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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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December 09, 2008

Table of Contents

ITI Cross Links: The Wisdom of Crowds of Librarians Is on the Way—In Time: Reference Extract
dana boyd to Keynote AASL National Conference
ePals and SnagFilms Partner to Premiere Educational Documentaries Online
Canvastic Launches Web Version of Canvastic Publishing Application for Primary Students
Siemens, Discovery Education Partner in Launch of Siemens Science Day Website
Google Launches Ancient Rome in 3D on Google Earth
H.W. Wilson Introduces Current Issues: Environment
Lexia Learning Systems Launches New Version of Lexia Reading Software

ITI Cross Links: The Wisdom of Crowds of Librarians Is on the Way—In Time: Reference Extract

On October 13, we ran a Cool Link to the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education—Wired Campus section on the Reference Extract project involving OCLC and the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington. Since then, Searcher magazine editor Barbara Quint has done some research on the project herself, which she reports in her ITI NewsBreaks story "The Wisdom of Crowds of Librarians Is on the Way—In Time: Reference Extract." It’s a much deeper and more thorough look than you may have seen yet, so we recommend the read. She starts out:


Google can sleep easier—for a while, at least. A flurry of press coverage suggesting that "radical, militant librarians" —as the FBI refers to members of this profession—were heading its way turns out to be a little previous. While experts from three top library and information science institutions have begun a process that they promise will lead to a new search engine with a new infrastructure designed to emphasize authoritative content, the process is at very early stages yet. According to R. David Lankes, Ph.D., director of the Information Institute of Syracuse and associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, a product roll-out for Reference Extract ( is not expected to take place until sometime in 2010. The other two institutions involved are the University of Washington’s Information School and OCLC. The MacArthur Foundation has provided a $100,000 planning grant, which should lead to a full proposal in 2009.


Click HERE to read bq’s article on ITI NewsBreaks.

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dana boyd to Keynote AASL National Conference

danah boyd, an internationally recognized authority on online social networking sites, will open the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) 14th annual national conference and exhibition with a keynote presentation on Nov. 5, 2009 in Charlotte, NC.
boyd's unique and controversial perspectives on how America's youth are engaging in sites such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube can help school library media specialists understand how this shift in our culture is changing the way students are communicating with each other and representing themselves online.
Her research work focuses on how American youth use networked publics for social purposes. She is a doctoral candidate in the School of at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 
danah boyd has worked as an ethnographer and social media researcher for corporations including Intel,, Google and Yahoo! She earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University and a master's degree in social media from MIT Media Lab.

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ePals and SnagFilms Partner to Premiere Educational Documentaries Online

ePals, Inc., in partnership with SnagFilms , is premiering educational documentaries, including National Geographic's Human Footprint, available for the first time online.


Through this collaboration with SnagFilms, provider of an online resource for free ad-supported viewing of documentaries, educators who are members of the ePals Global Community can access eFilms at ePals (, where they can watch and integrate into their classroom activities dozens of educational titles appropriate for elementary, middle, and high school audiences. On eFilms at ePals, teachers are encouraged to share their strategies for integrating the films into the curriculum, suggest thought-provoking questions and helpful resources, and even "snag" the films and post them on their own websites.


Initial content on eFilms at ePals includes the online premiere of National Geographic's Human Footprint, and 21 additional titles ranging from shorts to feature-length videos, such as E-Waste, Wright Brothers' Flying Machine, and Inca Mummies. Special software is not required and the growing list of titles can all be viewed directly from a browser.


Supporting these goals, Human Footprint, a special that originally aired on the National Geographic Channel, addresses how individual consumption and the trash associated with consumption affects the environment. ePals encourages educators to talk about these important issues in the classroom, and watch compelling films like Human Footprint to serve as introductions to the discussion.

ePals, the ePals Foundation, and SnagFilms share the common goal of engaging their audiences and inspiring them to action. To further this common goal, SnagFilms will promote In2Books, ePals' curriculum-based e-mentoring program as a volunteer opportunity in the SnagFilms support module.

For more information, visit and

Source: ePals, Inc.,

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Canvastic Launches Web Version of Canvastic Publishing Application for Primary Students

Canvastic LLC has announced the launch of Canvastic.NET, its first online version of the company’s publishing solution for students and teachers. Canvastic version 3.5 is the desktop application for Macintosh and Windows computers. This web application version extends the use of Canvastic to any computer anywhere with internet access and the Adobe Flash plugin installed.


