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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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February 01, 2011

Table of Contents

Free Resources: PBS KIDS GO!'s Cyberchase PlaySpace
Cerebellum Corp. Launches Three STEM-focused Series from the ‘Defined Learning’ Library
DreamBox Learning Math App Now Available in Google Web App Marketplace
Inspiration Software Launches Webspiration Classroom
netTrekker, Defined Learning Partner to Integrate Defined Learning STEM Content into netTrekker Search
Pearson Launches Update for Free iPad Gradebook App, PowerTeacher Mobile
Capstone Digital Develops Literacy Program with MetaMetrics
ITI Cross Links: Streaming Video and Music Developments at Alexander Street Press
Cool Links: Empowering the 2st Century Superintendent
New Round of Enhancements for H.W. Wilson's WilsonWeb Service
OverDrive Releases Free iPhone, Android Apps for Downloading Ebooks, Audiobooks

Free Resources: PBS KIDS GO!'s Cyberchase PlaySpace

PBS Kids has announced that the producers of the animated PBS KIDS GO! series Cyberchase have re-launched the Cyberchase PlaySpace with new features for mixed-media storytelling at home and in the classroom.

Cyberchase PlaySpace, an interactive storytelling game available for free at Cyberchase Online, uses storytelling prompts to help kids engage with math while having fun. Watch a demo at http://pbskidsgo.org/cyberchase/playspace.

Responding to video and text prompts drawn from the popular series, kids create stories using different media - drawing tools, photos, text and more - to share via email or print when completed.  Features on the new PlaySpace include video prompts, photo upload capability, and dozens of stickers featuring Cyberchase characters and other fun items from the TV series.

The new PlaySpace also includes new tools for educators which allow them to use the game to reinforce and assess students' math comprehension.  Logging in through a PBS Teachers account at http://pbs.org/cyberchase/playspace/teacher.php, educators can write their own prompts tailored to students' needs, or select from available Cyberchase video and text prompts covering different math topics.

The enhanced PlaySpace is the most recent digital offering from Cyberchase for children and teachers.  Last July, WNET producers unveiled the Cyberchase Lucky Star Game Show application for SMART Board.  Cyberchase's app for iPhone and iPod Touch, Cyberchase Math Match, was released last month and is available on the iTunes App Store.

Cyberchase PlaySpace is live now for kids and teachers at Cyberchase Online: http://pbskidsgo.org/cyberchase.

Source: PBS Kids, http://pbskids.org/

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Cerebellum Corp. Launches Three STEM-focused Series from the ‘Defined Learning’ Library

Cerebellum Corporation will release three educational DVD series in February 2011. Serving as a supplementary learning resource for middle and high school students, the Xtremely Wild, Food Science, and Megaworld series offer high-quality content covering a range of STEM-related topics. Produced by the award-winning Exploration Production Inc., and featured on Discovery Channel Canada, this is the first time each series is available for purchase in the U.S. market.

Xtremely Wild is an animal adventure series that travels to remote and isolated destinations to conduct research on endangered species and their behaviors. Food Science examines different types of food and provides viewers with insight on making smarter decisions in their daily diet. Megaworld explores innovations in engineering at locations worldwide, from looking at resurfacing a busy airport runway in Germany to the creation of a submarine in England.

Cerebellum offers education videos ranging from short, concise segments accompanied by teacher's guides and lesson plans for core curriculum subjects to longer segments for counseling and guidance topics. From basic nutrition to Advanced Placement chemistry exam prep, each video is designed to make learning and comprehending difficult topics easier. Cerebellum's library of guidance and career counseling programs offer a variety of topics, including drug and sex education, bullying and conflict management , and career and study skills for elementary to adult education.

Xtremely Wild (single SRP: $39.95, 13 titles available), Science of Food (single SRP: $39.95, 13 titles available) and Megaworld (single SRP: $39.95, 13 titles available) will be available for purchase in February 2011. To learn more about these series and the complete Defined Learning library of DVDs, visit www.cerebellum.com.

Source: Cerebellum, www.cerebellum.com

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DreamBox Learning Math App Now Available in Google Web App Marketplace

DreamBox Learning has announced it has released an education app in the Google Apps Marketplace, Google's online storefront for Google Apps products and services.  The app, called DreamBox Learning Connect, securely integrates with DreamBox Learning K-3 Math, an adaptive web-based learning tool for young students. With DreamBox Learning Connect installed, teachers, administrators and principals now have one-click access to their DreamBox Teacher Dashboard for access to student and classroom performance data.

