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February 12, 2013

Table of Contents

Smithsonian-ePals Global Kids Invention Challenge Winners Announced
CDW-G Report: Work Imitates Life in Cloud Computing Adoption
Wacom Debuts DTH-2242 and DTU-1031 Interactive Displays
Learning.com Unveils Custom Curriculum Publishing Tool
Promethean Announces Alliance with Microsoft to Deliver Interactive and Collaborative Education Tools and Services
Skyward Introduces SkyCoder to Provide Districts Greater Control of Data Management

Smithsonian-ePals Global Kids Invention Challenge Winners Announced

ePals Corporation and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation's Spark!Lab have announced the 26 student winners and runners up in the 2012 Invent It! Challenge contest.

Students were challenged to come up with solutions to problems in their schools, to improve on inventions being used in their schools, or to invent solutions for larger real-world problems that exist today.

Winners and runners up were chosen from among hundreds of entries across different categories and age groups, all of which are highlighted at www.ePals.com. They include:

* A 13-year-old boy from Chapel Hill, N.C., and his construction of a portable transport vehicle for children and elderly refugees who must flee conflict and famine-that could save lives the world over;

* A 9-year-old Mississippi girl's prototype of a purse that has a solar-powered light inside, brightening the chances of finding your house keys;

* A 16-year-old girl from Indiana's development of an interactive homework-help ‘app' for smartphones and handheld devices;

* A 6-year-old child from Pennsylvania's "turbo skraper" to make snow and ice removal from a car windshield easier than ever;

* A 9-year-old New Jersey girl, affected by her grandfather's Parkinson's, invented a "sand sleeve" that is a wrist guard with sand in it, the weight of which steadies her grandfather's hand so he can sign his name.

This year's entries reflect an awareness of academic, environmental and practical issues, and also show a deep understanding and empathy for those in different circumstances, such as the elderly and people facing war and conflict, say experts in inventions and global innovation. A social media campaign was added to this year's voting process, with ePals Choice nominees given two weeks to reach out and solicit votes for their projects. Thousands of people from around the world weighed in with their choices.

Prizes for selected winners in different categories include patent applications, which will be evaluated by the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP.

Other prizes include LEGO sets, scholarships to Invent Now Inc.'s Camp Invention, class participation in a video chat with an inventor from the Lemelson Center, and more. Prizes are provided by sponsors, including LEGO and the Nelson Mullins law firm.

The full list of winners and runners up, and all of the Invent It! Challenge entries, can be viewed at http://en.community.epals.com/smithsonian_on_epals/p/inventionchallenge2012winners.aspx.

Source: ePals Corporation, www.epals.com

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CDW-G Report: Work Imitates Life in Cloud Computing Adoption

CDW Government LLC (CDW-G), a provider of technology products and services to government, education and healthcare customers, has announced its 2013 State of the Cloud Report, an assessment of the current and future drivers behind cloud computing adoption in the United States, based on a survey of 1,242 IT professionals familiar with their organization's plans for the cloud. The report found that more than half of organizations are migrating or planning to migrate specific applications or infrastructure to the cloud, and that personal use of cloud services is significantly influencing organizational decisions.

The report reveals that 73 percent of respondents believe that employees' personal use of cloud applications and mobile devices has significantly influenced their organizations' decisions to adopt cloud computing, with 68 percent stating that employee requests for cloud services have increased over the last two years. In fact, two-thirds of the IT professionals surveyed said that their use of cloud applications and services in their non-work lives directly influences their cloud-related recommendations at work.

Cloud computing is on the rise within organizations, as 39 percent of organizations report that they are implementing or maintaining cloud solutions - up from 28 percent in 2011.

As cloud services continue to evolve, so do the decisions organizations face when migrating to the cloud. Although many respondents continued to cite security as a key factor to address in cloud adoption, other factors have emerged as well. Thirty-two percent of respondents cited cloud service performance, and 25 percent cited the technical integration of cloud applications and/or infrastructure with legacy systems.

Despite these challenges, CDW-G's survey found a silver lining for organizations implementing or maintaining cloud services. Estimates of current-year savings from cloud adoption increased from 10 percent of current IT budgets in 2011 to 13 percent in 2012.

