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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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July 10, 2007

Table of Contents

Free Resources: Teaching Tools from the National Air and Space Museum
Free Resources: The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Online History Resources
CoSN Case Studies: The Value of Ed Tech Investment
Industrious Kid's imbee.com Social Networking Site for Tweens Announces Enhancements, New Features
ISTE Ed Tech Standards: The Next Generation
Interwrite Learning Updates Interwrite Pad
GenevaLogic Unveils On-Sight, Software for Providing a Safe Computer Learning Environment
Knowledge Adventure Introduces Knowledge Adventure Academy—Early Literacy
Knowledge Adventure Launches Knowledge Adventure Academy—Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension
Science Courses Added to eLearning's WebLessons
TakingITGlobal Report Highlights Best Practices in Global Education
Thinkronize Adds 21st Century Skills Resources and Tools to netTrekker d.i.

Free Resources: Teaching Tools from the National Air and Space Museum

The National Air and Space Museum offers a variety of classroom resources, including online activities and teaching materials, designed for use in learning across the curriculum.

The museum’s online activities include:

-Airplane Anatomy – A curriculum program focused on the Wright brothers and the first airplane.

-Black Wings – A curriculum program built around the stories of African-American aviation pioneers.

-CyberCenter – A simulated research center at the National Air and Space Museum. Students can try on the role of an intern (level one), a research assistant (level two) and a principal investigator (level three).

-Geography from Space - An online quiz that tests geography knowledge. The Geography from Space 2007 contest begins in the fall.

The Air and Space Museum also offers electronic field trips available via the Apple Learning Exchange, interactive videoconferenced lessons and professional development workshops.

In addition, free posters and classroom materials are available online.

National Air and Space Museum, http://www.nasm.si.edu/education/index.cfm.  

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Free Resources: The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Online History Resources

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History offers a free online slide show titled “Wilberforce, Lincoln, and the Abolition of Slavery” at www.gilderlehrman.org/collection/online/wilberforce/index.html.

The exhibit presents original documents and images that explore efforts between 1787 and 1865 to abolish slavery in England and America.

The Institute's additional online resources for teachers and students include:

-American History quizzes,
-Letters from America’s wars,
-Featured primary source documents,
-Historian’s podcasts,
-History Teacher of the Year information,
-Major topics in American History, and
-Traveling exhibitions for schools and libraries.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute also offers modules on major topics in American History and summer professional development programs for teachers.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 646-366-9666 or www.gilderlehrman.org.


 

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CoSN Case Studies: The Value of Ed Tech Investment

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) released two new case studies, illustrating how school districts in Iowa and Wisconsin measured and assessed the costs and benefits of planned technology projects.

The case studies are part of CoSN’s ongoing Value of Investment (VOI) Leadership Initiative. The VOI case studies are designed to help schools determine their educational goals and better understand how investments in technology will help to achieve them.

The Wisconsin district evaluated an investment in providing online learning as an alterative approach to traditional learning, as part of an effort to promote the concept of lifelong learning.

The Iowa district measured the costs and benefits of implementing formative assessment tools for primary school teachers to provide individualized instruction for improved student literacy.

In both cases, the school districts used CoSN’s VOI methodology to guide decision-making about technology projects under consideration. The methodology involves:

-Estimating project costs or TCO,
-Calculating anticipated savings and revenues,
-Measuring qualitative benefits,
-Assessing risk, and
-Evaluating results.

The studies are available online at www.edtechvoi.org/casestudies.  

CoSN, 202/861-2676 or www.cosn.org.  

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Industrious Kid's imbee.com Social Networking Site for Tweens Announces Enhancements, New Features

imbee.com (www.imbee.com), a social networking destination for tweens from Industrious Kid, Inc., has announced enhanced media features that enable a better user generated experience for their target demographic of kids aged 8-14. Expanding beyond its public beta incarnation, these new offerings establish the network as a destination to help foster creativity and build a more purposeful relationship between tweens and the Internet, according to the announcement.

Unlike the majority of tween oriented destinations, which are either fantasy-based virtual worlds or branded game and entertainment portals, imbee.com supports user generated content that is not corporate defined, allowing its members to personalize their own online user experience. All of imbee.com’s members can upload graphics and audio files, listen to music, watch exclusive video clips, or customize their blog spots with artwork and more.

