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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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March 28, 2006

Table of Contents

Free Resources: EBSCO’s History and Reading Web-based Resources
Tool Factory/Olympus Student and Teacher Contests
TechLiteracy Assessment by Learning.com Debuts
ITI Cross Links: Major Upgrade to EBSCOhost Includes Visual Search
netTrekker d.i. Provides Readability Ratings
Questia Launches Lesson Plans for Teachers
Sunburst Technology Launches New Version of Let’s Go Learn’s Diagnostic Math and Reading Assessments
Texthelp Systems Announces New Version of Browsealoud Text-to-Speech Software
New Standards Alignment Engine, Content for Sunburst’s QuickMind.net
The Game Institute and Muzzy Lane Software Introduce Online Video Game Training for Teachers
Discovery Communications Launches COSMEO Online Homework Help Tool
Discovery Education Expands unitedstreaming Resources

Free Resources: EBSCO’s History and Reading Web-based Resources

EBSCO Publishing has launched two free Web-based resources for school libraries: History-It's Happening! and It's a Reading Rave!

History-It's Happening! for middle and high school libraries focuses on North American history and special events such as Women's History Month. The site models EBSCO database searches; students can begin their research here or browse key primary source documents, historic video footage, speeches, selected articles and Web sites about notable women and men from Canada and the U.S. The site also includes suggested reading information from NoveList focusing on history in fiction. A section for librarians and teachers offers suggestions for using the site, search tips, and teacher guides.

It's a Reading Rave! helps young adults find articles from a favorite magazine, explore literature with the help of NoveList, and use other interactive reading resources. The site includes two interactive Flash Web components, a librarian portal, and a "main wing" for young adults. The librarian portal offers tips and tools to promote reading resources. The "main wing" for young adults features School Tools, Recommended Reading, Cool Links to quality sites, Fun Facts, and a trivia quiz.

Source: EBSCO Publishing, 800/653-2726 or http://www.epnet.com/

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Tool Factory/Olympus Student and Teacher Contests

The newest phase of the Tool Factory/Olympus Student Photo Contest and Teacher Grant Program is currently underway; the deadline for entries is June 2, 2006.

For the Student Photo Contest, a total of two winners will be selected, one in the Photography category and one in the Art category. Each winner receives an Olympus 8.0 megapixel digital camera and accessories worth $600, Tool Factory software worth up to $200, and the book "Digital Camera Basics."

For the Classroom Grants program, a total of five teachers will be selected to receive three Olympus 5.0 megapixel (or better) digital cameras worth $600, a Tool Factory site license worth up to $2,000, $500 in cash to be used to complete their project, and 30 copies of the "Digital Camera Basics" workbook.

Contest details are available online; flyers can be downloaded for printing at http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest/.

The winning applications from the 2005 teacher grant contest are available for reading online at http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest/. To view all student photo entries, visit http://www.clipartstation.com/.

This contest is offered throughout the school year with varying deadlines; applicants must resubmit after every deadline to reapply.

Source: Tool Factory, Inc., http://www.toolfactory.com/; Olympus, http://www.olympusamerica.com/education/

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TechLiteracy Assessment by Learning.com Debuts

Learning.com has announced nationwide availability of TechLiteracy Assessment, a new online authentic assessment tool to measure elementary and middle school students' proficiency with information and communication technology.

The No Child Left Behind Act states that by 2006, schools must ensure that every student is technologically literate before the student finishes the eighth grade. Effective immediately, districts throughout the U.S. can use TechLiteracy Assessment to gather data to meet NCLB mandates and demonstrate that national and state technology standards have been addressed. Districts can use their TechLiteracy Assessment results to determine how to modify their instructional program to ensure mastery of these critical skills, according to the announcement.

TechLiteracy Assessment was piloted last fall in eight districts and administered to more than 8,000 students across 68 schools. In January, a panel was convened to review test items and set proficiency standards for the elementary and middle-school versions of TechLiteracy Assessment. This panel, the TLA Working Group, comprised 16 educators and experts in technology instruction and assessment across eight states.

TechLiteracy Assessment is designed specifically for elementary and middle school students, and its items are leveled for grades 3-5 and 6-8. TechLiteracy Assessment covers the full range of technology tools used in modern classroom settings.

