum strives to be a model facility in both the furniture industry and the community; implementing environmental sustainability initiatives which include waste prevention, material recovery and recycling, and environmentally conscious product design.

What exactly is Spectrum doing to reduce their environmental footprint?

Since 1998, Spectrum has used powder-coating technology as a replacement for solvent- based finishes, reducing the combined air emissions of Volatile Organix Compounds (VOCs) by 60%. Spectrum has also teamed up with another firm, Comprehensive Recycling, to collect and recover plastic material resulting from the manufacturing process for recycling and reuse.

Additionally, when Spectrum acquired a new manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in 2005, we purchased several acres of wetland which we will continue to preserve in all future expansions and facility improvements.

Then in 2007, Spectrum installed a new environmentally conscious paint line and wash system in our new facility, which saves energy by operating at room temperature, eliminating the need to heat the wash solution. During the wash any excess cleaning solution is captured, filtered and recycled.
What's green in 2010?

This marks the third year that Spectrum Industries’ employees have cleaned the company grounds for Earth Day. The big difference in 2010, however, is that there is not as much to do. Due in part to the successes of prior years, keeping the facilities at 925 1st Avenue and 1600 Johnson Street has become more proactive. As early as Mother Nature allows, all parking lots are swept of sand and salt to prevent undesirable runoff into the adjacent streets and wetlands. Overgrown shrubs and trees are now pruned well in advance of Earth Day. Spectrum’s approximately 6 acres, and neighboring properties, are consistently kept clean by employees.
That’s not to say that Spectrum employees won’t be outside again tomorrow for Earth Day. It’s just that it won’t take all day this year to accomplish the entire cleanup!

Spectrum Industries is committed to positively impacting the world’s environment; thus, we will continue to pursue improvements through proactive waste prevention material recovery and recycling, environmentally conscious product design and procurement and by being a model facility.

Click here for more information on Spectrum's Environmental Impact
What would you like to see Spectrum do to make the world a little greener?




Monday, April 19, 2010

Spectrum's Classic Products: Media Manager & Media Director

Classic lecterns become the benchmark in the industry; the Media Manager and Media Director are staple products in our lectern line, and they are flexible enough to accommodate the needs of virtually any classroom.

Spectrum Industries has been designing audio-visual instruction and presentation lecterns for several decades now. In that period of time, we have modeled ourselves as champions of continuous improvement. Our lecterns are certainly no exception – each model we release reflects the most recent customer input combined with diligent and conscientious product design.

Over the years instruction and presentation requirements have changed to adapt the audio-visual technology of today. Some customers want multi-media rich classrooms. Others want accessible, maneuverable lecterns. Most everyone wants equipment that allows for instructional and presentation adaptability. As needs change and technologies advance, the Media Manager and Media Director lecterns have consistently kept our customers satisfied for decades.

Media Manager
Occasionally a product comes along that does so much, for so many that it becomes the benchmark in the industry. The Media Manager is one of those products. It comes standard with all the features customers have asked for. At the top of the list is accessibility, maneuverability, and ease of integration. Besides the standard features, accessories can be added onto the Media Manager for classroom customization, such as the flip-up document camera/task shelf.

Media Director
Spectrum’s Media Director Lectern is designed to simplify the integration and functionality of audio-visual rich, multi-media classrooms.

We've designed the Media Director so that integrating one couldn't be easier. As with all of our lecterns front and rear rack-rail equipment mounting simplifies installation for any equipment configuration with enough space for an internal CPU. Standard rack rail brackets allow the front and rear rack rails to be moved further inside the unit, if necessary, to accommodate larger knobs and plugs.

The Media Director is the perfect tool to professionally control your larger training environments with ease. Ideal applications include college and university learning environments, corporate and government training rooms and any other A/V instructional environment.

Both the Media Manager and the Media Director are staple products in our lectern line, and they are flexible enough to accommodate the needs of virtually any classroom. Contact your local sales representative to learn more about our special offer on the Media Manager and Media Director or visit Spectrum’s website!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Does the iPad have Potential for Education?

Teaching students...one app at a time. iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps are transforming the way teachers teach and students learn.

