Three skills students need to be globally competitive

Day Two of the 2007 Florida Educational Technology Conference opened with several simultaneous keynote sessions on topics such as global competitiveness and combining creativity and technology.

One of the keynotes, from Alan November, an internationally recognized ed-tech leader and consultant, focused on how to prepare U.S. students to compete and succeed in an increasingly global economy.

“Are we producing children who are globally competitive?” November asked the audience. “The answer is no. Until we sort out what it means to be globally competitive … the nation will fail.”

The key to using technology in the classroom, November said, is not to train teachers to use it, but to train them on how to incorporate that technology creatively into lessons in engaging and stimulating ways. Additionally, students should be able to connect with classrooms around the world, to boost a global perspective on learning.

“The real staff development problem in K-12 is not teaching teachers technology, it’s teaching them to redesign the assignments they give students to be more rigorous and demanding,” November said.

“Our standards are too low,” he added. “Anyone on the planet, who is self-disciplined and can learn online, can get an education.”

November emphasized three skills needed to turn the nation’s classrooms into places of effective digital learning. The first, he said, is to teach students to deal with massive amounts of information.

“We tend not to do this, and tend to only give children a little bit of information at a time, in the right order, to take the next test,” he said.

The second essential skill requires every classroom to become a global communication center with a more globalized curriculum.

“Teach children to work with people around the world, and establish a network of people you tap to make your students’ learning experiences more effective,” he urged attendees.  “If every classroom were to connect students around the world, not only will we teach content, but [also] social protocol and how to work in teams, and [how to respect] other viewpoints. We’re spending too much time teaching teachers technical stuff and not enough on the creative application of the technical stuff.”

The third skill today’s students need is self-direction.

“The real change in the global economy isn’t that you get a laptop or an MP3 [player], it’s that you don’t have a boss telling you what to do,” he said. “If one person freezes up when they don’t know what to do and someone else is self-directed, that self-directed person is more valuable.  We here have a culture that creates dependency; we teach kids how to be taught, and we need to teach them how to organize their own learning.”

November suggested ridding schools of planning committees, and turning those groups into global competitiveness committees. The real focus should not be to plan for technology, he said, but to plan for students who can contribute something to the world.

Teachers can reach students creatively by tapping into technologies that students are already using. Use podcasts to teach algebra, or use MySpace to teach social responsibility and implications, November suggested.

“We must teach our teachers to think globally, to connect content from other countries across the curriculum,” he said. “Everyone in the world does not love us-they don’t. If we don’t teach empathy to understand the position of other people, I don’t think it’s going to get better. We have got to teach empathy.”

He concluded: “The real revolution’s not technology, it’s the fantastic management of information and relationships. That’s why we’ve got to stop planning for technology.”

Links:

FETC 2007

http://www.fetc.org/fetc2007/index.cfm

November Learning

http://www.novemberlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1

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Microsoft previews new development tools

Microsoft is developing a new suite of tools that will allow developers and publishers of educational software, as well as educators themselves, to create their own instructional programs easily and intuitively, the company says. Users would control these programs on their computer screens, using a media player that Microsoft expects will ship with all Windows-based computers in the near future. The entire software environment is code-named “Grava.”

The Grava development tools, which Microsoft previewed at the British Education and Training Technology Conference in mid-January, are meant to stand alone as separate applications. A Grava SDK (Software Developer Kit) tool is designed for publishers and developers of educational software, while a different authoring tool will give those with less programming experience-such as many educators-the ability to create their own media-rich content to be viewed with the Grava player, Microsoft says.

By introducing these new tools, Microsoft hopes to reduce the time and money spent creating educational software for schools. Because developers won’t need high-level programming expertise to create Grava-based programs, the tools could eliminate the common software development cycle in which a subject-matter expert creates content, then hands it off to a programming team to write code, which then returns it for more changes, and so on.

Using Grava, “developers can create very rich [educational materials] … to make learning much more fun and engaging,” says Ravi Soin, product unit manager for Microsoft’s Education Products Group.

With the Grava player, users reportedly will be able to customize the experiments, surveys, or tests they are running. If a developer were to create a program demonstrating a specific law of physics, for example, he or she could set the features to be customized by educators. Teachers then would have the ability to tailor the program to their own experiments.