The Google Apps Marketplace makes it easy for the more than 3 million businesses and the thousands of educational institutions using Google Apps to discover, purchase and deploy integrated web applications and related professional services. By integrating with user account and application data stored in Google Apps, these cloud applications provide a simpler user experience, increase efficiency and reduce administrative overhead. To learn more, visit http://google.com/appsmarketplace.

Source: DreamBox Learning, www.dreambox.com

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Inspiration Software Launches Webspiration Classroom

Inspiration Software, Inc., has launched Webspiration Classroom, the online writing, visual thinking and collaboration tool for students and teachers. Webspiration Classroom combines the power of visual thinking with innovative collaboration tools, offering students and teachers 24/7 access to an online environment where they can work independently, with their peers and in groups, to develop and strengthen their writing and thinking skills.

With Webspiration Classroom, students use visual thinking and outlining techniques to build writing skills and analyze, synthesize and comprehend information. With 24/7 access, students can apply proven learning methods such as webbing, concept mapping and graphic organizers at school, at home or anywhere they have access to the internet, extending their learning time to develop their thinking and writing skills.

With Webspiration Classroom's collaboration tools, students work with their classmates and teachers to develop essays, papers, and reports, gaining deeper knowledge and a stronger understanding of the concepts they are learning. Students actively engage in learning as they collaborate on group projects, share documents for peer review and receive guidance from teachers throughout the entire learning process. Webspiration Classroom incorporates everyone's contributions and feedback in one document, keeping the process organized as students produce and publish their work.

All Webspiration Classroom documents are automatically saved and backed up in the cloud, giving students and teachers 24/7 access to an engaging, safe and reliable online environment for learning, sharing and collaboration. Students can sign in from home, the library, the coffee shop - anywhere they have internet access - to develop their projects and invite their classmates and teachers to review their work, as well as to provide their own feedback on other students' projects. Assignments can be delivered, revised, evaluated and returned online, keeping work accessible and organized. This streamlined work process between teachers and students increases instructional time and keeps the focus on learning.

Webspiration Classroom is available in one-, two- and three-year subscriptions in packages designed for both classrooms and individual educators. Every Webspiration Classroom subscription includes unlimited documents, unlimited collaboration and anytime, anywhere access. Account subscriptions include access to online support materials, including lesson plans, examples, a Quick Start Guide, a Help Center and implementation tools, which allow students and teachers to take full advantage of Webspiration Classroom's capabilities.

One-year Classroom Subscriptions start at $110 for a 10-pack, $300 for a 30-pack and $360 for a 40-pack. Larger purchase options and school-wide subscriptions are available by contacting Inspiration Software at sales@inspiration.com.

Individual educator subscriptions are $39 for one year, $75 for two years and $110 for three years. A free 30-day trial subscription to Webspiration Classroom is available at www.inspiration.com/Freetrial.

More information about Webspiration Classroom is available at www.inspiration.com/webspirationclassroom.

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

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netTrekker, Defined Learning Partner to Integrate Defined Learning STEM Content into netTrekker Search

netTrekker is partnering with Defined Learning to integrate premium content from the Defined STEM collection of resources into netTrekker Search. With the Defined STEM upgrade, teachers will have access to the full collection of standards-aligned digital content in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that promotes effective and relevant connections between classroom content and real world applications. Defined STEM's videos, performance tasks, and simulations enhance the classroom experience by creating real world learning opportunities around a central, cross curricular theme, according to the announcement. The integration saves teachers time by only requiring them to sign-in once to access Defined STEM resources within netTrekker Search.

Developed by Defined Learning, Defined STEM is a web-based application comprising 1,200 resources designed to address middle and high school science standards and curriculum. Defined STEM fosters effective and relevant connections between 21st century learning skills and how those skills are used across all subjects and curriculum. Defined STEM features performance tasks designed to create a project-based learning environment, interactive simulations supported by online lesson plan activities, and lesson plans and objectives that aid teacher implementation.


netTrekker Search provides more than 300,000 safe, educator-reviewed digital resources from around the web and from partner offerings, such as Defined STEM, that span the K-12 curriculum. Teachers and students can customize their home pages and search results based on their unique needs and preferences. Resources are categorized by standard, grade level, reading level, media type, and more. With Universal Design for Learning and a variety of innovative features designed to support personalized instruction, netTrekker Search enables teachers to support every student's individual needs to help them succeed. Teachers can bookmark, organize and share resources, as well as assign them to students for project-based learning to strengthen students' knowledge and skills.

netTrekker Search customers can upgrade their subscriptions to include the Defined STEM collection. For more information, visit www.nettrekker.com.

