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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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November 08, 2005

Table of Contents

Free Resources: ScienCentral, Inc. Video Stories
FAS Hosts Summit on Educational Games
ITI Cross Links: Microsoft Launches Book Digitization Project--MSN Book Search
Sagebrush Announces Viewpoint Data Warehouse and Data Management System
H.W. Wilson’s Book Review Digest Turns 100
Canvastic Version 2.0 Ships
Free Resources: The Redesigned International Children's Digital Library Web Site Partners with Districts to Help Test Technology Skills
Inspiration and Great Source/Houghton Mifflin Collaborate on Resources for Improving Student Reading Comprehension
Discovery Education Announces Discovery Health Connection Updates

Free Resources: ScienCentral, Inc. Video Stories

ScienCentral, Inc. recently contacted us about their videos on the latest research and developments in science and technology. They are currently providing their video stories free to educators who wish to use them as teaching tools or in presentations, and they are working further with educational publishers to provide their science content.

From the ScienCentral Web site:

ScienCentral is a production company specializing in science and technology content for television/video, CD-ROM, and the Web. It was co-founded in 1996 by scientist and CEO/President Eliene Augenbraun to increase the number and quality of science stories being broadcast to the public.

ScienCentral's independent news bureau, ScienCentral News (formerly known as Science & Technology News Network), reports on the medical, environmental, and technological issues that affect daily life. ScienCentral News' features can be seen several times each week on ABC's and NBC's local TV affiliate stations. ScienCentral News is produced in collaboration with The Center for Science and the Media.

You can get a sense of ScienCentral's content by visiting the site <>, browsing or using various search features to find stories that interest you/your students, and viewing them online. (A sampling from today's home page: Remote Control Flies, Defeating Dyslexia, Spider Silk Strength, Alzheimer's Eye Test, and Living to 100.) There are nearly 1,000 stories archived on the site.

A ScienCentral spokeswoman wrote us: "If a teacher sees our site and wants to use our videos for educational/classroom purposes, they usually contact us by phone or e-mail and we provide the video clips free of charge. We can provide them in QuickTime, Real Media, Windows Media or on VHS/DVCam/Beta. The teacher just signs our license form allowing permission to use."

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FAS Hosts Summit on Educational Games

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) recently hosted the first Summit on Educational Games in Washington, DC. The one-day session brought individuals from academia, government, private foundations, and the software industry together for the first time to examine ways to produce complex and sophisticated educational computer activities rooted in the world of electronic gaming.

The attendees were passionate about the strong role the computer is playing in the lives of the nation's learners, especially the school-age set where changes in the use of technology far outpace the momentum of curriculum-related product development.

The session featured a look at four computer learning programs: Immune Attack, Tactical Language Trainer, Incident Commander, and Civilization 3. All featured simulations that provided opportunities for problem solving and skill building.

Summit speakers included Jeffery Briggs, Firaxis Founder and President; Ann Foster of Harcourt eLearning; Eugene Hickok, former Deputy Secretary of Education; Joe Irby, BestQuest President; Henry Kelly, FAS President; Midian Kurland of Scholastic; Lorne Lanning of OddWorld; Barbara Olds of the National Science Foundation; Howard Phillips of Microsoft; Douglas Whatley, BreakAway Games CEO; Mike Zyda of the University of Southern California, and others.

The session may ultimately spur the nation's future educational technology funding. Summit participants are focusing on concrete steps and are developing a practical plan of action to forward to Congress in the spring.

Complete documentation and a wide variety of materials related to the event appear online at

Federation of American Scientists,

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ITI Cross Links: Microsoft Launches Book Digitization Project--MSN Book Search

Book digitization is hot, generating the possibility of better overall success for searchers—and, in certain quarters, generating controversy as well. Now, perhaps unsurprisingly, the ubiquitous Microsoft enters the field already occupied by the likes of Google (Google Print), Amazon (Search Inside the Book), and many other players, commercial and otherwise.

Barbara Quint, editor of Searcher magazine and well-known observer of and commentator on the information industry, has written about Microsoft's MSN Book Search and placed it in the larger context in an ITI NewsBreak published this week.

Click HERE to read bq on MSN Book Search.

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Sagebrush Announces Viewpoint Data Warehouse and Data Management System

Sagebrush Corporation has announced Sagebrush Viewpoint, a data warehouse and data management system that expands the company's family of information products to include new reporting capabilities and the ability to create Student Plans (IEP, 504, Health and Academic Improvement Plans).