As an incentive for software developers and publishers to begin using Grava to create programs, Microsoft aims to have the Grava player pre-installed on most PCs once the final product is released, said Kapil Thombare, product manager for the company’s Education Products Group.

In addition to the developers’ and publishers’ tools, Grava provides educators with an authoring tool that lets them create projects to be used on their own computers, or published online as web applications. 

“It’s going to be easy for educators to work with the tool,” says Thombare. “Our plan is to have a certain amount of information up front. Educators can use templates that would make it much easier to come up with the end result they are expecting to achieve.”

This ease of use is something many believe could be Grava’s greatest attribute.

“It’s very user-friendly in that you don’t have to be a software developer to be able to author your own tests, presentations, interactive surveys, or lots of other different applications,” says Diana Cano, executive director of new product development at Educational Testing Service (ETS). “The key is it’s menu-driven. You pull it down and create buttons and that sort of thing.”

ETS is one of the first companies to use the Grava platform to create educational programs. ETS is using Grava to develop applications for its “Who am I?” program. This program contains six different sophisticated surveys, with topics such as time-management skills and whether the user is a morning or night person. Each survey will represent a different application on the Grava platform.

For some of the applications it has created, ETS used a software developer to take advantage of certain features that had not been introduced into the Grava platform yet. But for the other applications, Cano said, ETS turned to a non-developer. Her work in creating a multimedia program using audio files and multiple-choice questions has led Cano to believe that Grava holds much potential for those in the education community with no software developing experience.

“The biggest thing to watch, as this matures, is for users to be able to customize the kinds of things they want to customize, the buttons and all that kind of stuff,” says Cano. “The key for Microsoft is to be able to create a tool that anybody can use, but that [users] can really individualize for what they’re trying to do and the path they’re taking.”

“From an educator perspective, we hope this can transform the way educators are able to take difficult concepts and explain them in a fun and engaging way,” says Soin. “For publishers and developers, [we hope] this can provide a new medium for them to create content in a much more efficient way.” 

Microsoft is set to release customer previews of Grava to software publishers and developers within the next few weeks. The company aims to launch the product officially, with a final name, this fall.

Links:

Microsoft Corp.

http://www.microsoft.com

Educational Testing Service

http://www.ets.org

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AirWave Expands Portfolio with AirWave Wireless Management Suite Version 5.0 Software Release

San Mateo, CA–January 29, 2007– AirWave Wireless, the leader in wireless network management and security, announced today its new AirWave Wireless Management Suite 5.0 software with specific enhancements for enterprises, service providers, and other large organizations. The company also introduced the new "Enterprise Edition," which allows customers to take advantage of today´s multi-processor servers to manage wireless networks with thousands of devices from a single server.

The new 5.0 release greatly expands the capabilities of the AirWave Wireless Management Suite, which is already used by approximately 400 organizations and service providers worldwide to manage wireless networks ranging from 25 to 25,000+ access points. The new AirWave software supports a broad range of WiFi solutions, including both controller-based systems and autonomous access points, and now even encompasses mesh and WiMax infrastructure.

"As their wireless networks mature and grow, many of our customers are now making plans to deliver wireless access literally everywhere–indoors and outdoors, in huge warehouses and small remote offices," said AirWave CEO Gary Hegna. "Building an affordable, reliable Everywhere Network´ typically requires multiple technologies and wireless architectures, sometimes from many different hardware vendors. Our goal is to meet IT´s need for a single console for centralized control and visibility to easily manage that diversity," he added.

"As wireless networks begin to reach everywhere in the enterprise, organizations are using multiple wireless technologies and architectures. These enterprises require integrated management consoles, no matter how many products or technologies are utilized," observed Gartner analyst Rachna Ahlawat.

Rather than choosing a ´one-size-fits-all´ hardware solution, large enterprises, service providers and other organizations are now selecting the most appropriate wireless technology for each environment and set of applications. "At Fairfax County Public Schools, we´re using primarily standard enterprise access points indoors, but have had to start installing mesh devices to reach our portable classroom trailers, athletic facilities, concession stands, schools under construction and other locations where it would be extremely expensive to pull cables for traditional APs," said Neal Shelton, the district´s Network Engineering Supervisor. "AirWave 5.0´s flexibility makes its easy to use multiple technologies without changing support processes and retraining staff for several different solutions," he noted.

