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March 15, 2011

Table of Contents

ITI Cross Links: Cengage Learning Introduces new 'MindTap' Personal Learning Experience
CoSN Launches Access4Ed.net Online Community of Practice Focused on Providing Access to Online Environments in K-12
Scholastic Launches READ 180 Next Generation
CoSN Releases Flexible Mobile Platform Report
Cengage Learning's Delmar Releases Engineering Titles in Partnership With Project Lead the Way
Vernier Announces Winners of Video Physics Contest
Lexia, Consortium On Reading Excellence Announce Partnership to Provide Lexia Users with CORE Services

ITI Cross Links: Cengage Learning Introduces new 'MindTap' Personal Learning Experience

From Information Today, Inc. news bureau chief Paula Hane's NewsBreak article on Cengage's MindTap:

MindTap is a new personalized program of digital products and services that engages students with interactivity while also offering students and instructors choice in content, platform, devices, and learning tools. Cengage Learning, a provider of learning and research solutions for the academic, professional, and library markets, introduced the new service at the recent TED conference, which showcases the best in technology and "ideas worth spreading." Cengage claims MindTap goes beyond ebooks, digital supplements, course delivery platforms, or learning management systems (LMS)-it is the first in a new category Cengage calls Personal Learning Experiences (PLEs).

"New category." "Personal Learning Experiences." Big claims! If it sounds exciting to you, we think it indeed is. Here's some more from Paula's piece:

The customizable, cloud-based system is a web portal students log into to navigate via a dashboard. MindTap assembles all of students' course materials in one spot for easy access-their etextbook, homework solutions, quizzes, multimedia content, assets from Gale's research tools and library databases, and more. And, it is device agnostic-it can be accessed from their desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile phones. It also works with any LMS, such as Blackboard.

We hope that's enough to pique your interest. Click HERE to link to Paula's thoughtful and comprehensive story on Information Today, Inc.'s NewsLinks.

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CoSN Launches Access4Ed.net Online Community of Practice Focused on Providing Access to Online Environments in K-12

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has launched Access4Ed.net, a new online community of practice focused on innovative approaches to providing access to online environments in K-12 schools and districts. The new community of practice was launched in conjunction with the release of a draft of a new report on the state of online communities of practice in education. Both are part of a three-year initiative, Connected Online Communities of Practice, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and implemented in partnership with the American Institutes for Research and five other organizations, of which CoSN is one.

CoSN's new online community will serve district technology leaders, superintendents, school boards and educational service agencies, and many other education stakeholders. The online community of practice will first focus on student-owned devices, followed by broadband. Future areas of focus may include cloud computing, mobile computing, enabling home access, wireless access and network design, among many others.

Over the years, CoSN has provided thought leadership on a number of these issues through its various initiatives - from the Total Cost of Ownership and Participatory Learning with Web 2.0 to Cyber Security and Data-Driven Decision Making. Each initiative has focused on providing the tools and resources that district leaders need to help boost productivity, enhance teaching and learning, and improve educational outcomes. Through each initiative CoSN has developed partnerships with leading districts and education organizations, and will now work with many of these same partners to cultivate an online community to tackle some of the top access-related issues facing educators today.

Some of the first content to debut in the new online community of practice will be video interviews at CoSN 2011 of education leaders discussing their views on top access-related issues. In addition, CoSN will soon post case studies chronicling leading districts' experiences with student-owned devices, as well as its recently released Acceptable Use Policy Guide.  

To learn more about the Connected Online Communities of Practice project, visit http://edcocp.org.

Source: Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), www.cosn.org

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Scholastic Launches READ 180 Next Generation

Scholastic Education has announced the launch of READ 180 Next Generation, a new version of its reading intervention program that is currently used by more than 1 million students in schools across the country.

The result of five years of intensive research and development, READ 180 Next Generation incorporates new technology, content and supports to make teachers more effective, school leaders more empowered, and students more engaged - building upon the science, the research and the model that has been proven to raise achievement by dozens of independent evaluators, the announcement states.

Recognizing that raising reading achievement is a responsibility co-owned by teachers, school leaders and students, Scholastic Education focused on creating new tools, instruction and content to support each of those groups.

For Teachers:

With the goal of making every READ 180 teacher a highly effective teacher, READ 180 Next Generation includes new dashboards to help them become experts on data, differentiating instruction and lesson planning.

A new Teacher Dashboard draws upon user-friendly technologies like those used in online banking to deliver instructional data to teachers anytime/anywhere and helps them sort through it, analyze it and use it to provide targeted instruction that addresses each student's specific needs.

Teachers can opt in to notifications about student performance, schedule reports to be delivered to their e-mail inboxes, and create lesson plans that they can send to school leaders - all from their classrooms, offices or home computers.

