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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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May 23, 2006

Table of Contents

Cool Links: Blog Postings About DOPA
Free Resources: Access 330,000 E-books at The World eBook Fair
David Thornburg's "When the Best is Free"
PLATO Inspired Education Award Winners
PBS and Discovery Education Partner to Distribute PBS Programs to Schools
CoSN Symposium for Ed Tech Leaders
Facts on File Redesigns History Databases
Muzzy Lane Software Reports Improved Student Outcomes After Historical Simulation Game Use
World Book Announces New Online Reference Center Special Feature—Mars: Exploring the Red Planet
Pearson Prentice Hall Pairs Literacy Skill Builder Series With WriteToLearn
DyKnow Teams Up with Gateway to Offer Teaching and Learning Solution

Cool Links: Blog Postings About DOPA

When proposed legislation to address the dangers-real and perceived-of online social networking surfaced in Congress recently, the education, library, and ed. tech. blogosphere erupted with commentary about "DOPA," the "Deleting Online Predators Act." Here's a sampling from some of the best known bloggers, each with enough links to keep you occupied and reading for as long as you have time and interest. If you're not up on this, reading these posts will quickly fill you in. (Maybe we should call these "Hot Links.")

Doug Johnson's Blue Skunk blog: Doin' something about DOPA

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth blog: For Schools & Libraries, Web 2.0 + Congress = 0
Andy Carvin's learning.now blog from PBS TeacherSource: New Federal Legislation Would Ban Online Social Networks in Schools & Libraries
Christopher Harris' Infomancy blog: Dealing With DOPA
Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed blog: Headline: Congress Targets Social Network Sites
David Warlick's 2 Cents Worth blog: DOPA-manic, and then, more recently, Online Communities-Except in Schools

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Free Resources: Access 330,000 E-books at The World eBook Fair

Here's another free resource we got through a tip from Gary Price's ResourceShelf:

The World eBook Library and Project Gutenberg are "giving away" e-books at the World eBook Fair this July.

From the World eBook Fair site:

Before Johannes Gutenberg the average person had zero books; before Project Gutenberg the average person had zero libraries.
After Johannes Gutenberg the average person had one book; after Project Gutenberg the average person had one library.
Today, by combining the efforts of Project Gutenberg and World eBook Library everyone can own 1/3 of a million books.

[and]

July 4th to August 4, 2006 marks a month long celebration of the 35th anniversary of the first step taken towards today's eBooks. 35 years ago the United States Declaration of Independence was a first example of hundreds of thousands of eBooks downloadable on the Internet today in a variety of languages totalling over 100.

The World eBook Fair welcomes you to absolutely free access to a variety of eBook unparalleled by any other source. 1/3 million eBooks await you, all free of charge for the month of July.

Find out the details HERE.

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David Thornburg's "When the Best is Free"

Dr. David Thornburg's new book, When the Best is Free: An Educator's Perspective on Open Source Software, examines free software programs that run equally well on nearly any current operating system found in schools today.

The book recommends hand-picked titles that work the same on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh platforms. The selected programs cover tasks that range from simple document creation to the design and implementation of online courseware. All of the titles allow teachers to copy and distribute the programs for home use by every student at no charge.

When the Best is Free is available for $24.95 from the Thornburg Center. The Center also offers staff development programs for open-source software that focus on specific curricular areas and effective pedagogical models.

The Thornburg Center, tcpd2020@aol.com.

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PLATO Inspired Education Award Winners

L.E.A.D.S. Academy in the San Diego Unified School District (CA) and Nimitz Ninth Grade School in the Aldine Independent School District (TX) are the recipients of the 2006 Inspired Education Award sponsored by PLATO Learning and the Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents (ALAS).

The award, now in its fourth year, seeks to enhance student achievement and technology literacy in high-need schools. Awardees receive a complete instructional technology program, including 20 laptop computers and a three-year subscription to PLATO Courses covering core high school subjects.

Awardees also receive comprehensive professional development, a school-based evaluation program, and technical assistance. The award's technology program will be implemented at each school in time for the start of the 2006-2007 school year.

PLATO Learning, 800/869-2000 or http://www.plato.com/.