AirWave 5.0 also introduces "Universal Device Support," which enables more intelligent root-cause analysis by monitoring key components of the wired network infrastructure that directly impact the performance of the wireless network. With UDS, when a user calls to report that wireless access is unavailable in a location the Help Desk can tell at a glance whether upstream switches, RADIUS servers, and other components of the infrastructure are functioning normally before investigating wireless-specific issues.

The 5.0 software also includes other critical features for large wireless networks in hundreds or thousands of locations:

*Custom Compliance Audit permits the Security Team to specify exactly which configuration violations should generate high priority alerts when detected–to ensure compliance without being flooded with thousands of meaningless alarms.

*Enhanced user interface with "QuickView" maps that allow the Help Desk to instantly locate users and devices on the network

*Google Earth integration to locate outdoor devices and view coverage areas on a map

*3-D navigation to call up location maps for campuses, buildings, and specific floors–all with the click of a button.

In addition, the newly announced AirWave Enterprise Edition package can support up to 2,500 devices from a single server–without requiring separate location servers or other appliances, helping IT reduce the number of servers to be administered in extremely large networks–such as those operated by large service providers. For the largest wireless networks, with tens of thousands of devices, the newly enhanced AirWave Master Console provides a single console even as the management load is distributed across multiple servers.

The new software will be introduced next week at the Gartner Wireless and Mobility Summit in Grapevine, TX and will be commercially available in February 2007.

About AirWave

AirWave Wireless, Inc. is the leading developer of network management software solutions that provide administrators a single point of intelligent control to monitor, analyze, and configure their wireless network infrastructure. The privately held company is headquartered in San Mateo, California, and is backed by investors Westbury Equity Partners, Ignition Partners and Idealab. The company´s patent-pending AirWave Management Platform software is sold through a global network of value-added resellers and systems integrators. For more information, visit the company´s website at www.airwave.com.

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JVC EXPANDS REAR PROJECTION TV LINE UP WITH TWO NEW HIGH RESOLUTION MODELS

Wayne, NJ (January 30, 2007)–VC Professional Products Company today announced that is has expanded its HD-ILA rear projection TV line up with the introduction of the HD-P61R2U 61" and HD-P70R2U 70" models. JVC´s rear projection TVs utilizes its proprietary 3-chip D-ILA technology producing the highest brightness, contrast and resolution.

The HD-P61R2U and HD-P70R2U feature 1920 x 1080 native resolution, perfectly suited for premium home theater installations post-production screening rooms and museums requiring Full HD viewing. Other key features include HDMIT inputs to connect an HDMI-compatible device for HD viewing and D65 color temperature standard for excellent color reproduction. JVC´s unique optical engine produces rich, natural colors with smooth gradations and low noise.

The HD-P61R2U and HD-P70R2U utilize Waves´ patented MaxxBass® technology to enhance audio performance, while reducing size, power consumption, and cost. These RPTVs are equipped with a dynamic iris, which adjusts to the best iris state automatically, providing active control for every picture.

"Our rear projection TVs deliver stunning image quality required by high-end custom installations" said Carl Mandlebaum, national marketing manager, display products, JVC Professional Products Company. "Enhancements to our products coupled with our D-ILA technology continues to strengthen JVC´s position as the world´s leading supplier provider of LCOS projectors and RPTVs."

The slim design of the HD-P61R2U and HD-P70R2U simplifies installation where space may be limited, making them ideal for a variety of locations and situations. They also come equipped with RS-232C serial control ports to allow external computerized control for custom installation.

A built-in ATSC tuner allows delivery of over-the-air digital broadcasts and the CableCARD slot eliminates the need for a set top box to descramble local cable programming. For interfacing to external audio systems, multiple A/V outputs, center channel input and digital optical connections are provided.

For more information on JVC´s RPTV´s, including pricing and high-resolution photos, please visit JVC´s Web site at http://pro.jvc.com/newsroom.

ABOUT JVC PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTS COMPANY

JVC Professional Products Company, located in Wayne, New Jersey, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of a complete line of broadcast and professional equipment. For more information about this, or any other JVC Professional Products Company product, contact JVC at (800) 582-5825; or Candace Vadnais at PFS Marketwyse 973-812-8883, ext. 430 or visit JVC´s Web site at http://www.jvc.com/pro.