That's right, move over Millennials, you are not the younger generation anymore. Today all eyes are on the 'iGeneration'. Teens, ages 12-17, have been coined the 'iGeneration' for their use of technology products like the iPhone and Wii gaming system; additionally, they have an 'I' or individualized, customizable attitude.

The iGeneration has the world at their fingertips when it comes to technology, and they are only limited by budget when it comes to getting their hands on items like Apple's new iPad.

Just how hardwired is the iGeneration for digital connections?

Change is happening fast, and as you can see by this graph technology devices are not only in the hands of today's students but they are one of the main instruments used to access information. Thus, one may inference that the education field needs to embrace this technology and use it, to close the student-teacher information-gap.

Researchers and educators have agreed that the iPad definitely has a place in the classroom, but they could be cost-prohibitive. Currently, some schools are using Notebooks which cost about $150 each compared to the iPad ranging from $499 to $899.

Nonetheless, some educators have gone so far as to say they would consider purchasing their own iPad to bring into the classroom. Teachers agree that the device's touch screen would be very useful, especially if they could hook the iPad up to the projector; it would make classroom presentations much easier.

What makes the iPad different, and perhaps more useful within the educational field, from other handheld devices?

The iPad has its own software development kit; the iPad runs on the core iPhone operating system, but it is a new platform with more screen real estate and more memory and storage space. As a result, this may allow a whole new class of gaming and educational apps to come to market.

Textbooks, for example, may look and feel very different in a just a few years, thanks in part to the introduction of the iPad. Educators will no longer be thinking in terms of static publications, instead they will be using dynamic content with animation, movies, video, and other multimedia built into it. Ultimately, the iPad could lead to building interactive, dynamic applications that students can carry around with them.

From math games to vocabulary flash cards to anatomy visualizers, there is an app for every subject and every level of instruction — from preschool to higher education. Read more about how schools are integrating apps into the classroom here.

What do you think, Notebook or iPad? Or should we ask those in charge of funding, what is more realistic Notebook or iPad?


References

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"A PARENT'S NOTE TO A TEACHER"

Spectrum Industries Inc. has chosen to take a business path that follows in the steps of teachers and educators. Our success, we feel, is directly related to our desire to support educators in managing the latest educational tools.

Whether it is the first year of your child’s education, or you are about to start a career of your own remember; as the end of the school year rushes closer, don't forget to thank the teachers in your life for all of their hard work!





"I'm the voice of a grateful parent whose child was in your class...
the one who needed help to find his way.

You've been a special blessing as you helped my child succeed
and I'm thankful for the part you had to play.

You gave him so much more than just the lessons in the books
you gave him wings...so he could learn to fly.

You ignited a flame within his soul a passion to learn and grow...
to never give up and always be willing to try.

Your encouragement inspired him and your kindness was so real
but the thing that thrills my heart the most is this... by building
his self-confidence you changed his life this year.









He believes in himself...and a brighter future is his!"

by Anonymous

This heartfelt letter was published on http://www.simpletruths.com/

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Six Technologies That Will Shape Education

Researchers suggest gaming and mobile devices are among the six technologies that will have a major positive impact on K-12 education in the next few years.

"The 2010 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition" released this week by the New Media Consortium (NMC) in collaboration with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), discusses six technologies that will shape education in the next 5 years. The report also highlights critical educational challenges in that time frame, including challenges that may require fundamental changes to the way we educate in the United States.

The annual Horizon Report focuses on the key technology areas that researchers identify as likely to have a major impact on educational institutions and other learning-focused organizations within the next five years, broken down into the technologies that will have an impact in the near term, those that are in the early stages of adoption, and those that are a bit further out.

Top Six Technologies for the Next Five Years

One Year or Less: Cloud Computing and Collaborative Environments

Cloud computing refers to surplus computing resources available from specialized data centers, each often hosting thousands of servers, that power the world’s largest websites and web services. Growing out of research in grid computing, cloud computing transforms once-expensive resources like disk storage and processing cycles into a readily available, cheap commodity. Development platforms layered onto the cloud infrastructure enable thin-client, web-based applications for image editing, word processing, social networking, and media creation. Cloud computing can offer significant cost savings in terms of IT support, software, and hardware expenses. It has become common for schools to use cloud-based applications to manage calendars, rosters, grade books, and communication between school and home. The report's researchers said cloud computing has seen dramatic uptake by schools over the past twelve months including uses such as work on peer review and editing of writing projects using Google Docs.

