Emergency-preparedness portal debuts

School leaders now have a new tool to help them prepare for disasters and other emergencies: The SAFE (School Actions for Emergencies) Center, a joint project of eSchool News and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), made its online debut earlier this month.

For the first time, educators now have free, unlimited access to a comprehensive web site intended to help them prepare for physical and IT security threats and emergencies. The site is fully functional today, but it will be expanded and enhanced as time goes by.

Though four out of five educators say their schools consider emergency preparedness important, according to a recent eSchool News survey, one in four rate their schools’ level of preparedness as “below average”–and 27 percent say they have little faith in their organization’s ability to carry out its plan.

The findings of this unscientific survey suggest a need for more resources to help school leaders prepare for emergencies, like the hurricanes that devastated Gulf Coast schools more than a year ago and the shootings that have rocked even more schools this academic year. To help meet this critical need, eSchool News and ISTE have teamed up to create the SAFE Center, which aims to serve as a clearinghouse for essential school-safety resources.

“Recent tragedies, such as Hurricane Katrina and the several school shootings, underscore the need for a central repository of shared information and resources. Educators need help in their efforts to protect today’s children and young adults in all emergency-related scenarios,” says Gregg Downey, president and publisher of eSchool News.

“Now, besides just reporting on a disaster affecting education, we’ll also be able to provide the field with many of the resources educators search for as they prepare for emergencies, learn to react as effectively as possible in time of need, and then recover in the aftermath.”

Here are some of the resources this new center provides now or soon will provide:

*Emergency-specific collections of the best available research documents and guidelines on preparing for and coping with a disaster or emergency;

*A link library of corporate security and preparedness providers;

*A clearinghouse of exemplary state and local disaster plans that educators can use as models when developing their own plans; and

*Presentations of “best of breed” examples of planning documents covering key types of disasters and emergencies.

“ISTE is very pleased to be partnering with eSchool News on this timely project,” said Don Knezek, ISTE’S chief executive. “We believe this resource will help ensure student safety and uninterrupted learning in the event of a disaster that may impact schools. This resource will support many of our chief technology officers and technology coordinators in their responsibilities related to disaster preparedness.”

Additional survey results underscore the need in the educational community for such a resource center. Only 10.5 percent of respondents believe their organization is “very capable” of executing its emergency-preparedness plan. In addition, many respondents believe a disaster is likely to befall their organization in the next five years and beyond. Fifty-nine percent of respondents believe a disaster is “likely” in the next 5-10 years, while 50 percent believe it is “very likely” one will strike in their schools.

Though much of the information contained in the new SAFE Center can be found elsewhere online, eSchool News and ISTE have assembled it into one easy-to-use repository, aggregating the very best plans and strategies for addressing a wide variety of possible emergencies, including bomb threats, earthquakes, shootings, gang activity, floods, hurricanes, pandemics, sexual predators, and more.

Each type of emergency has its own easy-to-find heading; clicking on these headings brings you a collection of emergency-specific links to guidebooks, news, plans, and other resources from government entities, associations, organizations, schools, and universities.

Peruse the heading “Pandemics,” for example, and you’ll find links to the Department of Health and Human Services’ “School District Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist”; the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s “Pandemic Planning for Schools”; and more. Under “Terrorist Threat/Attacks,” you’ll find school terrorism preparedness guides from National School Safety and Security Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition, eSchool News and ISTE have collected and organized several sample emergency and disaster plans from specific schools across the nation. This resource will be expanded and “best of breed” selections will be highlighted as time goes by, said Downey.

While certain identifiers–such as phone numbers, key personnel, and specific meeting places– have been removed to protect the schools’ confidentiality and the effectiveness of their plans, these sample plans can be useful models for schools that have yet to define their own emergency procedures–or they can help school leaders refine their existing emergency plans.

The new online SAFE Center is a work in progress; eSchool News and ISTE will continue to add more resources, and educators are encouraged to submit their own model disaster plans, success stories, and other information of use to their colleagues.

That way, “everyone can take from and contribute to what we hope will become the foremost clearinghouse for this absolutely critical information,” said eSchool News Online Editor Roger Riddell.