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New Dimension Media Appoints Shannon Rivers and Karen Butterfield as Regional Managers

CHICAGO, IL (January 25, 2007) New Dimension Media announced the appointment of Shannon Rivers and Karen Butterfield as Regional Managers to implement New Dimension Media´s full line of K-12 video products and video on demand technology.

Rivers will be the Regional Manager in the Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. Butterfields´ Northeast region will include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Rivers and Butterfield come to New Dimension Media from Sunburst Technology, where they were responsible for sales and implementation of educational technology for their respective territories.

Rivers is a 16-year veteran in technology sales. "I´m very excited to join New Dimension Media because I have such confidence in the leadership of this company," she said. "It has such a good reputation, and I´m confident that we can make a big difference in schools and with 21st century learners with not only our quality programming, but with our new CCC! Video on Demand technology."

New Dimension Media offers teachers flexibility in how they present media to their students, Rivers also noted. "One of the biggest challenges teachers face is that they have too much to do and too little time, "she said. "No matter in what format they want one of programs, we can provide it for them, whether it be DVD, VHS, VOD or ITV."

Butterfield also comes to New Dimension Media from Sunburst Technology, where she worked for more than 13 years. She also taught English in a Brooklyn high school and many K-12 subjects as a teacher in the Westchester suburban schools. "As a former teacher," she said, "the educational soundness of CCC! Video on demand technology is something that is very attractive to me. All of the programs are correlated to states´ standards. When I was a teacher, if you wanted to use video, you really had to work at it. The quality of the programming available from New Dimension Media and on CCC! Video on demand, and the flexibility of the system allows teachers to use video interactively, which is more likely to engage students."

About New Dimension Media

New Dimension Media (NDM) is recognized as one of the leading producers of original K-12 core curriculum video content to schools. Since 2002, NDM has produced 44 series and 417 programs. Founded in 1979 and based in Chicago, NDM boasts a distinguished library of Social Studies, Language Arts, Mathematics, Health and Guidance titles. Every NDM title is correlated to all state, national and Canadian provincial standards. They are also available on VHS and DVD, and for educational broadcast.

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Microsoft previews new development tools

Microsoft is developing a new suite of tools that will allow developers and publishers of educational software, as well as educators themselves, to create their own instructional programs easily and intuitively, the company says. Users would control these programs on their computer screens, using a media player that Microsoft expects will ship with all Windows-based computers in the near future. The entire software environment is code-named “Grava.”

The Grava development tools, which Microsoft previewed at the British Education and Training Technology Conference in mid-January, are meant to stand alone as separate applications. A Grava SDK (Software Developer Kit) tool is designed for publishers and developers of educational software, while a different authoring tool will give those with less programming experience–such as many educators–the ability to create their own media-rich content to be viewed with the Grava player, Microsoft says.

By introducing these new tools, Microsoft hopes to reduce the time and money spent creating educational software for schools. Because developers won’t need high-level programming expertise to create Grava-based programs, the tools could eliminate the common software development cycle in which a subject-matter expert creates content, then hands it off to a programming team to write code, which then returns it for more changes, and so on.

Using Grava, “developers can create very rich [educational materials] … to make learning much more fun and engaging,” says Ravi Soin, product unit manager for Microsoft’s Education Products Group.

With the Grava player, users reportedly will be able to customize the experiments, surveys, or tests they are running. If a developer were to create a program demonstrating a specific law of physics, for example, he or she could set the features to be customized by educators. Teachers then would have the ability to tailor the program to their own experiments.

As an incentive for software developers and publishers to begin using Grava to create programs, Microsoft has included the software needed to play Grava, the .Net 3.0 Framework, in its newly released Windows Vista operating system. Windows XP users are able to download .Net 3.0 through Microsoft’s web site, said Kapil Thombare, product manager for the company’s ducation Products Group.

In addition to the developers’ and publishers’ tools, Grava provides educators with an authoring tool that lets them create projects to be used on their own computers, or published online as web applications.

“It’s going to be easy for educators to work with the tool,” says Thombare. “Our plan is to have a certain amount of information up front. Educators can use templates that would make it much easier to come up with the end result they are expecting to achieve.”

This ease of use is something many believe could be Grava’s greatest attribute.

