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January 20, 2015

Table of Contents

Smithsonian Brings Historic Specimens to Life in Free “Skin and Bones” Mobile App
SMART Technologies Announces SMART Notebook 2015 Collaborative Learning Software
WizIQ Introduces Mobile Learning Platform for Live Interactive Classes on Mobile Devices
PBS LearningMedia Digital Resource Offerings Surpass 100,000
PresenceLearning Launches 'Special Agents of Change' Webinar Series
MindLaunch Debuts "Intelligent Educator Match" to Custom-Match Students with Online Teachers

Smithsonian Brings Historic Specimens to Life in Free “Skin and Bones” Mobile App

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has released a new mobile app entitled “Skin and Bones.” The free app is available for download in the App Store and reinvents how visitors to the museum can experience select specimens on view in its historic “Bone Hall,” an exhibit of almost 300 vertebrate skeletons. In the app, 13 different skeletons on display come to life through the advanced technologies of 3-D augmented reality and 3-D tracking. The app adds details to many of the specimens to show how they move or look in life or how their skeletons work.

“This app is all about sharing some of the untold stories behind one of the museum’s most iconic collections,” said Robert Costello, the Museum of Natural History’s national outreach program manager and producer of the app. “From vampire bats to a 150-pound Mississippi catfish, ‘Skin and Bones’ highlights specimens across the tree of vertebrate life and invites visitors to interact with them in surprising ways.”

After installing the app on their mobile devices, users simply choose the animal they are interested in from a map of the hall. Each animal choice has a menu of immersive audiovisual experiences, including videos, animations and activities. When users choose a menu item marked with ‘AR,’ they direct their cameras at the specimen and the augmented reality triggers 3-D graphics. Visitors can watch an eastern diamondback rattlesnake skull sink its long fangs into a virtual rodent or play a game that challenges them to identify bat species by their calls. Other videos explain ideas in ecology, biogeography, functional anatomy and evolution or introduce Smithsonian scientists. Free Wi-Fi in the “Bone Hall” will allow visitors to seamlessly experiment with each of these features.

“Skin and Bones” took two years to develop and was made possible with a grant from Booz Allen Hamilton. The 3-D modeling work took place at the museum. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was instrumental in developing the supporting animations.

Source: Smithonian Institution, si.edu

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SMART Technologies Announces SMART Notebook 2015 Collaborative Learning Software

SMART Technologies has announced the April 2015 release of SMART Notebook 2015 collaborative learning software. The latest version of the collaborative learning software will offer a number of new features, including the lesson activity builder and concept mapping. Additionally, new features and content partners for SMART amp will, together with Notebook, unlock the full collaborative potential of students, teachers, interactive displays and mobile devices, according to the announcement.

SMART Notebook 2015 offers:

  • All-new lesson activity builder, which allows creation of learning games and activities in less than five minutes. Teacher can create sophisticated and visually appealing educationally appropriate activities in a few steps, create multiple interactive activities from the same content to reinforce specific topics and involve students in the lesson creation process. Lesson activity builder introduces elements of gamification to any SMART Notebook lesson, including buzzers, randomizers and timers.

  • Concept mapping, a feature highly requested by educators and one of the most widely used activities in science and social science. It encourages discovery and allows visual organization of concepts to promote a deeper level of understanding.

SMART amp is a cloud-based software that lets students co-create content on a digital canvas to enable anywhere, anytime contribution and collaboration on student devices. It provides teachers with real time insight into student learning and contribution and gives them a consistent platform for integrating technology in the classroom with any student device or interactive display. New features added to SMART amp include:

  • The ability to write math equations using common symbols and superscript subscript, which allows users to edit math equations and work collaboratively on math problems in a workspace

  • Object attribution, which exposes the learning process by providing visibility into individual student contributions in a collaborative workspace

  • An enhanced Grouping feature allows teachers to group students into their own workspaces in a few clicks. Teachers can modify the groups by simply dragging students from one group to another.