The new offerings include:

· Enhanced User Interface – imbee.com’s new user interface has been enhanced to showcase the site’s tween community with unique features, widgets, and exclusive content.
· Audio and Video – imbee.com now provides its members with the ability to upload audio or video files directly into their blog spot, making it easy to share fun content or media with their approved circle of friends.
· Exclusive Media Library – Now members can select their favorite songs or music videos by accessing imbee.com’s exclusive media library. imbee.com hosts young stars in the entertainment industry, including Hilary Duff, The Cheetah Girls, Ashley Tisdale, Jordan Pruitt, Belinda, NLT, and more.
· Trading Card Maker – imbee.com has introduced a new custom digital trading card maker. This allows members to design and then personalize their own trading, photo and promise cards by either uploading their own graphics or by selecting images from imbee.com’s expansive graphics library.
· Widget Library – Now members can access imbee.com’s interactive widget library in order to choose from a large variety of single or multi-player games and activities.

Beyond its entertainment elements, imbee.com provides tweens, parents, educators, and Internet safety advocates with a viable, age-appropriate alternative to other open blogging and social networking sites, while including extensive security features. Built-in security features include user authentication, parental controls, controlled scope of publishing, content privacy, and more.

Because of its security features, imbee.com is also the only tween social network to have successfully launched a free school blogging program, now utilized by more than 500 schools and school districts representing every state in the continental U.S., according to the announcement.

For more information about Industrious Kid and imbee.com, please visit www.industriouskid.com.

Source: Industrious Kid, Inc., www.industriouskid.com

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ISTE Ed Tech Standards: The Next Generation

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) unveiled an update to its National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S) at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta.

The update was developed through the NET*S Refresh Project, which invited feedback from students and major stakeholders via town hall meetings convened throughout the country during the past year. The project included participation from 50 states and 22 countries, including China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Globalization emerged as a key new factor during the comment period. The new standards, grouped into six “buckets,” are:

-creativity and innovation,
-communication and collaboration,
-research and information fluency,
-critical thinking
-problem solving and decision making,
-digital citizenship, and
-technology operations and concept.

“The first set of standards was about learning to use technology. This set is about using technology to learn,” said David Barr, a retired educator and member of ISTE’s Accreditation and Standards committee.

ISTE launched a similar update project for its NETS for Teachers on June 24 at NECC. A refresh project for NETS for Administrators will be launched in 2008.

The NETS*S update appears online at http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/NETS_Refresh_Forum/NETS_for_Students_2007.pdf.

ISTE, 800/336-5191 or www.iste.org.  

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Interwrite Learning Updates Interwrite Pad

Interwrite Learning, manufacturer of Interwrite Interactive Classroom products, has announced updates to the Interwrite Pad wireless classroom pad. It now features an improved look and feel and includes Interwrite Workspace, the company’s next generation teaching software for the digital classroom.

Interwrite Pad is a Bluetooth wireless device that allows teachers to create an interactive whiteboard on any surface in their classroom. It gives teachers the freedom to move among their students, while being able to interact with their lesson materials projected at the front of the classroom using a standard digital projector, according to the announcement. Interwrite Pad provides both remote access and control of the teacher’s computer, in addition to lesson materials. When the Interwrite Pad is passed to students, it allows them to become directly engaged in the lesson without having to leave their seats. Multiple pads can be used in the same classroom to further increase student engagement and participation.

Every Interwrite Pad now includes Workspace, a next generation teaching program for the digital classroom. Current Interwrite Pad users can upgrade their system free of charge by visiting www.interwritelearning.com. Workspace provides teachers with over 4,000 digital teaching resources suitable for kindergarten to 12th grade classrooms. It  features the Interwrite Sims, an extensive library of educational Flash files that can be embedded into any lesson. These instructive animations and simulations engage students with movement, motion, and interactivity. Workspace also includes access to Interwrite’s online lesson library that includes hundreds of teacher created lessons. Using an in-page search tool, Workspace users can search by subject, grade and/or state.

Source: Interwrite Learning, www.interwritelearning.com

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GenevaLogic Unveils On-Sight, Software for Providing a Safe Computer Learning Environment

GenevaLogic has unveiled On-Sight, a new tool that helps educators keep students safe when they use computers and the Internet during the school day.