“It’s very user-friendly in that you don’t have to be a software developer to be able to author your own tests, presentations, interactive surveys, or lots of other different applications,” says Diana Cano, executive director of new product development at Educational Testing Service (ETS). “The key is it’s menu-driven. You pull it down and create buttons and that sort of thing.”

ETS is one of the first companies to use the Grava platform to create educational programs. ETS is using Grava to develop applications for its “Who am I?” program. This program contains six different sophisticated surveys, with topics such as time-management skills and whether the user is a morning or night person. Each survey will represent a different application on the Grava platform.

For some of the applications it has created, ETS used a software developer to take advantage of certain features that had not been introduced into the Grava platform yet. But for the other applications, Cano said, ETS turned to a non-developer. Her work in creating a multimedia program using audio files and multiple-choice questions has led Cano to believe that Grava holds much potential for those in the education community with no software developing experience.

“The biggest thing to watch, as this matures, is for users to be able to customize the kinds of things they want to customize, the buttons and all that kind of stuff,” says Cano. “The key for Microsoft is to be able to create a tool that anybody can use, but that [users] can really individualize for what they’re trying to do and the path they’re taking.”

“From an educator perspective, we hope this can transform the way educators are able to take difficult concepts and explain them in a fun and engaging way,” says Soin. “For publishers and developers, [we hope] this can provide a new medium for them to create content in a much more efficient way.”

Microsoft is set to release customer previews of Grava to software publishers and developers within the next few weeks. The company aims to launch the product officially, with a final name, this fall.

Links:

Microsoft Corp.
http://www.microsoft.com

Educational Testing Service
http://www.ets.org

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TANDBERG Delivers Adaptive Telepresence Solution

NEW YORK and OSLO, Norway, Jan. 30, 2007–TANDBERG® (OSLO: TAA.OL), a global leader in visual communication, today introduced a telepresence solution that creates a highly collaborative, in-person meeting experience. TANDBERG Experia makes meeting participants feel as though they´re having a conversation with colleagues right across the table–while being miles or continents apart.

TANDBERG Experia addresses current obstacles to broad telepresence adoption while providing the most natural communication experience possible. The Experia advantage is in its ability to adapt to multiple environments and to interoperate with other standards-based video systems, providing the telepresence experience to a wider market. By placing Experia on an existing or managed network and making minor room adjustments, an executive´s conference room can be transformed into a telepresence studio.

With Experia, executives engaged in a telepresence meeting can also reach colleagues and experts that may not have access to a telepresence room. With a focus on interoperability, TANDBERG continues to enable all members of the organization to benefit from visual communication.

"Telepresence with interoperability is the best option for organizations with remote offices, manufacturing plants or partner operations," said Andrew W. Davis, Senior Analyst and Managing Partner at Wainhouse Research. "Interoperability leverages existing video investments and expands the market for telepresence. TANDBERG Experia delivers a high quality and very innovative telepresence experience while neatly filling a strategic segment in the company´s product line."

In addition to interoperability, Experia offers High Definition video, one-touch connectivity, low bandwidth requirements and is optimized for six participants per site, making it a flexible and scalable solution. Experia can also be managed through TANDBERG Management Suite (TMS) as well as existing desktop tools.

"Experia is a culmination of innovative TANDBERG engineering, combined with customer feedback on how telepresence should work," said Fredrik Halvorsen, TANDBERG chief executive officer. "Experia speaks to organizational needs for flexibility, and showcases its value as a component of an overall visual communication strategy rather than a distant island of communication."

Experia is just one part of TANDBERG´s total telepresence solution, which provides connectivity across the enterprise.

*For an immersive telepresence environment, TANDBERG has partnered with HP to market the HP Halo Collaboration Studio. HP Halo interoperability with TANDBERG systems provides an end-to-end managed solution which enables secure, natural and consistent collaboration.

*For a more adaptive solution, TANDBERG offers Experia, a standards-based, across-the-table telepresence experience, which is both easy to install and portable.

*TANDBERG´s existing High Definition systems can also deliver telepresence to additional office environments through the HP Halo Video Exchange Network (HVEN). HVEN enables corporate IT departments to greatly expand their video collaboration services without increasing IT staffing. The end result: uncompromised visual experiences that are fully managed by HP.

TANDBERG Experia can be ordered today and will ship beginning Q2.

