Thousands of educators had the chance to see the latest in school technology at the 21st annual Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando Jan. 11-13. Among the trends revealed at the conference: digitized content from traditional textbook publishers and programs that take advantage of personal digital assistants.
About 12,000 teachers, administrators, and university educators from Florida and across the nation attended hundreds of sessions and workshops and previewed the newest educational hardware and software from nearly 400 exhibiting companies.
At the conference, Linda Roberts, the first-ever appointed White House advisor on educational technology, received a lifetime achievement award to honor her contributions in leading the nation’s implementation of technology in schools and developing federal grants to support technology initiatives.
“I’m so proud of what we have accomplished,” Roberts said. “When I first came into the job I have held for the past eight years, only 3 percent of classrooms were connected to the internet.” Today, that figure is close to 70 percent, she said.
After thanking students, teachers, and companies that provide technology, Roberts added, “We have to make sure that we never stop pushing for technology, and we have to make sure nobody is left behind.”
From the exhibit hall, there emerged a strong movement among education companies to offer digitized textbooks. For instance, education publisher McGraw-Hill Education is now offering its content online through the McGraw-Hill Learning Network, which features complete, interactive eTextbooks and support resources for teachers, administrators, students, and families.
The McGraw-Hill Learning NetworkMHLN.com for shortintegrates online assessment, full content of print textbooks, and a variety of multimedia, including movies and audio links. Currently six science textbooks in middle and high school are available online, and more are expected throughout the year. Each eTextbook provides a teacher’s edition complete with answers, lesson plans, standards, review activities, and tips. MHLN.com also has tools that let teachers create lesson plans, make customized tests, record grades, build a web site, and shop for materials at the McGraw-Hill Education Learning Store.
While MHLN.com’s online tools for teachers, students, and parents are free, access to its eTextbooks and related content is by subscription only.
A new curriculum management tool from Microsoft Corp., called Encarta Class Server, combines digitized content from several education publishers, including Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Reed Educational & Professional Publishing 2000, Times Learning Systems Private Ltd., and the McGraw-Hill Companies.
Teachers can customize assignments for an entire class, a group of students, or even a single student. With customizable online rubrics and a built-in grading tool, teachers control the automatic assessment and can provide individual feedback to students on an assignment.
Also, Classwell Learning Group, a new education company based in Boston, is offering complete online content from education publishers like Houghton Mifflin Co. Starting this fall, all schools will be able to subscribe to Classwell Learning’s service, which includes customizable lesson plans, student resources, student assessments, classroom management tools, real-time professional development tools, teacher training, annual upgrades, and around-the-clock customer service.
Classwell Learning doesn’t require all students to access a computer, since its assessments and activities are all printable. The company’s partnership with Kinko’s lets teachers pick and choose different handouts and worksheets for students on the computer, and Kinko’s will print, bind, and deliver the materials right to the school.
Another trend that emerged at FETC this year: Personal digital assistants, or PDAs, are taking a stronger foothold in the education market, since they now can perform most of the functions of a full-size computerincluding word processing, spreadsheets, eMail, and internet searchesat a vastly reduced cost.
Dick Callahan, vice president and general manager of education at computer maker Gateway Inc., told eSchool News that Gateway is developing an “Alpha Classroom” that features lower-cost devices, enabling schools to give all kids equal access to technology. Instead of laptops, Callaghan said Gateway envisions combining PDAs, internet appliances, and a few desktop computers in a classroom to make the best, most affordable use of technology possible.
As part of its Palm Education Pioneer Awards program, Palm Inc. will be giving Palm handheld computers to K-12 teachers and their students. Teachers must apply for this grant by March 15 on the Palm web site. SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, which will supply the devices, is conducting an evaluation of the program to study learning uses, experiences, and effectiveness of Palm computers in K-12 education.
Many education companies also are developing educational applications for PDAs, including Classroom Connect. The company has developed the first professional development program for K-12 teachers available on the Palm operating system, an application called Pocket CU.