Links:

SAFE Center
http://www.eschoolnews.com/safe

International Society for Technology in Education
http://www.iste.org

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Meeting students where they learn can have a profound effect on education

Computer-based video games are time-wasters that get in the way of true learning, not to mention doing homework, right?

We don’t think so. Instead, we believe video games provide rich learning environments that can be used in innovative and engaging lessons, supporting learning and appealing to the learning characteristics of today’s learners … and we have been showing teachers how to do it.

Digital learners are different

There seems little doubt that the current generation of students differs markedly from previous ones. Today’s students are comfortable with many forms of technology and communicate in ways that were never available either to their predecessors or to most of their teachers (for example, eMail, text messaging, chat rooms, blogs, and so on). This has given the students who have grown up with these digital tools unique experiences that concretely affect how they learn and how they expect to interact with new information in learning environments.

Data from a variety of researchers show that digital learners tend to differ in important ways from their predecessors:

  • Digital learners are “on-demand,” autonomous learners, proactive in determining needed information and seeking it from the environment to meet their own self-determined goals.
  • They process information predominately at “twitch speed,” determining what is or is not useful in a matter of seconds, versus conventional speed, where information is given, reflected upon, and stored for use at a later date.
  • This generation relates to graphics first, versus traditional text-first information acquisition.
  • Digital learners tend to learn best through trial and error-random-access versus sequential-direct instruction.
  • This generation solves complex problems best within collaborative learning groups, rather than using isolationist problem-solving.
  • They are active participants in their learning; they “do” first and ask questions later.
  • These learners are undeterred by failure, regarding it as a necessary learning experience that simply leads to a “restart.”

In the absence of pedagogical innovation, these students may become instructional casualties of how and what we teach inside the school. Some instructional casualties end up in special education; others simply drop out or refuse to participate by either passively or actively displaying the behaviors that teachers find so confounding. Unfortunately, most teachers are not familiar with new tools and approaches that will positively affect student performance and engagement.

The ‘learning’ in video games

Video games are rich learning environments in which the student must seek information through the setting and the situation and then draw on other resources, both internal and external to the game. These virtual-reality simulations direct learning through four distinct, yet cyclical, stages: The game requires the students/players to gather information autonomously, analyze that information, make decisions, and evaluate consequences. The evaluation step is vividly supported by the game itself, as missteps can result in a spectacular-and premature-game ending. In this case, the player can restart the game and play more successfully the next time, having learned from his or her mistakes.

Computer games provide all of the major components needed for motivation, which is why kids play them endlessly. They provide clear goals (save the world, run a business successfully, win a race, etc.), while operating in an exciting and engaging environment. The player’s confidence and belief that he or she can win are bolstered by the data provided by the virtual environment, as well as by the fact that the player can always restart the game, having learned what does not work in the previous round. Players enjoy the games collaboratively, pooling information about strategies and shortcuts, helping each other win or move to the next level of play.

The goal of the teacher is to take advantage of these same learning and motivational components, designing lessons that will help students extend their learning and practice from the video-game simulation to a variety of settings, while connecting the learning to predetermined standards and benchmarks.

Connecting to standards

Since 2004, we have tested the proposition that commercial video games could anchor standards-based teaching in various classrooms. For example, in two classes we used Restaurant Empire (Enlight Software), a game that requires players to set up and successfully run a restaurant. One was a junior high school class in business computing; in this class, the teacher had the students play the game and report on their progress using a variety of business measures and business application software such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. At the end of the unit, the students were polled to learn their reaction to the approach; their responses were strongly positive.

In another class, a group of at-risk students used the same game to learn social studies. Here, lessons were built around demographic measurements of neighborhoods and ethnic ownership of restaurants to meet the standards for cultural and economic diversity. Again, the results-in the form of maps, statistical analyses, and presentations-indicated a high level of success from the point of view of both students and teacher. At the same time, both groups of learners came to realize that success in a restaurant (or any other business) depends on an understanding of profit/loss, attention to customer service, and an understanding of the needs of the market.

