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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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August 01, 2006

Table of Contents

Follett Acquires Sagebrush Corporation’s Library Automation Business
National Federation of the Blind Shows Prototype TouchBook with Digital Capabilities
Curriculum Associates Releases Science Vocabulary Series
H.W. Wilson Launches Spell Checker for WilsonWeb
Intel, NSF Fund PBS Engineering Series for Children
Olympus, Tool Factory Award Classroom Grants
TLC Introduces BiblioFile with Multilingual Cataloging
Vantage Learning’s MY Access! Writing Program Aligns with Hampton-Brown High Point Series
Facts On File Announces Launch of Redesigned History Online Databases
IPREPpress Partners With Publishers to Bring E-Books to iPods
Pokémon USA Releases Pokémon Learning League

Follett Acquires Sagebrush Corporation’s Library Automation Business

Follett Software Company and Sagebrush Corporation have announced that Follett has acquired Sagebrush Corporation's library automation business including Accent, InfoCentre, Athena, and Spectrum.

The Follett Announcement
The Sagebrush library automation business will initially operate under the Sagebrush name as a subsidiary of Follett Software Company and over time will be integrated into Follett Software Company.

In a statement in the Follett announcement, Tom Schenck, CEO of Follett Software Company, said, "Our highest priorities are to ensure that the transition from Sagebrush to Follett is seamless and simple and to keep our new customers involved and informed throughout the integration process. Consequently, as we make any future changes to the Sagebrush product line, we will work closely with our new Sagebrush customers to make the timing of upgrades to new technology as easy and seamless as possible."

The Sagebrush Announcement

Sagebrush Corporation's announcement stated that Sagebrush Books, Sagebrush Library Services, and Sagebrush Viewpoint will continue as a new separate company to be headed by Bob Hebrink as CEO and Margo Osadchuk as senior vice president. Jim Zicarelli, former CEO of Sagebrush Corporation will continue with the new company as a member of its board of directors.

Under Hebrink's new leadership, the company will focus on its core competencies of book services and library services to its business partners. As well, the company will focus on continued growth in the area of information management for districts with its Viewpoint product.

Sagebrush Books offers more than 500,000 titles of all binding types including high-quality pre-bounds. The company also offers online full text reviews and AR quizzes.

Sagebrush Library Services is focused on the cataloging and processing needs of K-12 schools and libraries, and its Dewey Sears database is known for its quality cataloging in the industry and contains nearly a million MARC records.

Sagebrush Viewpoint is a data warehouse and management tool for school districts. Viewpoint provides teachers, principals and administrators with a single intuitive view of data consolidated from multiple district sources, from student information systems and state standards assessment to human resources and finance..

Source: Follett Software Company, http://www.follett.com; Sagebrush Corporation (Sagebrush Books, Sagebrush Library Services, Sagebrush Viewpoint), http://www.sagebrushcorp.com

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National Federation of the Blind Shows Prototype TouchBook with Digital Capabilities

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently demonstrated a prototype tactile book with a computerized Touch User Interface (TUI). The book, "Touch the Earth," demonstrates how a paper-based Braille book with tactile images can be connected to supplemental digital content stored on a computer through the touch of a page.

The demonstration book includes five Braille pages, four tactile map images created from NASA satellite imagery, and an additional tactile page that serves as a remote control to access the associated digital content.

The NFB believes this innovative approach to educational material could serve as the guide to produce a full-scale book to help teach Earth Science concepts to both blind and sighted students.

The TUI technology from Somatic Digital enables regular printed pages to connect directly to digital content and communication protocols. When the print or tactile page is touched, a signal is sent to a computer to execute the associated command. The TUI technology is an open technology designed to enable educational publishers to create interactive digital and print hybrid workbooks, texts and supplements.

Somatic Digital, http://www.SomaticDigital.com/.

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Curriculum Associates Releases Science Vocabulary Series

Curriculum Associates released Passwords: Science Vocabulary for grades 3-12. The program is part of a series designed to help students develop academic language.

The series consists of nine books and companion CDs. The CDs provide an audio version of the reading passages for students who would benefit from listening to the passage multiple times.

The Series' Books C-H for grades 3-8 are aligned with science content standards and combine Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science. An alternate format is available for grades 6-8 to address state standards that require the instruction of a single science topic per grade (Earth Science, Life Science and Physical Science).

