Latest Release of Follett´s Destiny Helps Districts Make Data-Driven Decisions

MCHENRY, IL–January 24, 2007–District administrators will have an easier time
making effective, data-driven decisions thanks to the new Report Builder being introduced with the latest version of the Destiny Resource Management Solution" from Follett Software Company.

Destiny is the most widely used Educational Resource Management (ERM) system in U.S. schools. Destiny Version 7.0 features a Report Builder that employs an easy-to-use wizard interface. Nontechnical users can now view reports in HTML or export to XML format for easy import into a spreadsheet. District staff can easily edit, modify, sort and filter the reports and push them down so they can be used at each site. Sites share results with the district or with other schools, so all decision makers can analyze trends and make informed decisions. There´s no minimum or limit to the size of each report. The Report Builder works with all Destiny modules, and can even combine patron data from multiple modules into a single report.

"The new Report Builder in Destiny fully leverages all the data districts capture while managing their educational resources," said Follett Software Company President Tom Schenck. "With the reports that are now possible, district administrators can act directly to improve instruction, reduce waste and save budget dollars," Schenck said.

Follett has made a number of other improvements to the Destiny Resource Management Solution in this new release:

* Destiny Library Manager: The flagship product in the suite lets K-12 districts offer complete library management services to all schools from a single installation via any supported web browser. Plus, it offers tools to help connect the library and the classroom. Search functions in the program have also been improved, including a function that allows English-speaking students to search screens that have been translated to Spanish and French.

* Destiny Textbook Manager: This award-winning, easy-to-use system gives districts and
schools total control of their textbook inventory, increasing accessibility and accountability. Textbook Manager now also includes a forecasting feature that lets users see the anticipated demand for textbooks by comparing current usage with enrollment data.

*Destiny Media Manager: Designed to help districts make sure that students get the learning resources they need, Destiny Media Manager is one of the first browser-based solutions that allows teachers to search for, reserve and track all kinds of district instructional media, including software, videos, activity kits, manipulatives and more. The latest version provides an option for district media centers to configure delivery dates on a per school basis. This is ideal for districts that do not ship materials every day to each school.

* Destiny Asset Manager: Follett recently expanded Destiny with Asset Manager, which
provides browser-based tracking and management of all of a district´s fixed and portable assets.

The system optimizes access, availability and use of assets, and improves asset accountability throughout the district. Destiny Asset Manager helps districts improve their control of vital assets such as laptops, PDAs, AV equipment, band instruments, maintenance equipment and more.

About Destiny Resource Management Solution

Destiny Resource Management Solution is an integrated suite of browser-based applications that streamlines the control of instructional assets, allowing K-12 districts to devote more time and resources to student learning. The Destiny Resource Management Solution helps districts save time and money through central management of key resources, resulting in enhanced achievement, increased collaboration, and maximized investments and accountability for districtwide resources.

About Follett

Over the past two decades, Follett Software Company has evolved from being the largest
provider of K-12 library automation solutions to being the leading provider of Educational Resource Management (ERM) solutions. The company´s flagship product–Destiny Resource Management Solution –is an integrated suite of browser-based applications that centralizes management of library materials, media, textbooks and fixed and portable assets. The company recently acquired TetraData, the nation´s leading provider of data warehousing, analysis and reporting solutions for K-12 districts. Leveraging technology to streamline administrative tasks, drive accountability,
engage students and encourage achievement, Follett Software solutions are helping educators shape the future through data-driven decision making.

Follett Software is a subsidiary of Follett Corporation–a $2.2 billion, privately-held
company that provides products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace. Follett Corporation was founded in 1873 and has its headquarters in River Grove, Illinois. For more information, visit the company´s web site at www.fsc.follett.com or call 800-323-3397.

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WinFlash Educator Version 10 Embraces Unicode

Open Window Software´s newest release of WinFlash Educator now offers Unicode capability in its affordable Windows-based flashcard learning system. With this latest upgrade of the proven WinFlash computer-based training (CBT) program, you now have powerful new Unicode tools to enhance your learning experience.

Achieve faster recognition of key facts by using mixed fonts and font effects–bold, italic, underline, highlighting and many more. Unicode support offers the largest assortment of possible characters within any font. Students of Asian languages have access to the full range of characters available for language study. Math and physics students can use the required Greek symbols and biology and chemistry majors the new sub- and super-script effects now available.