  • Single sign on to access content from Discovery Education USA and TigTag UK

  • Three new content partners – LessonPix USA, FortunaPix USA and Educandus Brazil – bringing the total number of content partners to 26

  • SMART amp is also now available in French and Spanish.

SMART Notebook 2015 will be available for download on April 9, 2015 for customers with an active SMART Notebook Advantage subscription. The suggested price for a single, annual renewal for SMART Notebook Advantage is $54 in the United States and £34 in the U.K. Volume and duration discounts are available. Prices outside the United States and the U.K. will vary.

SMART Notebook perpetual licenses are included with the purchase of all SMART interactive displays. Regular updates and add-ons are available with an active Notebook Advantage subscription. Notebook licenses are also available for all other brands of interactive hardware, with licensing for individual classrooms, as well as options for school and district standardization. The suggested price for individual SMART Notebook licenses starts at $299 in the United States and £299 in the U.K. (including a one-year subscription to Notebook Advantage). Volume discounts are available. Prices outside the United States and the U.K. will vary.

SMART amp is now available with a suggested price of $8 per student annually in the United States and £5.38 in the U.K. Volume and duration discounts are available. Pricing will vary outside the United States and the U.K. For more pricing information on SMART Notebook and SMART amp, please contact your SMART authorized reseller.

Source: SMART Technologies Inc., smarttech.com

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WizIQ Introduces Mobile Learning Platform for Live Interactive Classes on Mobile Devices

WizIQ has introduced the WizIQ Live Mobile Learning Platform—a new solution that enables educators to deliver live, interactive classes via smartphones. The cloud-based platform works with iPhone and provides a host of advanced features, giving students the freedom to participate in live classes anywhere/anyplace and providing teachers a vital conduit for live engagement.

Until now, mobile and learning applications in today’s learning environments have been relegated to a support function due to a limited ability to provide rich, interactive learning experiences. The WizIQ Live Mobile Learning Platform enables educators and learners to use mobile learning as a primary learning channel and experience the value of live interactions, convenience, and responsiveness, according to the announcement. Built on a cloud-based LMS, the new mobile app can be downloaded from the App Store. The mobile app for Android is scheduled to be available on the Google Play store later this month.

The WizIQ mobile platform extends learning beyond the physical classroom, providing educators opportunities to create and utilize real-time, direct connections to students. With the ability to enhance live-course convenience, collaboration and engagement through mobile delivery, educators at K-12 schools, universities and in corporate learning centers can expand their online education menus and still deliver a true classroom experience.

The globalization of online learning has many manifestations, from small schools in developing nations to global education programs managed by major universities. Mobile learning also provides a real means to make blended learning environments more flexible — fulfilling a need for many learners around the globe.

Learners can use the WizIQ mobile app to realize the benefits of live learning — taking a live class while traveling or on the go. It allows educators and students to engage in live, spontaneous discussions with each other; this capability is central to the power and efficacy of mobile learning. The ability for deeper course exploration and real-time collaboration isn’t compromised by challenging schedules, for example, squeezing in a class during lunch or during the commute is now possible. Mobile learning can also deliver learning opportunities in bite-size pieces, providing students the “snackable” approach to augment the deeper, live engagement with teachers.

Additional key benefits of the WizIQ Live Mobile Learning Platform include:

  • Real-time access to live classes and content – Constant, anywhere/anytime access to classes and learning materials increases learning convenience, flexibility, and student motivation. 

  • Continuous learning “on-the-go” – Students can use their smartphones or tablets to access course videos, recordings, documents and presentations, with the option to view class recordings.

  • “Just-in-time” content delivery and consumption – On-demand content sharing allows instructors to upload audio and video recordings, and other course content, “just-in-time” without regard to time or location.

  • Real-time communication and collaboration – Students can quickly connect with peers and teachers in real-time, as well as stay up-to-date on upcoming events through notifications for important events such as tests, assignment deadlines and live classes.