The games described above, as well as many other simulation games on the market today, offer teachers a tool by which they can anchor their students’ learning through virtual experiences and extend that learning into the more complex learning of the content standards. But video games are only a tool. They respond well to the digital learner’s need for choice and autonomy, as well as for collaboration and problem-solving; they are not a complete package. The teacher must structure lessons around them, not use them in place of lessons.

The teacher’s crucial role

Video games and simulations provide a wide variety of motivational elements, challenges for players, opportunities for players to set their own goals and make choices, a vibrant and information-rich virtual environment, and immediate feedback. But what they do not provide is equally important:

·        Preparation for the learning experience;

·        Explanation of the learning experience;

·        Extension of the learning experience;

·        Bridging of the experience with a deeper understanding of the concepts;

·        Opportunities for reflection; and

·        Practice in the “real” world.

These are the areas where the teacher’s mediation is crucial. For example, in the business class, the teacher needed to explain the definition of profit and loss numbers, provide opportunities to meet with local restaurateurs, and guide the students in learning how to use the business software. In the social-studies class, the teacher showed students how to interpret and present raw demographic data, how to define and differentiate ethnic groups, and how to integrate that information in a market analysis. Although the activities that a teacher structures around the video-game tool will differ depending on standards and benchmarks required, the teacher will always need to connect the tool meaningfully to the learning process and ensure that its significance is not lost in the fun of the play.

The American Federation of Scientists recently released findings saying that schools and teachers need to take a very close look at the inherent learning in the video-game environment and develop pedagogy that will honor this learning in schools. Thanks to a grant from the state of Wyoming, we have already begun training teachers to use this exciting new teaching tool successfully.

Last summer, we worked with some 40 teachers in Albany County, Wyo., using a unique lesson-planning system that is built around the needs of digital learners. Teachers were introduced to a wide range of commercial, off-the-shelf video games suitable for use in the classroom, all running on the same hardware platforms (PCs and Macintosh computers) found in most schools. The teachers collaborated to write lesson plans using specific video games as anchors for the content being covered in their own classrooms. For example, one reading teacher found a copy of the video game “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Disney Interactive) to use as an introduction to reading C.S. Lewis’s classic novel.

Teachers and administrators were enthusiastic about the results. Already, an eighth- and ninth-grade science teacher has followed a unit on sustainable environments with a unit using SimCity 4 (Electronic Arts) to see if the students would transfer what they learned from class to the virtual environment when building their cities. Another teacher used 911 Paramedic (Vivendi Universal) to give her nursing and first-responder students virtual “real-life” practice for the skills they were learning in class. More of our teachers will be using video games to anchor their standards-based teaching during the coming semester.

The results have been more exciting and vibrant teaching in our schools-and more engaged and stimulated learners.

Frances Clem holds a doctorate in educational technology and specializes in designing and implementing professional development programs in corporate and educational environments in the U.S. and abroad. Elizabeth Simpson is an assistant professor of education at the University of Wyoming and holds a doctorate in educational psychology. She has more than 20 years of classroom experience as a special educator, college professor, consultant, and researcher.

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Business publisher takes over FETC

A business-to-business information company – 1105 Media Inc. of Chatsworth, Calif. – announced on Jan. 16 that it has acquired Florida Educational Technology Corp., the long-time producer of the annual Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). The announcement drew mixed reactions from education observers who spoke with eSchool News.

Launched by Florida educators in 1981 in St. Petersburg, the meeting was officially named the Florida Instructional Computing Conference the next year. It was named FETC in 1990 and grew to become one of the largest and most prestigious educational technology trade events in the United States. News of its acquisition by 1105 Media Inc. comes about a week before the start of FETC 2007 in Orlando. Terms of the takeover were not disclosed.

According to its web site, 1105 Media Inc. targets “specialized sectors of the information technology community with offerings that include print and online magazines, journals, and newsletters; seminars, conferences, and trade shows; training courseware, and web-based services . . . in the fields of industrial health, safety, and compliance; security; environmental protection; wastewater management; and home healthcare.”

1105 Media executives told eSchool News the FETC acquisition would not affect plans for this year’s event, which kicks off Jan. 24 at the Orange County Convention Center. In recent years, the show reportedly has attracted more than 8,000 educators and 500 exhibitors.