WinFlash´s Unicode upgrade cements Educator´s position as the leader in academic study/testing and home schooling applications. Educator´s flexible learning system helps you quickly master any memory-intensive subject–from simple alphabet drills and arithmetic tables through advanced studies in languages, sciences, medicine, law and technology. Unlike other flashcard programs, Educator´s full range of functionality combines study, feedback, testing and documentation all in one user-friendly program.

Also new in Version 10, through our continuing association with Flashcard Exchange, Educator enables you to more easily use content from this vast library of study material. Files downloaded from Flashcard Exchange can now be directly opened in Educator with no extra importation steps. Save precious data-entry time and effort by using ready-made study files. Become a member of Flashcard Exchange and have instant access to over 6 million ready-to-use flashcards.

Open Window continues its relationship with HandyMed, creator of HandyCards for your PDA. Both Educator and HandyCards utilize the proven Leitner Box System, which enables you to customize the learning approach for your optimal study efficiency. The HandyCards program on your PocketPC device lets you use the SAME card files that you´re reviewing on the PC with WinFlash Educator, and vice versa. Using the text-to-speech export feature, you can send your files to any mp3 player for audio review. These winning combos convert those on-the-go idle moments (waiting in line, commuting to work, time between classes) to productive study time.

For even faster mastery of WinFlash Educator´s versatile functionality, the program´s step-by-step tutorial for V10 has been rewritten. Complete the first session in a few minutes and start creating valuable text-only files right away. Study these at your computer, export them to a Palm, PocketPC or mp3 player or print them out in a variety of sizes for use on the go.

Already have your material in another computer-readable form? Use Educator´s user-configurable import capability to quickly create study and test files and printed cards from your existing content.

If you´re a teacher or corporate trainer wishing to create an engaging study aid for your class, you´ll be pleased with the assortment of tools Educator offers. Support your basic content with audio files, graphics and video clips and embedded Windows objects (include an Excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Equation Editor equation). Choose from standard, fill-in, multiple choice, true/false and yes/no question formats. Educator supports multiple-required-answer modes for BOTH fill-in and multiple choice questions. If you´re a language teacher, that means automatically graded tests of verb conjugation. Wouldn´t that be a time saver!?

With V10, the floating character insertion tool now makes it easy to enter the entire Unicode range of characters needed for foreign language study, speeding both creation and study phases. Built-in spell-checking and thesaurus support can even import your existing Microsoft custom dictionaries. Additional foreign-language and specialty dictionaries are available for free download.

Whether you´re a teaching professional or home schooling parent, you can create a full set of files for study of a given subject and then easily generate computer-administered tests from these same files. Select specific questions or randomly draw a few from each category. Combine material from multiple files for study or testing and use Educator´s precise filtering mechanism to combine specific material from several files for use in a "theme" test or study project. Educator will also print paper versions of any test you wish to administer in written form.

All of these powerful capabilities are supported by Educator´s easy-to-follow tutorial. Master advanced program features as you build examples with the guidance of the enhanced tutorial.

Fully functional evaluation versions are available for download from Open Window Software´s web site at http://www.openwindow.com. Single user licenses are $39.95 US; multiple-seat licenses are also available. In addition to the on-line Help, support is available via the Internet. Educator runs on Windows 2K, XP and Vista.

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Discovery Educator Network Launches Three New Blogs

Orlando, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2007)–Discovery Education´s Discovery Educator Network has launched three new educational technology weblogs. The blogs, Media Matters, Digital Passports and Digital Storytelling, are designed to share insights from leading educational technology experts on how to incorporate the latest digital assets in the classroom to help meet the challenges of teaching 21st century learners.

"These blogs reinforce Discovery Education´s commitment to providing educators with a global community to collaborate and share resources on integrating the latest technology into their classroom curriculum," said Coni Rechner, vice president, Discovery Educator Network. "We´re pleased that DEN has three passionate educational technology experts overseeing these blogs, ensuring that our educators will get the inside scoop on cutting-edge technologies and how they can make an impact on engaging today´s students in learning."