Pocket CU is a prototype for how Classroom Connect’s Connected University online professional development courses may be supplemented with handheld devices in the future. The course, Teaching to Standards, was designed to supplement the existing six-week professional development course available online through Connected University. Its content features supplemental reading material that teachers can download right to their PDAs.
Florida Educational Technology Conference
U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Technology
McGraw-Hill Learning Network
Microsoft’s Encarta Class Server
Classwell Learning Group
NEW PRODUCTS AND COMPANY ANNOUNCEMENTS
With ABC-CLIO’s War Collection encyclopedic media packs, librarians and teachers can provide students in grades six to 12 with powerful textual, visual, and audio primary source materials for exploring American armed conflicts. The media packs examine the political, social, and military contexts of the American Civil War, War of 1812, American Indian Wars, Mexican-American War, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War. The products also feature image-based timelines of major developments.
AIMS Multimedia, a leading provider of audiovisual technology, launched an on-demand streaming video library called DigitalCurriculum.com. Through a low-cost subscription, school districts can access more than 1,500 videos on a variety of subjects, including science, social studies, language arts, mathematics, and more. Since the videos are accessed over the internet, each one is encoded at five different rates so it can be played at the best speed for your district. Teachers can assign selected videos as homework, and students can access them at home or at the library.
AOL Time Warner and Dell Computer announced that the free education service AOL@School, which launched in April 2000, will now come preloaded on all Dell computers sold to schools in the United States. AOL@School, which offers eMail, instant messaging, an education-focused search engine, and portals for teachers and administrators, is designed to help schools make more effective use of the internet in the classroom. In addition, AOL@School has added an online shopping tool specifically for educators to its administrator and teacher portals. The new School Store offers access to online courses, professional development services, assessment tools, school supplies, and more.
Apex Learning Inc., a builder and operator of virtual schools, and Blackboard Inc., provider of an eLearning software platform, have teamed up to deliver an online learning infrastructure for Apex Learning’s K-12 virtual school customers that features a customized version of Blackboard’s eLearning platform, Blackboard5. Also, Apex Learning users will now have access to Tutor.com’s comprehensive database of tutors who are available 24-7 in multiple areas of study, thanks to a strategic agreement between the two companies. In addition, Apex Learning will provide the Illinois State Board of Education with online infrastructure, accredited courses, and support services to help build the Illinios Virtual High School.
Bigchalk.com, a K-12 online content provider, announced bigchalk Library, a complete research solution that provides access to full-text articles and transcripts from more than 1,500 magazines, newspapers, books, and radio programs, along with access to more than 40,000 photographs and maps and 2,000 audiovisual resources. The library’s easy-to-use interface lets users search by relevance, date, reading level, or publication, and the results can be reviewed by eMail, on screen, or printed. To expand its offerings to include more elementary content, bigchalk.com is partnering with FableVision Studios, a creator of story-based programs for children and adults, and Brainium, a provider of online educational content for K-8 students. Bigchalk.com also added Generation GITGirls’ Issues and Technologyto its Generation YES program to help increase young women’s interest in, and understanding of, technology.
Boxer Learning, an online education software provider based in Charlottesville, Va., announced the BoxerMath.com Gymnasium, a new practice area of the BoxerMath.com web site that features more than 1,300 practice problems to help students practice and reinforce key math concepts. BoxerMath.com’s online management system lets educators track and assess student progress in the Gymnasium activities.
Chancery Software, a provider of information management systems for schools, is developing a way to transfer data between Chancery’s student information systemsOpen District, WinSchool, and MacSchooland eSped.com’s web-based special education system, WebIEP. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1998-99 about one out of every eight students had an individualized education program (IEP), and eSped.com’s product computerizes the IEP process. Through this alliance, Chancery will continue to save school districts from spending time on duplicating data entry for different administrative systems.
