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An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
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May 21, 2013

Table of Contents

Free Resources: SETDA's New Report: 'Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning'
EBSCO Introduces Newest Digital Historical Archive Collection: Civil War Primary Source Documents
Discovery Education to Release Interactive Educational Materials In Conjunction With Discovery's 'North America' Series
MimioScience Software’s Concept-Focused, Interactive Lessons Meet Next Generation Science Standards
Net Texts Provides Access to Free, Curated Open Educational Resources

Free Resources: SETDA's New Report: 'Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning'

To raise awareness about many of the major K-12 data standards and interoperability initiatives underway to address these and related issues, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has released a new report, entitled Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning. SETDA developed this new report to help education leaders understand how technical interoperability initiatives relate to teaching and learning and to offer recommendations for how states, districts, and schools can become more responsive to educator needs and personalize learning for students.

The initiatives profiled in this report focus on ensuring consistent data definitions across schools, enabling the sharing of information across school data systems, and facilitating the search and discovery of education resources on the internet. “The widespread implementation of new and emerging interoperability initiatives will be instrumental to realizing the full potential of technology in education,” said Douglas Levin, SETDA executive director. “Our intent is that this report serve as an opening to a deeper and sustained conversation about how to make this happen.”

In a context where there is growing interest in leveraging new digital learning tools, online services, educational "apps," and other technologies in and out of the classroom for learning, the SETDA report offers three recommendations:

* Develop a consensus-based, long-term vision and roadmap for interoperability to ensure investments in technology and digital learning are cost effective and meet educator and student needs.

* Establish an ongoing mechanism to certify best practices and address transparency related to the privacy and security of student data.

* Address data standards and interoperability issues with vendors as part of state and district procurement processes for educational technology and digital learning solutions, including for the adoption of free solutions.

While there are many organizations working on these issues now, the report asserts that new leadership will be required from the federal government, state governments, school districts, nonprofits, and the technology industry to make needed advances.

The report, "Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning," may be downloaded on the SETDA website at www.setda.org/web/guest/datatoinformation.

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

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EBSCO Introduces Newest Digital Historical Archive Collection: Civil War Primary Source Documents

EBSCO has introduced Civil War Primary Source Documents, a comprehensive collection of primary source materials chronicling aspects of the American Civil War. Drawn from the holdings of the New-York Historical Society, the collection captures various accounts of the Civil War as it was experienced on land and sea.

Civil War Primary Source Documents represents both Northern and Southern perspectives. The archive focuses on the War as it was fought from 1861 to 1865 and includes important contextual documents in the crucial years leading up to the War and after the fall of the Confederacy.

The collection is composed of over 110,000 pages and includes information from over 400 individual collections. The primary resources include original manuscripts of letters, diaries, administrative records, photographs, illustrations and artifacts. Personal accounts appear in various scrapbook journals and family portraits, and strategic initiatives are evident in maps featuring details of troop movements and local landmarks.

Highlights include letters and first-person accounts from such well-known leaders as Ulysses S. Grant; the papers of David Cronin, a famous soldier and artist; soldiers’ diaries chronicling daily life and experiences as prisoners of war; Union Defence Committee records and Confederate Army records.

EBSCO provides access to these materials via its Historical Digital Archives Viewer. The viewer brings content alive and allows users to explore, manipulate, collect, and export content. The functionality of the Historical Digital Archives Viewer enables it to reproduce the best aspects of the physical library research experience while incorporating the advances in modern digital technology.

EBSCO has continued to significantly increase the number of resources offered in its collection of digital archives. For more information on the complete collection please go to www.ebscohost.com/archives

Source: EBSCO, www.ebscohost.com

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Discovery Education to Release Interactive Educational Materials In Conjunction With Discovery's 'North America' Series

Discovery Education will release an extensive set of interactive educational materials in conjunction with the premiere of Discovery’s seven-part series “North America.”