The dashboard links teachers to on-demand professional development, and connects teachers to the 8,000-member READ 180 Community, a social network where READ 180 teachers support each other, share lesson plans and communicate directly with Scholastic experts.

New end-of-workshop projects and "rSkills" assessments help students gain valuable higher order thinking skills and meet the raised expectations of the Common Core State Standards.

For Students:

New features for students in READ 180 Next Generation are designed to give them more ownership and accountability over their learning, more motivation to push themselves toward success, and more exciting and relevant content.

A new Student Dashboard taps into research on gaming by giving students the ability to more clearly track their progress, see evidence of their success and earn rewards for topping their "personal bests." Rewarding personal achievements and acknowledging individual success is especially motivating for students who have experienced school failure in the past.

New writing software and instruction in the READ 180 rBook are designed to help students build competence and confidence and make and support arguments. The writing instruction helps students move from single- to multi-paragraph essays. The writing software provides scaffolded support as students improve their writing from draft to draft, then lets them send it to their teacher for review.

READ 180 Next Generation is loaded with new content, especially non-fiction content, and new digital "eReads" that students can unlock in the software and let them dive deeper into content and learn valuable 21st Century literacy skills.

For School Leaders: 

A new Leadership Dashboard gives school and district leaders access to student-by-student, class-by-class and school-by-school data so they can track the success of their READ 180 implementation. They can sign up for e-mail alerts when various progress indicators are achieved and quickly know where their attention is required, and get snapshots of student success from across a school or district.

New technology in READ 180 Next Generation makes the program browser-based and easier to install across a school or district. And because the technology is delivered from a central server instead of on each student workstation, implementing READ 180 Next Generation is significantly easier.

Source: Scholastic, www.scholastic.com

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CoSN Releases Flexible Mobile Platform Report

The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released an EdTechNext report, titled "Flexible Mobile Platforms," which explores the fundamentals of mobile devices for schools - from their education potential to the pros and cons of student- vs. school-owned devices. The report also details four components of mobile learning that factor into technology planning and decision making, and highlights how some school districts are successfully leveraging mobile devices.

Education technology leaders looking for guidance on how to strategically integrate mobile devices into the education technology infrastructure will find this report valuable. It is designed as a resource to outline the key factors that should be taken into consideration, and is part of CoSN's efforts to maximize thought leadership on this issue. 

This report outlines the potential educational benefits of mobile devices, including increased student engagement and achievement, increased competency in 21st century skills, and extended time for learning, among many others. According to the report, these benefits can be realized and mobile learning initiatives can be successful if districts and schools take into account the four components of mobile learning platforms - user devices, network access, software and learning environments and e-content.

The CoSN report also details the pros and cons of student- vs. school-owned mobile devices device. For example, regarding school-provided smartphones, the pros include device consistency and controlling network access in school, while the cons include the expense of 3G and 4G data plans and the need for schools to maintain a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure, among others. In addition, the report provides a comprehensive list of major mobile devices with their features and operating systems, and data network technologies and carriers - all aimed at providing educators with critical information needed for technology planning and decision making.

This report is the latest CoSN's EdTechNext report, a series of "mini-reports" developed to keep educators up-to-speed on the latest trends in educational technology. They provide a brief introduction to new and emerging technologies and insight on their educational value. CoSN's EdTechNext reports are only available to members of CoSN. To learn more about the reports or to become a member of CoSN, visit www.cosn.org.

Source: Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), www.cosn.org

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Cengage Learning's Delmar Releases Engineering Titles in Partnership With Project Lead the Way

Delmar, part of Cengage Learning and a provider of learning solutions for ongoing career development and education, has announced the release of four new engineering titles through a partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a non-profit provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. The four new titles developed through the partnership, Civil Engineering and Architecture, Aerospace Engineering: From the Ground Up, Principles of Engineering and Digital Electronics, provide a wealth of content and resources to enhance PLTW's middle and high school STEM curriculum, according to the announcement.

The Delmar/PLTW engineering series brings together the feedback and ideas from a number of experienced teachers and curriculum developers across a broad range of engineering disciplines. Two important themes emerged from the onset - first, teachers expressed the need for a new set of resources that fit with the way they teach today's engineering students, and secondly, teachers want engaging, interactive resources to support project and problem-based learning. From this feedback, Delmar/PLTW developed a series of texts that aim to effectively meet the needs of today's STEM instructors by:

  • Creating an unconventional, show-don't-tell pedagogy that is driven by engineering concepts, rather than traditional textbook content. Concepts are mapped out at the beginning of each chapter, and clearly identified as students navigate through the pages.
  • Reinforcing major concepts with applications, projects and problems based on real-world examples and systems.
  • Providing texts that are rich in features and created to bring the design process to life through real-world scenarios. Case studies, career profiles, boxed articles highlighting human achievements and resources for extended learning show students how engineers develop career pathways, work through product failures and innovate to continuously improve product success and quality of life.
  • Reinforcing the text's interactivity with a design that invites students to participate in a journey through the engineering design process.