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PBS and Discovery Education Partner to Distribute PBS Programs to Schools

PBS and Discovery Education have announced a major multi-year media partnership through which PBS has licensed hundreds of hours from its series and specials for distribution to schools through Discovery Education's digital learning services. PBS titles to be made available via Discovery Education include THE CIVIL WAR and other Ken Burns documentaries; FREEDOM: A HISTORY OF US; the complete CYBERCHASE series; and selected episodes from NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, FRONTLINE and others. A number of local PBS stations already partner with Discovery Education in delivering its flagship video-on-demand service, unitedstreaming, as part of their portfolio of local education offerings.

Beginning this fall, schools will have the opportunity to receive the PBS library as a supplement to unitedstreaming. As with all content delivered through unitedstreaming, the PBS programs will be correlated to state curriculum standards, chaptered into content-specific video clips and offered for teachers to stream or download for instructional use.

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

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CoSN Symposium for Ed Tech Leaders

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the Texas K-12 CTO Council present the inaugural CoSN CTO Leadership Clinic, June 27-28 at the Sockwell Center, Plano ISD in Plano, Texas.

The Clinic launches with an opening keynote by technology visionary Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Dede's presentation is titled "‘Neomillennial' Learning Styles: From Websites to Distributed-Learning Communities."

Clinic sessions include: Hot Technologies for K-12 Schools, Calculating the Value of Technology in Education, Accessible Technologies for All Students, Public Policy Boot Camp: Becoming a Technology Advocate, Lessons Learned from the Front Lines of One-to-One, Open Technology Solutions, Data Intelligence, and Planning for Cyber Security.

The event closes with a keynote titled "Measuring the Value of Technology in Education" by C. Jackson Grayson, Jr., Chairman of the American Productivity & Quality Center.

Registration is free to Texas K-12 CTO Council members and sponsors. Registration for CoSN/TASBO members is $75; non-member registration is $150.

CoSN, 202/861-2676 or http://www.cosn.org/.

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Facts on File Redesigns History Databases

Facts on File launched a database redesign project with the expansion and enhancement of the company's six history databases: American History Online, American Women's History Online, African-American History Online, American Indian History Online, Ancient History Online, and World History Online.

Among the improvements are more user-friendly features, including tabbed search results, sharper and more colorful images, different points of access to information, personal folders for saving searched pages, and search tips located within the Help link.

Updated content access features include Learning Centers with new Browse features; newly enhanced image, map, and chart galleries; special features related to selected subjects; and faster, more direct access to content.

The Facts on File databases will be redesigned and launched in cycles, beginning with the history databases update in May.

Facts on File, 800/322-8755 or http://www.factsonfile.com/.

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Muzzy Lane Software Reports Improved Student Outcomes After Historical Simulation Game Use

Muzzy Lane Software, creator of the historical simulation game Making History, has announced that a group of high school students using the multiplayer videogame about the political and economic causes of World War II achieved higher test scores than students learning the same material more traditionally.

Under the tutelage of a social studies teacher at Oak Hill High School in Converse, Indiana, 64 sophomore students played Making History, while another group of students used their standard history textbooks along with the usual lectures and assignments that define a typical day in high school. Both groups were attempting to learn the same material.

When the groups were tested on their knowledge of key events, such as the 1938 Munich Conference and their general knowledge of European geography, the group that played Making History learned more facts and wrote more sophisticated essays in tests conducted after a week of game play, according to the announcement.

The teacher applied a common set of questions to both groups of students prior to game week, and then tested the students with the same questions after each group had completed their learning cycles. He found a noticeable and in some cases stunning difference in the degree to which the game-play students improved compared with the textbook students, the announcement states.

Among the highlights noted in the announcement (percentages indicate the relative increase in performance from the pre-lesson test to the post-lesson test):

* Identify the countries of Europe on a blank map outline:
Game Players: 70%
Non-Game Players: 45%
* Explain the significance of the 1938 Munch Conference:
Game Players:  90%
Non-Game Players:  55%
* Define the reasons for the start of World War II:
Game Players: 67%
Non-Game Players: 35%

"I am not saying that games are the panacea for all of education's problems," said the Oak Hill teacher. "But there is no doubt anymore that the right videogame integrated properly with traditional curriculum has a clear and meaningful impact on the quality of learning."

Source: Muzzy Lane Software, http://www.muzzylane.com

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World Book Announces New Online Reference Center Special Feature—Mars: Exploring the Red Planet

As students prepare to head out for summer vacation, World Book is inviting them to do a little space exploration with its newest special feature, Mars: Exploring the Red Planet, available on the comprehensive World Book Online Reference Center (http://www.worldbookonline.com) as well as on the World Book Concise Encyclopedia (http://www.worldbook.com).

