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February 15, 2011

Table of Contents

Follett Software Company Releases Cognite 3.5
dataMetrics Software’s ‘TestWiz’ Now Comes Loaded with Common Core Standards
Cool Links: Federal EdTech Agency Part of Obama Strategy
Turning Technologies and BrainPOP Announce Strategic Alliance
Discovery Education’s Digital Content Now Compatible With Learning.com
Discovery Education, 3M Announce Call for Entries for Young Scientist Challenge
Capstone Digital Launches myON reader
Shmoop Launches Online ACT Prep
WatchKnow Web Service Announces WatchKnow Classroom and iPhone App
BookheadEd Learning Announces Launch of StudySync
ePals Introduces SchoolMail365 Cloud-Based School and District-Wide Email
Internet@Schools Xtra News: Complete January/February 2011 Internet@Schools Contents Now Available Online—Full Text, Text+Graphics, PDF

Follett Software Company Releases Cognite 3.5

Follett Software Company has released Cognite 3.5, a new version of its learning management system. Version 3.5 features a new and more comprehensive database of content standards, a new mobile app for Android devices, and the ability to integrate with Turnitin.

All of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces, plus the Common Core and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards, are now integrated into Cognite. In addition, there are more options for finding content using standards, while teachers and administrators can correlate their own content to standards.

Like the iPhone app that was released earlier, the new Android app for Cognite allows for viewing of assignments and messages, and gives users the ability to check on their assignments and messages.

Another 3.5 version highlight is the ability to integrate with Turnitin, which is used by educators worldwide to enable web-based peer review, facilitate meaningful feedback, improve writing skills, promote critical thinking, streamline grading, and discourage plagiarism. The integration allows for assignments to be created in both Cognite and Turnitin, and makes it easier for the students to submit their work and for teachers to access it.

The Cognite learning management system, which debuted in March 2010 with version 3.0, brings together the discovery of and organization of a school's digital and traditional content, messaging, and promotes 21st century learning skills in the K-12 classroom. Districts can organize and access digital resources and access them in one place, providing the education community an online collaboration tool to discover, share and organize.

Existing Cognite customers with current technical support are entitled to the 3.5 upgrade - available now - at no additional cost.

Source: Follett Software Company, www.follettsoftware.com

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dataMetrics Software’s ‘TestWiz’ Now Comes Loaded with Common Core Standards

dataMetrics Software has announced that its TestWiz system now comes pre-loaded with the Common Core Standards (CCS) in English and math, making it easier to align locally created test items to those standards. The integration of the new standards, along with the system's reporting engine, will assist teachers in viewing the effects of their instruction in terms of the new standards, according to the announcement.

The CCS Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. The standards are  based on the highest, most effective models from states across the country and countries around the world, and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn.

To address the CCS, TestWiz provides teachers with the ability to phase in the new standards gradually by converting assessments once aligned with state and local standards to the new standards and track student and class performance on assessments aligned to the CCS.

To learn more about TestWiz and how it supports the Common Core Standards, visit www.testwiz.com.

Source: dataMetrics Software, Inc., www.testwiz.com

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Cool Links: Federal EdTech Agency Part of Obama Strategy

Victor Rivero reports briefly on the Obama administration's push for a federal edtach agency in a posting on his edtechdigest.com blog. From the recent posting:

President Obama is requesting fiscal 2012 funding for an edtech agency within the Department of Education, along with a $2 billion grant program to fund sharable, web-based tools. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Education would support research on breakthrough technologies to enhance learning.

The post includes some excellent links for further analysis and more information. Click HERE to link to Victor's full post.

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Turning Technologies and BrainPOP Announce Strategic Alliance

Turning Technologies has announced a strategic alliance with BrainPOP that will allow BrainPOP's animated content to operate seamlessly with Turning Technologies' student response systems for immediate assessment of student learning.

With Turning Technologies' student response solution, teachers ask students interactive formative assessment questions, students respond using durable ResponseCard keypads ("clickers"), and the technology immediately gathers and displays response results. This data allows educators to assess in real time student understanding and comprehension of lesson materials while also engaging every student with every question. With this insight, teachers can easily differentiate instruction and monitor progress in order to increase student learning outcomes, the announcement states.

