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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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July 06, 2010

Table of Contents

Pearson to Sponsor Free Access for Educators on Ning
netTrekker Adds New Features to Search Tool
CTB/McGraw-Hill Releases Acuity PhD Professional Development Library
MMIS Xtra News: Free July/August 2010 MultiMedia & Internet@Schools Content Now Available Online
Follett Software Unveils Cognite, New Digital Learning Environment
Information Today Publishes Everyone Plays at the Library
Lexia Learning Launches Lexia Reading Version 7.0
Epson, Discovery Education Partner on Interactive Learning Courses
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Partners on Measures of Effective Teaching Project

Pearson to Sponsor Free Access for Educators on Ning

Education services and technology company Pearson has announced that, as Ning transitions to its new offerings and pricing model in July, its education networks will be able to stay online - free - thanks to a Pearson sponsorship.

Ning.com currently hosts 6,500 K-12 and 2,100 higher ed social networks.  They run the gamut from Ning Networks designed for novice teachers, or for teachers of specific subject areas, to individual school and alumni networks and those where teachers offer help to students outside of the classroom, just to name a few.

For example, Silvia Knittel created the Prime Sheet Network as a place for juniors and seniors in high school to interact on their fine arts writing assignments.  In addition to feedback from the teacher and access to homework assignments, professional writers regularly sign-in to provide real-world mentorship and advice to the students.

"Using Ning in my writing classroom has changed my teaching more than any single thing I have ever done," said Knittel. "I am so thankful to Ning and Pearson for creating this educational tool and allowing educators to continue to have free access to our network.  It's a fantastic teaching resource."

Under the Pearson sponsorship of Ning's education networks, existing participants will have the opportunity to opt-in to the program and maintain seamless uninterrupted access for everyone to their networks; new education networks joining will also be able to enjoy Ning's robust features free of charge.  For more information or to opt-in, please visit : http://about.ning.com/pearsonsponsorship/

Source: Pearson, www.pearsoned.com

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netTrekker Adds New Features to Search Tool

netTrekker has announced it is adding new features to its search tool that provide a more personalized and productive search experience, and facilitate educator collaboration to share resources and best practices.

netTrekker provides students and teachers with over 300,000 safe, educator-reviewed digital resources that are aligned to standards and span the entire K-12 curriculum. With Universal Design for Learning and a variety of unique features designed to support personalized instruction, netTrekker enables teachers to support students' individual needs and help them succeed, the announcement states. The new version of the search tool, now named "netTrekker Search," features a sleeker, user-defined interface. Separate interfaces for teachers and students, and a series of customization options, enable users to personalize their home pages and search results based on their unique needs and preferences. In addition, new search features, such as sorting by key education factors and shortcuts to refine search results, streamline the search process to help users find appropriate, relevant content quickly.

With the additional features available in netTrekker Search, educators can collaborate with peers across the United States and around the world to discover new ways to engage students and improve learning. Teachers and students can vote on resources by indicating whether they like or dislike a resource, and sort their search results to find resources recommended most by their peers.

From the My Community area on the home page, educators can now easily connect with other educators to share integration tips, teaching best practices, and other topics of interest in netTrekker Village, the company's online learning community. For example, while searching for science activities for her fifth-grade students, an educator identifies a virtual lab resource she'd like to use in her classroom, but wants to know how other educators have incorporated it into a lesson. The educator can post a question in the netTrekker Village community forums, or search previous discussions, to get feedback from her professional learning network. netTrekker also offers professional development and training opportunities through on-site workshops, webinars and online courses.

netTrekker Search will be available in August 2010. Current customers will be upgraded automatically for free. For more information about netTrekker Search, visit www.nettrekker.com.

Source: netTrekker, www.nettrekker.com

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CTB/McGraw-Hill Releases Acuity PhD Professional Development Library

CTB/McGraw-Hill has announced the release of Acuity PhD, a new on-demand professional development library to support the company's Acuity InFormative Assessment solution. Developed by educators, for educators, Acuity PhD is an collection of online professional development courses for teachers, assessment coordinators, and administrators.

By leveraging technology to make professional learning more accessible and efficient, Acuity PhD provides a more flexible and convenient way to conduct training, the announcement states. Courses focus on using Acuity assessment results to deliver targeted instruction and improve student achievement. Available 24/7, Acuity PhD features one- to two-hour courses targeted to specific educator roles. With Acuity PhD, educators can monitor their own understanding of Acuity, and learn how to use Acuity data to accurately inform instruction and decision making.

Acuity PhD is based on best practices from educators. Video content is based on current industry research, and provides a convenient means for educators to get answers to assessment questions immediately.