On-Sight monitors and records student online activity and computer use, helping teachers and administrators ensure it conforms to school and district acceptable use policies. Custom reports and automatic screen shots provide educators with information to guide responsible student computer use. In addition, On-Sight helps schools receiving E-rate discounts to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Acts (CIA) requirement that the online activities of minors be monitored for acceptable use.

A free 30-day evaluation copy of On-Sight is available for download at www.genevalogic.com. Pricing starts at $3,495 for a single server with up to 250 clients. Installations of 10,000 clients or more are supported. Volume discounts are available.

Source: GenevaLogic, www.genevalogic.com

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Knowledge Adventure Introduces Knowledge Adventure Academy—Early Literacy

Knowledge Adventure has introduced its new adaptive Knowledge Adventure Academy—Early Literacy for developing critical emergent literacy. Designed for students learning to read, the software’s design is based on research from a variety of sources including widely adopted research conducted by the National Reading Panel. The program aims to help teachers implement current strategies for reading improvement, as well as manage individual students’ literacy needs, regardless of the child’s initial skill set.

Knowledge Adventure Academy–Early Literacy conforms to national and state curriculum standards. The program systematically builds skills including alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, phonics, word building, spelling and decoding, according to the announcement. These skills are presented, practiced, and applied in various ways to ensure students’ success.

The program is made up of comprehensive lessons and a reading comprehension center approach delivered via computer-based technology, classroom materials, worksheets, decodable readers, electronic big books, and a take-home disc. This disc extends learning into the home, spurring parental involvement.

Knowledge Adventure Academy–Early Literacy allows the teacher to choose from a variety of classroom configurations such as whole class, small group, or individual learning. The program meets the needs of students with different learning styles and also reinforces classroom learning with progressive readers, in-class exercises, and classroom projects. Additionally, it provides correlated benchmarks.

The software is tailored to provide instructional control to the teacher using the classroom management tool. This capability allows teachers to group the class according to levels, assign specific skills that meet curriculum needs, track and report student progress, and share it with parents in both English and Spanish. It also features specific lesson plans correlated to skills, and teachers can customize by selecting from more than 270 included lessons.

Knowledge Adventure Academy – Early Literacy runs on Windows XP 2000 or 2003, as well as Macintosh OS X 10.4 systems. The software sells for $3,750 for a network license, for up to 500 students.

Source: Knowledge Adventure, www.knowledgeadventure.com/

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Knowledge Adventure Launches Knowledge Adventure Academy—Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension

Knowledge Adventure has launched a new research-based vocabulary building program, Knowledge Adventure Academy –Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension.

Knowledge Adventure Academy–Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension contains a Learning Zones Placement Test that places individual students at the level where they will learn and retain new words most rapidly. The software also provides 2,400 explicitly leveled vocabulary words that build background knowledge and contribute to improved reading comprehension. These “Core Literacy” vocabulary words are reinforced with high-quality audio pronunciations of all words and definitions.

The software’s TargetScores! Motivation & Mastery system encourages repetition via an activity-based Visual Learning Path that helps students achieve mastery and long-term retention. Students participate in vocabulary activities promoting word to definition understanding, words in context, and definition to word comprehension. Teachers are able to print out the vocabulary words and passages to practice fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Once students have mastered the vocabulary activities, the program moves them into the reading comprehension section featuring a Vocabulary-Based Reading Selector that uses students’ vocabulary performance to guide them to reading passages at the appropriate level of difficulty. The TargetScores! Motivation and Mastery System also aids comprehension by its encouragement of repeated reading. In addition, the program guides students with contextual hints on reading strategies such as main idea, facts, inference, and sequencing.

In addition to building students’ vocabulary and reading fluency, Knowledge Adventure Academy–Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension encourages good reading habits with features such as an Active Reading Window that helps break the habit of backtracking by training students to read passages in “chunks” rather than word by word, and by constantly moving the eye forward.

The program runs on Windows XP 2000 or 2003 as well as Macintosh OS X 10.4 systems, and sells for $6,250 for a building license, for up to 500 students.

Source: Knowledge Adventure, www.knowledgeadventure.com

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Science Courses Added to eLearning's WebLessons

eLearning Systems International has announced the addition of more than 200 science topics to its library of integrated Web-based courses for elementary and secondary school students. Units include biology, physical science, life science, and earth science.