Cognitive Concepts, a provider of language and literacy software, announced Earobics Literary Launch, an enhanced, research-based early literacy program. The program combines upgraded software with new integrated multimedia tools and materials, internet resources, home-to-school connections, and customized staff development to give teachers an easy way to provide effective instruction and experience in areas critical for reading success, including phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, alphabetic principle, language, decoding, spelling, and beginning writing skills.
Curriculum Advantage, a division of Havas Interactive located in Torrance, Calif., announced ClassWorks Gold Mississippi Edition, a complete K-8 math and learning arts curriculum software package aligned to Mississippi’s state standards. The Mississippi Edition is the third in a series of ClassWorks Gold software programs aligned to each state’s own unique standards (Texas and Florida were the first two in the series). The ClassWorks Gold Mississippi Edition includes a library of more than 180 educational titles from nearly 20 publishers, including creativity software such as Knowledge Adventure’s HyperStudio. ClassWorks Gold lets teachers customize lessons, integrate internet web sites, and incorporate their own materials.
Disney Interactive has put together an assortment of educational software collections, with characters children know and love, to supplement learning in the classroom. More than 30 titles cover all aspects of early childhood development and learning, from motor skills to basic math, language arts, and critical thinking. Students can also practice memorization, sing along with Disney music, and create artwork on desktop publishing software.
Educational Insights released GeoSafari Knowledge Padthe Math Series, consisting of four mathematics programs aligned to the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The series includes Beginning Math for kindergarten to first grade, Addition and Subtraction for first and second grade, Multiplication and Division for third and fourth grade, and Decimals and Percentages for fifth and sixth grade. Each program is made up of arcade-style quiz games designed to engage students and an easy-to-use assessment tool for keeping track of students’ progress.
EBSCO Publishing released Online Reader 2001Complete Edition, which contains 3,000 articles and tests appropriate for grades four to 12. Teachers browse a list of non-fiction articles selected from popular magazines and assign these articles to the class. The students retrieve assignments, read articles, and complete the accompanying multiple choice tests, which are automatically marked and recorded into an electronic gradebook. EBSCO Publishing also has created PokeyToes Corner, an animated software program to help K-3 students learn to read and write.
Frontpath Inc., a subsidiary of SONICblue Inc., and River Logic are working together to build an education network, called School Path, using ProGear and Web4Classroom technology. “We expect that the combination of RiverLogic’s Web4Classroom technology and ProGear will bring a new dimension to the classroomup-to-date learning material, access to the internet, customizable curriculum, online testing, and moreall in a wireless, personalized, portable, and broadband-based learning environment,” said frontpath General Manager Janet Leising.
Gateway will use its 300 Gateway Country stores, located in communities across the country, to provide its products and service to K-12 education customers. The Country Stores also will host regular teacher nights that feature educational technology presentations and training. Because so many schools are having difficulties recruiting and retaining technology personnel, Gateway also is piloting a Remote IT program in six K-12 schools. In addition, the company is developing an “Alpha Classroom” that features lower-cost devices, enabling schools to give all kids equal access to technology. Instead of laptops, Gateway envisions combining PDAs, internet appliances, and a few desktop computers in the classroom.
GollyGee Software Inc., of Reston, Va., now has two curriculum guides for its award-winning, three-dimensional creativity software, GollyGee Blocks. One guide focuses on K-5 math curriculum, and the other is an integrated cross-curriculum guide for all subjects. GollyGee Blocks, a 3-D building blocks program, lets students stack, stretch, spin, scale, turn , color, and rotate three-dimensional shapes to build complex scenes which can be viewed from any angle. One integrated lesson outlined in the curriculum guide has students build a landmark from their community and then graph the number of different shapes they used to build it. GollyGee Blocks is the company’s first product.
