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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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August 07, 2012

Table of Contents

ITI Crosslinks: Expand Your Search Engine Options
Shmoop Now Offers Literature Glossary
Questia Unveils Its New, Improved Research Website
SETDA Releases 2012 National Trends Report
New Data from StudyBlue Reveals Shift Toward Mobile Studying
New Version of ePals' Launches

ITI Crosslinks: Expand Your Search Engine Options

Information Today, Inc.'s Paula Hane recently expanded on her earlier article on alternative search engines with a new and updated piece, "Expand Your Search Engine Options." Before heading back into the school fray, you should check it out so you'll have even better suggestion for students who only want to "Google it." From Paula's article:

One of the most popular bylined pieces in our NewsBreaks/NewsLink Spotlight collection has been my April 1, 2010 article, "Alternative Search Engines Offer Rich Options." Since things have changed considerably in the last 2-plus years, I decided it was time to look at what some of the most useful options now are for search engines. While Google continues its domination of the search market, some enterprising folks continue to seek out alternatives—for additional features, interface preferences, spam avoidance, or privacy and security reasons.

And, most of the top web search trainers implore people to expand their horizons and try other search tools, including directories. It’s best to have a collection of tools on hand rather than just a single choice.

Read Paula's entire August 2012 NewLink Spotlight article HERE on Information Today, Inc.'s NewsBreaks page.

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Shmoop Now Offers Literature Glossary

Shmoop, a publisher of digital curriculum and test prep, now offers a Literature Glossary that is designed to help students facing the following daunting tasks!:

--Learn the definitions for words that are difficult even to pronounce: zeugma; bowdlerize; amphibrach; ekphrasis; pyrrhic...All real words, believe it or not. No, a cat did not just walk across the keyboard.

--Figure out how to use malapropisms-on porpoise.

--Discover that an apostrophe is more than just an "upper comma." And that it doe'sn't nece'ssarily need to be u'sed in every word that contain's an "S."

--Impress friends with new language skills; define dénouement, in medias res, and ottava rima. They may not act impressed but that eye roll only masks their admiration.

Dictionaries are boring. Shmoop is not. Check out the new Literature Glossary, and Words with Friends will suddenly be a piece of cake.

Source: Shmoop, www.shmoop.com

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Questia Unveils Its New, Improved Research Website

Questia has unveiled their new website, featuring numerous expanded and improved features to help students write and cite better research papers, faster, during the upcoming academic year and beyond. To celebrate its site launch through the month of August, Questia is giving away 1,000 week-long free access codes to the first thousand people to "Like" them on Facebook.

The new and improved Questia online library and research tool for students features an expanded library (increased by over 33 percent), improved navigation for better, faster research, dictionary and thesaurus tools, and an interactive reader that will make the research experience easier for students. Questia members will also soon have access to new research tutorials, including videos and guides on how to write professor-approved papers. Students are able to utilize Questia to eliminate two of professors' biggest complaints when it comes to papers: poor sources and incorrect citations.

Source: Cengage Learning/Questia, www.cengage.com; www.questia.com

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SETDA Releases 2012 National Trends Report

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released its ninth annual National Educational Technology Trends Report, "State Leadership Empowers Educators, Transforms Teaching and Learning." The report includes dozens of examples of quality learning programs that leverage technology, including details regarding implementation of the federal Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) State Grants Program for FY 2010 and under the America Recovery and Restoration Act (ARRA).

The examples of innovative use of technology in the report fall into four strategies for preparing students for college and careers, and the report challenges education leaders to focus on these strategies in the future:

  • Providing Innovative Learning Models that enable students to have greater access to resources, classes and experts and enable meaningful, personalized learning experience both inside and outside of school.

  • Ensuring Infrastructures for Learning, including technology and data systems and content standards that are interoperable, and tightly aligned with assessments.

  • Ensuring Educator Effectiveness through online communities of practice, mentoring and coaching, and online resources and programs.

  • Providing College and Career Preparation through programs for all students including those who have not been successful in traditional schooling as well as those striving for graduate work and professional careers.

The national report is available online at www.setda.org/web/guest/nationaltrends2012.

Source: State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), www.setda.org

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New Data from StudyBlue Reveals Shift Toward Mobile Studying

A new analysis of usage data from mobile study service StudyBlue indicates that mobile studying among high school and college students grew significantly during the first half of 2012.

The data shows a 10-fold increase in study minutes from mobile devices over the past year, and StudyBlue mobile users are twice as likely to study as their web-only counterparts. More than 70 percent of mobile studiers utilize features such as flashcard flipping and quizzing, while just 30 percent of web users access these tools. Web-only users are more likely to limit their usage to browsing and reviewing study material online.