1105 Media-which publishes several educational titles, including T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology-said its acquisition of FETC will enable the company to grow its live-events business, while using its resources as an educational publisher to expand the reach of FETC nationally.

“The acquisition of FETC by 1105 presents a terrific opportunity for us to grow the event and serve even more administrators and educators who seek to transform education through technology,” said Mike Eason, executive director of FETC, in a statement released Jan. 16. “FETC has deep roots in the education community, drawing 40 percent of its attendees from across the country, and the additional resources within 1105 will allow us to increase our reach to an ever-growing national audience.”

As news of the deal circulated yesterday, ed-tech advocates offered mixed reactions. While some welcomed the development, others said the idea of a business-centric company assuming control over a traditionally vendor-agnostic event raises concerns.

In an eMail message to eSchool News, Susan Patrick, executive director of the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL), said she wonders “how this could change the dynamic” of FETC and other events like it.

In 2005, NACOL assumed sponsorship of the Virtual School Symposium, a national conference focused on online learning. That conference originally was run by eCollege, a for-profit provider of distance-education programs to schools.

Patrick said NACOL decided to take over the conference as a nonprofit sponsor, so that all entities-educators and for-profit companies alike-could participate “on equal footing.”

“I think the results of having a nonprofit managing the event were very positive,” wrote Patrick. “It opened up the dialog to all participants and provided a neutral ground to ferment ideas on the growth, research, and development of virtual schools in an unbiased way.”

Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, said she was encouraged by 1105’s acquisition of the long-running trade show.

“This certainly has the potential to build upon the strengths of both organizations,” Wolf said. “I believe [FETC’s] quality of professional development and emphasis on what is good for students will continue, while [1105 Media brings] a more national focus.”

FETC will be merged into the 1105 Education Technology Group, led by Group Publisher Wendy LaDuke. Apart from T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology print publications, the division also maintains control of five education-focused web sites, nine eNewsletters, and live events for the higher-education technology market, according to company documents.

Reached by phone yesterday, LaDuke said the deal should provide FETC board members with “more resources” to grow the event beyond its regional base in Florida.

“It’s a win-win for both sides,” said LaDuke. Besides taking advantage of additional funding provided by the company, she said, FETC executives also will have the resources of an educational publisher at their disposal to help FETC carry its message beyond the annual three-day event in Orlando.

When asked to address the concerns raised by a for-profit media company assuming control over what traditionally has been an event designed by educators, for educators, LaDuke said, “I don’t anticipate that being a problem.”

Links:

FETC

http://www.fetc.org/

1105 Media Inc.

http://www.1105media.com

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HP extends lead over Dell in PC market

The Associated Press reports that Hewlett-Packard Co. has extended its lead over Dell in the worldwide personal-computer market in the fourth quarter of 2006. Analyses conducted by IDC and Gartner, Inc. produced slightly different results, but the same general conclusion. While overall PC sales were uninspiring, HP managed to outgrow the rest of the market, and lead in PC sales for the second quarter in a row. PC sales increased by approximately 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter, and both firms noticed declines in the U.S. market, the second consecutive period with a domestic slump…

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Oracle rolls out critical software fixes

Newsfactor.com reports that Oracle released over 50 new security patches on Tuesday to protect against software vulnerabilities in several of the company’s database and application server products. These updates were released as a part of Oracle’s regular scheduled round of patches, called the Critical Patch Update. Among the fixes are 26 updates that address flaws in Oracle database products, including 10 that could be remotely exploited. In addition, there are 12 updates for Oracle’s Application Server, and seven for the E-Business Suite…

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National Archives digitizes documents

USA Today reports that Footnote has digitized 4.5 million pages of historical documents, and has signed an agreement with the National Archives to digitize millions more. Subscriptions to the service initially cost $99.95 annually, $9.95 monthly or $1.99 per image. The digitized materials will also be available free-of-charge by February 6 at two facilities in the Washington area, and at regional locations in 11 states. In five years, all digitized images will be available free on the National Archives web site…

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Meeting students where they learn can have a profound effect on education

Computer-based video games are time-wasters that get in the way of true learning, not to mention doing homework, right?