To learn more about WizIQ’s Live Mobile Learning Platform, go to https://www.wiziq.com/learning-management-system/mobile/. The new mobile app, WizIQ Education Online - eLearning with Virtual Classroom for iPhone is available on the App Store.

Source: WizIQ, wiziq.com

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PBS LearningMedia Digital Resource Offerings Surpass 100,000

PBS LearningMedia has announced that it now offers more than 100,000 digital resources available to PreK-12 educators nationwide. Since its launch in 2011, PBS LearningMedia has continued to actively expand its offerings of education content that appeals to digital native students. Resources are available in English and Spanish, and are aligned to National and Common Core State Standards.

New content is now available in all educational subject and topic areas to PreK-12 teachers and students in a variety of formats from videos and primary source documents to virtual events and maps.

Highlights include:

  • CRASH COURSE: Created and developed by John and Hank Green (“the Vlogbrothers”), the PBS Digital Studios series, CRASH COURSE, provides courses on world history, U.S. history, chemistry, psychology, literature and more that have been viewed nearly 150 million times and shared by educators around the globe. The entire CRASH COURSE library, including a brand-new course on astronomy, is now available to PBS LearningMedia users through the new collection. In addition, a new course on U.S. government will be available on Friday, January 23.

  • KQED’S ART SCHOOL: This unique collection of arts content from KQED in San Francisco explores a range of mediums and genres relevant to today’s student, including experimental animation, street art, app art, “scratch art,” printmaking, illustration, and sculpture. Many of the KQED’S ART SCHOOL video segments take a personalized journey as they follow artists into their studios and offer insight into the various motivators that compel these artists to create.

  • ODD SQUAD: By mixing concepts like arithmetic and geometry with fantastical storytelling, ODD SQUAD, a live-action PBS KIDS series, makes math fun for kids 5-8. PBS LearningMedia offers a wide assortment of videos, lesson plans, and games from the new hit series.

  • I WANNA SEE THE STATES: This new video, created in concert with rock band HelloGoodbye, uses song, maps, graphics and hands-on activities to help students learn the 50 United States and territories. “I Wanna See the States,” now available exclusively on PBS LearningMedia, will get students moving to the beat, following lyrics, and working with maps.

  • SPANISH CONTENT: 700 newly translated videos offer Spanish-language speakers more opportunities to interact with PBS LearningMedia. The videos span a wide range of subjects, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The videos, including content from NOVA and Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts, offer Spanish audio and closed caption text, and can be paired with an English version, making it easy for students to toggle from one language to the other.

  • MATH AT THE CORE: Produced by a collaboration of public media stations and producers, this set of 400+ interactives developed around the Common Core Standards creatively addresses key concepts in Middle School Math (grades 5-8) from ratios and functions to expressions and equations.

  • PBS NEWSHOUR: This daily feature helps teachers and students stay on top of the latest national and international news stories by pairing the best of PBS NewsHour news program with classroom-ready discussion questions, lesson plans and stories. The collection offers ELA teachers with a highly relevant, journalistic approach to addressing the Writing Standards from Common Core Standards.

Educators can engage more deeply with the new content through a variety of free tools on the site including a lesson planner, quiz builder and storyboard tool. Students of any age also have the ability to interact directly with the PBS LearningMedia library of resources through the website PBSstudents.org.

Source: PBS LearningMedia, pbslearningmedia.org

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PresenceLearning Launches 'Special Agents of Change' Webinar Series

PresenceLearning is launching a new webinar series titled “Special Agents of Change.” This free, four-part webinar series will kick off on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 10 AM Pacific time (1 PM Eastern time) with gaming pioneer Trip Hawkins. The 90-minute webinar titled “How Games Can Help Children with Special Needs Develop Critical Life Skills” discusses Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and how specially-designed games can teach these skills to students with special needs in an engaging manner.