BrainPOP's online, subscription-based, cross-curricular resources include animated lesson materials and assessments that teachers can use daily in numerous ways, from introducing a new lesson or topic to illustrating complex subject matter to reviewing before a test. BrainPOP content is aligned to academic standards including the Common Core State Standards.

With this integration, BrainPOP subscribers who also have Turning Technologies' student response devices will be able to present BrainPOP quizzes to their entire class and use ResponseCards to gather real time responses to the assessments from every student.

For information on how to access the integrated products, visit www.turningtechnologies.com/BrainPOP.

Source: Turning Technologies, www.turningtechnologies.com

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Discovery Education’s Digital Content Now Compatible With Learning.com

Discovery Education's suite of digital curriculum-based services, including Discovery Education streaming Plus, Discovery Education Science and Media Share, are now compatible with Learning.com's Web-enabled Sky digital learning environment.

By making Discovery Education digital services compatible with Sky, Learning.com users can now access the company's content using one single username and password.  In addition, Discovery Education's digital content will now appear in Learning.com users' searches alongside Learning.com content.  Finally, Learning.com users can now include Discovery Education's digital assets when creating their own curriculum items or customized units within Sky.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com, and Learning.com, www.learning.com

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Discovery Education, 3M Announce Call for Entries for Young Scientist Challenge

Discovery Education and 3M have announced the 2011 call for entries for the 13th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge competition for students in grades 5th through 8th. Ten finalists will be selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. to compete in the final challenge in October, 2011. The winner will receive $25,000 and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist."

According to the latest results from the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress, less than half of U.S. students are proficient in science. The decline begins in 4th grade with 34 percent performing at or above the proficient level and decreases to 30 percent of eighth-graders and 21 percent of twelfth-graders. To help cultivate our nation's next generation of great thinkers and innovators and keep them interested in STEM-related issues, Discovery Education and 3M have teamed up again to reward students for their science acumen and curiosity, while encouraging them to share that passion by creatively communicating their findings through this national science competition.    

Middle school students residing in the United States are asked to create a one to two-minute video communicating the science behind a possible solution for an everyday problem related to one of the following categories:
--The Way We Move
--The Way We Keep Ourselves Healthy
--The Way We Make a Difference

For additional information on the video topics, visit www.youngscientistchallenge.com/11challenge/topics.html.

New to this year's competition, each of the ten finalists will have an exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship program where each finalist will be challenged to create an innovation that solves a problem in society. As part of the mentorship, the students will virtually meet with their mentor and will receive resources and support provided by 3M and Discovery Education.

Reviewed by a panel of judges, all video entries for the 2011 science competition will be evaluated on the basis of creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras. All video entries must be submitted online at www.youngscientistchallenge.com no later than April 15, 2011.

For more information on the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, including submission guidelines, tips from previous winners and complete rules, please visit: www.youngscientistchallenge.com.

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

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Capstone Digital Launches myON reader

Capstone Digital, developer of personalized learning environments for students, has announced the launch of myON reader, a personalized literacy environment that provides access to an integrated library of digital books with multimedia supports, customized to a student's interest and reading ability. myON reader enables students to take ownership of their reading growth while rating and sharing their reviews with classmates, according to the announcement.

Designed for PreK-8 and remedial readers, myON reader creates individual, personalized reading programs for students. The online platform offers a growing library of more than 1,000 books from award-winning Capstone imprints. Embedded reading scaffolds (including highlighting, audio and dictionary) increase student confidence. To personalize the reading experience, myON reader develops an individual profile for each student based on interests and reading ability, and generates a recommended book list to encourage students to read more and further improve their reading skills.

In addition to customizing the reading experience, myON reader furnishes a collaborative reading environment in which students, educators, and parents work together to support student reading performance. The online platform uses cloud-based technology to connect school and home through anytime, anywhere access to an expanding library of digital books, and to provide a safe, social network where students can read, rate and review digital books, and recommend them to classmates.

Capstone Digital partnered with MetaMetrics to embed The Lexile Framework for Reading, which measures student reading ability and text complexity on the same developmental scale within myON reader. Educators use Lexile measures to match a student with books that will provide the right level of challenge for that student's ability and goals. Research shows that students can improve their reading skills by reading books within their Lexile range (100L below to 50L above the student's Lexile measure) and on their favorite interests - two factors that myON reader uses to recommend books.