The special feature includes contributions by Steven W. Squyres, a professor of astronomy at Cornell University and principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. World Book, which is a NASA partner in helping educate the public about space exploration, also collaborated with the space agency to develop the feature segment on the proposed Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) Mars scout mission.

The Mars feature provides students with a comprehensive overview of the red planet, from how it got its name to the description of such physical features as its surface and temperature, and details on the exploration of Mars from the first through the most recent endeavors, including Spirit and Opportunity.

The feature also includes a discussion of NASA's long-term Mars exploration program using "scout" missions to explore the planet, such as the proposed ARES mission, which will use a robotic, rocket-powered low-flying aircraft to provide the first direct measurements of the near-surface of the Martian atmosphere. The aircraft will travel over hundreds of miles to collect information crucial to better understanding Mars and the potential for life on the planet. An ultimate goal of Mars exploration is to send manned missions to Mars by the mid-to late 2000's.

The Mars feature also provides students with a variety of editor-reviewed links allowing them to explore further, including links to universities, government agencies, NASA, and space societies.

Source: World Book, http://www.worldbook.com

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Pearson Prentice Hall Pairs Literacy Skill Builder Series With WriteToLearn

Pearson Knowledge Technologies (PKT) and Pearson Prentice Hall have announced the bundling of two literacy tools: Prentice Hall's Literacy Skill Builder Series workbooks for sixth- through eighth-grade students reading below grade level, and WriteToLearn, a Web-based learning tool designed to help students develop writing and reading comprehension skills. The package is geared toward students who are taking summer school classes to improve literacy skills.

Prentice Hall's Literacy Skill Builder Series workbooks feature text appropriate to students reading below grade level; small, manageable units for students to master skills; and vocabulary-building exercises. Developed by Pearson Knowledge Technologies, WriteToLearn works in tandem with the exercises. With WriteToLearn, students use a Web-based interface to practice essay writing and summarization skills, and their efforts are measured by Pearson's Knowledge Analysis Technologies (KAT) engine, which automatically evaluates the meaning of text by examining whole passages. Students receive immediate, specific feedback on their work, allowing them to improve their writing and summaries by completing multiple drafts without hours of teacher assistance and grading, according to the announcement.

The package includes comprehensive materials for teachers, such as a pacing guide for lesson planning, activity ideas, teaching strategies for difficult concepts, and how to integrate WriteToLearn into lessons. Teachers can assess student progress through pre- and post-testing, as well as through the WriteToLearn teacher interface, which allows teachers to easily assess students' writing progress individually or as a class.

For information and pricing for Prentice Hall's Literacy Skill Builder Series, visit http://www.phschool.com/skillbuilder. For more information about WriteToLearn, visit http://www.writetolearn.net.

Source: Pearson Knowledge Technologies, http://www.k-a-t.com/; Pearson Prentice Hall, http://vig.prenhall.com/

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DyKnow Teams Up with Gateway to Offer Teaching and Learning Solution

DyKnow has announced that PC company Gateway will package and sell DyKnow software with its learning services and hardware products. This includes Gateway's convertible notebooks that combine the features of a standard notebook with those of pen computing.

This announcement was made after the recent unveiling of the Gateway M285-E convertible notebook and the impending release of DyKnow version 4.2. The two companies provide educators with an opportunity to combine the most recent Gateway Tablet PC series with the next release of complementary DyKnow software, according to the announcement. 

Teachers use DyKnow Vision software to transmit content to student computers for annotation. Students' personalized notes can be added, saved, and replayed at a later date for review. DyKnow Monitor software reduces electronic distraction by displaying thumbnails of student screens, blocking applications, blanking screens, and monitoring in wireless environments, the announcement states.

As a reseller of DyKnow software, Gateway expects to bring significant value to its customers, including schools pursuing one-to-one computing programs with ubiquitous wireless access to enhance learning. By sharing customers and resources, DyKnow and Gateway hope to foster a growing network of innovative educators. 

For more information about DyKnow version 4.2 software, visit http://www.dyknow.com/products/vision/newin42/. More information about Gateway's education solutions can be found at http://www.gateway.com/work/ed/index.shtml.

Source: DyKnow, http://www.dyknow.com

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