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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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April 17, 2007

Table of Contents

U.S. Department of Education Study: Educational Software May Not Raise Test Scores Significantly
Joint Statement of CoSN, ISTE, SETDA on New U.S. ED Study on Software Effectiveness
Princeton Review Offers Free College Entrance Practice Tests
Florida Educational Technology Conference: Call for 2008 Presentations
Free Resources: Spike Lee HBO Hurricane Katrina Documentary and Curriculum
Free Resources: PBS Teachers—Math
Free Resources: Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities' “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers”
Free Resources: World Book Spotlight on “Earth: The Living Planet”
EBSCO’s NoveList Plus Nonfiction Readers’ Advisory Service Coming Soon
ABC-CLIO and EBSCO Publishing Announce New Distribution Partnership
ITI Cross Links: Thomson Gale Launches New Reference Web Site
GenevaLogic Introduces Key Pad Access to Vision Classroom Management Software Announces the Ernie Colón Author Program

U.S. Department of Education Study: Educational Software May Not Raise Test Scores Significantly

Test scores were not significantly higher in classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software products than those in control classrooms, according to a new study released by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

The study, titled "Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software: Findings from the First Student Cohort," was published on April 4. The research focused on 16 products selected for review and grouped into the areas of first grade reading, fourth grade reading, sixth grade math, and algebra.

Some substantial variation was found among schools in terms of the effects on student achievement. For first grade, effects were larger in schools with smaller student-teacher ratios. For fourth grade, the effects were larger when teachers reported higher use of the study product.

The full report and an executive summary can be found online in PDF format at

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance,

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Joint Statement of CoSN, ISTE, SETDA on New U.S. ED Study on Software Effectiveness

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) have released the following statement in response to a U.S. Department of Education study, titled "Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products." The study reported that 15 educational software products reviewed had no measurable impact on student performance outcomes. The three organizations urge readers to scrutinize the findings carefully, as even the Department states that the study "was not designed to assess the effectiveness of educational technology across its entire spectrum of uses ... "

"In the past five years, emerging interactive media have provided ways to bring new, more powerful pedagogies and content to classrooms," said Dr. Chris Dede, Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies at Harvard University. "This study misestimates the value of information and communication technologies by focusing exclusively on older approaches that do not take advantage of current technologies and leading edge educational methods."

"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," said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.

"Modern information tools and digital content prove their value in schools all across the country every day when implemented, supported and assessed appropriately. We should support these effective approaches in the learning process because they provide students with the skills and resources they need to succeed in 21st century work and civic life," said Don Knezek, CEO of ISTE.

"Across the nation, educators are using a range of learning technologies to transform teaching and learning and improve student achievement. We have solid evidence that these efforts are working," said Mary Ann Wolf, Executive Director of SETDA.

Several scientifically-based studies funded by the U.S. Department of Education and conducted by independent research organizations show the positive impact technology is making to enhance learning and instruction and improve performance.

In Utah, Missouri and Maine, the eMINTS program, which provides schools and teachers with education technology, curriculum and over 200 hours of professional development, was responsible for students in the eMINTS classroom achieving over 10 to 20 percentage points higher than students in the control classroom. Additionally, in Iowa, after connecting teachers with sustainable professional development and technology-based curriculum interventions, student scores increased by 14 percentage points in 8th grade math, 16 points in 4th grade math, and 13 points in 4th grade reading, when compared with control groups.

The organizations agree that technology has fundamentally transformed every sector in the United States economy. Parents understand the need for technology in schools, and kids live in a digitally-rich world. There is no question that our schools should reflect these realities. As we consider America's competitiveness, we cannot allow one narrow study to derail the progress technology is making in education in our 21st Century global economy.

Source: Consortium for School Networking,

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Princeton Review Offers Free College Entrance Practice Tests

The Princeton Review will offer free practice college entrance tests on April 28.

The company's National Testing Day gives students access to practice SAT, ACT or Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) materials. The PRA provides samples of SAT and ACT questions in a single test designed to help test-takers discover which test best showcases their test-taking strengths.

The Princeton Review will administer the full-length practice SAT, ACT or PRA tests in locations nationwide. The free proctored exams will be offered in realistic testing settings. Students will receive a detailed score analysis to help them understand how to focus their time and energy when preparing for the actual exam.

For information and test sites, go to or call 800-2Review.

The Princeton Review, or 800-273-8439.

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Florida Educational Technology Conference: Call for 2008 Presentations

The Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) is seeking Applications to Present for consideration for the 55-minute sessions to be held on Thursday, January 24, and Friday, January 25, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. A total of 200 sessions will be selected.

An online Application to Present form can be found at The form provides information on areas of focus for FETC 2008.

If you are unable to submit an application online, contact FETC for instructions. The e-mail address is

The application deadline is July 13, 2007.

FETC, or 850-219-9600.

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Free Resources: Spike Lee HBO Hurricane Katrina Documentary and Curriculum

A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation will make Spike Lee's HBO Hurricane Katrina documentary and a companion curriculum available at no cost for use by high school, college and community educators.

