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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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July 24, 2007

Table of Contents

Free Resources: “ISTE Island” in Second Life
Former MultiMedia Schools Editor Ferdi Serim Named to ISTE Board
Siboney PracticePlanet: Online Test Practice
Inspiration Software Celebrates 25 Years With Expanded 2007-2008 Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning Program
CDW-G School Safety Index Findings Released
ProQuest Announces Name Change to Voyager Learning Company
Free Resources: Olympus/Tool Factory Digital Wish Grant Program
Adobe Announces Visual Communicator 3
Cool Links: A Hipper Crowd of Shushers

Free Resources: “ISTE Island” in Second Life

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) now offers a center for networking and collaboration on its own virtual “island” in the Second Life multi-user virtual environment (MUVE).

The ISTE Second Life headquarters is located online at http://slurl.com/secondlife/ISTE%20Island/93/83/30. To access ISTE Island, you will be prompted to create a free Second Life account and avatar. Island visitors with Second Life accounts can log in here.

ISTE sponsors a Second Life networking group offering weekly networking socials and topical events for members. A twice-monthly speaker series in the online world covers breaking issues in educational technologies.

The ISTE Second Life program offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Volunteers serve as ISTE docents and new member greeters, give educational tours, build resources, and serve as presenters or panelists during events.

Additional information can be found online at www.iste.org/secondlife.

ISTE, 800/336-5191 or www.iste.org.


 

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Former MultiMedia Schools Editor Ferdi Serim Named to ISTE Board

Ferdi Serim, a former editor of Multimedia & Internet @Schools magazine (at the time known as MultiMedia Schools magazine), is among the new Board members of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Serim, the director of the Southwest Region, National Network of Digital Schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is at an At-Large Representative on the ISTE Board.

Also new to the Board are:

At-Large Representative – Jeanne Biddle, director of technology, Scott County Schools, Georgetown, KY.

Computer Science Representative – Stephen Rainwater, associate professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas at Tyler.

Corporate Member Representative – Deb deVries, vice president, Association and Event Marketing, Pearson Education, New Jersey.

International Representative – Ralph Leonard, general manager information economy, Government of South Australia: Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology.

PK-12 Schools Representative – Howard Levin, director of technology, The Urban School of San Francisco, CA.

State Technology Director Representative – Carla Wade, technology education specialist and Title I lead, Oregon Department of Education.

The new ISTE President, serving for two years, is Trina Davis, assistant professor and director of eEducation at Texas A&M University.

ISTE, 800/336-5191 or www.iste.org.  

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Siboney PracticePlanet: Online Test Practice

PracticePlanet offers an online test practice system that models standardized tests, giving students practice opportunities designed to develop confidence for annual testing.

The practice sessions are aligned to standards for 21 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Teachers can provide individual targeted practice. A comprehensive management system automatically aggregates data and provides real-time progress reports.

Gaming segments are used to motivate and reward students. Test-takers earn game time by the number of correct answers provided during practice sessions. Teachers control game access so that games do not interfere with test practice.

Annual subscription pricing begins at $1,995 for up to 250 students in all subjects (math, language arts, science) in all grades or $995 for one subject or one grade. Volume and various subscription discounts are available.

Siboney Learning Group, 800/351-1404 or www.practiceplanet.com.

 

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Inspiration Software Celebrates 25 Years With Expanded 2007-2008 Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning Program

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Inspiration Software has launched an expanded version of its Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning program. The 2007-2008 scholarships will recognize 25 educators who are creatively using visual learning to help their students think and learn with $1,000 awards to support professional development or new technology for their classrooms. In addition, one outstanding educator will receive a special award for "Best Overall Visual Learning Project." Applications for the annual program will be available September 25 at www.inspiration.com/scholarship.

The 2007-2008 Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning will recognize "Best Projects" using Inspiration Software's visual learning software tools. Eight awards will be given for "Best Projects using Inspiration"; eight will be awarded for "Best Projects using Kidspiration"; and eight scholarships will recognize "Best Projects using InspireData," Inspiration Software's new tool to visualize, investigate, and understand data.

In addition, one educator will receive the "Best Overall Project Award," recognizing the most innovative and creative use of any of Inspiration Software's visual learning software tools. This scholarship recipient's award will include $1,000 to support professional development or a technology purchase as well as a bonus $500 for the classroom and a $500 personal award.