With Viewpoint, educators and administrators log in to a secure, customized Web environment to gain access to up-to-date actionable information. Only one sign-in is required to access all the available data from Sagebrush Viewpoint's fully integrated suite of data analysis and reporting tools:

* Viewpoint Student Plans—Educators and administrators can enter data to complete pre-configured, district, state, and federally compliant forms for the following plans: Individualized Education Plans for special education students, 504 plans for disabled non-special education students, student medical information plans, and Academic Improvement Plans for students needing targeted instruction to meet AYP. The program also allows educators to create evaluations, meeting notices, parent letters, and more.

* Viewpoint Reports—Users obtain comprehensive, on-demand views into student performance through Class Reports for national, state, and local assessments, Student Summaries that show current schedules and grades over multiple years, and School Reports that reveal the breakdowns of student population by various sub-populations. The data is dynamically refreshed on a district-based schedule.

* Viewpoint Analytics—Educators and administrators are able to access, analyze, print, and share school and student information, as well as instantly aggregate and disaggregate data on groups and subgroups based on variables, including demographics and test results via a guided Q & A format and at-a-glance reports.

"Viewpoint takes our Analytics product, and adds easy to use reporting tools and student education plan forms to it that allow teachers to easily use the data they might not necessarily know is at hand," said Karen Mortensen, Executive Education Consultant for Sagebrush Corporation. "For principals and administrators, the amount of reporting that has to be done today is done much more efficiently with one tool that incorporates data from multiple sources. We have already seen vast time savings in the districts that are rolling out Viewpoint."

Source: Sagebrush Corporation,

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H.W. Wilson’s Book Review Digest Turns 100

Book Review Digest now joins the company of reference icon Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, as an H.W. Wilson product in service to library users for more than 100 years.

Introduced in 1905, Book Review Digest is now available in both the familiar print form and on WilsonWeb online, as Book Review Digest Plus <> and Book Review Digest Retrospective: 1905-1982 <>.

On WilsonWeb, Book Review Digest Plus brings users entries for more than 1.3 million reviews, covering more than 550,000 books. WilsonWeb's Book Review Digest Retrospective: 1905-1982 is a record of historical, sociological, and literary information offering insight into how society first responded to groundbreaking works of fiction and nonfiction, early works by seminal authors, political treatises, and other important literature, according to the H.W. Wilson announcement. The database covers 300,000 books, citing some 1.5 million book reviews. Master records for each book include the title's essentials—author, descriptive summary, publisher, publication year, page count, ISBN, indicator of illustrations, and more—plus links to review excerpts and review citations.

Book Review Digest was the third original reference produced by H.W. Wilson. The first was Cumulative Book Index, which ran from 1898 (the year the H.W. Wilson Company was founded) through 1999. The second, Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, began in 1901, and continues today online and in print, in several incarnations.

Free 30-day trials of Book Review Digest Plus and Book Review Digest Retrospective are available. For more information, visit

Source: H.W. Wilson,

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Canvastic Version 2.0 Ships

Canvastic LLC has announced the update of their product, Canvastic, an integrated writing, graphics, and publishing tool for students in grades K-8 to version 2.0. Canvastic is designed as a student- and teacher-focused software tool that can be customized for students' age and ability level, according to the announcement. The interface includes customized sets of options for graphic and text use.

Version 2.0 continues and expands on the concept that the software tools students use to publish should be flexible, allowing teachers to customize their students' work environments. Over 40 new features and refinements are included in this release, including the following:

• New word processing tool to integrate passages of text with student-created graphics.
• New soundtrack and full-screen playback options for presentations.
• New template files feature with over 200 templates.
• New school and lab administration features such as shared preference files.

This is a free upgrade for all registered users. Canvastic runs natively on Windows and Macintosh computers. It can be purchased and downloaded from the Web site Pricing starts at $59 for a single user license. Significant volume discounts are available.

Source: Canvastic LLC,

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Free Resources: The Redesigned International Children's Digital Library Web Site

The Web site for the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL), a project of the University of Maryland funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, at has undergone a total redesign and is now sporting a fresh, new look, according to a University of Maryland announcement. In addition to a new logo and color scheme, viewers will find informative updates and enhanced functionality. The new ICDL design is based on feedback from its volunteer ambassadors, advisors, and local community members, as well as research with the College Park (Maryland) KidsTeam.

Users who choose to join the ICDL Library can also take advantage of new member features. By signing up for a my ICDL Account, users can select language preferences and customize their personal bookshelves. The bookshelf feature allows registered users to save all their personal favorite ICDL books in one place. This provides a great way for teachers to create classroom profiles and select specific books for their classroom bookshelves that they want their students to read. Books saved on a personal bookshelf also have virtual bookmarks. The bookshelf remembers the last page a user read in each book on the shelf. Kids (and adults) can further customize their accounts with fun themes based on monsters that guard their bookshelves!