The full-length documentary, "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," won the 2006 George Polk Award for Documentary Television for Spike Lee and the film's producer and editor, Sam Pollard. The documentary was rated TV-14 when it was aired by HBO.

The film presents the experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic conditions living in New Orleans during the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. The four-part documentary tells the story of one of the greatest natural disasters experienced in this country and the failure at all levels of government to respond adequately to the tragedy.

The free curriculum package includes the complete documentary in a two-disk DVD set and a multi-disciplinary curriculum guide titled "Teaching the Levees: A Curriculum for Democratic Dialogue and Civic Engagement to Accompany the HBO Documentary Film Event." The curriculum was developed by faculty members at Columbia University's Teachers College.

The curriculum provides individual chapters on history, media literacy, civics, economics and geography. To help students explore the tragedy, each lesson offers discussion questions connected to the stories in the documentary. The guide also features resources such as a detailed timeline of the hurricane and its aftermath and a map of the New Orleans levee system.

Educators can sign up online now at to receive a copy of the documentary and curriculum. The package, available in late summer 2007, will be offered as long as supplies last.

The program is a collaboration of The Rockefeller Foundation, HBO Documentary Films and Teachers College Press.

Teaching the Levees,

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Free Resources: PBS Teachers—Math

The Internet Scout Project's Scout Report is often a great source for library-, information-, and/or education-related Web resources, so we monitor it faithfully. In the April 13 Scout Report is a description and pointer to PBS Teachers: Math that we think you should know about. In part, the report noted:

PBS has developed a number of websites for educators, and their PBS Teachers site has received a number of accolades … First-time visitors [can] use the drop-down menus here to select a grade range and a topic that interests them…

Read the entire (brief) Internet Scout report about this site HERE, or cut straight to the PBS Teachers: Math site HERE.

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Free Resources: Library of Congress/National Endowment for the Humanities' “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers”

The Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities have announced that "Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers" is debuting with more than 226,000 pages of public-domain newspapers from California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, Virginia, and the District of Columbia published between 1900 and 1910. The fully-searchable site is available at

"Chronicling America" is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress created to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with select digitization of historic pages as well as information about newspapers from 1690 to the present. Supported by NEH's "We the People" program and Digital Humanities Initiative, this digital resource will continue to be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress.

Over a period of approximately 20 years, NDNP will create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 from all U.S. states and territories. Also on the Web site, an accompanying national newspaper directory of bibliographic and holdings information directs users to newspaper titles in all formats. The information in the directory was created through an earlier NEH initiative. The Library of Congress will also digitize and contribute to the NDNP database a significant number of newspaper pages drawn from its own collections during the course of this partnership. For the initial launch the Library of Congress contributed more than 90,000 pages from 14 different newspaper titles published in the District of Columbia between 1900 and 1910.

Source: The Library of Congress,

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Free Resources: World Book Spotlight on “Earth: The Living Planet”

In preparation for Earth Day, April 22, 2007, World Book, Inc. is showcasing the planet in a free, multi-faceted content spotlight, "Earth: The Living Planet" ( The Earth content spotlight provides students, educators, and families with a detailed account of the geography, geophysical history, ecology, and exploration of the planet.

The site offers a comprehensive understanding of why Earth is able to support life, how the planet has changed over time, and what geologists and other earth scientists have learned as they've uncovered Earth's history. Biographies of scientists who have studied the planet, including British geologist Sir Charles Lyell, German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner, and Scottish geologist James Hutton, inspire students and teach them about how different sciences apply to the study of the planets. The World Book Earth site also provides a detailed account of people's impact on the planet.

Maps, interactive quizzes, illustrations, and photographs support the information presented. Students are encouraged to explore further through links to dozens of government, university, and science Web sites reviewed by World Book editors.

The World Book Earth spotlight also ties to state curriculum standards.

Source: World Book, Inc.

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EBSCO’s NoveList Plus Nonfiction Readers’ Advisory Service Coming Soon

EBSCO Publishing and NoveList are on schedule for the release of NoveList Plus—an enhanced version of the original database that will also include nonfiction titles. According to Duncan Smith, NoveList creator and product manager, NoveList Plus represents the company's most significant development effort in this product line since NoveList was first introduced in 1994.

A national survey of over 1,200 public librarians (conducted by NoveList in 2005) documented the need for a resource that does for nonfiction what NoveList does for fiction, according to the announcement. It also pointed out that existing bibliographic data will not meet the needs of nonfiction readers. In addition to this finding, the survey indicated that a nonfiction readers' advisory resource should contain browsing lists and lists of award winners as well as author read-alikes, reviews, and book discussion guides for popular titles. NoveList Plus will be an upgrade to NoveList, and will contain the entire NoveList service.