WebLessons simplifies the process of using the Web as a teaching tool by providing teachers and students with instructions, study questions, vocabulary, quizzes, and inquiry-based projects centered on content from a wide range of online resources, according to the announcement. Among these resources are student-centered sites developed by leading museums and organization such as the Genetic Science Learning Center; government institutions such as NASA and the Department of Energy; media sites such as Discovery.com and PBS; and 25 U.S. universities plus the University of Leicester in the U.K.

As with other subject area courseware available through WebLessons, the new science curriculum follows a step-by-step learning path. First, students are introduced to the topic through a situated learning proposition that activates prior knowledge and generates interest. Next, WebLessons guides them through a series of Web resources related to the topic. Afterward, students take a short quiz to reinforce the newly acquired knowledge, and then they complete a final written project related to the initial scenario, making the entire activity circular.

In addition to whole-class instruction, WebLessons can be used as a directed self-study activity for the majority of a classroom while teachers provide assistance to individuals or small groups as needed. In addition, teachers can use the system's automated management features to manage student profiles, assign lessons, track student progress, grade lessons, and provide feedback.

WebLessons Science pricing starts at $450 per teacher per annual subscription. Teachers can use the system with an unlimited number of students.

Source: eLearning Systems International, www.elearningsystems.org

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TakingITGlobal Report Highlights Best Practices in Global Education

TakingITGlobal has launched its new report, "Making the Connection: Best Practices in Global Education and Collaborative Technologies" this week at the National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta. The publication features 15 case studies of educators from around the world who are integrating technology into project-based approaches to improve student learning and engagement. The best practices featured demonstrate how students' social uses of technology can be leveraged for constructive learning, and build on the growing trend among online social networking sites, including commercial sites like MySpace and Facebook, to connect youth to social issues and causes.

Making the Connection also highlights the winners of the 2007 Take Your Classroom Global! Contest, including Julie Lindsay of the Dhaka International School in Bangladesh and Vicki Davis of Westwood Schools in Georgia, who used wikis to create a collaborative online learning environment for their students to discuss and create media around Thomas Friedman's book The World is Flat. Other profiles include best practices from the School of the Future in Philadelphia, one-to-one laptop initiatives in Pennsylvania and Quebec, and Global Kids' Playing4Keeps program.

Making the Connection is available online at tiged.org/bestpractices. Print copies are available by request from education@takingitglobal.org

TakingITGlobal is an international, youth-led organization that promotes social networking for social good, providing opportunities for learning, capacity-building, cross-cultural awareness, and self-development through the use of Information and Communication Technologies. TakingITGlobal for Educators (TIGed.org) offers an innovative approach to global education through its online learning environment combined with the social networking tools and resources available on TakingITGlobal.org.

Source: TakingITGlobal, www.takingitglobal.org/

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Thinkronize Adds 21st Century Skills Resources and Tools to netTrekker d.i.

Thinkronize has announced the addition of a 21st Century Skills Channel to its educational search engine, netTrekker d.i. The new Channel provides educators and students with three pathways to find resources that support the core elements of 21st century skills:

- Life Skills focuses on character traits and personal habits.
- Learning and Innovation focuses on critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills.
- ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Literacy focuses on information and media literacy.

 Each of the three new pathways provides a "What are" and "How do I teach and acquire" section to meet the needs of users who are either new to or well-versed in 21st century learning.

 One example of the tools that educators will find in the 21st Century Skills Channel is the new custom-created Integration Models - preassembled units that include a lesson plan, procedures to integrate the lesson plan with 21st century skills objectives, and a model student project. For example, an Integration Model on Global Climate Changes includes links to a lesson plan that provides learning objectives and suggestions on how to incorporate 21st century skills, such as using digital imagery and online tools like Google Earth.

Educators can further enhance their students' information literacy skills by using a newly developed digital literacy template included in the 21st Century Skills Channel that asks a series of probing questions to help students critically evaluate digital resources.

In addition, the 21st Century Skills Channel provides links to a collection of free software tools and accompanying tutorials, including iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, and Audacity. Educators and students can access tutorials to learn how the program works and then use what they have learned to enhance projects while developing 21st century skills.

Thinkronize is working in tandem with other organizations, including Microsoft, Ford, the NEA, and Dell to support the 21st century skills movement. Recently, the company became one of 31 board members of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education.

Source: Thinkronize, www.thinkronize.com

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