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November 09, 2010

Table of Contents

Free Resources: 3M and Discovery Education's Science of Everyday Life Resource Center
TLC Releases Smart-Phone App
Adobe Introduces Adobe Connect 8 Software
Scholastic Launches Social Networking Site 'You Are What You Read.com'
Chester Comix Offers New Social Studies Apps for the iPad and iPhone
Teachscape Launches Teachscape Reflect for Professional Development
Philippe Cousteau’s EarthEcho International Partners with Discovery Education to Launch Water Planet Challenge
Turning Technologies Releases New LCD Student Clicker and Self-Paced Testing Application

Free Resources: 3M and Discovery Education's Science of Everyday Life Resource Center

3M and Discovery Education have announced a new enhancement to partnership efforts focused on opening young minds to science with an online resource center, Science of Everyday Life.  The resource center provides teachers, parents, and students with a fun and interactive platform to explore the role that science plays in our daily lives.

Through 3M's innovation and Discovery Education's digital content and curricula, according to the announcement, Science of Everyday Life introduces a new opportunity for fun and creative learning with family activities and interactive tools designed to encourage exploration and engagement with the science that is part of the most relevant "laboratories" in our world - our homes, classrooms and communities.

Science of Everyday Life provides content to empower teachers and engage families and students including:
--An "Innovation Headquarters" showcasing innovations from yesterday to today through brain teasers, virtual labs and an interactive timeline.
--Unique inquiry-based lessons, aligned to national standards, addressing key areas of science and the technology and innovation behind them. 
--School-to-home family activities encouraging students to discover the real-world science around them and make connections to what they are learning in school.

In addition, educators can interact with colleagues on the Science of Every Day Life blog and enter a monthly sweepstakes for a chance to win an assortment of innovative products and school supplies from 3M.

For more information, visit www.scienceofeverydaylife.com.

Source: 3M, www.3m.com; and Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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TLC Releases Smart-Phone App

The Library Corporation (TLC) has released LS2 Mobile, a smart-phone interface that allows people to connect with their public or school libraries from any place with mobile or Wi-Fi internet service.

TLC developed LS2 Mobile with the understanding that the desire to read a book, research a topic, or find an author may occur anytime, anywhere: A restaurant visit may trigger a search for a certain chef's cookbook; a student may want to reserve the latest title in a popular series; a family on the go may want to check out the latest DVD releases; a hiker may want to borrow a guide to birds in the wild.  Whatever the need, there's bound to be a book, CD, DVD, or audiobook in the local public or school library.

LS2 Mobile can search a library's entire catalog and reserve titles that a borrower can pick up at a more convenient time.  Additionally, users can check their account balances and, if they've had a change of heart, cancel holds on previously reserved titles.

The first release of LS2 Mobile is a native application intended for use with Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and is available as a free download through Apple's App Store.  Future native versions for Android and other smart-phone platforms are planned for the coming months.

Once installed, LS2 Mobile can be set up to search the public catalogs of participating libraries that utilize LS2 PAC, an online interface designed to work exclusively with TLC's Library Solution, Library Solution for Schools, and CARL X integrated library systems.

To learn more about LS2 Mobile and TLC's line of library automation solutions, visit www.tlcdelivers.com.

Source: The Library Corporation (TLC), www.tlcdelivers.com

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Adobe Introduces Adobe Connect 8 Software

Adobe Systems Incorporated has introduced Adobe Connect 8, a significant update to the company's web conferencing solution. Designed to work as an independent system, or in conjunction with a learning management system, Adobe Connect 8 software enables presenters to deliver engaging, media-rich experiences-live and on-demand-to widely dispersed learners and colleagues. Based on the Adobe Flash Player software, the latest version offers powerful new features that provide a simplified user experience with a more intuitive interface, improved accessibility for better navigation, a new optional desktop client for enhanced online and offline access, and video conferencing integration.

Top Overall Features

*  Simplified user experience-Presenters and learners-on or off campus-can use Adobe Connect 8 more intuitively. With the new interface, users can more easily discover all available functions and features through better organization and prominent display of the most important and frequently used controls and capabilities.

*  Improved accessibility-Presenters and learners can navigate the Adobe Connect interface completely via keyboard. Several "hot keys" provide direct access to important functions and capabilities. Significant improvements in screen reader compatibility include JAWS and Window-Eyes support and accurate focus location tracking by screen-magnification software.

*  Video conferencing integration-Campuses, schools, and districts can maximize existing investments in video conferencing solutions by integrating their video telephony devices supporting SIP/H.264 with the Adobe Connect platform (for on-campus deployments only). With this new feature, meeting hosts now have the option of bringing a live audio/video broadcast stream directly into an Adobe Connect meeting room.

*  New optional desktop client-Presenters and learners can set up, manage, and access classes, lectures, workshops, and meetings more easily with the new optional Adobe Connect Desktop AIR client. Working from a campus or home office, presenters can invite participants to sessions right from their desktop. Students can use the desktop client to instantly search for archived Adobe Connect sessions, download those sessions, and play back recordings offline.

