More than 500 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s National Educational Computing Conference in Philadelphia. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering professional development solutions:

Atomic Learning, a provider of web-based software training and tutorials, has released 18 tutorials for unitedstreaming, the digital video-based learning service from Discovery Education. The training is delivered via short (one- to three-minute), easy-to-understand movies that provide personal, on-demand answers to those “How do I do that?” questions, Atomic Learning said. The company’s partnership with Discovery further expands the scope of its tutorial offerings. Designed to help educators easily integrate unitedstreaming’s digital content into their daily lessons, the 18 newly released Atomic Learning tutorials are now available as part of the unitedstreaming service and are also available free of charge to all users.

Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications Inc., announced the formation of the Discovery Educator Network–a nationwide community of teacher-innovators committed to helping other educators use technology to their advantage in the classroom. As passionate, dynamic teachers, the company said, Discovery Educators will collaborate with like-minded peers around the country to help their fellow teachers harness the power of digital learning. “Education has always been part of Discovery’s DNA,” said Steve Sidel, executive vice president of Discovery Education. As Discovery Educators, teachers will share ideas and inspiration with other educators around the world. Specifically, they will have an opportunity to serve on advisory boards, attend Discovery special events, and participate in educational conferences and other professional development opportunities, among other activities.

Discovery also announced the results of an independent, scientifically based evaluation of its new Discovery Health Connection online health curriculum service. According to the study, which was conducted in 25 southern Virginia elementary schools between February and May 2005, students who use Discovery Health Connection increased their reading scores by an average of five percentage points compared with those who had access only to the standard curriculum. Throughout the evaluation period, teachers assigned to experimental-group classes incorporated about 10 literacy lessons from Discovery Health Connection into their regular classroom curriculum, while teachers in control-group classrooms continued with their traditional program. “The results of our research indicated that mean reading comprehension was substantially higher for those students exposed to the Discovery Health Connection literacy lessons than those whose teachers did not use the service,” said Frank Boster, lead evaluator and president of Michigan-based Cometrika, the company conducting the evaluation.

Discovery Health Connection––is a web-based subscription service that combines traditional health and prevention curriculum programs with teachers’ guides, worksheets, videos, extension exercises, and literacy lessons designed to facilitate multidisciplinary instruction while improving students’ reading comprehension and writing skills, the company said.

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