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October 28, 2008

Table of Contents

ePals Launches 2008 Election Central
Cool Links: Presents Monster Vote 2008
Bull Announces the Collaboration Education Appliance to Connect Schools, Students, and Parents Using Social Networking Technology
Application Deadline for Picturing America Extended Until November 14
Information Today, Inc. Announces Publication of Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries
SMART Introduces Student Edition of SMART Notebook Software
PlumChoice Offers 24x7 Remote Computer Service Through Partnership Programs for Schools and Universities
Aventa Learning Offers Additional Online Courses for Middle School
MMIS Reviewer Alice Kurtz Named "American Star of Teaching"
Free Resources: PBS KIDS Island at PBS KIDS Raising Readers Website
Partnership for 21st Century Skills Launches P21 Professional Development Affiliate Program

ePals Launches 2008 Election Central

ePals, Inc., has announced the launch of 2008 Election Central ( with an eye to helping students address questions such as these: How does a U.S. presidential election work? What are the major issues facing both U.S. voters and citizens of the world? Which candidate for President would lead to betterment of lives all over the world? Providing an online space for students and teachers to connect with peers worldwide to discuss the upcoming U.S. presidential election, this issue-oriented group brings together a series of activities, projects, and resources to create learning moments for students around a topic of global importance, according to the announcement.


Available to all members of the ePals Global Learning Community, Election Central frames the topic of the U.S. election around four main platforms: The Election Process, Meet the Candidates, Inside the Issues, and Media Influence. Each platform provides students opportunities for intelligent exchange, access interactive resources, and the opportunity to voice their opinions on real-world election issues. In Election Central's blog and forums, students can weigh in on various election topics, answer daily thought-provoking questions, and compare and contrast different election processes around the world. Election Central also provides a teacher-led unit and a forum for teachers to connect with their colleagues around the world to discuss best practices and to gain additional perspectives on the election and its global effects.


Election Central is sponsored by Disney through its education-focused brand, Schoolhouse Rock.


For more information about Election Central, visit

Source: ePals, Inc.,

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Cool Links: Presents Monster Vote 2008 is hosting Monster Vote 2008, an exercise designed to help students understand the election process and a contest offering one lucky class a chance to win a set of Monsters books from KidHaven Press.

In the Monster Vote election, Frankenstein, Godzilla, and Mermaid are vying for the vote as Top Monster. The election campaign includes an exclusive debate and an opportunity to vote. Free Monster campaign materials are available on the Monster Vote 2008 Web site at

Teachers can poll their classes and cast a vote online at One vote per class; the voting mailbox is open through Nov. 15, 2008. Teachers should include their name, email address, school name, address, and phone number.

The election results will appear in the December issues of Gale’s It’s Galementary and CurricuLinks! e-newsletters.

Gale/Cengage Learning, or

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Bull Announces the Collaboration Education Appliance to Connect Schools, Students, and Parents Using Social Networking Technology

Bull has announced the Collaboration Education Appliance, a family of interconnected services that enhance the value of dialog inside and outside the school firewall using Web 2.0 software applications. The integrated suite delivers blog, wiki, and forum capabilities that are simple, easy to use, and together deliver more than any one individual application.


Expertly selected Open Source Web 2.0 collaboration tools have been validated and integrated with value-added capabilities. These applications are combined with NovaScale hardware from Bull to provide a superior solution.


The Collaboration Education Appliance can help educators:

- Create an online class destination for students and parents

- Post assignments and reminders for students about everything from homework to a school event

- Enable discussions about topics of interest to students

- Set up team projects


The Collaboration Education Appliance includes the latest Intel 64 Xeon 3000 dual core processor, 4GB RAM, 1 TB internal storage (expandable), rack or tower configuration, preinstalled and configured applications, and a one-year license.