Collaborative environments are online spaces where the focus is on making it easy to collaborate and work in groups, no matter where the participants may be.

Two to Three Years: Game-Based Learning and Mobile Devices

Game-based learning and mobile technologies (particularly the blurring of cellular networks and other types of networks) will play a key role in education, according to the report. Gaming, the authors wrote, has several advantages for education, "but the greatest potential of games for learning lies in their ability to foster collaboration and engage students deeply in the process of learning."

Four to Five Years: Augmented Reality and Flexible Displays

Augmented reality refers to the convergence of various media tools and mobile applications to create "a portable tool for discovery-based learning, enhancing the information available to students when visiting historical locations, doing field work, interacting with real-world objects, and even paging through books."

Flexible screens that can wrap around curved surfaces are in prototype, as are small, very thin interactive screens. Flexible screen technology allows displays to be literally printed onto plastic, along with the batteries that power them, enabling the sorts of live motion displays previously only hinted about in the world of Harry Potter; believed to be the new paper or electronic paper.

The report's authors cited several examples of schools using these technologies successfully and included links for further reading on each topic point. Access full report here (pdf version).

K-12 Technology Challenges

Beyond the six technologies identified as significant for the next five years, the report also looked at the challenges facing education institutions. This year's report cited five challenges that the authors identified as "critical." They include:

1. Inadequate digital media literacy training for teachers;
2. Out of date learning materials and teaching practices;
3. Lack of agreement on how education should evolve, despite widespread agreement that change is needed;
4. A failure of education institutions to adapt to informal education, online education, and home-based learning; and
5. Lack of support for or acknowledgement of forms of learning that usually occur outside the classroom.

References
http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2010-Horizon-Report-K12.pdf
http://thejournal.com/articles/2010/04/13/6-technologies-that-will-shape-education.aspx
http://www.nmc.org/
http://www.cosn.org/

Monday, April 12, 2010

School budget cuts will be noticeably more significant for 2010-11


57 percent of school leaders say they’ll have to delay tech purchases in 2010-11...

Although the economy has begun to rebound, K-12 education leaders say they are still facing serious budget shortfalls for the coming school year that threaten their ability to implement new technologies, raise the quality of instruction in their classrooms, and close achievement gaps among students.

Released April 8, Cliff Hanger: How America’s Public Schools Continue to Feel the Impact of the Economic Downturn,” the latest in a series of national surveys from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), identifies a number of key challenges that are compounding an already tough situation.

Continued budget strains at the state and local levels will be exacerbated next year when the federal stimulus funding ends, the survey suggests—a phenomenon referred to as the “funding cliff.”

And though President Obama’s federal budget plan for fiscal year 2011 requests $4 billion more for education than the previous year, the administration is proposing to shift a greater percentage of federal dollars from formula-based grants to competitive grants—a move that school leaders fear will further squeeze their limited resources.

The results are likely to include more budget cuts, more job cuts, and fewer resources for programs and personnel, AASA warns—a scenario that does not look promising for education technology or other school-reform initiatives.

The survey, which polled 453 school administrators in March, found that the economic climate of school systems does not reflect the recovery beginning to take hold in other sectors. In fact, school budget cuts will be noticeably more significant for 2010-11 than they were in the previous two years, the survey suggests.

Survey Results
  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they plan to delay technology purchases in 2010-11, up from 29 percent in 2009-10.
  • Half of respondents said they plan to delay or eliminate instructional improvement strategies next year, up from 22 percent in 2009‐10.
  • Despite an influx of stimulus money, two-thirds of school leaders (68 percent) said they were forced to cut personnel in 2009-10—and 90 percent anticipate having to do so in 2010-11.
  • Class sizes also are expected to balloon this fall: While only 9 percent of respondents said they increased class sizes in the 2008‐09 school year, that number grew to 26 percent in 2009‐10 and is expected to reach 62 percent for 2010‐11.
  • After holding steady at two percent for both 2008-09 and 2009-10, the percentage of respondents who are considering reducing operations to a four-day school week rose to 13 percent for the coming year.