Included with the texts are numerous comprehension aid options that coincide with the textbook's content. Tools available include case studies, boxed articles, YourTurn activities, off-road exploration suggestions, connections to STEM concepts, career profiles, design briefs and example pages straight from the notebooks of actual engineers in the field. To complement the end-of-chapter questions, these books also present a hands-on challenge or exercise to further evaluate student understanding of content.

Current Delmar and PLTW titles in circulation include Gateway to Engineering, Through the Gateway: Readings to Accompany Gateway to Engineering, CNC Programming: Principles and Applications and Engineering Design: An Introduction, with plans to develop into other STEM subject-areas in the future.

For more information on the new offerings through Delmar's partnership with PLTW, visit www.cengage.com/community/pltw.

Source: Cengage Learning, www.cengage.com

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Vernier Announces Winners of Video Physics Contest

Vernier Software & Technology has announced the winners of its Video Physics Contest, a competition created to mark the launch of Vernier's Video Physics app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The winning entries demonstrated both creativity and innovation by using video to demonstrate the science concepts behind many everyday occurrences, from the motion of a supermarket checkout conveyor belt to the flow of a creek.

The innovative video projects shared by winners illustrate the utility of Vernier's Video Physics application, a new iOS application that can be used by educators and students to take video of an object in motion, mark object position frame by frame, and set up the scale using a known distance. Examples of the use of Video Physics in the field include measuring the trajectory of a free throw shot, the motion of a child's swing, and the velocity of a car. Video Physics draws trajectory, position, and velocity graphs for any moving object and is an excellent tool for teaching two-dimensional kinematics. Video Physics has been featured as "New," "Noteworthy," and "What's Hot" in the iTunes App Store and works well with the HD video recording features of the new iPad and iPod touch.

Three winners were chosen to receive an iPod Touch with HD video recording. These prizes were awarded to:

  • The team of Rex Rice, Gabe de la Paz, Rob Laux, Ryan King, and Jennifer Adams, from Clayton High School, in Clayton, MO. Together they created a video examining the uniform circular motion of a hoverpuck anchored by a string. Students are able to see what happens when the centripetal force is removed by a blowtorch.
  • Bobby Quimpo, of West Central High School in Francesville, IN, who used video to observe mathematics in the motion of a steel can.
  • Dale Basler, of Appleton East High School in Appleton, WI, who investigated physics in the grocery store. Dale chose the unique perspective of the conveyor belt itself for his iPhone camera, creating a frame of reference in which the supermarket counter appeared to be in motion.

Vernier also chose second place winners who each received a $25 iTunes gift card. These prizes were awarded to:

  • Tom Pasquini, of Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, NH. Tom analyzed the puzzling nature of a bouncing ball that retraces its own path.
  • Jennifer Meyer of Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, MO, who observed and analyzed the physics of a dive.
  • Chris Carman and the environmental partnership between Theodore Roosevelt High School and Davey Elementary School in Kent, OH. The team used Video Physics, an iPhone, and an orange to measure the rate of creek flow in their local watershed.
  • Bobby Quimpo, of West Central High School in Francesville, IN, whose students recorded video while balancing a meter stick on one end. Using video analysis, students were able to track the center of mass and reinforce the fundamental nature of trajectory motion.

Teachers and students are encouraged to visit the Video Physics Contest web gallery to view and download the winning entries, and to learn more about Video Physics for iOS: www.vernier.com/ios/contest.html. These videos will also be available to users of Video Physics in a free update via the iTunes App Store. 

Source: Vernier Software & Technology, www.vernier.com

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Lexia, Consortium On Reading Excellence Announce Partnership to Provide Lexia Users with CORE Services

Lexia Learning Systems, Inc. and the Consortium On Reading Excellence, Inc. (CORE) have announced a partnership to provide comprehensive professional development and literacy implementation services to Lexia users.

Districts using Lexia's software for essential reading practice, instruction and assessment, will now benefit from CORE's literacy professional development and comprehensive implementation assistance. CORE's programs provide ongoing coaching, mentoring and support services at the elementary and secondary level, as well as programs specifically focused on Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI) strategies. 

Lexia Reading offers 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 program includes more than 900 age-appropriate activities conforming to federal guidelines and focused on the five major areas of reading instruction. Students using the web-based, SIF certified program work independently as the software automatically differentiates the content to match each student's skill level; detecting when additional practice is needed and advancing students to the next level when skills have been mastered.

CORE works collaboratively with schools, districts, state organizations, and education agencies around the country as an advisor at all levels of K-12 education to support literacy and math achievement growth for all students. CORE's expertise includes early reading, intervention, adolescent literacy, special education, assessment, writing, English learners, mathematics, and Response to Intervention.

Source: Lexia Learning, www.lexialearning.com

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