Features of Acuity PhD include:

  • A high-quality professional development program, written by educators, for educators
  • Engaging video and detailed tracking and performance reporting for at-a-glance self-assessment
  • Web-based, all-inclusive site license provides unlimited, anytime/anywhere access
  • Flexible levels of training for different roles

For more information, visit http://AcuityforSchool.com

Source: CTB/McGraw-Hill, www.ctb.com/

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MMIS Xtra News: Free July/August 2010 MultiMedia & Internet@Schools Content Now Available Online

Content from the July/August 2010 issue of MultiMedia & Internet @ Schools is now available at our website. There is free full text access to all the July/August 2010 reviews, the In the Spotlight story, and the cover story, E Is for Explosion: E-Readers, Etextbooks, Econtent, Elearning, E-Everything.

Check out the full July/August 2010 table of contents HERE, including the additional features and columns, available in synopsized form. If you're a subscriber to the print publication, you'll be receiving your issue soon! If not, well, SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Later this month, once all the issue articles have been processed electronically, you can access any of them in Full Text, Text+Graphics, or Page Image PDF format from the July/August 2010 table of contents. They'll be available on a pay-to-view basis via Information Today, Inc.'s InfoCentral, powered by ProQuest. Check back soon.

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Follett Software Unveils Cognite, New Digital Learning Environment

Follett Software Company has announced the release of the Cognite digital learning environment.  Cognite integrates discovery tools, retrieval, collaboration and communication with the goal of creating a vibrant experience where K-12 students excel.

Cognite is designed to help organize the K-12 classroom by giving teachers the opportunity to spend more quality time with their students. The product will serve as a key liaison in helping teachers develop and disseminate lesson plans, create assignments, grade projects and communicate with parents and students from anywhere at any time. It offers parents an easy-to-access place where they can stay informed about their child's progress in real time with information on assignments, grades and class activities.

According to the announcement, as a discovery tool Cognite helps students:

Find and use educational materials at any time of the day, from the classroom or at home

Collaborate easily with teachers and each other, promoting idea sharing

Get excited about learning in an interactive, user-friendly environment

Develop 21st century learning skills, including critical thinking, research and problem solving abilities

For more information about Cognite, visit www.follettsoftware.com/cognite, where a video - Cognite: Your Digital Learning Environment - is available for viewing.

The Cognite launch coincides with Follett Software's 25th anniversary, and the introduction of a redesigned website - www.follettsoftware.com- plus a new brand initiative that identifies Follett as a "digitally powered integrated educational technology company."

Source: Follett Software Company, www.follettsoftware.com

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Information Today Publishes Everyone Plays at the Library

Information Today, Inc. (ITI) has announced the publication of Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages, by Dr. Scott Nicholson. The publisher launched the title with a book signing at the 2010 American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Washington Convention Center this month.

In Everyone Plays at the Library, Scott Nicholson-educator, librarian, game designer, host of the "Board Games with Scott" video series, and founder of the Library Game Lab of Syracuse-shows how gaming programs can be successfully implemented in school, academic, and public libraries, covering all types of games for all age groups.

The content Nicholson presents in the book is geared to support gaming in libraries of all types. Readers will discover how to determine user needs, achieve library goals, gain stakeholder approval, reach out to users, build an affordable collection of great games, assess program effectiveness, bring all ages together, and create the type of memorable experience that gets users talking and keeps them coming back for more.

"Scott Nicholson's SNAKS model, combined with the wealth of expertise and insider knowledge he provides, will help any library build a solid foundation for gaming services that align with the library's mission and provide the best possible experience for patrons," according to Jenny Levine of the Shifted Librarian. "Everyone Plays at the Library is the single most important starting point for any library that wants to start or expand a gaming program."

Sari Feldman, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County (OH) Public Library, described the book as "a roadmap for developing top-notch gaming programs," while Paul Waelchli, Book Review Editor for the International Journal of Gaming & Computer Mediated Simulations, said "[Nicholson] takes library gaming from a fun event and transforms it into a thoughtful and sustainable experience."

Dr. Scott Nicholson, MLIS, is an associate professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, where he runs the Library Game Lab of Syracuse. Before getting his PhD in Information Studies at the University of North Texas, he was a librarian at Texas Christian University. He started the Games and Gaming Members Initiative Group for the American Library Association in 2008, gives workshops around the world about gaming in libraries, and has written many articles on gaming in libraries, most of which can be found at the Library Game Lab's blog (gamelab.syr.edu/publications).

Everyone Plays at the Library: Creating Great Gaming Experiences for All Ages (248 pp/softbound/$39.50/ISBN 978-1-57387-398-7) is published by Information Today, Inc. (ITI). It is available in bookstores and direct from the publisher by calling (800) 300-9868; faxing (609) 654-4309; emailing custserv@infotoday.com; or visiting http://books.infotoday.com/books/Everyone-Plays-At-The-Library.shtml.