A mix of multiple choice and performance-based questions test technology concepts and strategies rather than specific brands of computer software, requiring students to demonstrate adaptable technology skills. The assessment can be completed within a 50-minute class period, allowing for maximum flexibility in districts.

TechLiteracy Assessment is certified as aligned to ISTE's National Education Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S).

Source: Learning.com, http://www.learning.com

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ITI Cross Links: Major Upgrade to EBSCOhost Includes Visual Search

"For the first time since 2002, EBSCO has done a full-scale revision of the interface to the EBSCOhost service, which the company introduced in 1996. The revision adds many advanced features: clustering of search results, RSS feeds for alerts, expedited access to full text, grouping of databases by subject for federated (cross-file) searching, alternative citation format outputs, improved personal account maintenance, context-sensitive help, and—most importantly—a new Visual Search option from its partner Groxis. Some of the advanced features have already appeared in subject-focused subsets of EBSCO's content base. The process of introducing new features through subject-oriented subsets continues. EBSCO has also introduced citation searching for clients licensing its business, communications and mass media, nursing and allied health (CINAHL), and sociology files. Formal introduction of all the improvements will take place at this week's Public Library Association meeting in Boston."

...

That's the opening paragraph of Barbara Quint's NewsBreak on revisions and upgrades for EBSCOhost. For the full story, click HERE to link to it at Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks for March 20, 2006.

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netTrekker d.i. Provides Readability Ratings

netTrekker d.i. now includes readability ratings for its bank of online classroom resources.

The netTrekker d.i. Internet search engine assigns each online resource a readability measure based on Lexile ratings and eight additional highly regarded reading assessments. The safe Internet search engine provides access to more than 180,000 educator-selected, standards-based online resources covering a variety of curriculum areas.

Source: Thinkronize, 877/517-1125 or http://www.thinkronize.com/

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Questia Launches Lesson Plans for Teachers

Questia Media, Inc. has announced Questia Lesson Plans, the latest addition to its Questia Classroom teacher and student resource center that integrates the company's digital library content into class instruction. Questia Classroom is designed for ninth- through twelfth-grade instruction.

Questia Lesson Plans are written by qualified education professionals and delivered in an easy-to-use format that is consistent across all grades, searchable by subject level, and fully integrated with Questia's content and digital tools, according to the announcement. Each lesson plan includes reading resources from Questia's collection of more than 65,000 full-text books and more than a million articles focused in the English, language arts, and social studies disciplines.

Questia Lesson Plans provide teachers with materials that incorporate the online books and articles available through Questia. The lesson plans are available for a fee, and the cost is determined by the number of students. A search and browse tool enables teachers to sift through the lesson plan collection by keyword, subject, unit, standard, grade level, and reading level.

Questia Media's online academic library and research resource is accompanied by a digital toolkit that enables researchers to highlight text, properly cite passages, and automatically generate bibliographies and footnotes. In addition, Questia provides a personalized workspace for each user, with an individual bookshelf and reference resources.

Source: Questia Media, http://www.questia.com

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Sunburst Technology Launches New Version of Let’s Go Learn’s Diagnostic Math and Reading Assessments

Sunburst Technology announced at the Florida Educational Technology Conference a new version of the Let's Go Learn K-12 math and reading diagnostic assessment programs. Through a partnership with publisher Let's Go Learn, Sunburst will launch a new version of Let's Go Learn as an assessment tool to debut through its "Sunburst Learning Solutions" program. Through this program, educational specialists work with schools and districts to customize and create targeted intervention solutions to improve students' achievement.

Let's Go Learn is an assessment solution that helps to identify why a student answered questions incorrectly and then provides a comprehensive sub-skill evaluation for that student. The math portion of the assessment features a new level for Pre-Algebra with new content, in addition to its original two levels for K-5 and Algebra 1 that have been updated. The assessment was restructured to be more efficient and the reports were improved to be more diagnostic, the announcement states.

The reading portion has been expanded to eight sub-skill levels, and its adaptive logic and reports were also improved. The reports now help analyze each student's unique reading profile and provide detailed prescriptions for each student.

Sunburst Technology's Sunburst Learning Solutions educational consulting program is designed to provide schools with student achievement solutions for differentiated instruction.