Media Matters (http://discoveryeducation.typepad.com/media_matters/) focuses on all things related to Digital Media and education and is hosted by Hall Davidson, who joined the Discovery Educator Network team in 2006 after serving as the Director of Education Television Services at a California PBS affiliate for 15 years. Hall has served as a technology advisor for software manufacturers, commercial and PBS broadcasters, organizations including the California School Library Association and Technology for Results in Elementary Education and taken part in numerous technology education task forces and committees.

Digital Passports (http://discoveryeducation.typepad.com/digital_passports/) features explorations into new and interesting online technologies that are used by today´s technology-savvy generation, including Web 2.0 websites. The blog is managed by Steve Dembo, who has worked as a kindergarten teacher and Director of Technology at the Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago, Illinois, before joining Discovery Education in 2006. As the Online Community Manager for the Discovery Educator Network, he oversees the DEN virtual community, including a network of over 20 educational blogs. Steve´s personal blog, Teach42.com, is renowned in the EdTech community and his Teach42 podcast was one of the first educational podcasts, serving as the inspiration for many other educators to create their own shows.

Digital Storytelling is managed by Joe Brennan (http://discoveryeducation.typepad.com/digital_ storytelling/), an expert in digital storytelling who has over 30 years of classroom experience, the last 12 serving as the AV/Media Coordinator at Niles West High School in Illinois before retiring last June. Every week, Joe reviews resources, blogs and provides insight into the world of digital storytelling.

The Discovery Educator Network (www.discoveryeducatornetwork.com) is a global community of educators who are passionate about the power of digital media. The DEN website provides a forum for educators to exchange ideas, resources and best practices on integrating multimedia content in their classroom curricula. The network also provides professional development opportunities for users of Discovery Education products and services, including meetings and events, interactive online workshops, teaching tips, best practice videos and project demonstrations. Since its launch in the summer of 2005, more than 20,000 educators have become DEN members and 250,000 educators have been trained through the program.

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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Kids’ TV faces new internet restrictions

CNET reports that the Federal Communications Commission has decreed that during broadcasts of television shows aimed at children 12 years and under, cable and broadcast operators are not allowed to display web addresses that link to commercial content. These new rules went into effect January 2, and came about because regulators were concerned that children’s programming was essentially becoming one big billboard with addresses to web sites which are solely commercial ventures. This practice was perceived as a sneaky way of getting around the 1990 Children’s Television Act, which stipulates that every hour of children’s programming may only have 10.5 minutes of advertising during weekends, and 12 minutes during weekdays…

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Florida High School Students Gain Literacy Skills with Read On!

AUSTIN, TEXAS (Jan. 25, 2007)–More than half a million students drop out of school every year, often because they lack the literacy skills necessary to keep up with the high school curriculum. Research shows that 70 percent of students entering ninth grade, and 60 percent of students entering 12th grade, read below grade level. Steck-Vaughn, an imprint of Harcourt Achieve, offers educators an answer to the adolescent literacy crisis with Read On!, a research-based reading intervention software program specifically designed for high school and adult learners.

Based on years of proven classroom success, Read On! provides a well-defined, instructional path for struggling adolescent readers. After Read On! assessments place students at the appropriate level, they develop reading skills through lessons in reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, reading fluency, and phonological awareness. Read On! is organized into 10 instructional levels, from foundational to 10.5, addressing the needs of readers at all levels.

Florida officials assign each school a letter grade based on how well students perform on the state´s learning standards. Educators at Palm Beach County School District´s Wellington High School discovered first hand the influence literacy has on student achievement, when the Florida Department of Education gave the school a "B" grade in 2004-2005. Jeannette McCauley, Wellington High School´s Reading Department Head, enlisted the help of Read On! to improve reading skills among struggling students at her school. After using the program for just one year, the school achieved an "A" grade in 2005-2006.

"Receiving a ´B´ from the Florida Department of Education opened our eyes to the relationship between reading skills and student achievement," said McCauley. "Implementing Read On! at our school allows educators to address the reading needs of all students, and ensures they have the vocabulary and comprehension skills necessary for all academic subjects. I have no doubt that Read On! contributed to the success our students experienced in school last year."

With more than 1,000 hours of instruction, Read On! provides a variety of stimulating content to motivate readers. The incremental, scaffolded approach engages students, imbuing them with a sense of success that motivates them to continue. The program constantly assesses a student´s progress and prescribes an individualized, self-paced program of differentiated instruction. To accelerate reading gains, the student is redirected to prior levels of instruction when necessary.