Books C and D are currently available. Book E and the topic-specific "Earth Science" title will be available in September 2006. The "Life Science" and "Physical Science" titles will be released in October 2006. The remainder of the series—Books F, G and H—will be available in December 2006.

Student books are $7.95 each. Teacher guides are $16.95 each. Audio CDs are $13.95 each.

Curriculum Associates, 800/225-0249 or http://www.cainc.com/.

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H.W. Wilson Launches Spell Checker for WilsonWeb

WilsonWeb's new Spell Checker is one of many new WilsonWeb enhancements recently introduced in response to customer requests.

Spell Checker launches automatically when no results are returned for a search. The feature suggests alternate spellings for proper names, corporate names and any other words that produce no hits. Clicking on the suggestion launches an automatic search.

More than a simple dictionary, Spell Checker draws its terms from all the terms in the records of the database being searched. Also referenced are the latest names in the news, as well as far-flung people, places, corporations, slang and jargon.

Other new WilsonWeb enhancements include new "Subject Pathfinder" links at the top of results screens that allow users to search subtopics of their original search or search broader topics at a click. A "Search Builder" tool on the redesigned Search History screen now lets users combine past searches, refine searches or create new searches.

In addition, the layout of other WilsonWeb screens has been refined, with more prominent buttons and links that make WilsonWeb tools more accessible.

H.W. Wilson, 800/367-6770 or http://www.hwwilson.com/.

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Intel, NSF Fund PBS Engineering Series for Children

The Intel Corporation, the Intel Foundation, the National Science Foundation and others are underwriting "Design Squad," a live-action PBS series for 9-12 year-olds designed to get them excited about engineering.

The program's 13 episodes borrow from the world of reality television. Eight teens compete to design and build fantastic, whimsical and fully operational machines for real clients. The designs range from peanut butter and jelly sandwich-making machines to racecars.

Teams and team members are scored for their ability to think outside of the box and meet or surpass the demands of the challenge. Two twenty-something engineers (a male and a female) provide onsite guidance and occasional comic relief. Kids at home can interact with the series through a Web site, blogs and handheld devices.

In the final episode, the top two scorers will battle for a grand prize—a $10,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation to study science, engineering, math or technology.

"Design Squad" is taping in and around Cambridge, MA this summer and premieres on PBS in February 2007. The program, created by producers of the Emmy Award-winning series "ZOOM," is produced by WGBH Boston.

An educator's guide and training workshops will be offered to partners including the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Scouts USA, 4-H, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, National Academy of Engineering, National Engineers Week, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Society of Women Engineers.

"Design Squad" is also funded by Tyco Electronics, The Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation, the Noyce Foundation and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Intel, http://www.intel.com/.

WGBH Boston, http://www.wgbh.org/.

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Olympus, Tool Factory Award Classroom Grants

Olympus America Inc., in partnership with Tool Factory, Inc., has announced the winners of the Spring 2006 Classroom Grants Program designed to strengthen visual learning and education through digital imaging. More than 4,000 teachers have submitted projects to the Olympus/Tool Factory Classroom Grants Program since its launch in the spring 2005 and this is the third time that grants have been awarded.

Olympus and Tool Factory are continuing to support the Classroom Grants Program. The deadline for Winter 2007 entries is January 5, 2007, followed by the June 30, 2007, deadline for the Spring 2007 Classroom Grants Program.

The Spring 2006 Grant Winners:

The five winning grants were selected based on effective use of digital cameras and technology in the curriculum, high degree of student involvement, and creativity and fun.

· Dawn Conrad, Central High School, Zachary, Louisiana: A Star is Born!

The project explores nutrition and health as students build a multimedia illustrated how-to guide and cookbook of over 100 recipes. First students will build a recipe database and then, while working in teams, they will write, direct, act in, and film a cooking segment showing the preparation of many of these recipes. The project promotes discovery learning and exposes students to creative thinking, problem solving, organizational skills and teamwork.

· Marcy Anderson, Unadilla Elementary School, Unadilla, NY: Wanted - Dead or Alive!

This K - 3rd grade interdisciplinary curriculum combines art with English and Social Studies. Students must research a trickster from African folk tales and then create a "Most Wanted" poster of the character. The posters will feature a description of the suspect; charges against the suspect; a reward amount; contact info; and a photograph of the suspect created out of a clay model students have made of the trickster. Students will also animate a video of the trickster's story utilizing the clay model.