Value-added capabilities include:

- Firewall protection

- Automated content backup

- Sophisticated security

- Automated installation into the school network


For additional information about the Bull Collaboration Education Appliance, visit

Source: Bull,

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Application Deadline for Picturing America Extended Until November 14

Libraries and schools now have until November 14, 2008, to apply for an innovative, free teaching tool called Picturing America. Picturing America, presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), provides high-quality reproductions of great American art to public libraries and K-12 schools to enhance the study of history, social studies, language arts, literature, and civics.


Public libraries; K-12 public, private, parochial, and charter schools; and home school consortia in the U.S. and its territories are eligible to receive Picturing America materials, which include:

* Forty large, high-quality color reproductions of the selected masterpieces (24" x 36")

* A comprehensive teacher’s resource book providing a wide range of ideas and background information to support educators using the works of art in core subject areas

* Lesson plans and additional resources available through the Picturing America website,


Through this partnership, IMLS will help to build the capacity of public and school librarians to use the Picturing America materials in a variety of programs for the benefit of their communities.


Applications are being accepted now through November 14, 2008, with delivery scheduled for spring 2009. Previous recipients of the Picturing America collection are not eligible for a second award. Application information and testimonials from librarians and educators at can be found on the Picturing America website. Library districts and school libraries may apply for every institution in their jurisdiction with one application.


So far, 26,320 public libraries and schools across the nation have been awarded Picturing America materials. In addition, the NEH and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families are making Picturing America available to the 20,000 Head Start centers to enhance early childhood development and family literacy. This is independent of the current application period.

Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services,

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Information Today, Inc. Announces Publication of Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries

Information Today, Inc. (ITI) has announced the publication of Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries: Librarians and Educators in Second Life and Other Multi-User Virtual Environments, edited by Lori Bell and Rhonda B. Trueman.


Eighty percent of Internet users are expected to engage in some form of virtual world activity by 2011 (Gartner Research Group), and librarians and educators are already there. Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries—the brainchild of editors Bell and Trueman—is designed to help libraries and schools recognize the importance of multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) and consider ways of getting involved as they proliferate. The editors and 24 contributors describe innovative library, educational, and cultural projects they have undertaken. They recount their experiences working together to succeed in Second Life and other virtual worlds and explain how traditional library services such as reference, teaching, collections, discussion groups, and young adult programs can be applied in a virtual environment.


Contributors to Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries include these librarians and educators who have done pioneering work in MUVEs:

Tom Peters

Marty Grover

Jami Schwarzwalder

Bill Sowers

S. Thompson

J. J. Jacobson

Kelly Czarnecki

Guus van den Brekel

Carol Perryman

Abbi Ball

Erik Gordon Bainbridge

Mack Lundy

Mary-Carol Lindbloom

DaisyBlue Hefferman

Barbara Galik

Skip Burhans

J. B. Hill

Todd Spires

Geraldine Purpur

Louise Ochoa

Susan Payne

Rachel Gollub


In addition to an introduction by Bell and Trueman and the foreword by Stephen Abram, Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries features an Afterword, a glossary, and an index. As a bonus for readers the editors maintain a companion website to the book.


Lori Bell is Director of Innovation at the Alliance Library System and has served as project manager for the Alliance Virtual Library in Second Life since its inception in April 2006.


Rhonda B. Trueman, Reference Librarian with Johnson and Wales University, Charlotte, NC, serves as liaison to the College of Business and as Vice-Chair of the Library Committee. She has served as the Assistant Director/Director of Operations for the Alliance Virtual Library in Second Life, and is an adjunct lecturer for continuing education virtual world classes through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Virtual Worlds, Real Libraries: Librarians and Educators in Second Life and Other Multi-User Virtual Environments (272 pp/softbound/$39.50/ISBN 978-1-57387-361-1) is published by Information Today, Inc. It is available in bookstores and direct from the publisher. For more information, or to order the book, visit


Source: Information Today, Inc.,

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SMART Introduces Student Edition of SMART Notebook Software

SMART Technologies has announced the student edition of SMART Notebook, the collaborative learning software used with all SMART Board interactive whiteboards and displays, Senteo interactive response systems, Sympodium interactive pen displays, and AirLiner wireless slates. SMART Notebook SE gives technologically literate, 21st-century students a learning tool that capitalizes on their sophisticated technology use, reflecting the way today’s students think and organize ideas, the announcement states.