Homeroom.com, a division of Princeton Review, has created a state-specific Assessment Advisor that helps teachers, parents, and students make sense of individual, state-specific tests. The program prompts users to select a state and grade level, then provides information about a particular test’s subject matter, test dates, and the effects of test results on students and schools. Homeroom.com’s Assessment Advisor also provides background information, insightful commentary on various types of standardized tests, and links to education sites specific to the user’s state.
iMind Education Systems continues to offer an internet-based solution that supports delivering instruction, assessment, and communication between parents, teachers, and students. MIS International Inc., a respected distributor that also is affiliated with FutureKids in New York city, will market, sell, and distribute iMind products exclusively to schools and after-school centers in New York. Also, iMind has obtained a worldwide license to use McREL’s internationally recognized Compendium of K-12 Education Standards in its web-based education platform. Now iMind’s program lets teachers align their lessons with McRel’s standards as well as their individual state standards.
Kidspiration, the newest product from Inspiration Software, is a visual learning tool appropriate for early primary students, grades K-3. With its bright, bold graphics, this software is easy to grasp and navigate for young learners, not to mention highly interactive. Kidspiration comes with more than 45 activities designed to support core curriculum in reading, writing, science, and social studies. The program’s Activity wizard makes it simple for teachers to create and modify activities to support specific lesson plans and thematic strands.
Intel expanded its Teach to the Future program to Florida. The program is an international effort through which Intel contracts regional training agencies (RTAs) that help train teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms. The Museum of Science will serve as Florida’s RTA.
JumpStart Artist software, from Knowledge Adventure, features art curriculum based on national standards. The software introduces K-3 students to elements and principles of art, art history, and the cultural significance of art. With JumpStart Artist, students can digitally draw, paint, stamp, and quilt images, then save their art as a BMP or JPEG file. The software not only offers students an array of artistic toolsincluding pastels, oil paints, water color, and charcoalthat appear true-to-life; it also contains educational content complete with a collection of famous artwork, folk art, and crafts from around the world. JumpStart Artist features a teacher’s activity guide correlated with particular content area and achievement standards. Available for both Macs and PCs, JumpStart Artist costs $49.95 for a teacher’s edition, which includes two copies of the software, while a 15-user site license is $325.
LeapFrog SchoolHouse introduced LeapTrack, a supplementary reading assessment and instructional management system correlated to state standards for K-5 students. Students complete a test from the LeapTrack Library of Assessments using a new version of the LeapPada portable, notebook-sized electronic toolthat now contains a liquid crystal display (LCD) screen to provide visual feedback. The LeapPad records the test results, and teachers then upload them to the Instructional Management System on the LeapTrack web site to get test results and prescriptive activity reports. The company’s Leap into Literacy reading program soon may be implemented in Utah’s 40 school districts, now that the Utah Department of Education has added the program to its list of approved instructional programs. The Leap into Literacy Centerwhich includes the LeapPad, LeapMat, and LeapDeskis an interactive, multi-sensory curriculum for beginning readers that uses phonemic awareness as the basis for teaching children to read.
The Learning Network has expanded its professional development offerings for K-12 educators to include workshops on Classroom Techniques, Technology Integration, and Leadership for Educators. The Learning Network also recently launched a new web site for kids ages nine to 14, called FactMonster.com. This site combines essential reference materials, fun facts and features, and individualized homework help. At FactMonster.com’s Homework Center, students can find direction on common homework topics and submit questions to homework helpers.
Learn Technologies Interactive, a creator of online educational applications, has licensed its “hyperfolio” technology to McGraw-Hill Education. Hyperfolio facilitates web-based research by allowing users to collect text, pictures, videos, and other media items from the web and transform them into their own customizable multimedia documents. McGraw-Hill will distribute hyperfolio to those who use its new education portal, MHLN.com. With hyperfolio, web users simply drag and drop media items from their browser to create a personnel collection that can be stored on the desktop. Users then can organize the media items into a multimedia presentation. All the media items retain their original URL, and users can return to the original source with the click of a mouse.