Let's Go Learn is available now as an annual subscription for schools or districts. Prices start at $15 per student. Information about the Let's Go Learn diagnostic assessment programs is available online at http://www.sunburst.com/learningsolution.

Source: Sunburst Technology, http://www.sunburst.com

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Texthelp Systems Announces New Version of Browsealoud Text-to-Speech Software

At the Florida Educational Technology Conference, Texthelp Systems, Inc. announced Browsealoud 3.1, the latest version of its text-to-speech software that reads Web site content out loud for those with literacy difficulties, dyslexia, mild visual impairments, and where English is a Second language.

Browsealoud adds speech to Web sites and PDF files. When a user holds the cursor over the content, each word is highlighted as it is spoken in either English or multiple other languages including Spanish, French, or German. Browsealoud offers a practical Web site access service to people with reading difficulties and those who find it easier to listen to, rather than read, the content of Web sites. The service is purchased by the Web site owner and is free to the end-user.

Features include:

* Control of voice, pitch and speed
* User defined hotkeys to activate and deactivate speech
* A pronunciation engine to add words and define how a word is pronounced
* The option to add voices to those already on the computer
* The option to have the program start when the computer starts

Browsealoud 3.1 is an "immediate solution." No technical changes are necessary for accessible Web sites, e.g. 508 or W3C standards. The process of making a site speech-enabled is seamless and handled remotely. Browsealoud automatically speaks new content when the site is updated.

Browsealoud 3.1 now has improved functionality including:
* Speaks text out loud
* Highlights words as spoken
* New, improved customizable voices
* New PDF highlighting
* Dual color web highlighting
* Reads forms online
* Reads accessible Flash
* Free pronunciation control

Source: Texthelp Systems, Inc., http://www.texthelp.com/

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New Standards Alignment Engine, Content for Sunburst’s QuickMind.net

At the annual Florida Educational Technology Conference, Sunburst Technology announced that its QuickMind.net online learning environment has a new standards engine. The company also announced new QuickMind.net content  for upper grades.

Standards Engine

The standards engine provides up-to-date standards for all 50 states in the U.S. and aligns the lowest level benchmark for each state to every activity and resource in QuickMind.net. It provides the highest level of standards alignment possible, according to Sunburst, which makes QuickMind.net eligible for many types of federal funding, such as Title I (disadvantaged students), Title II (teacher training), Title III (ESL/ELL), Title IV (21st Century Schools), Title V (promoting informed parental choice and innovative programs), Reading First, IDEA, and PT3.

QuickMind.net offers two different ways to display standards -- standards to resources, as well as resources to standards. For example, teachers can browse their state's standards, choose one by clicking on it, and then see a list of all the resources within QuickMind.net that address that specific standard. Or they can check to see which standards a specific resource in QuickMind.net addresses as they are selecting resources by clicking on it and viewing a list of standards. The product also allows teachers to create their own alignments for content and share those alignments with their district. With the standards on-hand and aligned to each resource, teachers can show curriculum directors and administrators correlations for their classroom lessons that use these resources. They can be viewed and printed as needed.

New Content

The addition of extensive new content significantly strengthens QuickMind.net's offerings for upper grades:
* Math Pathways, a complete multimedia math curriculum for grades 6 to 12
* Geography Challenge, a comprehensive K to 12 geography activity covering all countries and continents
* Online courses for biology, chemistry and writing

Math Pathways is live now, and Geography Challenge and the online courses are expected to go live in the next month. All of this new content will be aligned to every state's standards within QuickMind.net through the new standards engine.

QuickMind.net is an intervention tool that offers educators in grades K to 12 content from Sunburst's library of titles, as well as over 20,000 organized online resources for their classes, including language arts, math, science, and social studies curricula. QuickMind.net provides educators and students in grades K-12 with lesson-planning, homework and assessment resources at school, home, or anywhere that they have an Internet connection.

QuickMind.net is available as annual subscription sold exclusively through Educational Resources and the Sunburst Learning Solutions program. For a free demo of the product, or free on-site consultation, educators can visit http://www.quickmind.net.