Source: netTrekker, www.nettrekker.com

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Pearson Launches Update for Free iPad Gradebook App, PowerTeacher Mobile

Pearson has announced an update to PowerTeacher Mobile, the free app that allows teachers to monitor student progress anytime, anywhere with the Apple iPad. Developed by Pearson, PowerTeacher Mobile 1.1 features the enhancements that teachers have most requested and is designed to make grading on-the-go easier. This release includes over 40 new capabilities and is now nearly twice as fast as the initial version of the app which was released in October of 2010.

PowerTeacher, the online gradebook component of PowerSchool and Chancery SMS student information systems, provides the latest technology for standards-based grading. With its companion iPad app, PowerTeacher Mobile, teachers are no longer limited to their desktop or laptop when using the gradebook. They can record student scores and make observations about student progress from anywhere in the classroom, at the gym, on the playground, at a sporting event, or while on a field trip.

Available for free download in the Apple iTunes App Store, PowerTeacher Mobile integrates seamlessly with the PowerTeacher gradebook. With Version 1.1 of the iPad app, teachers can more quickly, easily, and securely create and score assignments, view student groups, manage class rosters, and view student demographics. The layout and access to key features has also been improved in PowerTeacher Mobile 1.1, particularly for the student scoresheet. Numerous new sections have been added to the Help Pages, including new Teacher Tool and Reporting Term sections. A more detailed list of the new features in PowerTeacher Mobile 1.1 is available on the School Systems website.

PowerSchool version 6.2.1.6 is required to use PowerTeacher Mobile. To download PowerTeacher Mobile, go to http://itunes.com/app/powerteachermobile/.

Source: Pearson, www.pearsonschoolsystems.com

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Capstone Digital Develops Literacy Program with MetaMetrics

Capstone Digital has announced a partnership with MetaMetrics, creator of The Lexile Framework for Reading under which Capstone Digital is adding Lexile measures to its new literacy program to be unveiled at FETC 2011.

The Lexile Framework measures reading ability and text complexity using a common developmental scale.  With Lexile measures, students can be assigned books and other reading materials targeted to their unique ability level that will provide the right amount of challenge to support reading progress.  The Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts cite Lexile measures as key indicators of text complexity, and provide recommended Lexile bands for reading comprehension development by grade levels to help educators prepare students for the text demands of college and careers.

Through this partnership, Capstone Digital will use the Lexile Framework to level more than 14,000 books from Capstone's imprints and divisions.  Determining the Lexile measure of each book will allow educators to personalize reading plans for students, assigning books at an appropriate level of difficulty to encourage independent reading and increase confidence.

For more information on the Lexile Framework, visit www.Lexile.com.  For more information about Capstone Digital, visit www.capstonedigital.com.

Source: Capstone Digital, www.capstonedigital.com

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ITI Cross Links: Streaming Video and Music Developments at Alexander Street Press

Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief Paula Hane posted a story January 20 on interesting activities and plans at Alexander Street Video, including acquisition of a distributor of documentary films, plans for an online collection of streaming video developed for teacher training and development, and more. From her story:

Alexander Street Press doesn't act like a company struggling in a tough content market and dealing with library budget cuts. At the recent ALA Midwinter meeting, the company held its annual customer breakfast for an overflowing room of some 500 people-its largest turnout ever. Stephen Rhind-Tutt, founder and president, told me the company had a "pretty good 2010 despite the recession." Much of its success is due to its rapidly growing streaming media collections. It plans to release three major new video products for libraries in early 2011. 

Click HERE to link to Paula's full story, "Streaming Video and Music Developments at Alexander Street Press," on Information Today, Inc.'s NewBreaks site.