Macromedia’s new Dreamweaver 4 lets educators create engaging, interactive web sites for their district, school, or as part of their curriculum, without programming backgrounds. Macromedia offers a Web Design Studio bundle for schools that includes full versions of Dreamweaver 4, Fireworks 4, Flash 5, FreeHand 9, and manuals for only $249. Macromedia also has created a curriculum guide for grades seven to 12, called “Project Based Multimedia: Step-by-Step Projects for Integrating Multimedia into your Classroom.” This guide, which costs $20, is the first in Macromedia’s new Web Design Series. The projects in the guide include creating a digital autobiography using multimedia to illustrate the roots of your name for either a writing or sociology class.
N2H2 Inc., which delivers internet filtering services to schools, businesses, and homes, is bringing eMail services to the education market by reselling Mail.com’s eMail boxes and MailWatch solution, an eMail firewall service, to the K-12 market. Also, N2H2 recently launched an online resource designed to provide information and resources to help educators comply with the new law that requires schools and libraries to use internet filters under the Children’s Internet Protection Act. FilteringInfo.org explains filters, outlines steps required to comply with the law, offers links to resources and funding, and notifies users about changes in legislation.
NetSchools Corp., of Atlanta, unveiled NetSchools Orion, an internet application that equips school districts with instructional management tools to provide accountability, alignment, assessment, and achievement for students and teachers in grades K-12. NetSchools Orion is designed to help manage schools’ curriculum and objectives.
NTS/Brainium, a provider of technology-based education solutions, announced that bigchalk.com will be offering Science Brainium, an online interactive science resource for students in grades three to eight, to its more than 42,000 customers. NTS/Brainium also is selling four of its online educational products as a bundle until March 31. The Brainium Online Educational Bundle includes Science Brainium, MathRealm, Classroll, and CountryWatch for $199.99, normally a $1,000 value.
Pioneer New Media Technologies demonstrated how its DVD-V7400 Industrial DVD-video player engages students through its unique ability to present information in an exciting multimedia format. Featuring durability and versatility, Pioneer’s DVD-V 7400 is compact, easy to set up, and contains the ability to read bar codes and jump to a particular point on a DVD-video disc. The player also features a video blackboard component that allows teachers to highlight specific information by using a mouse to point out and place graphics over important elements of the video.
Plato Learning’s new subscription-based online assessment tool, called Plato Simulated Test System, will include a patented eRater scoring technology from ETS Technologies. The eRater system is designed to analyze essays based on writing features defined in holistic scoring rubrics, and it does this in less than 30 seconds. In performance tests of marking more than 500,000 essays, eRater agreed with expert scorers 95 percent of the time, according to the company. The Plato Simulated Test System integrates state standards, practice tests, and skill assessments that can be linked directly to individual student instruction. The system scores student practice tests and provides instant feedback, then it automatically enrolls the student in courses designed to fill identified skill gaps.
PowerSchool Inc. released Version 2.0 of its PowerSchool web-based student information system. The upgrade streamlines tasks and increases information access for teachers, so they know more about their students and can enhance learning in their classrooms. In Version 2.0, the user interface is completely redesigned, with a simplified log-on screen, a common navigation bar, and customization tools for individual preferences.
Riverdeep Interactive Learning launched two new language arts programs for students in grades six to eight. “Write for Life: Persuasive Essay” explores the process of writing critically, creatively, and persuasively for a variety of audiences. “Editor’s Desk” hones and challenges students’ editing skills with assignments from a virtual publisher’s office. Also, Riverdeep said it will feature professional development content from T.H.E. Institute on its web site, Riverdeep.net, along with its own mathematics, science, and language arts software for students in grades K-12. The professional development content will train educators to use technology in the classroom, including Riverdeep’s content.
Sagebrush Corp. announced WebManager Suite, a unique library interface solution that meets the new federal filtering requirements and provides appropriate access for library patrons and students of all ages. The solution incorporates Symantec Corp.’s I-Gear filtering technology.
Through the Scholastic.com web site, Scholastic Inc. offers teachers a daily radio program featuring interviews with authors and educational e