· Ganan Fannin, Tilden Hogge Elementary School, Morehead, Kentucky: The Flat Stanley Project

This project is based off of Jeff Brown's book, Flat Stanley in which a bulletin board flattens a young boy. Students will create two of their own flat Stanleys and the first will be used in classroom activities in math (calculate how many Stanleys it takes to cover the length of the hallway), language arts (write a new ending to how Stanley re-inflates himself), nutrition (research into flat foods) and more. The second Stanley will be mailed around the world with a questionnaire about the destination area as well as a request for images of the destination area to be returned with the questionnaire.

· Kila Henry, Northeast Nodaway R-V High School, Ravenwood, Missouri: Technology as a Tool of Science

This high school biology and environmental science class proposal will supplement the science curriculum. Students will work in "Stream Teams" to monitor water quality and to tackle environmental problems at the local level. Digital cameras will be used in photo point monitoring which is a quick, effective method for documenting change in vegetation and soil through repeat photography and the software will be used to create a visual database of the sampling site.

· Jean Pollack, Warren Project TEACH/TEC, Port Murray, New Jersey: The Mini-Me People Iditarod

Each year this alternative high school for pregnant teenagers and students at risk studies the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. For this project, students will build their own sled, utilizing Tool Factory software to make the schematics of the sled and the Olympus digital cameras to capture the phases of construction. Upon the sled's completion, students will host their own Iditarod, pulling one another in a race to the finish.

Each of the five grant winners receives $3,550 in prizes that include three Olympus FE 130 5.1 megapixel digital cameras, Tool Factory Workshop software for project building, 30 Digital Camera Basics books and $500 cash. The 11 runners-up will each receive a Tool Factory software site license, a value of $2,000.

Educators can visit http://www.toolfactory.com/olympus_contest to complete a one-page online application for an opportunity to win one of the five classroom grants awarded in each program. The application requires only basic information from the teacher, a description of the proposed project for which the grant will be used, and a budget for up to $500. Grant winners are chosen by a panel of professional educators and educational technology specialists.

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

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TLC Introduces BiblioFile with Multilingual Cataloging

The Library Corporation (TLC) has announced the release of BiblioFile, a generational upgrade to the company's ITS•forWindows cataloging program. TLC has engineered the program to support the full range of scripts and languages sought after by technical services librarians. BiblioFile makes use of the user's Windows Regional and Language Options settings to display Unicode characters without changing fonts.

Libraries can use BiblioFile's USNP-aware Z39.50 client to access OCLC, RLIN, or TLC's own ITS•MARC service, a 29-million record copy cataloging resource. BiblioFile's new search dialog offers 37 access points, Boolean support, and fully configurable search and database settings.

Enhanced workflow features include the following:

* Multilingual cataloging, providing dynamic font substitution capabilities
* Result set filtering, in which users enter additional terms to narrow the result set. Catalogers can reconfigure columns on the fly to refine the display or compare groups of records.
* New help features, including advanced search capabilities within the Cataloger's Reference Shelf, Web links, and embedded video clips
* Browser component, allowing catalogers to visit Web Sites from within BiblioFile
* Full support of ISBN-13

Source: The Library Corporation, http://www.tlcdelivers.com

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Vantage Learning’s MY Access! Writing Program Aligns with Hampton-Brown High Point Series

Vantage Learning has announced it has released 59 writing prompts aligned to Hampton-Brown High Point Series in its latest version of the MY Access! online instructional writing program. These new prompts—aligned by level, thematic unit, and the scope and sequence of Hampton-Brown's reading program—are available for immediate use.

MY Access! is based on Vantage Learning's IntelliMetric engine, which uses a blend of artificial intelligence and the digitization of human expertise to assess a student's competency and progress in writing.

Administrators can now select and assign writing prompts aligned to Hampton-Brown's reading solution. Teachers can drill down on specific weak and strong skills by domain. Such prescriptive feedback and support develops student writing skills, and is critical for achieving adequate yearly progress (AYP) in writing, according to the announcement.

MY Access! contains multilingual dictionaries, a thesaurus, word banks, spelling and grammar checkers, writing editors, multilevel tutoring, and other tools to help students develop their writing skills. Students can write and revise their writing, and reinforce new skills through practice. Students who are English Language Learners can select other languages as their feedback language, and receive additional tips on how to improve their English writing skills. With the MY Access! program, students maintain their work in an online portfolio that contains their initial draft, evaluation scores, and subsequent revisions.