This year's scholarship program builds on nine years of supporting educators' professional development training in visual learning and technology, the Inspiration announcement states. During the life of the program, Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning winners have come from all parts of the education community, including technology coordinators, school library media specialists, college and university faculty members, as well as K-12 teachers. Mirroring the worldwide adoption of visual learning in education, the company has received scholarship applications from countries such as Australia, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Educators from K-12 schools, colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the 2007-2008 Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning. A minimum of one year of service is required and applicants must demonstrate that they have direct contact with students. Educators may apply for the scholarships in multiple categories, but are only eligible to win one award. The deadline for application is January 25, 2008. The 2007-2008 Inspired Teacher Scholarships for Visual Learning winners will be announced February 25, 2008.

For more information and to sign up to receive news and information about the scholarship program, visit www.inspiration.com/scholarship.

Source: Inspiration Software, Inc., www.inspiration.com

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CDW-G School Safety Index Findings Released

CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G) has released the findings of the CDW-G School Safety Index, a research project benchmarking the current status of public school district safety. Based on 14 elements of physical and cyber safety, the survey of 381 school district IT and security directors highlights the indicators of strong district safety programs, as well as the barriers to school safety.

The CDW-G School Safety Index reveals that districts are having greater success with cyber security than physical security. Key findings from the School Safety Index include the following:

* School districts rely too heavily on technical solutions to protect networks and buildings and need to focus more attention on educating students about physical and cyber dangers
* Tech-savvy students are putting the district network and themselves at risk by sidestepping IT security procedures through measures like proxy servers
* Districts rely heavily on the telephone to communicate with faculty and parents during emergencies
* Lack of budget, staff resources, and proper security tools limit districts’ ability to protect themselves

CDW-G hopes districts will use the index to examine their particular security issues and how to address them better.

Cyber Safety

Out of a possible 110 points on the CDW-G cyber safety index, the districts surveyed scored 55.3. While many districts are monitoring student Internet activity (81 percent), blocking Web sites (95 percent), and placing computer monitors in view of adults (89 percent), only 38 percent have a closed district network to provide more control over communication and content access. A new challenge for IT directors, however, is the growing sophistication of tech-savvy students, who have figured out how to build proxy sites to get around closed networks.

Nearly every district reported having an acceptable use policy (AUP), but as with any policy, its strength lies in frequent dissemination and review with users. However, 37 percent of districts update their AUPs less than once a year. Popular social networking sites such as Facebook have just opened up to high school users in the last year, which means that many districts have no stated policy about students using district resources, especially bandwidth, to access these sites.

Additionally, the survey finds that just 8 percent of districts provide cyber safety training to students, despite the long-term effects of identity theft and the potential impact that inappropriate content can have on a student’s college and career plans. Districts report that they rely more on filtering software to protect networks than on actively engaging students to be part of the safety solution.

Physical Safety

Districts scored much lower on the physical safety index, with the national average at 44 out of a possible 160 points. Sixty-three percent of districts are utilizing security cameras, with many more considering their use over the next two years, but only 24 percent of districts report having real-time access to sex offender databases.

The survey also shows that districts have room to improve their emergency communication programs. During a campus emergency, districts report utilizing intercom systems most often (48 percent) to convey information to faculty. Phone calls are also the preferred method for reaching parents in an emergency, at 54 percent. Only 1 percent of districts are considering mass notification systems like text alerts to cell phones.

Call to Action

As half of all districts cite budget restraints as their primary barrier to improving security, the School Safety Index can help IT and security directors make the case for additional funding by helping district leaders understand the tools and resources that may prevent or mitigate security breaches, thereby lessening the long-term impact that a breach can have on a district. CDW-G also recommends that districts turn to peers and the vendor community to understand their options regarding new security technology and best practices.

  The CDW-G School Safety Index is based on a survey of 381 public school district IT and security directors. The survey was conducted online and by phone by Quality Education Data. The survey has a +/- 5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

For more information about school cyber safety, please visit www.cdwg.com/newsroom/schoolsafetyindex.

Source: CDW-G, www.cdwg.com

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ProQuest Announces Name Change to Voyager Learning Company

ProQuest Company has announced it has changed its name to Voyager Learning Company effective June 30, 2007. The name change is being made pursuant to the terms of the sale of ProQuest Information and Learning to Cambridge Information Group (CIG) in February 2007 under which CIG acquired the rights to the ProQuest name. Effective Monday, July 2, 2007, the Company's corporate Web site address changed to www.voyagercompany.com.