Canvastic.NET expands on the concept that software tools students use to publish should be flexible and easy to use. It is designed for primary students to combine their own writing and drawing into attractive, useful published pages. Besides the basic drawing tools and text area there is a feature called "Replay" that displays the student's work in sequence as in a movie. It is engaging and useful, the announcement states. Students can print or save a downloaded JPEG file to preserve their work.


Canvastic.NET was developed to provide a free alternative for primary students' publishing in schools where budgets for software are non-existent, and as an option where security policies prohibit downloading of software.


Plans for Canvastic.NET depend upon its popularity. It will remain available as a free, ad-supported alternative for students and schools. In the future, ad-free access may be sold as a yearly subscription. Additional features and the customization that is a big part of the desktop application will come as soon as possible.


Canvastic.NET has been successfully tested on Macintosh, Windows, Linux, and Solaris computers using Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox browsers. Installing the current version of Flash is recommended for optimal performance.


Any school can continue to pilot the desktop version of Canvastic for up to 60 days on as many computers as desired. See this prior press release for details:


Many school districts still qualify for a free site license for 50% of their schools. See this prior press release for details:

Source: Canvastic LLC,

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Siemens, Discovery Education Partner in Launch of Siemens Science Day Website

The Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education have launched a new website designed to continue both organizations’ missions of empowering and engaging teachers and students in science education. Hosting a wide variety of free science tools and resources, Siemens Science Day provides standards-based videos, tools and hands-on activities for earth, life and physical science that educators can use to turn 4th - 6th grade students into aspiring scientists, the announcement states.

Each activity on the website includes complete how-to information, step-by-step directions for in-class use, materials lists, at-home extensions that promote learning beyond the classroom, and related video clips. More activities will be added to the website in the coming months, creating a rich database of science experiments and demonstrations that help students learn by doing.

Educators visiting Siemens Science Day also are encouraged to enter the Ultimate Cool School Science Day Sweepstakes. The winning teacher will win an assembly for his/her school that is not only fun and interactive, but also underscores the importance of science literacy and the need for science resources in schools. Discovery Networks will present the assembly, which will consist of videos, mind benders, and interactive demonstrations. Entries will be accepted through March 2, 2009.

Earlier this year, the Siemens Foundation, Discovery, and the National Science Teachers Association partnered to launch the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. The first and only national K-12 sustainability education initiative aligned to education standards, the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge empowers teams of two to three middle school students to identify an environmental issue in their community, research the issue using scientific investigation, and create a replicable green solution using web-based curriculum tools powered by Discovery Education.

The mentors of the first 100 teams to register and ultimately complete a project for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge will receive an award-winning Planet Earth series DVD set. Submissions from middle school students will be accepted through March 15, 2009. The initiative will expand to elementary schools in 2009 and to high schools in 2010.

Visit the Siemens Science Day website at and the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge at

Source: Discovery Education,; the Siemens Foundation,

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Google Launches Ancient Rome in 3D on Google Earth

Google has launched Ancient Rome in 3D on Google Earth, enabling students to explore the historic city as it stood centuries ago.


Through Google Earth, students, teachers, tourists and historians can:

* View a virtual representation of the city in 320 AD at the height of its development as the capital of the Roman Empire.

* Fly around the city using Google Earth’s unique navigation.

* Explore more than 6,700 historic buildings.

* Zoom in to discover the detailed interiors of eleven ancient structures including the Colosseum.

* Learn about Ancient Rome through information bubbles written by expert historians.


Ancient Rome in 3D is one of the most extensive collections of three-dimensional buildings to be found on Google Earth. Within the Ancient Rome 3D layer, users can visit the Roman Forum, stand in the center of The Colosseum, trace the footsteps of the gladiators in the Ludus Magnus, stand on the Rostra, swoop over the Basilica Julia, fly under The Arch of Constantine, and examine the detail on the facade of the Basilica of Maxentius.


The project has been developed by Google in collaboration with Past Perfect Productions and the University of California, Los Angeles and IATH at the University of Virginia.


To view Ancient Rome 3D, go to the "Layers" panel of Google Earth, select "Gallery," then "Ancient Rome 3D."