In addition, a full archive of past announcements has been compiled to reflect the ICDL's history and progress. Users can look back at how the ICDL has grown and evolved with news about project research, collection development efforts, and technology advancements.

The ICDL has more than 800 books in its collection, representing 43 countries and 32 languages. More than 500,000 unique visitors from 158 countries have accessed the ICDL to learn more about the project and view books in the collection. Looking ahead to the third anniversary of the International Children's Digital Library, the ICDL Research Team hopes that users will find the new Web site accessible and easy to navigate in order to continue serving its diverse audience of children and adults around the world.

Source: ICDL/University of Maryland,

Back to Contents... Partners with Districts to Help Test Technology Skills has announced partnerships with key school districts across the country as they pilot TechLiteracy Assessment, its online authentic assessment of the technology proficiency of elementary and middle school students. The pilot programs are designed to help districts demonstrate that both state and national education technology standards are being met. Along with the national mandate stating that every student should be technologically literate by the eighth grade, many states have also aggressively adopted and implemented their own technology standards. is currently partnering with districts in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Arizona to deploy TechLiteracy Assessment to a wide sample of students in a beta program.

TechLiteracy Assessment has already received the International Society for Technology in Education's National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S) Seal of Alignment for its relevance to technology standards. With leveled items for grades 3-5 and 6-8, assessments cover the full range of technology tools used in modern classroom settings, and can be completed within a 50-minute class period, the announcement states.

The beta program will include a comprehensive analysis of item-level data and the setting of passing standards. Standards setting will include the definition of technology literacy at the elementary and middle school levels.

TechLiteracy Assessment will be available to all U.S. districts starting in spring 2006. Preliminary pricing for TechLiteracy Assessment is $5 per student per school year.

For more information on TechLiteracy Assessment, visit


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Inspiration and Great Source/Houghton Mifflin Collaborate on Resources for Improving Student Reading Comprehension

Inspiration Software and Houghton Mifflin's Great Source Education Group have announced a collaboration that combines Inspiration visual learning software with Great Source's reading comprehension materials — providing teachers with tools for using graphic organizers to improve reading comprehension. Developed by the two companies, the new Reader's Handbook Integration Guide for Inspiration provides lesson plans and activity ideas using Inspiration graphic organizers to support the learning strategies found in Great Source's Reader's Handbook: A Guide for Reading and Learning, Grades 6-8.

According to the announcement, using the instructional strategies in the handbook combined with visual learning software, teachers will help students develop an in-depth understanding of the before, during, and after reading processes; build essential reading skills and strategies for comprehending different types of reading materials and genres; and learn and apply key reading strategies and comprehension tools. In addition to classroom strategies, the guide includes a CD-ROM with 36 Inspiration templates that align to each of the handbook's core reading tools.

The Reader's Handbook Integration Guide is available from Great Source and Inspiration Software for $34.95. Both companies will also offer the Reader's Handbook Integration Guide Bundle, which includes the guide and a single Inspiration license for $94.95. 

For more information, visit or

Source: Houghton Mifflin Company,; Inspiration Software, Inc.,

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Discovery Education Announces Discovery Health Connection Updates

Discovery Education has announced a complete update and redesign of Discovery Health Connection—its digital health and prevention education resource that incorporates K-12 classroom curriculum programs covering nine critical topics of youth health and prevention education. Discovery Health Connection now includes 16 curriculum programs, three Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Model Programs, correlations to every state's educational standards, and more than 100 new literacy lessons, according to the announcement.

Discovery Education has streamlined the Discovery Health Connection user interface in order to make it easier for teachers to find materials to help their students live well, and has added new programs that have been proven effective in independent evaluations, the announcement states.

State departments of education in Wyoming, Florida, Kansas, Utah, West Virginia, and Alabama have partnered with Discovery Education to make Discovery Health Connection available to every school district in each state. Additionally, working through the Indiana Association of Educational Service Centers (IAESC), Indiana's nine ESCs applied for and received Safe and Drug-Free Schools state activities funds in order to provide drug abuse and violence prevention education through the utilization of the Discovery Health Connection service.

Discovery Health Connection ( is a Web-based subscription service that combines traditional health and prevention curriculum programs with teachers' guides, worksheets, videos, extension exercises, and literacy lessons designed to facilitate cross-curricular instruction while improving students' reading comprehension and writing skills. It features curriculum programs in nine areas of youth health and prevention education, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, including The Body, Safety, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Growth and Development, Mental Health, Tobacco, Nutrition, Violence, and Physical Activity.

Source: Discovery Education,

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