North America, narrated by Tom Selleck, will reveal the intimate stories of animals struggling to survive in unforgiving weather and rugged terrain across the continent. Using content and concepts from this epic series, Discovery Education will provide teachers and students across the country with customized educational experiences that transport them beyond the classroom walls and into a journey exploring the majesty of our awe-inspiring continent.

Discovery Education will host a series of virtual field trips that will take students and teachers on a trek through North America’s amazing sights, where they can discover the magic of learning via groundbreaking video, behind-the-scenes access and interactions with the producer of North America. More than 160,000 students participated from across the country in the first of the three-part virtual field trip series which featured scientists and researchers from the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. The next virtual field trip will occur May 17 and will give educators and students a behind-the-scenes look at the making of North America as the producers and field crew of the series show how they made it come to life.

In addition, Discovery Education will also distribute North America school kits to grade 3-5 teachers throughout the nation. Reaching more than 180,000 students across the country, the kits will provide teachers with a screener of the first episode “Born to be Wild,” a lesson plan that corresponds with the episode and a take-home family engagement guide for each student featuring a poster, trekking map and animal trading cards. Free instructional resources and family discussion guides will provide interactive opportunities for both teachers and parents.

The North America series of content, along with the virtual field trips and North America curriculum, will also be available to teachers and students throughout the year via Discovery Education's award-winning social studies and science digital Techbook offerings, and in Discovery Education Streaming, Discovery's online digital content service.

For more information on Discovery Education’s North America virtual field trips, visit discoveryeducation.com/northamerica/event.cfm. For more information on Discovery Channel's seven-part series North America, visit http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/north-america.

Source: Discovery Education, www.discoveryeducation.com

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MimioScience Software’s Concept-Focused, Interactive Lessons Meet Next Generation Science Standards

Mimio has announced that its MimioScience interactive lessons for students in grades 3-8 science now aid educators adjust their curricula to the Next Generation Science Standards’ (NGSS) new, rigorous demands. The lessons are aligned to the final version of the recently released NGSS, which were built upon a vision for science education established by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and published by the National Academies' National Research Council in 2011.

Each MimioScience unit includes information on how that particular unit aligns with the NGSS. The state-of-the-art software has 75 units that provide more than 225 lessons, which cover physical science, Earth and space science, engineering, life science and science processes.

MimioScience lessons’ grade-appropriate activities support the NGSS objective of identifying what students can do, not just how many memorized facts they can recount. Each activity ties particular science content or principles to a science practice, and the effectiveness of all activities has been tested by both students and teachers.

In June, 26 physical science units (about 80 lessons) and 18 science processes units (about 54 lessons) will be available for downloading. During the winter of 2014, Mimio will release 7 engineering and technology units and 18 Earth and space units (about 54 lessons). Twelve life science units (about 36 lessons) will become available for downloading in April 2014.

Each unit is a stand-alone piece with all necessary instruction, practice, in-school activities, and suggested extension activities for students to continue applying what they learned. Assessment probes are embedded within the lessons, and teachers have the option of modifying MimioScience assessments, practices and instruction. Directives for lesson delivery and feedback to students are included in the lessons.

Every MimioScience lesson works on Mimio’s interactive whiteboards, the MimioTeach and MimioBoard devices as well as on interactive whiteboards from other vendors. The content programs are also integrated with the rest of the MimioClassroom suite of interactive technologies, including the MimioProjector interactive projector, which allows teachers to simply connect the device to their computer to project lessons, graphics, and images onto a conventional dry erase board or other flat surface; the MimioVote assessment; the MimioView document camera; the MimioPad wireless pen tablet; the MimioCapture ink recorder; and the MimioMobile app for the iPad. 

The MimioScience curriculum is also aligned with TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), an international set of standards. In addition to the two standards, each unit includes information about what level of Bloom’s taxonomy it matches.

The price of the MimioScience interactive lessons is $1,299 per school per year. Schools that buy the software now will get two academic years (2013-2015) of use for the price of one year’s purchase. In addition, schools will have access to MimioStudio software during the same academic years.