In addition to expanding its staff, NoveList is drawing on the expertise of many of the leading names in readers' advisory service to develop the product's title database and create the content that users need and expect from NoveList. Joyce Saricks, author of Readers Advisory Service in the Public Library (ALA, 2005); Neal Wyatt, author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to NonFiction (ALA, forthcoming 2007), and Dr. Robert Burgin, editor of Non-Fiction Readers' Advisory (Libraries Unlimited, 2004) are among the experts working with NoveList staff on this project.

NoveList Plus will be available in early 2008. In addition to including information on nonfiction titles, NoveList Plus will have a new interface and many additional user-requested features. More information about this new product will be available in June 2007 at the American Library Association meeting in Washington, DC.

Source: EBSCO Publishing,

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ABC-CLIO and EBSCO Publishing Announce New Distribution Partnership

ABC-CLIO has announced a new distribution partnership to make ABC-CLIO databases available through EBSCO Publishing.

With this new partnership, schools, public libraries, colleges, and university libraries will be able to work with their EBSCO representative to consolidate orders for ABC-CLIO databases with their orders for EBSCOhost databases. The databases will continue to be accessed via ABC-CLIO platforms, so customers will experience the same content through familiar interfaces with the added benefit of combined ordering through the EBSCO sales team.

The following resources are included in the agreement:

* History Reference Online-a newly released collection of reference eBooks
* World History: The Modern Era
* World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras
* World Geography: Understanding a Changing World
* American History
* American Government
* State Geography
* Issues: Understanding Controversy and Society-newly released
* United States at War: Understanding Conflict and Society

In a related move, ABC-CLIO's History Reference Online will also now be available in three different annual subscription packages. The Complete package, including nearly 550 full-text eBooks, will offer cross-searchable access to ABC-CLIO's full collection of history encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, and guides. The Premier collection will feature nearly 400 titles and the Elite collection will contain 250 titles. New titles will be added to all collections on a quarterly basis at no additional cost to the subscriber.

Source: ABC-CLIO,

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ITI Cross Links: Thomson Gale Launches New Reference Web Site

Thomson Gale has launched WiseTo Social Issues, a new reference Web site dedicated to exploring divisive topics. The reference site provides a balanced look at all sides of social issues and current events, including professionally written information on more than 100 subjects. Read the whole announcement HERE at Information Today, Inc.'s EContentMag site.

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GenevaLogic Introduces Key Pad Access to Vision Classroom Management Software

GenevaLogic has announced the launch of the Vision Teach-Pad, an enhancement to GenevaLogic's Vision classroom management software.

Vision is the first classroom management software to introduce push-button access to its most frequently used capabilities, the announcement states. Using a button on the Vision Teach-Pad, teachers share their computer screens with the entire class. Then using another button, they blank all student computer screens and lock the keyboards to secure student attention for a lesson. The Vision Teach-Pad also allows teachers to lock and unlock student Internet access with the touch of a button.

The Vision Class Kit includes a Vision Teach-Pad and two popular plug-ins, App-Control and Surf·Lock2. The Vision Class Kit is available for $999 per lab or classroom, with a limit of two per school.

In addition, the Vision School Kit and Vision School Kit Plus now include three Vision Teach-Pads for schools with fewer than 1,000 students ($3,999 per school) and five for schools with 1,000 or more students ($4,499 per school) at no additional cost.

The Vision School Kit includes school-wide licenses for Vision6, App-Control, SurfLock2 and Pointer. Teacher training materials are also included in this package. With the Vision School Kit Plus, schools customize their classroom management software system by adding either Protect-On2 for student desktop security or Print-Limit Pro for school-wide print management.

Individual Vision Teach-Pads are $79.

Source: GenevaLogic,

Back to Contents... Announces the Ernie Colón Author Program has announced that Ernie Colón and his book "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation" are highlighted in the latest original author program.

Released in December 2005, "The 9/11 Commission Report" provides a comprehensive look at the attacks of September 11, 2001, and describes the events that led up to them. Since the report comprises nearly 600 pages, it's safe to say the majority of Americans, including students, have not read it. To make the report's content more vivid and accessible, comics artist Ernie Colón, working with collaborator Sid Jacobson, produced "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation," published in 2006. 

A visual rendering of the information presented in "The 9/11 Commission Report," the book follows the original text word-for-word, using illustrations and timelines to bring life to the searing events of that infamous day. The powerful graphic adaptation offers secondary-level educators a compelling way to help students understand the impact of 9/11, and to put its events into a meaningful historical perspective.

In's author program, in a four-minute movie, Colón reveals the process of creating "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation," discusses the craft and language of "graphic continuity," and demonstrates how he draws his illustrations and makes his panels. The program also includes links to Web sites featuring information about 9/11 and the world of graphic novels. To view the Ernie Colón author program, visit original author programs include in-depth written interviews about the authors' background, books, and writing process, plus links to relevant Web sites and book guides. These resources bring authors and illustrators directly into libraries and classrooms, allowing students to learn first-hand how ideas, art, and text come together to create a book. For more information, or to sign up for a free 14-day trial, visit


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