Share your thoughts on depriving the tech-savvy generation of the newest technology in the classroom and moving to four-day school weeks?

See What the Experts Have to Say...

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." -John Dewey

"Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time."
-Chinese Proverb

On the contrary...

"It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process. Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement." -Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.

"Any teacher that can be replaced by computer, deserves to be." -David Thronburg



Friday, April 9, 2010

Spectrum Industries to Exhibit at InfoComm 2010 - June 5th - 11th at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada



VEGAS, VEGAS, VEGAS! Exactly two short months from today we will be in Las Vegas for InfoComm 2010!

InfoComm is the leading trade show for industry professionals in the audiovisual, information communications and systems integration industries. At this most forward-looking pro-AV event in the world, over 900 exhibitors bring the show floor to life, showcasing the latest technologies and hottest products on the market.

Spectrum Industries will showcasing its latest innovative designs with technology and communications equipment, from Laptop Carts to Integrated Audio-Visual Lecterns.

Stay tuned into our blog and InfoComm IQ website for updates of Spectrum's new 2010 leading-edge products to be featured at InfoComm 2010.
Attendees of InfoComm 2010 conference and exhibition may visit Spectrum Industries at booth #C4463.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 Census: Make Education Count



The accuracy of the 2010 census has significant implications for the education of our nation’s school children.

2010 census data will directly affect how more than $400 billion annually is allocated to local, state and tribal governments over the next 10 years. For this funding to be allocated fairly and accurately, the goal of the decennial census is to count everybody, count them only once and count them in the right place.

Additionally, every month of every year, the American Community Survey (ACS) is sent to a rolling sample of addresses throughout the nation to produce updated estimates annually of important socio‐economic indicators about the nation’s population. The ACS provides the U.S. Department of Education with the most comprehensive data on school enrollment and educational attainment.

How are census data used to help improve education and provide for our school children?

Census data are also used to help policymakers address specific functions, needs and challenges students might face in their communities, including drawing school district boundaries, determining new school construction, providing direct aid to schools that serve children with limited English proficiency, determining illiteracy levels and the socio‐economic conditions of school‐age children, measuring changes in education levels across communities so employers can determine where to locate new jobs, and job training. Furthermore, census data are used to help allocate approximately $26 billion annually in education funding (data from fiscal year 2007).

What education programs directly benefit from census data?

Data from the census provide federal, state and district governments with benchmarks for determining education program eligibility and for applying financial aid allocation formulas. Census information is also used for funding allocations for the following programs: Safe and Drug Free Schools programs; special education preschool programs; reforming elementary and secondary school programs that serve Native American students; Title I grants to local education agencies; Title III grants to local education agencies to supplement services for English language learners; Improving Teacher Quality State Grants; educational technology grants; rural education programs; Impact Aid; Even Start; and Comprehensive School Reform Program.

What can you do to help ensure an accurate census?


• Devote time to building a greater understanding of the purpose and benefits of the census. Share the message that participation in the census is both important and safe.
• Work with schools and community centers to spark conversations about the importance of the census.
• Talk with local educators about how information on the census can be used in schools. The census is a great opportunity to learn about our country’s history.


For more information about the 2010 Census, visit 2010census.gov.


For more information on educational funding and grant support visit Spectrum's Website.



Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Tradition


The Easter Bunny as an Easter symbol bringing Easter eggs seems to have its origins in Alsace and the Upper Rhineland, both then in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and southwestern Germany, where it was first recorded in a German publication in the early 1600s. The first edible Easter Bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s and were made of pastry and sugar.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to America by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s.[4] The arrival of the "O_ster Haws_e" (a phonetic transcription of a dialectal pronunciation of the German Osterhase) was considered one of "childhood's greatest pleasures," similar to the arrival of Kriist Kindle (from the German Christkindl) on Christmas Eve.

According to the tradition, children would build brightly colored nests, often out of caps and bonnets, in secluded areas of their homes. The "O_ster Haws_e" would, if the children had been good, lay brightly colored eggs in the nest. As the tradition spread, the nest has become the manufactured, modern Easter basket, and the placing of the nest in a secluded area has become the tradition of hiding baskets.
Spectrum Industries Inc. wants to wish everyone a happy and healthy family weekend.