ProQuest Company is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and is a publisher of education materials and provider of education solutions serving the K-12 market. Through its product lines, which include Voyager Expanded Learning, ExploreLearning and Learning A-Z, the Company is a leading provider of K-12 curriculum products, in-school core reading programs, reading and math intervention programs, and professional development programs for school districts throughout the U.S.

Source: ProQuest Company/Voyager Learning Company, www.voyagercompany.com

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Free Resources: Olympus/Tool Factory Digital Wish Grant Program

Through the Olympus/Tool Factory Digital Wish program (www.digitalwish.com), every teacher has the power to earn funding, according to an announcement from Tool Factory. Like a wedding registry, teachers make their technology wishes public and tell their story, so that anyone can make a donation to their classroom's cart. Registered teachers will automatically qualify for 43 new technology grants from Olympus and Tool Factory, including a Mobile Digital Camera Lab. Grants are then awarded to the teachers with the best all-around class profile and lesson plans.

Regardless of whether teachers win a grant, their stories will be available for any potential donor to read, and later contribute to. Unlike most grants, Digital Wish provides a constant possibility of receiving funding for every applicant. The Digital Wish Web site also features a library of grant links and fundraising resources to help educators find additional funding for technology. There's also a library of lesson plans so that educators can find ideas for digital projects.

Teachers register once; all original lesson plans are eligible to win any grant opportunity. Three Mobile Digital Camera Labs worth $3,500 will be awarded annually. Every month, Olympus and Tool Factory will award digital cameras and podcasting software. Software site licenses will be given away in all core subject areas and special education. All grants will be judged based on:

 * Creativity and depth of the Digital Wish user profile.
 * Popularity of lesson plans.
 * Quality of lesson plan.
 * Activity of the Digital Wish user.

Olympus and Tool Factory invite educators to share their ideas and tell their stories on Digital Wish.

Visit Digital Wish at www.digitalwish.com and get the complete schedule of grant awards and deadlines.

Source: Tool Factory, www.toolfactory.com

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Adobe Announces Visual Communicator 3

Adobe Systems Inc. has announced Adobe Visual Communicator 3 software, which enables educators and students to create scripted, television-quality broadcasts. Designed for those new to video, the software is intended for project-based learning, distance learning courses and campus-wide newscasts. According to the announcement, with this new version, simplified templates and wizards give even inexperienced users the ability to create professional video presentations that can be streamed live over the Internet in the FLV format using Adobe Flash Media Server software, or output to a projector, television, or Channel One Closed-Circuit System.

Adobe Visual Communicator 3 eliminates traditional timelines, making video production faster and easier. Enhancements include new set-up wizards, drag-and-drop animated templates, and an interactive “Coach.” Similar to a professional television studio, users can preview up to three cameras at once while recording or presenting live with the mini-switcher feature to create interview-style videos in real time. In addition, a full-screen teleprompter allows the presenter to read scripts from a distance.

Adobe Visual Communicator 3 provides everything needed to create a television-quality news broadcast, the announcement states. Users can create a video presentation, set it to music, and enhance it with a library of newscast-style graphics, effects, and titles. This version offers an enhanced keyer that allows users to replace a solid green or blue background with an image, video, or graphic background and now includes stronger FLV support and enables users to produce live video content streamed using Adobe Flash technology. Additionally, Adobe Visual Communicator 3 can be used to narrate digital photo collections or video created with Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premiere Pro software. Finished projects can then be exported to Adobe Encore or Adobe Premiere Elements software and burned to a DVD.

Adobe Visual Communicator 3 for Microsoft Windows is expected to be available in an English language version at www.adobe.com in fall 2007. The full version of Adobe Visual Communicator 3 will be available for an estimated street price of US$399, and registered users of qualifying earlier versions of Visual Communicator can upgrade to Visual Communicator 3 for the estimated street price of US$149. Qualifying education customers can purchase the software for the estimated street price of US$169. To download a preview version of Visual Communicator 3, visit Adobe Labs at labs.adobe.com/.

More information on Visual Communicator can be found at www.adobe.com/go/vc3.

Source: Adobe Systems Inc., www.adobe.com

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Cool Links: A Hipper Crowd of Shushers

Here's a Cool Link all about librarians, and it's in the Style section of the New York Times online, no less! "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers" is a lightweight but dead-on look at the profession and the professionals—you, that is—who pursue it. Seems some folks, including this NYT reporter, are coming to recognize that not only are you important in the world of education and information, but you're cool and interesting as well. Find out why by linking to the article HERE.

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