Join us Wednesday, February 7th at 1:00 PM ET for a presentation on telepresence by Andrew W. Davis from Wainhouse Research. To register for this Webinar, visit: http://www.tandberg.net/events/webinars.jsp

For more information on the TANDBERG telepresence solution, visit http://www.tandberg.net/products/telepresence.jsp

About TANDBERG

TANDBERG is a leading global provider of visual communication products and services with dual headquarters in New York and Norway. TANDBERG designs, develops and markets systems and software for video, voice and data. The company provides sales, support and value-added services in more than 90 countries worldwide. TANDBERG is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker TAA.OL. Please visit www.tandberg.net for more information.

TANDBERG is a trademark or registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries.

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Skills Students Need to Succeed in Global Workforce–Gathers Business, Technology, aNational Forum Spotlights nd Education Leaders

More than 170 educational stakeholders will gather in Berkeley, California, on February 1-2 with the goal of accelerating the pace of educational reform to support student learning in the 21st century. Representatives from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and from the core curricular areas of English, Geography, Math, Science, and Social Studies will explore how 21st century skills can be embedded into core content subjects to give U.S. students the tools they need for success in a global society and workforce.

"Today´s students need to be critical thinkers, problem solvers and effective communicators–and we need to equip their teachers with the 21st century training, professional development and assessment tools they need to lead this effort," said Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

The goal of the 21st Century Literacies Impact Conference is for participants to generate ideas and suggest actions for teaching and learning outcomes through three critical areas of education: teacher education, assessment, and ongoing professional development.

"When people ask about the kinds of schools we need, they have to think most of all about teacher learning," noted Randy Bomer, NCTE past president and facilitator for the conference´s professional development study group. "You cannot move into a new world with last-century teacher knowledge. Teachers are ready to learn, but they need access to real innovation. They need to be asked themselves to be innovators."

Featured conference participants include Roy Pea, professor of education and the learning sciences and director of the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (CA); Karen Cator, board chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and director of education leadership and advocacy for Apple; Patrick Gaston, president of the Verizon Foundation; Jack O´Connell, superintendent of public instruction for California; and Kent Williamson, executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Conference sponsors include the Verizon Foundation, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and Apple.

tags

Microsoft previews new development tools

Microsoft is developing a new suite of tools that will allow developers and publishers of educational software, as well as educators themselves, to create their own instructional programs easily and intuitively, the company says. Users would control these programs on their computer screens, using a media player that Microsoft expects will ship with all Windows-based computers in the near future. The entire software environment is code-named “Grava.”

The Grava development tools, which Microsoft previewed at the British Education and Training Technology Conference in mid-January, are meant to stand alone as separate applications. A Grava SDK (Software Developer Kit) tool is designed for publishers and developers of educational software, while a different authoring tool will give those with less programming experience–such as many educators–the ability to create their own media-rich content to be viewed with the Grava player, Microsoft says.

By introducing these new tools, Microsoft hopes to reduce the time and money spent creating educational software for schools. Because developers won’t need high-level programming expertise to create Grava-based programs, the tools could eliminate the common software development cycle in which a subject-matter expert creates content, then hands it off to a programming team to write code, which then returns it for more changes, and so on.

Using Grava, “developers can create very rich [educational materials] … to make learning much more fun and engaging,” says Ravi Soin, product unit manager for Microsoft’s Education Products Group.

With the Grava player, users reportedly will be able to customize the experiments, surveys, or tests they are running. If a developer were to create a program demonstrating a specific law of physics, for example, he or she could set the features to be customized by educators. Teachers then would have the ability to tailor the program to their own experiments.

As an incentive for software developers and publishers to begin using Grava to create programs, Microsoft aims to have the Grava player pre-installed on most PCs once the final product is released, said Kapil Thombare, product manager for the company’s Education Products Group.

In addition to the developers’ and publishers’ tools, Grava provides educators with an authoring tool that lets them create projects to be used on their own computers, or published online as web applications.

“It’s going to be easy for educators to work with the tool,” says Thombare. “Our plan is to have a certain amount of information up front. Educators can use templates that would make it much easier to come up with the end result they are expecting to achieve.”

This ease of use is something many believe could be Grava’s greatest attribute.

“It’s very user-friendly in that you don’t have to be a software developer to be able to author your own tests, presentations, interactive surveys, or lots of other different applications,” says Diana Cano, executive director of new product development at Educational Testing Service (ETS). “The key is it’s menu-driven. You pull it down and create buttons and that sort of thing.”