Through embedded assessments, myON reader enables educators to monitor, track and measure student reading growth based on the Lexile Framework. Benchmark tests measure reading levels, and end-of-book quizzes determine comprehension. In addition, myON reader accurately tracks number of books read and time spent reading. To monitor their own growth, students have access to a personalized trajectory report that can forecast their expected reading level. Using this report, students and teachers create a plan together to improve reading achievement, and share with parents to foster collaboration at home.

For more information about myON reader, visit http://thefutureinreading.com/.

Source: Capstone Digital, www.capstonedigital.com

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Shmoop Launches Online ACT Prep

Shmoop has announced the launch of an Online ACT Prep Course that keeps students tuned-in by littering its ACT lessons with snippets of television that they love ... Or love to hate ... Or say they hate, but secretly love (we are on to them).

Shmoop Online ACT Prep is available for $23 for at-home purchase by an individual student. Shmoop also offers affordable Site Licenses to schools, districts and libraries for its growing stable of Online Test Prep Courses - ACT, SAT, PSAT, and AP Exams.

Shmoop Test Prep is now in use in schools and libraries nationwide. In an effort to improve college readiness, the school district of Philadelphia - the eighth largest school district in the country - provides students free access to Shmoop Test Prep at school, home or anywhere they have internet access.


See Shmoop ACT Prep at www.shmoop.com/act/test-prep.html.

Shmoop uses relatable and engaging allegories drawn from the television to keep students engaged. ACT Scientific Reasoning becomes a little less painful when deconstructed like a CSI crime scene, according to the announcement. Learning punctuation and rhythm becomes a little less soulless when students get in the groove of a So You Think You Can Dance? tango.

Students earn Shmoints (Shmoop points) for correctly completing portions of the ACT Prep course. Top Shmoints scorers will win Shmoop t-shirts.

Shmoop ACT Prep by the Numbers:
--1,000 practice problems in ACT Reading, ACT Writing, ACT English, ACT Math, and ACT Scientific Reasoning
--3 full-length interactive practice exams
--38 review topics that go deeper than a giant squid dares

Shmoop now offers affordable group rates for schools, districts and public libraries that want a Site License. See details at www.shmoop.com/school-district.

Source: Shmoop, www.shmoop.com

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WatchKnow Web Service Announces WatchKnow Classroom and iPhone App

WatchKnow, a free web service for teachers providing a directory of K-12 educational videos available on the internet, has introduced the WatchKnow Classroom and the WatchKnow iPhone App.

Founded as a non-profit online community, WatchKnow is based on a Wiki framework and philosophy, so volunteer teachers and educators review, approve and categorize videos for easy access and use. Originally developed by Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger, WatchKnow has indexed over 22,000 educational videos into a directory of more than 3,000 categories. Users can quickly search for and find relevant, quality videos, guided by titles, descriptions, age-level information and ratings, according to the announcement.

WatchKnow Classroom allows teachers to create a customized and secure virtual classroom for organizing, uploading, and sharing instructional videos. By setting up their own Classroom, teachers can drag and drop selected videos, track student use, create and upload their own video content, and customize the site with school logos and colors. 

WatchKnow Educational Videos is a free companion app to the WatchKnow website. Available as an iTunes download, the new app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, allowing users to view free educational videos over the internet via these devices.   

Source: WatchKnow, www.watchknow.org

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BookheadEd Learning Announces Launch of StudySync

BookheadEd Learning  has announced the launch of StudySync, a program that combines classic and modern texts, digital media, mobile technology, and social networking to inspire students to achieve higher levels of critical thinking and academic collaboration. Designed for middle and high school students, StudySync aligns the world of contemporary media and entertainment with the proven pedagogy of traditional teaching, according to the announcement.
 
With more than 300 classic and modern texts, Sync-Library offers an expanding collection of literature, engaging writing prompts, and rich media to build student interest. Many of the texts appear in Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards, and were chosen to match the curriculum of courses taught in middle school through high school, as well as at the college level. The text excerpts are designed to inspire students to read the complete work, and can be used in any discipline, including English, language arts, social studies, history, and science.
 
Sync-TV offers a television-quality video series that features college-level students interacting to construct meaning from a short text. The students model excellence in critical thinking by exchanging ideas, examining premises and assumptions, and reading the author's words closely for meaning. Each episode is accompanied by a complete lesson from Sync-Lessons, including pre-writing activities, a writing prompt, and an opportunity for students to post their own work, as well as review the work of their peers.

