More than 500 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s Florida Educational Technology Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering research tools:

Questia Media, which says it offers the world’s largest online library of books and full-text research materials, introduced a new course management system for high schools. Offered at no additional cost to schools purchasing Questia’s online library, the Questia Classroom enables teachers to create, plan, and manage original course material while leveraging the resources of Questia’s built-in, online library collection. This library includes access to more than 50,000 full-text books and 400,000 journal, magazine, and newspaper articles focusing on social studies and language arts, Questia said.

Students using the Questia Classroom can develop modern research skills as they complete assignments online with the aid of several dynamic research tools, the company said. Questia’s online library gives students round-the-clock access to resource materials that can be viewed simultaneously by multiple users. Students can set their own workspace and reading preferences, create project folders and personal bookshelves, and automatically develop properly formatted footnotes and bibliographies in seven different citation styles with the click of a button.

Questia launched its online academic library for the higher-education market in January 2001. More recently, the company has seen an increased demand for an online companion to physical libraries among secondary schools, owing in part to increasing book prices and shrinking school district budgets, said Questia President and CEO Troy Williams. Using Questia as an online companion, school districts can affordably extend their physical library’s reach, capability, and availability for a fraction of the cost, he added.

Sagebrush Corp. announced an upgrade to its integrated research tool, Sagebrush Pinpoint. Pinpoint is intended to help students access and use the best resources for learning by gathering, evaluating, ranking, and reporting the most relevant results–as defined by the district–from multiple sources simultaneously. These sources include libraries, subscription databases, and the World Wide Web. With the release of v1.5 in early March, Pinpoint will allow users to focus their searches on a specific language (English, French, or Spanish), a specific media type (such as a book or picture), or a specific subject area (such as history or geography). Pinpoint v1.5 also will contain a built-in proxy capability that reportedly will enable users to log in to Pinpoint anytime, anywhere and access all of a district’s licensed content without requiring a separate login for each resource. In addition, expanded priority levels will allow districts to apply more weight to resources they think have more educational value. Pinpoint then prioritizes the search results accordingly.

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