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Cool Links: Empowering the 2st Century Superintendent

A recent posting on Victor Rivero's edtechdigest blog turned us on to a CoSN report, "Empowering the 2st Century Superintendent." From Victor's blog post:

Of all the challenges you face as a superintendent, according to the Consortium for School Networking, "technology leadership may be the one that leaves you feeling the most unprepared, uncertain and vulnerable. You're not alone." Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent includes five themes and action steps for technology leadership ... Whether you’re a superintendent or not, this one is a good reality check for anyone involved in education and technology.

He's got more to say in the post, right HERE, along with a link to the full CoSN report.

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New Round of Enhancements for H.W. Wilson's WilsonWeb Service

H.W. Wilson has announced new enhancements to its WilsonWeb service, including improvements to the WilsonWeb Mobile interface, expansion of the "My WilsonWeb" individual user account functions, increased customization, and more.

Highlights include:
• Record previews.  Users can preview individual records without navigating away from the "brief display" search results screen, by mousing over the new "quick view" icon.  The pop-up "quick view" includes important fields such as Abstracts, Title, Author, Source, Publication Year, and Subject.  The preview vanishes when you mouse away from the icon.
• Zotero compatibility. FireFox users will now be able to use the Zotero pane with their WilsonWeb databases.  Zotero is a popular tool that helps users collect, organize, cite and share their research sources.
• Custom background images.  Add your own background image to the Search, Browse, and Thesaurus screens: your school crest, a holiday image, a campus view, or whatever suits your fancy.  You can also choose images selected by H.W. Wilson-a rotating sequence of colorful backgrounds that changes each time the user logs into WilsonWeb.
• New tools for the "My WilsonWeb" individual user accounts.  WilsonWeb users can now access any embedded "widget" added to the WilsonWeb interface from their "My WilsonWeb" individual user accounts.  (Formerly, widgets were only visible on the search results screen.)  They can also now create folders to organize their "My WilsonWeb" notes, as well as email notes from within "My WilsonWeb."
• ReadSpeaker text-to-speech converter enhancements. WilsonWeb's ReadSpeaker now allows users to highlight sections of text for listening, and regulate the speed of narration. Available on WilsonWeb full-text databases, the ReadSpeaker "text to speech" converter lets users listen to articles as streaming audio, or download as MP3s for playback later.  ReadSpeaker usage stats are available in WilsonWeb statistics reports for library administrators.
 • WilsonWeb Mobile enhancements.  The WilsonWeb Mobile interface-designed for use on smart phones and other devices-now allows libraries to add up to 3 custom links. At the bottom of the search results pages, new search boxes have been added, allowing users to launch new searches without returning to the main search screen.  Additionally, Wilson Mobile usage statistics are now available for administrators, and the interface has been adapted to work with Shibboleth Authentication.
• An all-in-one WilsonWeb login screen.  Libraries can direct all users to a single, convenient webpage for authentication, whether by user ID and password, patron ID number, barcode number or library card number, or any of the Shibboleth access links (UK Federation, SWITCHaai, InCommon, and EduID.cz).

For more on the WilsonWeb enhancements, including additional news, details and illustrations, visit www.hwwilson.com/enhancements.

Source: H.W. Wilson, www.hwwilson.com

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OverDrive Releases Free iPhone, Android Apps for Downloading Ebooks, Audiobooks

OverDrive, a distributor of ebooks, audiobooks, and digital content to libraries and schools, has released apps for iPhone and Android that enable users to download library ebooks and audiobooks directly to their devices. The free apps include a "Get Books" feature that guides users to their local library's digital catalog of best-selling and new release titles, allowing them to browse, check out, and download with just their device. More than 13,000 public libraries, schools, colleges, and universities now offer ebook and audiobook downloads via OverDrive, including institutions in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and nine other countries.

To download the free OverDrive Media Console app for iPhone and iPod touch, users can visit the Apple AppStore. Owners of Android tablets and phones, including Droid X by Motorola, Samsung GALAXY Tab, Cruz Tablet, and HTC EVO 4G, can find the app in the Android Market. To see if your public library is a member of the OverDrive network, visit http://search.overdrive.com.

OverDrive's apps for iPhone and Android give users wireless access to their library's EPUB ebook and MP3 audiobook catalog without a PC. With the apps, users can create bookmarks and resume from the last point read. The ebook and audiobook titles from the public library automatically expire in the app, so there is never a late fee.

Source: OverDrive, www.overdrive.com

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