The CDW-G 2013 State of the Cloud Report includes findings specific to each of the eight industries surveyed during August and September 2012: small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses, the Federal government, state and local governments, healthcare, higher education and K-12 public schools. The survey sample includes at least 150 individuals from each industry who identified themselves as familiar with their organization's use of, or plans for, cloud computing. The margin of error for the total sample is ±2.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error for each industry sample is ±7.9 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

For a copy of the complete CDW-G 2013 State of the Cloud Report, please visit www.cdw.com/stateofthecloud. For more about CDW-G's cloud computing capabilities and offerings, please visit www.cdwg.com/cloud.

Source: CDW-G, www.cdwg.com

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Wacom Debuts DTH-2242 and DTU-1031 Interactive Displays

Wacom has introduced two new interactive displays - the DTH-2242 and DTU-1031 - that make it easy for educators to share ideas and emphasize key concepts by working directly on screen to mark up and annotate digital content. The DTH-2242 integrates multi-touch to provide a new level of expression, while the DTU-1031 offers single-cable connectivity and a compact form factor to ease installation. Both products debuted at the TCEA 2013 conference in Austin, TX.

With Wacom's new interactive displays, educators can turn static material into active and engaging content. By writing with the pen directly on the screen they can spontaneously add new ideas, comments, sketches and diagrams. When connected to a projector, ideas and information can be shared with audiences of any size - making it more flexible than interactive whiteboards. The DTH-2242 and DTU-1031 also allow educators to stay connected with their students while teaching lesson plans, as they can maintain visual contact with the class.

These new interactive displays are also software-neutral and can be used with any of the educator's favorite software applications. The pen can be used to control the cursor just like a mouse, and when sharing lesson plans, educators can utilize software that takes advantage of pen input like Microsoft Powerpoint or Open-Sankore's Free Interactive Whiteboard Software. To increase productivity, both the DTH-2242 and DTU-1031 include integrated ExpressKeys - customizable buttons that can be assigned to perform common functions or access frequently used tools with a single click.

The DTH-2242's multi-finger touch screen makes use even more intuitive by supporting common gestures - like zoom, rotate and scroll - as well as custom gestures that the user can define. Touch can also be used to navigate the screen, make selections, and manipulate objects. With its video-out connector, the DTH-2242 can be connected directly to a projector making it even easier for the instructor to share their ideas with the class.

Integration into an interactive classroom is simplified with the DTU-1031. The thin, compact footprint accommodates space constrained areas - even small desks and podiums. By utilizing a single USB cable connection to the PC to deliver power, video and USB data to the DTU-1031, installations can be clean, simple and clutter-free. And because of its small form factor and single cable connection, the DTU-1031 can be held while used.

Technical Features:

DTH-2242

  • 21.5" IPS LCD panel with full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution and wide viewing angles
  • Cordless and battery-free Wacom pen provides smooth, natural handwritten input
  • Multi-touch for intuitive navigation, gesture control and on-screen manipulation of objects
  • 5 user-assignable ExpressKeysTM to access common functions or tools
  • Integrated USB hub with 2 USB ports
  • Video-out capabilities helps user directly connect from pen display to projector or other large format displays
  • HDCP compliant
  • Integrated stand and VESA 100 mounting holes for use with third-party arms or stands
  • Built-in pen compartment, pen tether, and security slot

DTU-1031

  • 10.1" color IPS LCD panel with 1280 x 800 native resolution
  • Single USB cable for video, pen data and power
  • Cordless and battery-free Wacom pen
  • 4 user-assignable ExpressKeys
  • Small footprint and flat profile fits on small podiums or desks
  • Integrated stand and VESA 75 mounting holes
  • Built-in pen compartment, pen tether and security slot

The DTH-2242 is priced at $2,199 and will be available through Wacom's eStore and other channels in mid-April.

The DTU-1031 is priced at $749 (USD) and will be available through Wacom's eStore and other channels in late April.

For additional purchasing information, please consult Wacom's website, www.wacom.com/

Source: Wacom, www.wacom.com

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Learning.com Unveils Custom Curriculum Publishing Tool

Learning.com has announced its new Custom Curriculum Publishing tool. The newest feature of the award-winning Learning.com platform, Custom Curriculum Publishing allows districts and schools to build and publish custom digital units that align with their curriculum maps and instructional goals. The tool enables administrators to create and share unique content collections with their teachers and re-sequence existing content to more effectively meet specific objectives and standards. By delivering ready-to-go units directly to teachers, administrators can maintain consistency, coverage, and best practices across every classroom while saving teachers time. 