We don’t think so. Instead, we believe video games provide rich learning environments that can be used in innovative and engaging lessons, supporting learning and appealing to the learning characteristics of today’s learners & and we have been showing teachers how to do it. Digital learners are different

There seems little doubt that the current generation of students differs markedly from previous ones. Today’s students are comfortable with many forms of technology and communicate in ways that were never available either to their predecessors or to most of their teachers (for example, eMail, text messaging, chat rooms, blogs, and so on). This has given the students who have grown up with these digital tools unique experiences that concretely affect how they learn and how they expect to interact with new information in learning environments.

Data from a variety of researchers show that digital learners tend to differ in important ways from their predecessors:

“Digital learners are “on-demand,” autonomous learners, proactive in determining needed information and seeking it from the environment to meet their own self-determined goals. “They process information predominately at “twitch speed,” determining what is or is not useful in a matter of seconds, versus conventional speed, where information is given, reflected upon, and stored for use at a later date.

“This generation relates to graphics first, versus traditional text-first information acquisition.

“Digital learners tend to learn best through trial and error–random-access versus sequential-direct instruction.

“This generation solves complex problems best within collaborative learning groups, rather than using isolationist problem-solving. “They are active participants in their learning; they “do” first and ask questions later. “These learners are undeterred by failure, regarding it as a necessary learning experience that simply leads to a “restart.”

In the absence of pedagogical innovation, these students may become instructional casualties of how and what we teach inside the school. Some instructional casualties end up in special education; others simply drop out or refuse to participate by either passively or actively displaying the behaviors that teachers find so confounding. Unfortunately, most teachers are not familiar with new tools and approaches that will positively affect student performance and engagement.

The ‘learning’ in video games

Video games are rich learning environments in which the student must seek information through the setting and the situation and then draw on other resources, both internal and external to the game. These virtual-reality simulations direct learning through four distinct, yet cyclical, stages: The game requires the students/players to gather information autonomously, analyze that information, make decisions, and evaluate consequences. The evaluation step is vividly supported by the game itself, as missteps can result in a spectacular–and premature–game ending. In this case, the player can restart the game and play more successfully the next time, having learned from his or her mistakes.

Computer games provide all of the major components needed for motivation, which is why kids play them endlessly. They provide clear goals (save the world, run a business successfully, win a race, etc.), while operating in an exciting and engaging environment. The player’s confidence and belief that he or she can win are bolstered by the data provided by the virtual environment, as well as by the fact that the player can always restart the game, having learned what does not work in the previous round. Players enjoy the games collaboratively, pooling information about strategies and shortcuts, helping each other win or move to the next level of play.

The goal of the teacher is to take advantage of these same learning and motivational components, designing lessons that will help students extend their learning and practice from the video-game simulation to a variety of settings, while connecting the learning to predetermined standards and benchmarks.

Connecting to standards

Since 2004, we have tested the proposition that commercial video games could anchor standards-based teaching in various classrooms. For example, in two classes we used Restaurant Empire (Enlight Software), a game that requires players to set up and successfully run a restaurant. One was a junior high school class in business computing; in this class, the teacher had the students play the game and report on their progress using a variety of business measures and business application software such as PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. At the end of the unit, the students were polled to learn their reaction to the approach; their responses were strongly positive.

In another class, a group of at-risk students used the same game to learn social studies. Here, lessons were built around demographic measurements of neighborhoods and ethnic ownership of restaurants to meet the standards for cultural and economic diversity. Again, the results–in the form of maps, statistical analyses, and presentations–indicated a high level of success from the point of view of both students and teacher. At the same time, both groups of learners came to realize that success in a restaurant (or any other business) depends on an understanding of profit/loss, attention to customer service, and an understanding of the needs of the market.

The games described above, as well as many other simulation games on the market today, offer teachers a tool by which they can anchor their students’ learning through virtual experiences and extend that learning into the more complex learning of the content standards. But video games are only a tool. They respond well to the digital learner’s need for choice and autonomy, as well as for collaboration and problem-solving; they are not a complete package. The teacher must structure lessons around them, not use them in place of lessons.