To facilitate academic collaboration, Sync-Review provides an interactive peer network that guides, inspires and improves students' analysis and communication. Teachers can make assignments to small groups, or an entire class, and students can post essays and critique the work of their peers, using classroom guidelines and a rubric provided by StudySync. This closed peer review network encourages effective timely review, and improvement to critical thinking and student expression.
 
In addition to collaborating online, students are able to collaborate with each other through mobile technology on topics of cultural significance. Sync-Blasts enable teachers to distribute prompts related to current events to PDAs, iPhones and email, and post for peer review and rating. These prompts can be integrated with lesson plans, and are designed to stimulate student interest and encourage meaningful discussion about important contemporary issues.
 
StudySync features classroom management and assessment tools through Sync-Management and Sync-Assessment, allowing teachers to deliver assignments, guide student work and perform feedback-based assessments. StudySync enables creative and flexible classroom use by allowing teachers to make individual, group or whole class assignments, and customize lessons to targeted learning goals and objectives. In addition, adaptive assessment tools allow teachers to easily track student progress and improvement over time.
 
StudySync is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, and developed in full recognition of the National Council of Teachers of English's Position Statement on 21st Century Literacies.
 
Pricing for StudySync starts at $175 per teacher (up to three classrooms) per year. Building-wide pricing begins at $2,500 for an annual subscription, with volume discounts available for multiple buildings within a district. For more information, or to sign up for a free 60-day trial, visit www.studysync.com.
 
Source: BookheadEd Learning, LLC, www.studysync.com

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ePals Introduces SchoolMail365 Cloud-Based School and District-Wide Email

ePals, Inc. has announced SchoolMail365 next-generation cloud-based email for schools and districts. ePals SchoolMail365 delivers enterprise-grade email specifically designed for K-12, with role-based policies governing all email communications, SchoolSafe controlled access to third-party applications, and embedded student learning support.

ePals SchoolMail365 is a cloud-based solution integrating Microsoft Live@edu infrastructure. It allows users to access their accounts anytime, anywhere and on any device. The communication solution is based on what education reporter Chris Dawson terms as the "template for education in the cloud" and is already being deployed by leading school districts including New York City Public Schools.

SchoolMail365 eliminates the need for maintaining location-based, on-premises systems, saving schools significant money each year. This cloud-based solution is estimated to save schools substantial resources annually, up to $5 million annually in N

ePals SchoolMail365 has many distinguishing features, notably:

* Role & Group-Based Policies - A communication solution delivering hierarchical, K-12 role- and group-based policies governing inbound and outbound, intra-school and cross-district email traffic. Includes mail monitoring, moderation and filtering. Automates COPPA, CIPA and FERPA compliance.

* Smart School Directories and Contact Lists - Email address books are auto-populated based on school policies and an individual's role and communication rights, improving ease of communication and eliminating the need to find and manage approved contact lists.

* SchoolSafe Access to Third-Party Applications - The SchoolSafe dashboard provides policy-based access linking students to district-selected third-party learning applications (e.g. Google Docs, Moodle).

* Automated Account and Policy Administration - Integrates with current and legacy student information systems to provide simple deployment and automated day-to-day manageability.

* Optional Email Archiving and E-Discovery - Through ePals Certified Partner Program, onsite training, email archiving and e-discovery, and a host of additional, optional services are available.

More information about SchoolMail365 can be found at: www.schoolmail365.com

Source: ePals, Inc., www.corp.epals.com

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Internet@Schools Xtra News: Complete January/February 2011 Internet@Schools Contents Now Available Online—Full Text, Text+Graphics, PDF

The January/February 2011  issue of Internet @ Schools magazine is all there now at our website www.InternetAtSchools.com. In addition to the free January/February reviews and the free full-text cover story (How Google Works: Are Search Engines Really Dumb and Why Should Educators Care?), which have been available since the beginning of the month, now the remaining features, columns, and other January/February content have been processed. Some are free to view. Others are available in a variety of formats -- Full Text, Text+Graphics, and Page Image PDF -- on a pay-to-view basis by way of Information Today, Inc.'s InfoCentral and ProQuest Archiver.

For access, see the January/February 2011 issue contents HERE, click on any article, and follow the links.

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