SMART Notebook SE allows students to create, share, organize, and store digital files just like their teachers. Students can also use the software’s scheduling and organizing features to keep track of homework assignments and due dates, take notes, and highlight important concepts. As a flexible learning tool that supports individual, small group and whole-class learning, SMART Notebook SE helps students create, deliver and manage interactive lessons and resources, according to the announcement. The application runs on student desktops, laptops, ultra-mobile PCs, PDAs, and tablets.



My Binder – Helps students organize their schedule and assignments based on tags they assign to their SMART Notebook files

My Home – Allows student to personalize SMART Notebook SE software with their own photos and images

Tag clouds – Locate files quickly via keywords in Web 2.0 tag clouds

SMART Notebook Gallery – Includes thousands of copyright-cleared images, backgrounds and multimedia files for use in developing reports, presentations and other materials; includes more than 6,600 clipart images; students can also add their own images, and audio and video files.


SMART Learning Marketplace – Provides access to the SMART Learning Marketplace, a subscription-based online resource library with more than one million pieces of copyright-cleared educational content

The suggested education price for SMART Notebook SE is US$34.99 per student. SMART Notebook SE will be available in February 2009. For more information, specifications, and a list of SMART authorized resellers, visit

Source: SMART Technologies,

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PlumChoice Offers 24x7 Remote Computer Service Through Partnership Programs for Schools and Universities

PlumChoice, a provider of remote technical support services, has announced it is now making its 24x7 internet-based computer services available to students and faculty at schools and universities. Via the internet, PlumChoice’s technicians take temporary control of the troubled computer while the user watches – even at 3 am or on holidays – eliminating the delays associated with repair shop visits, technician house calls, or do-it-yourself fixes with instructions from a call center, the announcement states.


PlumChoice offers a variety of services ranging from one-time maintenance to monthly single-service and comprehensive coverage packages.


Options include a PlumChoice PC Tune-up at $129.95 that cleans and checks the user’s machine for viruses, spyware, unnecessary files and various performance problems; a $9.95/month online Backup & Assist program that protects all of the user’s papers, pictures and music against data loss; and a $9.95/month Protect & Assist program that ensures that users don’t lose their English paper, chemistry calculations or reams of research to spyware or viruses, according to the announcement. 


For information on partnering with PlumChoice, visit

Source: PlumChoice,

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Aventa Learning Offers Additional Online Courses for Middle School

Aventa Learning has added 20 online middle school courses to its catalog of courses for grades 6-12.  With the new courses, Aventa offers a full range of standards-based core and elective middle school subjects, including language arts, math, science, social studies, world language, health, and art.


The National Middle School Association states that one of the characteristics of successful middle schools is a relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory curriculum that caters to young adolescents.  Aventa has designed its online middle school curriculum to help schools meet this standard and the needs of young adolescent students in the following ways:

Pacing - Classes are broken up into weekly "lessons," approximately five hours of work each week, to keep students on track.

Interdisciplinary connections - Courses draw upon other subject areas for cross-subject learning.  For example, a math lesson on probability illustrates an example using the chance of rain to integrate science concepts.

Using assessment for learning - Courses incorporate a research project or "web quest" to develop students' content-area knowledge and 21st century skills, while also enabling the teacher to assess student understanding of the subject and the research process.

Critical thinking skills - Lessons include a range of activities, such as compare and contrast projects, to prompt students to use higher order thinking skills rather than simply memorize facts.

Relevancy - Course elements draw parallels to activities and topics that interest 10-15 year-old students to engage them in the learning process, such as using skateboarding to introduce a math concept.

Exposure to community service - Students can chose from several age-appropriate community service projects outlined in the courses.  This instructional strategy satisfies young students' desire for public service, motivates them in the learning process, enriches the overall lesson plan, and helps students understand their role in the world around them.