Teachers can review any individual student's portfolio, provide comments, and track the overall class portfolio to manage writing instruction.

For more information regarding MY Access!, visit http://www.vantagelearning.com/myaccess.

Source: Vantage Learning, http://www.vantagelearning.com

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Facts On File Announces Launch of Redesigned History Online Databases

Facts On File has announced the launch of their six completely redesigned history online databases. The redesign features a sharp new look, a user-friendly interface, increased functionality, and lots of additional content, according to the announcement.

The redesign features the following enhancements:

New User-Friendly Interface—The new color palette and reorganized layout combine increased functionality with a strong visual appeal.
Browse Function—Users can browse Biographies, Events and Topics, Primary Sources, Timelines, an Image Gallery, and Maps and Charts.
Learning Centers—Learning Centers help students and researchers find new ways to explore the content in the history databases. Each Learning Center is composed of hand-picked entries specifically chosen to provide a broad, inclusive look at an era or subject, to help users find a starting point for their research. The linked entries cover people, events and topics, primary sources, and further resources such as images, maps and graphs, and chronologies (plus comprehensive overview essays in some).
Tabbed Search Results—Search results are now organized within tabs, by record type. Users click on the tabs to move between different types of resources on the search results page, and they can also scroll to the next or previous entry in the search results list from within each article.
High-Interest Topic Spotlights—Special feature boxes in each database highlight specific topics of interest and provide quick links to related materials. Examples are Editor's Selections of the Month that highlight an event tied to each month, Focus On features that spotlight relevant topics, and more.
Powerful Cross-Search—Users who subscribe to two or more of Facts On File's history databases will be able to search across all the history databases on their subscription.

Facts On File's six redesigned history online databases include:

American History Online
African-American History Online
American Indian History Online
American Women's History Online
Modern World History Online (formerly called World History Online)
Ancient and Medieval History Online (formerly called Ancient History & Culture)

Source: Fact On File, http://www.factsonfile.com

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IPREPpress Partners With Publishers to Bring E-Books to iPods

iPREPpress, an educational content provider for the iPod, has announced it has partnered with large publishing houses, including Merriam-Webster, Encyclopedia Britannica, Gareth Stevens, and Spark Notes, to bring content to the iPod.

iPREPpress materials are available on their site, http://www.ipreppress.com, and once downloaded can be used immediately. On the site, users can find content on everything from study materials to sports stats.

iPREPpress LLC was formed to provide downloadable educational study and reference content on the iPod. In the process, iPREPpress developed technology that displays text with embedded hyperlinks to audio narratives and images that provide in-depth information of the highlighted subject matter.

Source: iPREPpress LLC, http://www.ipreppress.com

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Pokémon USA Releases Pokémon Learning League

Pokémon USA has announced the release of Pokémon Learning League, a Web-based educational suite of animated, interactive lessons in language arts, math, science, and life skills for grades 3-6. Drawing upon current research and instructional strategies, the program is aligned with state and national standards and is designed to help teachers reinforce concepts taught in the classroom.

Pokémon Learning League uses a variety of instructional techniques and activities to help educators adapt instruction to accommodate a range of student abilities and a multitude of learning styles. Through its animation and interactive lessons, the program illustrates key concepts in a way that is accessible and easy to comprehend, helping students who may not have fully grasped the material through other teaching methods, the announcement states.

Lessons are presented in a three-step format that provides guided and scaffolded instruction for students:

1) Watch: The lesson begins with a narrative-based animated segment in which students, along with the Pokémon characters, are introduced to the educational concept.

2) Try: Next, students collaborate with the characters to explore and interact with the material, receiving feedback and support to help deepen their understanding.

3) Apply: After practicing with the material, students have an opportunity to apply what they have learned to interactive challenges.

Throughout the program, Pokémon characters demonstrate creative problem-solving skills and prosocial behaviors such as teamwork and skill building to serve as models for students, according to the announcement. Each lesson is designed to be approximately 10 minutes in length and is accessible online. Students can move through the lessons at their own pace.

Educators and students can enjoy free online access to Pokémon Learning League until October 31, 2006. The program will be available to schools, households, and after-school programs on a subscription basis following the free trial period.

For more information, visit http://www.PokemonLearningLeague.com. A report detailing the research basis for the new product is available to view and download from the Pokémon Learning League homepage.

Source: Pokémon USA, Inc., http://www.pokemon.com/

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