The teacher’s crucial role

Video games and simulations provide a wide variety of motivational elements, challenges for players, opportunities for players to set their own goals and make choices, a vibrant and information-rich virtual environment, and immediate feedback. But what they do not provide is equally important:

“Preparation for the learning experience; “Explanation of the learning experience; “Extension of the learning experience; “Bridging of the experience with a deeper understanding of the concepts; “Opportunities for reflection; and “Practice in the “real” world.

These are the areas where the teacher’s mediation is crucial. For example, in the business class, the teacher needed to explain the definition of profit and loss numbers, provide opportunities to meet with local restaurateurs, and guide the students in learning how to use the business software. In the social-studies class, the teacher showed students how to interpret and present raw demographic data, how to define and differentiate ethnic groups, and how to integrate that information in a market analysis. Although the activities that a teacher structures around the video-game tool will differ depending on standards and benchmarks required, the teacher will always need to connect the tool meaningfully to the learning process and ensure that its significance is not lost in the fun of the play.

The American Federation of Scientists recently released findings saying that schools and teachers need to take a very close look at the inherent learning in the video-game environment and develop pedagogy that will honor this learning in schools. Thanks to a grant from the state of Wyoming, we have already begun training teachers to use this exciting new teaching tool successfully.

Last summer, we worked with some 40 teachers in Albany County, Wyo., using a unique lesson-planning system that is built around the needs of digital learners. Teachers were introduced to a wide range of commercial, off-the-shelf video games suitable for use in the classroom, all running on the same hardware platforms (PCs and Macintosh computers) found in most schools. The teachers collaborated to write lesson plans using specific video games as anchors for the content being covered in their own classrooms. For example, one reading teacher found a copy of the video game “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Disney Interactive) to use as an introduction to reading C.S. Lewis’s classic novel.

Teachers and administrators were enthusiastic about the results. Already, an eighth- and ninth-grade science teacher has followed a unit on sustainable environments with a unit using SimCity 4 (Electronic Arts) to see if the students would transfer what they learned from class to the virtual environment when building their cities. Another teacher used 911 Paramedic (Vivendi Universal) to give her nursing and first-responder students virtual “real-life” practice for the skills they were learning in class. More of our teachers will be using video games to anchor their standards-based teaching during the coming semester.

The results have been more exciting and vibrant teaching in our schools–and more engaged and stimulated learners.

Frances Clem holds a doctorate in educational technology and specializes in designing and implementing professional development programs in corporate and educational environments in the U.S. and abroad. Elizabeth Simpson is an assistant professor of education at the University of Wyoming and holds a doctorate in educational psychology. She has more than 20 years of classroom experience as a special educator, college professor, consultant, and researcher.

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INTERMEC TECHNOLOGIES SWITCHES TO THE LEARN.COM LEARNCENTER PLATFORM TO ENHANCE ITS TALENT MANAGEMENT CAPABILITIES AND TRAIN GLOBAL RESELLERS

SUNRISE, FL–January 18, 2007 — Learn.com, the leader in on-demand workforce development and productivity, announced today that Intermec Technologies Corp. (NYSE:IN), the leader in automated data capture technologies, has switched to the LearnCenter platform from a competing system, to provide customized training and manage its global talent from one, centralized location.

"Intermec Technologies needed a learning and talent management system robust enough to create rapid online content, track instructor led training, and feature e-commerce capabilities, so we could collect revenues in a timely manner from our global client base," said Mindi Gascho, Director of Global Education Services at Intermec. "We were seeking to address three critical elements: provide employees and clients with the training they needed to best understand our products, incorporate an automated E-commerce component into our curriculum, and resolve the performance issues we had with our previous LMS."

"After researching talent management solutions offered by other providers, we found the LearnCenter platform would provide us with the flexibility and functionality to accomplish our corporate objectives and goals. The LearnCenter platform will automate our online registration process, track online training as well as sales and technical certifications, accomplish our e-commerce goals, and will be used to conduct a performance analysis. The LearnCenter platform will pull it all together in one holistic, integrated and centralized system to provide the solutions we need," added Jeff Reynolds, Manager of Global Sales and Technical Training at Intermec.