Source: Sunburst Technology, http://www.sunburst.com

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The Game Institute and Muzzy Lane Software Introduce Online Video Game Training for Teachers

The Game Institute and Muzzy Lane Software have announced an online education series that is designed to help teachers use interactive technology effectively in the classroom. The professional development series called "Using Games in Education" is a hands-on training program delivered over the Internet.

The Game Institute will provide the online facilities for hosting the training series, and Muzzy Lane will provide the instruction and course materials. Teachers can enroll for courses at http://muzzylane.gameinstitute.com/uge.

"Using Games in Education" offers the kind of instant collaboration and feedback unique to the Internet, according to the announcement. Participants can chat online with instructors or with other teachers, allowing them to share insights and ask questions.

"Using Games in Education" covers both the theory and the practice of using videogames for learning. During the course, teachers will:

* Explore the evolution of videogames
* Compare the cognition models of how students learn from games
* Evaluate different types of games for their own classroom
* Develop curriculum plans using the game in class and as homework
* Get practical advice from other teachers

Tuition is $185 and includes access to the online learning system, a comprehensive set of course materials, and a complimentary copy of the "Making History" game from Muzzy Lane Software. Through May teachers can enroll for an early-bird discount of $150.

Source: Muzzy Lane Software, http://www.muzzylane.com; The Game Institute, http://www.gameinstitute.com

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Discovery Communications Launches COSMEO Online Homework Help Tool

Discovery Communications has announced the launch of COSMEO, a homework help tool "designed for a generation that lives online." COSMEO harnesses the power of broadband and media to help kids achieve academic breakthroughs, according to the announcement. The COSMEO digital library includes homework help, interactive learning games, and more than 30,000 video clips that are correlated to grade-level and state curriculum standards. The interface allows kids in grades K through 12 to reference video clips and other learning tools for any required assignment in all key subject areas.

COSMEO leverages Discovery's unitedstreaming service, the educational video streaming resource for schools, building upon unitedstreaming's technology and content.

COSMEO's features include the following:

* 30,000 educational videos
* Search tools to locate information by subject, grade level, and keyword
* Over 15,000 interactive quizzes and 200 subject-related Brain Games, all supported by videos
* 20,000 high-resolution digital photos and 2,300 clip art images available for school projects
* Digital encyclopedia with access to over 27,000 research articles, soon to be expanded
* WebMath equation solver detailing step-by-step explanations to most math problems

COSMEO is available for the introductory price of $9.95 per month or $99 per year after a free 30-day trial. The standard retail price of COSMEO is $12.95 per month or $129 per year.

To learn more about COSMEO or to view selected content, visit http://www.cosmeo.com. Temporary usernames and passwords are available.

Source: Discovery Communications, Inc./Discovery Education, http://www.discoveryeducation.com

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Discovery Education Expands unitedstreaming Resources

Discovery Education has announced it is introducing significant additions and updates to unitedstreaming, its digital video-based learning resource for schools. Over 1,000 new video programs from leading educational producers are being added to the service, bringing the total number of titles available through unitedstreaming to more than 5,000. In addition, major feature enhancements make it easier for teachers to integrate this technology into their classrooms and other learning environments, according to the announcement.

New content updates to unitedstreaming include:

• Dozens of episodes from Scholastic's multi-award-winning series Magic School Bus, I Spy, Dear America, and Royal Diaries
• The complete MathMastery series, addressing key concepts in math, from addition to algebra
• Hundreds of programs in multiple subject areas from BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 Learning
• Spanish language instructional series for elementary and middle grades from Northern Arizona University
• New Professional Development programs for teachers from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
• The Animated Hero Classics series from Nest Family Entertainment
• New video programs from Discovery Education's Emmy-award winning series Assignment Discovery and TLC Elementary School, plus other programs from Discovery Networks such as The Jeff Corwin Experience

In addition, unitedstreaming now offers new and enhanced features to help teachers find what they need for the classroom.
• "Quiz Center" allows teachers to create their own tests from a database of over 16,000 individual questions associated with specific video clips.
• New targeted search technology helps users find relevant content more quickly.
• "Assignment Builder" now allows teachers to insert Web links into their assignments.
• Unitedstreaming Server Manager software, used in local server implementations, has been upgraded with new intelligent tools that manage content updates and server storage space.

Source: Discovery Education, http://www.discoveryeducation.com

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