StudyBlue offers both native iPhone and Android mobile apps. Students create and study flashcards on their smartphones with the free apps, which offer the ability to add photos, as well as text to speech directly into flashcards.

Data was mined from student study activity across the company's database of more than 60 million study materials during the spring 2012 semester. Comparison is based on studying data from students who used the StudyBlue Android and iOS apps on their smartphones versus students who used only the StudyBlue website.
 
Source: StudyBlue, www.studyblue.com

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New Version of ePals' Launches

ePals has announced the launch of the all-new ePals, significantly enhancing its online collaborative capabilities. ePals provides a one-stop learning solution, combining access to local, national and international classroom matching, standards-aligned projects, and private customizable group workspaces. ePals connects more than 800,000 classrooms across 200 countries and reaches over 27 million students, teachers and parents for engaging and rigorous authentic learning experiences, according to the announcement. Projects feature content that address 21st century skills, collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and writing aligned to state, national and international standards, including the Common Core ELA State Standards.

At the core of the new ePals is its intelligent matching and project creation capabilities. Built to capture a classroom's profile and learning objectives, contextualize the information, and use it to anticipate compatibility across an international network of project-based learning communities, ePals not only maximizes the likelihood of finding the right classroom partners, it helps teachers drive student engagement and get the most out of each collaborative learning opportunity, the announcement states.

New Additions and Enhancements to ePals include:

A Better Way to Match with Classrooms - It's now easier for ePals educators to find and connect with other classrooms for project-based learning focused on literacy, culture, science and other standards-aligned topics.

  • MatchSense - automatically recommends classroom partners and projects based on member profiles, goals and interests, and displays a dynamic list of recommended partners on the member's homepage
  • Dynamic Search - allows educators to find classrooms based on their choice of specific interests (e.g. poetry, water conservation), language, geographic location, age/skill levels, and number of students, collaboration goals and project duration
  • Collaboration Tables - ePals members can find or create a project for teaching a subject of their choosing, and invite others to join, within their own classroom, with parents, across a grade, with a partner classroom or including whole groups of classrooms

Upgraded Suite of Collaborative Tools - provide educators with safe, private, customizable Web 2.0 workspaces for each of their projects.

Each workspace includes a blog, media gallery and discussion forum - accessible only to the educators and students invited to be part of that group. As a complement to ePals' policy managed email service, SchoolMail, the collaboration tables provide a safe way for students in different classrooms, locally or across the world, to share their experiences, ideas, and resources.

Expanded, Easy-To-Browse Project Library - where ePals members can search, discover and create new projects.

  • The Project Library, continually enhanced by teacher-contributed projects, showcases outstandingprojects from leading content partners and members
  • Projects are classroom-ready, and uniquely designed for online collaboration including instructional plans, culminating activities, and related resources
  • A unique template-driven structure lets teachers easily adopt projects and customize them for their own uses, or create their own from scratch
  • Featured projects include National Geographic's "The Way We Are," "Poetic Social Mission," presented by ONE DROP and "Avoiding the Path to Panem," ePals newest featured project presented by Educurious, and based on the popularHunger Gamestrilogy

Rich, Multi-Disciplinary Student-Centric Learning Centers - ePals' new Learning Centers are designed to encourage independent student learning and feature standards-aligned content, activities, multimedia, and teacher resources.

Featured Learning Centers currently include:

  • Smithsonian on ePals- Featured exhibits and learning activities from one ofthe world's mostrespected museum and research complexes
  • The Creative Writing Center- Tips, galleries and prompts to inspire creative writing
  • We Are ePalsCenter - Where members share and celebrate their unique cultures
  • Global Citizens- Member stories about how kids helps others in their communities and across the world
  • The ScienceCenter - Where students and teachers can find experiments, articles and activities
  • In2BooksBook Club- A place for students to chat about books, publish book reviews and explore genres

Learning Centers include interdisciplinary explorations of a shared topic or theme. The first featured  exploration is "The Perfect Storm: An Adventure Through the World of Wild Weather" showcasing a variety of weather-related projects, articles, and activities from National Geographic, the Smithsonian, and Cobblestone & Cricket, two of ePals' award winning children's magazines. For a limited time, ePals members can download "The Perfect Storm," a free digital compilation of six award-winning Cobblestone & Cricket magazines, to explore weather, natural hazards and more.

Game Center - ePals' Game Room provides a safe place for students around the world to match and learn together through, multi-player games that build strategy and logic skills, with an initial offering that includes games such as Cobblestone & Cricket'sBuild a Machine and Spider Match, Scientists at Work, Chess, and Sudoku.

Source: ePals Corporation, www.epals.com

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