About the LearnCenter Platform

Originally developed as a learning management system, the LearnCenter platform has evolved into the industry´s leading employee development and productivity suite that manages the entire pre-hire to retire lifecycle. The award-winning LearnCenter platform creates a cost effective, high quality training, development and measurement environment designed to empower users with visibility into and control of their career planning while providing management with real-time business intelligence. Learning Management, Performance Management, Content Management, Online Authoring, Succession Planning, Collaboration, e-Commerce, Portal Authoring and more are included within one solution, with one interface and one partner–Learn.com.

About Intermec

Intermec Inc. (NYSE:IN) develops, manufactures and integrates technologies that identify, track and manage supply chain assets. Core technologies include RFID, mobile computing and data collection systems, bar code printers and label media. The company´s products and services are used by customers in many industries worldwide to improve the productivity, quality and responsiveness of business operations. For more information about Intermec, visit www.intermec.com or call 800-347-2636. Contact Intermec Investor Relations Director Kevin McCarty at kevin.mccarty@intermec.com, 425-265-2472.

About Learn.com

Learn.com is the worldwide leader in on-demand workforce productivity with more than 50 million end users around the globe. Our broad suite of on-demand solutions can fully automate the pre-hire to retire lifecycle within any organization. Learn.com´s unwavering commitment to understanding client needs and goals allows us to partner with our clients to increase business performance. The Learn.com family of solutions includes the award-winning LearnCenter workforce productivity suite, the WebRoom collaboration suite, the CourseMaker Studio® Authoring Tool, Mentor EPSS and the 1,100 title Learn2 online course library.
For more information please visit www.learn.com or call 954-233-4000

Learn.com, its logo, LearnCenter, CourseMaker Studio, Mentor and Learn2 are registered trademarks of Learn.com. All other trademarks are respectfully acknowledged.

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Break Out of Old Test Habits

A modern, complete, scoring of multiple-choice tests that prepares students for current standardized tests is now available from Nine-Patch Multiple-Choice, Inc. Students need practice using higher levels of thinking as well as knowing something about a subject. Teachers need meaningful, useful feedback.

Education experts want a test that is "…reliable, accurate, and valid relative to intended uses." It must "reveal students´ conceptual understandings and … misconceptions." They complain that "… educators … come to faulty inferences about what students do and do not understandand why." and "…what to do in response to students´ poor performance often is a conundrum." These are the problems with right-mark only scoring.

The solution is simple. Score what is important. Score both knowledge and judgment rather than count right marks.

Value knowledge and judgment equally. That starts the test score at 50% rather than at zero.

Students receive credit for marking right answers for what they judge they know and can do. Students also receive equal credit for not marking wrong answers. Each question requires and rewards the use of higher levels of thinking. A student must first determine if the question can be used to report something he/she knows or can do. Secondly, the right answer must be marked or no wrong answer marked (good judgment).

The test now measures quantity and quality. The test scores are meaningful. There are few if any wrong marks. (There is no way to know if a wrong mark is what a student actually believed was right, a lucky guess, or "the best answer" for unknown reasons on any multiple-choice test).

A test score above 50% indicates the student knows and knows he/she knows. This student can build further learning on this foundation. A test score below 50% indicates the student does not know and is not aware of what he/she does not know. This student needs a teacher to help start from the beginning.

Right-mark scoring is appropriate for sorting out mastery students, scores of 90% or higher. It is seriously flawed at the pass/fail point as half the right marks can be from chance alone. Right-mark scoring performs the poorest at the point accurate data are needed most.

Knowledge and Judgment Scoring corrects this problem by producing two independent scores: knowledge and judgment or quantity and quality. A knowledge and judgment test score of 60% can also have a quality score of 100% (no wrong answers or poor judgment). Both the student and teacher know what is known and what is to be learned.

The test score makes sense as it is based on what the student knows, values, and finds useful. The same right-mark score makes no sense at the pass/fail point as it is based on some knowledge, forced guessing and chance.