Learning.com helps districts integrate technology into core curriculum with content, tools, and practical services. The addition of the Custom Curriculum Publishing tool means users can better support their district's key initiatives, such as project-based learning, digital readiness, Common Core State Standards alignment, and preparation for PARCC and Smarter Balanced with vetted and customized content.

Custom Curriculum Publishing leverages the power of the Learning.com platform, which provides districts and schools with one place to organize and access existing and new content via single sign-on. Administrators, teachers, and students only need one password to access content from existing digital assets, more than 300,000 learning objects from 60-plus providers in the Learning.com catalog, or resources collected from the Web.

To learn more about how districts and schools can maximize their resources with the help of Custom Curriculum Publishing, visit www.learning.com.

Source: Learning.com, www.learning.com

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Promethean Announces Alliance with Microsoft to Deliver Interactive and Collaborative Education Tools and Services

Promethean and Microsoft have announced an agreement to develop a new suite of solutions intended to provide a collaborative classroom-based learning environment. Working together the two companies will develop a suite of Windows 8 and Windows RT applications giving educators the ability to use collaborative, interactive and real-time assessment technology to personalize learning.

Under the development agreement the two companies plan to:

* Develop Windows 8 and Windows RT apps for collaborative, multi-user, multi-touch for the ActivTable. An app already under development by Promethean engineers sets up a real-time marketplace where students run a business and learn basic principles of economics, business development, marketing and sales. The application uses the Windows 8 platform, Promethean's interactive delivery devices (ActivBoard and ActivTable), Microsoft Surface and other tablets. Students manage their businesses on any device and learn how real-time business decisions like reducing the price for goods or services impacts share price. Data collected throughout the game can be used for future lessons.

* Create ActivEngage for Windows 8. Currently available for laptops, tablets and mobile devices, ActivEngage is used to gather feedback in real-time, which is assessed and analyzed and then used by educators to personalize learning. The modification to Windows 8 expands the types of questions available for adaptive learning scenarios and provides a repository of assessment results for further analysis and reporting.

* Establish Content Development Centers of Excellence. These centers would be created in collaboration with innovation centers at select universities and will focus on developing ActivTable Windows 8 apps and digital content conversion for higher education and K-12.

* Develop interactive tools for Office 365. These tools expand the white boarding, polling and imbedding of interactive objects into Office 365. Promethean ActivOffice provides these capabilities for the current versions of Microsoft Office and is available when customers download ActivInspire.

Microsoft and Promethean will work together to support global implementation of ATC21S. This research project proposes ways of assessing 21st-century skills and encourages teaching and adopting of these skills in the classroom. The two companies will provide the project with collaborative and real-time assessment software, pedagogy and technology. Additionally, Promethean's classroom technology and software will be used to support the worldwide Microsoft Mentor School Tour.

Microsoft will offer expertise and support for Windows 8 and Windows RT development for the Promethean ActivTable and real time assessment software ActivEngage.

Source: Promethean, www.prometheanworld.com

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Skyward Introduces SkyCoder to Provide Districts Greater Control of Data Management

Skyward, a provider of administrative software and IT consulting services to K-12 school districts, has announced the launch of SkyCoder, a free tool that enables districts to customize its solutions for greater control and advanced data management capabilities. Customers can now tailor screens and field rules to fit their needs without using in-house development staff or expensive customizations, saving districts time and money.

SkyCoder provides districts with the option to extend custom-defined parameters, fields and validations to ensure district-specific needs are met, including modifying existing fields or adding new fields. Customers can also flag required fields within a user profile, providing districts with necessary administrative alerts and information. For example, when a district's data clerk tries to enter an invalid code, the field can be flagged to draw the clerk's attention to the error. This functionality helps ensure that the proper information is entered at the source.

Daniel Hornsby, applications manager for the North East Florida Education Consortium, is implementing SkyCoder into the Student Management and School Business Suites for its 11 member districts that are Skyward customers. The consortium signed on as one of the first SkyCoder users after requesting a solution that required less review time of state reporting data.

The consortium plans to roll out the SkyCoder modifications to the 11 member districts within the next few weeks. Hornsby said that throughout the year there are 13 survey-reporting periods in the state of Florida, and SkyCoder will give the consortium more control during these frequent data review time periods.

In addition to customization of screens and field rules, SkyCoder features an import/export function that enables scripts to be shared among districts, once again saving districts time and money. For more information on the Skyward administrative software and IT consulting services for K-12 districts, visit www.skyward.com.

Source: Skyward, www.skyward.com

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