Source: Information Today, Inc., www.infotoday.com

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Lexia Learning Launches Lexia Reading Version 7.0

Lexia Learning has launched Lexia Reading Version 7.0. Unveiled at the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Denver, this advanced version of Lexia's software features new progress monitoring tools that will give educators longitudinal, standards-based data on students' mastery of reading skills. This approach to instruction and assessment marks an industry transition from criterion-based reports to the use of a national data set that draws comparisons among students under a common set of benchmarks.

These new reports will provide ongoing progress monitoring data that will guide educators in making decisions around intensity and duration of instruction/intervention within a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. Developed over a three-year period, Lexia Reading Version 7.0 will dramatically reduce the need for traditional testing, the announcement states.

Lexia Reading Version 7.0 is SIF certified and is among a small group of reading software products that can be deployed throughout the district in a seamless manner. This allows administrators to more effectively leverage Lexia Reading's robust performance data across the district.

Lexia Reading offers age-appropriate support for critical reading skills development for all students in grades pre-K-4, as well as for students in grades 4-12 needing to accelerate their reading skills progress. The automatically differentiated content assignments include more than 900 activities. Each of the age-appropriate, skill-specific activities conforms to federal guidelines and focuses on the five major areas of reading instruction. Students using the Web-based program work independently as the software automatically detects when additional practice is needed; advancing students to the next level when skills have been mastered. The enhanced reporting and management in Lexia Reading quickly identifies students at risk for reading failure and highlights specific skill deficits. Teachers and administrators alike will benefit from the software's improved ability to aggregate student performance data and display progress reports in reading from individual students to entire districts.

For more information about Lexia Reading, visit www.lexialearning.com/products.

Source: Lexia Learning, www.lexialearning.com

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Epson, Discovery Education Partner on Interactive Learning Courses

Epson America has announced it has partnered with Discovery Education to provide interactive learning courses for teachers, educators, and administrators that take advantage of Epson's latest technology, the BrightLink 450Wi interactive projector. These courses will demonstrate instructional strategies and techniques for using the new BrightLink 450Wi interactive projector with interactive presentation tools, Google tools, Web 2.0 applications, and Discovery Education's digital content.

Discovery Education offers digital resources to schools with the goal of empowering educators, engaging students, and ultimately improving student academic achievement. Available in June, Discovery Education will add four additional professional development courses to their repertoire focused on training teachers how to effectively use and integrate the Epson BrightLink 450Wi into their classrooms instruction. These courses include:

-          BrightLink and Web 2.0 applications

-          BrightLink and Discovery Education digital content

-          BrightLink and interactive presentation tools

-          BrightLink and Google tools

The Epson BrightLink 450Wi is an intelligent, interactive projector that allows educators to turn any standard whiteboard or smooth wall into an interactive learning area. This classroom tool delivers a cost-effective solution for educators to easily integrate interactive capabilities and eliminates the need to purchase and install dedicated interactive whiteboards (IWB), the announcement states.

The BrightLink 450Wi features 2,500 lumens color light output and 2,500 lumens white light output1 and helps advance the classroom with networkability, wireless features and advanced connectivity. It also delivers WXGA resolution (16:10 aspect ratio) for full compatibility with widescreen notebooks and movie content, and can meet space needs by projecting images from 55-inches diagonal to up to 96-inches diagonal (WXGA) and up to 85-inches diagonal (XGA).

Visit www.epson.com/brightlink for more information.

Source: Epson America, Inc., www.epson.com

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National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Partners on Measures of Effective Teaching Project

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) -- the independent organization that provides National Board Certification for U.S. teachers -- has announced its participation in the Measures of Effective Teaching project, a national effort to help educators and policymakers identify and support good teaching. As part of its involvement, NBPTS will utilize its widely respected National Board Standards and assessment processes to confidentially evaluate videos of classroom instruction -- one of six types of data being collected by researchers for the project. A $1.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund the NBPTS work.

NBPTS-trained evaluators will score a sample of teacher videos from participating districts and classrooms using the National Board's observational rubrics for English-Language Arts and mathematics instruction.

In addition, with the grant from the Gates Foundation, NBPTS will design and implement a three-year study to evaluate the efficacy of Take One!, a professional development program administered by NBPTS, as a whole-school approach to improve teacher effectiveness in low-performing schools.  

Take One! seeks to improve teaching practice by developing learning communities organized around the National Board Standards and linking effective instruction to student learning. The program can be used by any educator as a stand-alone professional development tool or by licensed teachers as an initial step in becoming candidates for National Board Certification.

For more information about NBPTS and National Board Certification, visit www.nbpts.org.

For more information about the Measures of Effective Teaching project, visit www.gatesfoundation.org.

Source: The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, www.nbpts.org

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