Source: Mimio, www.mimio.com/

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Net Texts Provides Access to Free, Curated Open Educational Resources

Net Texts, a free, web-based system that provides teachers access to a vast library of high quality OER content, has announced broad availability of its system based on the success of a pilot program in Atlanta last year. Schools across the country are signing up for the sevice, through which they can combine free OER content with their own resources to create and publish lessons directly to students’ iPads, Android tablets, or computers. Teachers using the Net Texts system for education content management and delivery find they are able to make classroom learning more current and exciting, thus reducing the time students take to reach learning objectives, according to the announcement. Further, schools can save up to $250 per student per year by reducing or eliminating costs for textbooks and curriculum materials.

More than just a content management system, Net Texts is a powerful teaching and learning tool that helps schools maximize their investments in tablets and 1:1 computing initiatives, while improving teaching and learning, the announcement states. Using an intuitive interface, teachers can find, build and customize multimedia courses from Net Texts’ mix-and-match library of more than 21,000 free OER items from trusted providers like Curriki, Khan Academy, and some of the world’s top colleges and universities. Complete lessons, units and courses are available in subjects ranging from British and American literature to calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry, and U.S. and world history.

Net Texts also allows teachers to add their own content and resources, change or update lessons at any time, and deliver them directly to students. Using the free Net Texts app, students can download the courses to their tablets and engage in interactive learning at any time, inside and outside the classroom. Because the content is stored locally on the devices, there is no need for students to have Wi-Fi access in order to view and complete their assignments.

Shannon Blake, a social studies teacher in Charleston, S.C., believes Net Texts has allowed her the opportunity to create a more student-centered classroom with ease. “With Net Texts, I am able to create and deliver several reading assignmentNet Texts, a free, web-based system that provides teachers access to a vast library of high quality OER content, has announced broad availability of its system based on the success of a pilot program in Atlanta last year. Schools across the country are signing up for the sevice, through which they can combine free OER content with their own resources to create and publish lessons directly to students’ iPads, Android tablets, or computers. Teachers using the Net Texts system for education content management and delivery find they are able to make classroom learning more current and exciting, thus reducing the time students take to reach learning objectives, according to the announcement. Further, schools can save up to $250 per student per year by reducing or eliminating costs for textbooks and curriculum materials.

More than just a content management system, Net Texts is a powerful teaching and learning tool that helps schools maximize their investments in tablets and 1:1 computing initiatives, while improving teaching and learning, the announcement states. Using an intuitive interface, teachers can find, build and customize multimedia courses from Net Texts’ mix-and-match library of more than 21,000 free OER items from trusted providers like Curriki, Khan Academy, and some of the world’s top colleges and universities. Complete lessons, units and courses are available in subjects ranging from British and American literature to calculus, statistics, biology, chemistry, and U.S. and world history.

Net Texts also allows teachers to add their own content and resources, change or update lessons at any time, and deliver them directly to students. Using the free Net Texts app, students can download the courses to their tablets and engage in interactive learning at any time, inside and outside the classroom. Because the content is stored locally on the devices, there is no need for students to have Wi-Fi access in order to view and complete their assignments.

Shannon Blake, a social studies teacher in Charleston, S.C., believes Net Texts has allowed her the opportunity to create a more student-centered classroom with ease. “With Net Texts, I am able to create and deliver several reading assignments at different reading levels to accommodate the individual needs of all my students. And when students are absent, they can easily keep up with their missed assignments. I have started to post my lectures now so students can listen to the lecture at home as many times as they need to grasp the content,” she said.

In addition to social studies, Blake’s school, the Charleston Catholic School, uses Net Texts across all curriculum offerings including math, science, language arts, reading and religion. “This year even our yearbook and photography classes are using the program via their iPads,” she said. “It’s a wonderful tool to have.”

Source: Net Texts, www.net-texts.com/

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