Aventa's courses enable schools and districts to incorporate online education programs into their curriculum to broaden their course offerings and individualize instruction while minimizing staffing and facility costs.  To ensure successful online learning, Aventa trains educators who are designated as the school's student mentors and provides a dedicated learning coach who is available to answer questions and provide best practices to school or district staff.


For detailed course descriptions and full course catalog, go to

Source: Aventa Learning,

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MMIS Reviewer Alice Kurtz Named "American Star of Teaching"

MultiMedia & Internet @Schools product reviewer Alice Kurtz was recognized last week as an American Star of Teaching by the United States Department of Education.

Kurtz, a 5th/6th grade teacher at Weber Elementary in Iowa City, is the recipient of the 2008 Iowa American Star of Teaching Award.

She was nominated for the award by a group of parents of current and former students.

You can read about the surprise recognition ceremony in an Iowa Press-Citizen newspaper article posted online at

Congratulations, Alice! Your colleagues, readers and friends at MultiMedia & Internet @Schools magazine applaud you!

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Free Resources: PBS KIDS Island at PBS KIDS Raising Readers Website

PBS and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) have announced the launch of PBS KIDS Island, the centerpiece of the new PBS KIDS Raising Readers website (, which provides free reading games and activities for children, parents, caregivers, and teachers to use at home or in the classroom. Developed through a cooperative agreement of the U.S. Department of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Ready To Learn Partnership, and funded by a Ready To Learn grant, the initiative extends PBS KIDS efforts to provide engaging and educational content on-air and on-line, paving the way for cross-platform learning as internet access increases in homes, schools, and libraries.


PBS KIDS Island gives children the tools to build an online island carnival by playing reading games with PBS KIDS characters. Providing a familiar and comfortable environment for emerging readers, the research-based program guides children through seven different literacy-building levels, including rhyming, letter identification, alliteration, phonics, letter sequencing, phonemic awareness, and reading/vocabulary. PBS KIDS Island is currently serving the needs of children ages two-to-five, with plans to offer content for children ages six-to-eight in 2009.


PBS KIDS Island Highlights:

*     Educational reading games from PBS KIDS Raising Readers programs, SESAME STREET, BETWEEN THE LIONS,  SUPER WHY and WORDWORLD;

*     A steady progression of skill sets as emerging readers play through seven core reading skill levels, from phonological awareness to letter sequencing and vocabulary;

*     A progress tracker assists parents as they cultivate their child’s learning, and enables teachers to chart progress for an entire classroom with detailed reports on each child’s needs and successes;

*     Printable lesson plans and recommended daily reading activities to continue learning off-line;

*     "Word of the Day" activities to build vocabulary; and

*     Educational videos.


For more information, visit PBS KIDS Raising Readers at

Source: PBS,

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Partnership for 21st Century Skills Launches P21 Professional Development Affiliate Program

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has launched the P21 Professional Development Affiliate program. a new program that will establish a network of experts who are specialists in  helping states and districts design and implement 21st century skills via targeted professional development programs.
Nearly 30 people from 11 organizations were the inaugural participants in the program, including the Arizona K-12 Center, Atomic Learning, the Center for Education Innovation and Regional Economic Development, EdVantia, EdVenture Group, Learning Point Associates, Metiri Group, National Education Association, Pearson, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, and Virtual High School.
As affiliates in the P21 Professional Development Affiliate program, participants now form a specialized cadre armed with the resources required to align their already robust professional development programs with the Partnership's Framework for 21st Learning - which makes clear the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life. Program participants are also able to assist others looking to align the Framework into existing models. The design of the program allows for differentiation within states to ensure 21st century skills fit seamlessly into existing state standards and policies.
The affiliate program is designed for national, state, and regional organizations that provide training and professional development programs to school administrators and instructional leaders. Upon completion of the program, participants become part of a national community committed to infusing 21st century skills into K-12 instructional practices and sharing their work with colleagues.
For more information on the P21 Professional Development Affiliate program or the services offered by the P21 affiliates, visit


Source: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills,

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