*  Integration with existing Learning Management Systems-Faculty and educators can access and manage online courses, meetings and trainings directly from existing LMS environments with Adobe Connect 8. Likewise, they can allow full participation by students or colleagues.

*  Media-rich, interactive material-Educators can quickly create and deliver course, training and teaching material that leverages existing content, and they also can quickly create interactive simulations. The software empowers faculty to concentrate on creating and delivering highly effective content-without having to worry about intricate and burdensome code.

*  Enhanced collaboration SDK-Users can write to more than 100 Adobe Connect APIs to customize the software's interface, extend security features, or add virtually any functionality to Adobe Connect. The new SDK also supports Adobe Flex, Adobe Flash technology, and Adobe ActionScript 3 for richer, more dynamic interactions between instructors and students, and more engaging online collaboration among training participants, project team members, and research partners.

*  Increased security features and compliance-Presenters can manage meetings, online classes, and trainings more securely than ever using new capabilities such as passcode-protected rooms and enhanced session management. Complete control over access, content and application sharing, and the display of potentially sensitive material can be exercised. Presenters can choose from hosted, on-premise, or managed-services deployment options, depending on the session and its security needs. Improved thin-client support enables rich-media collaboration in virtualized environments. A new Linux Ubuntu add-in provides full-featured meeting host capabilities.

To help get educators and administration up and running quickly, Adobe offers free online resources about Adobe Connect 8 software on the Adobe Education website and at the Adobe Education Exchange at http://edexchange.adobe.com, an online community of educators who contribute and share resources based on their use of Adobe software.

For more information on Adobe Connect 8 software in education, including pricing and availability, visit http://www.adobe.com/education/products/adobeconnect.html.

Source: Adobe Education, www.adobe.com/education

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Scholastic Launches Social Networking Site 'You Are What You Read.com'

Scholastic has announced it is launching You Are What You Read, a social networking site for readers around the world. Users log on to www.youarewhatyouread.com, list the five books that had the biggest impact on their lives, and connect with readers all over the world through these shared "Bookprints." The site also contains the Bookprints of more than 130 "Names You Know" - notable people from entertainment, academia, business, media, publishing, and more - including Scarlett Johansson, Al Roker, Sir James Dyson, Venus Williams, Jodi Picoult, Malcolm Gladwell, Judy Blume, President William Jefferson Clinton, and President George H.W. Bush. After logging into You Are What You Read via Facebook or Scholastic.com accounts, users can:

- Discover new books through an interactive web that shows how users' Bookprints are connected

- Find and connect with users across generations and from around the world to see the books in their Bookprints

- Compare their Bookprints to those of the participating "Names You Know," and find out if they share a book in their Bookprint with famous athletes, award-winning entertainers, world-renowned scientists, or iconic business leaders

- "Favorite" other books they like and check out what similar users enjoy reading

See which books have been chosen as Favorites from around the world

- Share a book in the real word through Pass It On, which encourages users to give a favorite book to a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger.

You Are What You Read also features a separate community for young readers that provides kid friendly information about books and other activities.

The site is part of Scholastic's "Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life." global literacy campaign, in celebration of Scholastic's 90th anniversary. For more information on the Read Every Day campaign, visit http://scholastic.com/readeveryday.

Source: Scholastic, http://scholastic.com

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Chester Comix Offers New Social Studies Apps for the iPad and iPhone

Comic-form stories specifically designed to teach American history on the iPad and iPhone are now available from Chester Comix LLC. Since 1995, author and artist Bentley Boyd has created history lessons in comic form, featuring a Chesapeake Bay blue crab named Chester. After years as a syndicated newspaper feature, Boyd's stories began appearing in book form in 2003.

Now, Chester Comix has begun offering three of those historical graphic adventures on the iPhone/iTouch/iPad platform:

  • The Battle of Antietam (Civil War)
  • Harriet Tubman: Freedom's Fury
  • The Battle of Britain (World War II)

In keeping with Boyd's educational mission, the apps include links to reputable websites so young readers can get more detailed information about the people and places in the stories. The fun read through history can also be a research tool!

View the full apps at the iTunes store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/chester-comix/id394584337
 
Boyd's history comics are aimed at students from third to sixth grade and are content-driven. A committee of elementary teachers reviewed each page of the adventures to ensure the stories have solid history, yet appeal to a new generation's demands for visual learning.

Boyd earned a bachelor's degree in History and Literature from Harvard University in 1990. He was an award-winning newspaper cartoonist for 13 years before starting Chester Comix LLC in 2003.

Source: Chester Comix, www.chestercomix.com

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Teachscape Launches Teachscape Reflect for Professional Development

Teachscape has announced the launch of its latest professional development product. Teachscape Reflect combines state-of-the-art 360-degree video capture hardware and online software to provide teachers with a panoramic view of their classroom that helps them reflect on their teaching, share instructional practices, and receive timely coaching support.