To sign up for the webinar, visit pages.presencelearning.com/special-agents-of-change-trip-hawkins-register.html.

SEL is gaining traction in the education world as its implementation has shown a positive change in student behavior, improved social interactions and better academic outcomes. With SEL, students learn to regulate emotions and develop skills such as social sensitivity, expression, humor, conflict-resolution and collaboration – all of which contribute to the child as a whole as well as improved school climate.

After this webinar, attendees will:

· Gain a deeper understanding of emotional intelligence and practical tools for improving it.

· Recognize the many dimensions of SEL as they relate to students with special needs.

· See an example of an award-winning game that engages children with fun play while teaching and measuring SEL skills.

PresenceLearning’s Spring 2015 webinar series “Special Agents of Change” features four thought leaders and their expert experience in the special education field. Following Trip Hawkins’ webinar on SEL, communication intervention and literacy expert Dr. Shari Robertson will discuss collaboration and early intervention, neuroscientist Dr. Martha Burns will cover new research and techniques related to autism and attention disorders in older students and special education expert Dr. Frances Stetson will highlight five major pitfalls in reimagining special education programs. Participate in all four to become a special agent of change.

Since 2009, PresenceLearning’s online speech therapy services have provided schools with a practical, affordable new option for service delivery: web-based access to a nationwide network of live, highly qualified, fully licensed speech-language pathologists who are available whenever and wherever they are needed. PresenceLearning also offers online occupational therapy (OT), online behavioral and mental health services, and online assessments. By partnering with PresenceLearning, school districts can fill staffing gaps related to acute and chronic shortages of related services personnel, reduce high caseloads for onsite personnel, reduce their backlog of assessments, improve student outcomes and become more efficient. PresenceLearning also offers access to technical specialists, as well as culturally and linguistically diverse clinicians.

PresenceLearning has delivered nearly half a million live online therapy sessions to students in public school districts, charter schools and virtual schools of all sizes nationwide.

Source: PresenceLearning, presencelearning.com

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MindLaunch Debuts "Intelligent Educator Match" to Custom-Match Students with Online Teachers

MindLaunch, an online education company, has announced its newly-redesigned website featuring "Intelligent Educator Match (IEM)." MindLaunch students of all ages now have the ability to quickly and easily select the kind of online teacher who best suits their needs and personality, and then be automatically matched and scheduled to begin a quality learning experience in any subject.

Designed by MindLaunch, the Intelligent Educator Match (IEM) algorithm is the centerpiece of the Mindlaunch.com website experience that provides a complete educational support platform for students including K-8, high school, college, adult, and corporate.

Students begin the customized learning process by accessing an online questionnaire on the MindLaunch website, and entering the attributes that fit their learning style, preferences, and desired subjects and teacher credentials. For example, a student may specify his or her request for a female math teacher who has taught Algebra 2 and is available on Saturdays. The MindLaunch Intelligent Educator Match (IEM) algorithm analyzes the student's specifications and presents a selection of U.S.-licensed and experienced teachers who are certified in their subject areas. Students can then click on the teacher profile, see his or her availability, and then register and pay on the MindLaunch website for the number of online sessions with the teacher they chose. The student can even schedule multiple sessions with the same teacher or can even buy a package of sessions for a lower rate. The MindLaunch system automatically schedules the class in an interactive virtual classroom, and then sends a confirmation to the student showing the subject, teacher, dates, and login information.

MindLaunch only employs vetted U.S.-licensed teachers. Its online classes are conducted in a virtual classroom equipped with two-way video and audio, plus interactive whiteboards and real-time lessons for a high-quality, secure and immersive learning experience. Students ranging from K-8, high school, college and adults can choose from a wide range of classes including all grade levels of math, science, history/social studies, English, foreign languages, AP classes, college entrance exams, college preparation, and corporate skills.

Source: MindLaunch, mindlaunch.com

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