ETS is one of the first companies to use the Grava platform to create educational programs. ETS is using Grava to develop applications for its “Who am I?” program. This program contains six different sophisticated surveys, with topics such as time-management skills and whether the user is a morning or night person. Each survey will represent a different application on the Grava platform.

For some of the applications it has created, ETS used a software developer to take advantage of certain features that had not been introduced into the Grava platform yet. But for the other applications, Cano said, ETS turned to a non-developer. Her work in creating a multimedia program using audio files and multiple-choice questions has led Cano to believe that Grava holds much potential for those in the education community with no software developing experience.

“The biggest thing to watch, as this matures, is for users to be able to customize the kinds of things they want to customize, the buttons and all that kind of stuff,” says Cano. “The key for Microsoft is to be able to create a tool that anybody can use, but that [users] can really individualize for what they’re trying to do and the path they’re taking.”

“From an educator perspective, we hope this can transform the way educators are able to take difficult concepts and explain them in a fun and engaging way,” says Soin. “For publishers and developers, [we hope] this can provide a new medium for them to create content in a much more efficient way.”

Microsoft is set to release customer previews of Grava to software publishers and developers within the next few weeks. The company aims to launch the product officially, with a final name, this fall.

Links:

Microsoft Corp.
http://www.microsoft.com

Educational Testing Service
http://www.ets.org

tags

AVERMEDIA® SHOWCASES A NEW LOOK FOR ITS PORTABLE DOCUMENT CAMERAS

MILPITAS, CA–January 30, 2007 – AVerMedia® Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of digital multimedia and presentation technology, announced today the release of the new AVerVision SPC300 Portable Visual Presenter. Featuring an unsurpassed 3.2 mega pixel sensor for crystal clear video, 48X total zoom capabilities, exclusive classroom presentation features, new software features including annotation, video and audio recording and image capture, and a full 8" x 11" page viewing area, the AVerVision SPC300 is a complete classroom visual presentation solution

The ability to display documents, 3-D objects, microscopic images and more through virtually any multimedia projector, monitor or TV greatly enhances the visual learning today´s students best respond to. The AVerVision SPC300 Portable Visual Presenter combines all necessary visual elements into a high quality, yet easy-to-use classroom presentation necessity!

The 3.2 mega pixel camera sensor produces high quality video quality in clear, rich, full detail. Extensive visual effects, such as Picture-in-Picture (PIP) capabilities and split screen functions for saved and live images/video enable users to reference previously saved images or video while simultaneously projecting live video as well. Time saving features such as a fast and accurate auto focus function allows users to quickly focus on an object, while changing objects, or zooming and panning.

AVerMedia exclusive presentation features such as AVERZOOM, AVerBox, AVerPointer, AVerVisor and an exclusive label slot are functions not offered anywhere else! Additional elements such as a full 8" x 11" viewing area, a fast 24 fps frame rate, 48X total zoom capabilities, Image & Video Capture features, and compatibility with both PC and MAC Universal Binary make the AVerVision SPC300 an essential classroom presentation tool!
"The new AVerVision SPC300 Portable Visual Presenter is the new benchmark for other classroom presentation products, enabling both teachers and students to develop effective presentations with a comprehensive and high-value solution," said Winny Ledin, Product Manager with AVerMedia Technologies, Inc. "The new design compared with extensive features and functions make the AVerVision SPC300 the ultimate choice of visual presentation products."

Pricing and Availability

Two models are available now, the AVerMedia´s AVerVision SPC300 ($1,299.99) and the AVerVision SPC300 Premium ($1,499.99). For more information about the AVerVison SPC300 or any of AVerMedia´s other digital multimedia products, visit www.avermedia-usa.com or call AVerMedia at 408-263-3828

About AVerMedia Technologies:

AVerMedia is the technology leader in Digital Multimedia Video Convergence Technology. Aside from its full line of TV Tuners and Personal Video Recorder products, AVerMedia provides Hardware and Software DVR Board Security Systems, Document Cameras, Digital Video Makers, TV Photo Viewers, and PC-to-TV Converters for consumer and corporate/ educational markets. AVerMedia also partners with ODMs for the development of AVerMedia´s technologies for integration applications.

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