Source: Google,

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H.W. Wilson Introduces Current Issues: Environment

H.W. Wilson has announced Current Issues: Environment, a new reference database  that serves as an "information hub" based on the company's Current Issues: Reference Shelf Plus and Current Issues: Health databases.


The new resource delivers examinations of such topics as Deforestation, Sustainable Agriculture, Clean Energy, Environmental Philosophy, Habitat Preservation, Invasive Species, and other important issues--more than 50 to start, plus a minimum of 10 new topics per year. Each topic includes 25 to 30 in-depth articles from popular and scholarly publications, picked by Wilson editors to offer a solid grounding on the issues, answer key questions, and examine controversies from multiple perspectives, the announcement states.


The database is structured to help students narrow broad interests into focus on specific issues, for more substantive and defined term papers and presentations. Clean Energy, for example, gathers articles into the subtopics Clean Energy Defined, Clean Energy and Government Involvement, Clean Energy Innovations, Challenges in Clean Energy, and The Future of Clean Energy. Editor introductions offer further help in defining subjects, delivering vital background information and explanations of the importance of the subtopics.


Leading sources such as Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Smithsonian, National Geographic, The Atlantic Monthly, and many others are represented among the articles. Users can view articles in plain text or choose PDF page images for access to any graphical content accompanying the article.


New and updated information on each subtopic is provided via links to WilsonWeb searches. Clicking "More Full Text Articles" or "More Citations" links on the main articles page retrieves articles and citations from any of more than 4,200 journals indexed daily by the WilsonWeb database service. Additional information is provided with links to authoritative Web sites selected by Wilson editors. Users can also launch an automatic Google search on each subtopic, with a single click direct from the WilsonWeb interface.


As with all Current Issues databases, users choose topics from a colorful graphical selection screen designed to engage the interest of students and young researchers. A convenient "Find" box is also present, which lets users search the entire database for articles matching any topic of interest. Solar technology, for example, may be covered in many subtopics on the database. The "Find" box locates them all.


Free 30-day trials of Current Issues: Environment are available. Visit for more information.


Source: H.W. Wilson,

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Lexia Learning Systems Launches New Version of Lexia Reading Software

Lexia Learning Systems, Inc., has launched a new, enhanced version of Lexia Reading software designed for students in grades Pre-K through 12, which delivers new teacher resources, faster program performance, and improved functionality. Teacher resources include scripted and printable lesson plans, offline student practice activities, and teacher training materials.


Lexia Lessons are printable scripted lesson plans for teachers to use with students identified by Lexia Reading to be struggling with a specific skill. Lexia Skill Builders are printable practice sheets for teachers to use with students to reinforce developing skills with extra paper and pencil practice. New training materials support teachers’ use of Lexia Reading through tutorial videos, how-to slide shows and a schedule of online training. All of the new teacher resources are accessed through the Lexia Reading Management and Reporting System.


Lexia Reading consists of two distinct components. The first is the collection of Lexia reading skills software for student use which includes: Lexia Early Reading, for 4 to 6 year olds; Lexia Primary Reading, for children ages 5 to 8; and Lexia Strategies for Older Students, for students ages 9 to adult. Each program is designed to complement core reading curriculum and to provide students with explicit practice in the five key areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The reading skills software allows students to progress at their own level and pace.


The second component of Lexia Reading is the Lexia Management and Reporting System for teachers and administrators. Detailed reports give teachers a daily snapshot of student usage and progress. This type of formative, ongoing assessment provides real-time data on individual students that teachers can use to differentiate instruction by providing additional instruction or enrichment as necessary.


Lexia Reading continuously assesses a student’s skill level in real time as the student progresses through Lexia Reading activities. During all activities, the student practices a skill as the program simultaneously monitors how well the student understands the concept. If the student demonstrates mastery, he/she moves forward. If the concept is not understood, the software branches the student, systematically teasing out the exact area of weakness, and provides additional practice before allowing the student to move on. Immediately during each session, the software updates and generates reports informing teachers and administrators of individual student skill levels and areas in need of additional instruction.


Lexia Reading enables educators to foster students’ reading success by informing and differentiating reading instruction. Lexia provides easy-to-use reports that identify and group students for appropriate instruction and practice; supervise and promote adequate use; track performance, and highlight students in need of support. With these features, educators can manage, assess and guide instruction for individual students, and also by group, class, grade, school, or district.


Source: Lexia Learning Systems, Inc.,

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