Teachscape Reflect hardware includes a low-profile lightweight device combining two high-definition video cameras and two high-quality wireless microphones to provide a 360-degree view of what is happening in the classroom. As the wireless microphones capture audio from both teacher and students, one video camera captures everything the teacher is doing at the front of the room (Board Camera), while the other camera simultaneously captures a 360-degree panoramic video of the entire classroom. The panoramic camera is connected to a dedicated capture station (included with Teachscape Reflect) to store classroom footage during recording.

After recording, the video footage is uploaded to Teachscape's secure website. Teachscape's password-protected, web-based video sharing and management software allows educators to view, comment, and share their classroom videos. The reflection and professional learning process takes place as educators not only reflect on their own practice, but also share their videos and comments with other teachers, coaches, and principals.

Teachscape Reflect enhances teacher coaching by allowing coaches to review actual footage of lessons and to point out specific growth opportunities. Coaches can also work with teachers to identify areas of teaching excellence. With Teachscape Reflect, schools and districts can better match coaching expertise to teacher needs since review, observation, and coaching can be done remotely and at any time.

Teachscape Reflect was born out of Teachscape's work in the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of the MET project, Teachscape's panoramic video capture, sharing, and scoring tools have been used to capture and score more than 12,000 lessons in more than 3,000 classrooms in six states.

The complete Teachscape Reflect system, including the camera, the dedicated capture station, and an annual Teachscape Reflect software license, will start shipping to customers in December 2010. Services and support are also available to ensure success with Teachscape Reflect. The training package includes a full day of product training and professional learning on using Teachscape Reflect to support self-reflection and school-wide professional learning communities. Toll-free support is included for all Teachscape Reflect users. Additional coaching and professional learning services are also available for enable schools and districts to deepen their work with Teachscape Reflect.

Source: Teachscape, www.teachscape.com

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Philippe Cousteau’s EarthEcho International Partners with Discovery Education to Launch Water Planet Challenge

EarthEcho International, an environmental education nonprofit, has partnered with Discovery Education to launch the Water Planet Challenge (www.waterplanetchallenge.org/wpc/). A national call-to-action, the Water Planet Challenge engages and empowers youth to bring about environmental change starting with water-focused projects at a local level, according to the announcement.  The web-based program provides interactive tools and resources for middle and high school-aged youth to design, create and implement service-learning projects that address environmental concerns in their communities, from water conservation to beachfront cleanups. 

Among the resources EarthEcho International and Discovery Education are providing at no cost to students, educators, and community leaders at launch are: 
--Step-by-step action guides that walk students through a project from investigation to completion
--Standards-aligned lesson plans that allow middle and high school teachers and students to explore the impact of local action in the context of the recent Gulf oil disaster
--Video segments on a variety of environmental topics educators can seamlessly integrate into existing curriculum, as well as a link to Philippe Cousteau's recent webinar on his experiences in the Gulf of Mexico following the oil spill
 
In the coming months, additional action guides and lesson plans on other water-related environmental issues and additional video clips will be added to further support the Water Planet Challenge.

Preliminary funding for the Water Planet Challenge has been provided by the Toyota USA Foundation, Participant Media, Campbell Foundation, Code Blue Foundation, and Maesa Home.

For more information about EarthEcho International, visit www.earthecho.org.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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Turning Technologies Releases New LCD Student Clicker and Self-Paced Testing Application

Turning Technologies has announced the release of two new complementary products - ResponseCard NXT, an advanced radio frequency LCD keypad, and TurningKey, self-paced assessment software.

ResponseCard NXT is the next generation of Turning's ResponseCard line of student response clickers. The NXT response device is compatible with the latest version of the company's synchronous polling applications, TurningPoint and TurningPoint AnyWhere, for formative assessment in learning environments. In addition to standard clicker features, ResponseCard NXT provides advanced capabilities such as cell-phone style text entry for short answer and essay questions. Input capabilities include multiple choice, multiple response, numeric response, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, and essay. The unit also contains an LCD display that confirms responses have been received by the instructor's computer. The highlight of ResponseCard NXT is its self-paced test mode for individual assessment that works in conjunction with the newly released TurningKey software.

TurningKey is the company's latest addition to its suite of interactive polling software. The lightweight application allows educators to create digital answer keys for new or existing tests or quizzes and deliver the self-paced summative assessments to students using ResponseCard NXT. TurningKey supports multiple test versions and assessments of up to 200 questions using any combination of question types. Testing times can also be specified, and instructors are able to monitor learners' progress during an assessment.

Additional ResponseCard NXT highlights include:

  • Channel search
  • Automatic input mode selection (Presentation and Test modes)
  • Letters, numbers, character and punctuation support
  • Student ID submission with each response
  • User feedback in both Presentation and Test mode
  • Skip questions and return to questions if time allows
  • Upon answering last question, the user will be notified of unanswered questions and reorder test to quickly jump to unanswered questions
  • Test ID for each test created, test verification of information
  • Instructor can display individual test results to each student
  • Instructor can display total points, total percentage or custom message to each student

Source: Turning Technologies, www.turningtechnologies.com

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