Because the test is responding to what students judge they know, the questions can be grouped by student performance into four groups rather than just easy and difficult:

1. Easy They know and know that they know.
2. Misconception They believe they know, but do not.
3. Discriminating Those who know mark a right answer, and those who do not, do not mark a wrong answer.
4. Difficult They know they do not know.

This produces a better sense of class performance than obtained from an essay test in classes of 20 or more students. Student counseling matrixes relate student, question, class and test performance in Windows software Break Out Plus and Power Up Plus.

You can edit Break Out source code, using Excel Visual Basic for Applications, to your scoring needs. Break Out Plus scores and cheat checks. Both are free at www.nine-patch.com. Power Up Plus includes the Test Performance Profile for advanced educators interested in fine tuning their instructional system, $29.95, single user. Site licenses are available.

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Evaluation Copy Available on Request

Reference: Herman, Joan L., Baker, Eva L. and Linn, Robert L. Fall 2006. Assessment for Accountability and Learning at http://www.cse.ucla.edu/products/newsletters/clfall2006.pdf. CRESST LINE, Newsletter of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. The CRESST Conference is Jan 22-23, 2007 at UCLA, www.cresst.org.

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Introducing Discovery Education Science Connection

Silver Spring, MD (January 18, 2007) – Discovery Education today launched Discovery Education Science Connection, a comprehensive supplemental multimedia toolkit that provides dynamic, high-quality content in a flexible online format. The rollout brings middle school science curricula to life to engage today´s technology-savvy students in learning. With No Child Left Behind requiring all states to test students in science at least once each year in grades 3-5,

6-9 and 10-12 starting in the 2007-2008 school year, Science Connection is designed to help educators prepare students for high-stakes assessments with content that is directly tailored to state standards and allows for inquiry-based and explorative approaches to learning.

Designed specifically for middle-school educators, Science Connection is organized into three areas – Physical Science, Life Science and Earth and Space Science – for easy integration into science curricula. Through Science Connection, students in today´s classrooms can access the resources that encourage exploration, stimulate critical thinking and deepen understanding.

Selected Features

Interactive Content:
– Interactive video with two-way interaction that invites students to click on "hotspots" during a selected video clip to gain additional information and to reinforce a learning point.

– Open-ended "Science Sleuths" mysteries in which students can solve using clues and resources such as interviews, photos, articles and graphics.

– Virtual labs that allow students to explore inquiry and science process skills using topics such as noise pollution and conditions for plant growth in real-world contexts.

– Integrated science simulations from Discovery Education´s award-winning Discovery School Science CD-ROM Collection that allow students to explore situations from a variety of science perspectives.

Multimedia Resources:

– Unparalleled collection of video programs created exclusively for Science Connection.

– Highly visual and dynamic reading passages from Discovery Education´s award-winning Discovery School Science Collection book series that include science timelines and interviews with leading scientists.

Formative Assessment:

– Formative assessment tools developed by Discovery Education ThinkLink Assessment to help educators identify each student´s baseline understanding, followed by recommendations from the assessment to individualize instruction to meet student learning needs.

"We´re excited to offer Discovery Education Science Connection to educators as a way to help them increase students´ knowledge of key science concepts and processes," said Dale Fulton, senior vice president of Curricular Development for Discovery Education. "The service gives educators the multimedia tools to connect with students´ individual learning styles, encouraging them to explore and develop their science skills through interactive, inquiry-based content and formative assessment."

Discovery Education Science Connection is available for a free 30-day trial. To sign up for the free trial or to learn more about Science Connection, visit www.discoveryscienceconnection.com or call 800-323-9084. To find out about any of Discovery Education´s other products and services, please visit www.discoveryeducation.com or call 800-323-9084.

About Discovery Education

Discovery Education is a division of Discovery Communications, the leading global real-world and knowledge-based media company. The leader in digital video-based learning, Discovery Education produces and distributes high-quality digital video content in easy-to-use formats, in all core-curricular subject areas. Discovery Education is committed to creating scientifically proven, standards-based digital resources for teachers, students, and parents that make a positive impact on student learning. Through strategic partnerships with public television stations across the country, its public service initiatives, products, and joint business ventures, Discovery Education helps educators around the world harness the power of broadband and media to connect their students to a world of learning. For more information, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.

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