"Attitude is the most difficult obstacle to overcome when teaching adolescent readers. After years of struggling, students lack the confidence and desire to give reading another chance," said McCauley. "With the engaging lessons from Read On!, students ask if they can finish a lesson when the bell rings, or choose to use the program after school hours. For the first time students are motivated to learn, allowing them to gain the skills they need to be successful in life."

Recognizing that each struggling reader is unique, Read On! creates a personalized learning plan for each student that includes a strategic mix of assessment, instruction and developmental learning experiences. The program also addresses individual learning styles by offering instruction and practice through a variety of experiences, using auditory, visual and tactile instruction to ensure each student has multiple opportunities to learn.

Read On! is an effective, affordable way for schools to address the needs of struggling readers. The program´s quick start-up features enable easy implementation, eliminating the need for training sessions. With minimal assistance needed to get the program up and running, Read On! provides educators with easy access and fast results. Read On! also offers built-in scalability, allowing an unlimited number of students to be added to the program at no additional cost.

Read On! may be purchased as a complete package with 10 program levels, or as individual program levels, which range from RA (Foundational) to IA (10.5). For pricing or additional information about Read On!, visit http://www.steckvaughn.com/readon.

About Steck-Vaughn

Steck-Vaughn, an imprint of Harcourt Achieve, publishes instructional materials that accelerate learning for struggling primary, secondary and adult education students. Offering a wide range of skills building and targeted intervention programs, the Steck-Vaughn imprint provides educators with easy-to-use material that improves content-area knowledge, reading skills and preparation for standards-based tests. For more information, visit http://steckvaughn.harcourtachieve.com.

About Harcourt Achieve

Harcourt Achieve produces learning solutions and content that fundamentally and positively changes the lives of young and adult learners. Published under the Steck-Vaughn, Saxon and Rigby imprints, its products are based on a developmental philosophy that assesses learner´s skills, matches them to appropriate content and accelerates them to meet and exceed expectations. For more information, visit www.harcourtachieve.com.

Harcourt Education is a global education provider serving students and teachers in PreK through grade 12, adult learners, and readers of all ages. The Harcourt Education companies include Harcourt School Publishers; Holt, Rinehart and Winston; Harcourt Achieve (including the Rigby, Steck-Vaughn, and Saxon imprints); Harcourt Assessment; Classroom Connect; Harcourt Trade Publishers; Greenwood/Heinemann; and Harcourt Education International. For further information, please visit www.harcourt.com

Harcourt Education is part of Reed Elsevier Group plc. (www.reedelsevier.com), a world-leading publisher and information provider. It is owned equally by Reed Elsevier PLC (NYSE: RUK) and Reed Elsevier NV (NYSE: ENL).

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MASTER´S PROGRAM IN QUANTITATIVE FINANCE DEBUTS AT FORDHAM BUSINESS SCHOOL

Fordham Business School will offer a new Master of Science in Quantitative Finance (MSQF) degree, focused on applied finance theory and quantitative financial techniques. The first class will enter in September 2007. The one-year program was approved on Dec. 13 by the New York State Department of Education. John D. Finnerty, Ph.D., professor of finance, is the director of the program and Gautam Goswami, Ph.D., associate professor of finance, is co-director.

"Our new MSQF Program is market-driven. We interviewed 20 leading firms in developing the program. We have designed the MSQF to meet the need for professionals who are skilled in both finance and quantitative methods," Finnerty said. "Our graduates will have the financial and quantitative tools to solve the complex problems that financial services firms tackle on a daily basis, such as asset pricing and risk management. M.B.A. programs are not meeting this need. A sharper focus on finance and quantitative methods is required, and that´s exactly what the Fordham MSQF will provide."

The Fordham MSQF program will graduate professionals with the quantitative finance skills to value securities, develop and price derivative instruments, manage portfolios using the latest techniques, and manage the wide variety of risks to which financial firms are regularly exposed. An integral part of the program is a full-term internship for its students at leading institutions in the New York City-based financial services industry. Students accepted for MSQF will have undergraduate degrees in quantitative disciplines, such as mathematics, physics, engineering, or economics.

"The MSQF reflects the collective effort of the entire Finance Area at the Schools of Business," said Howard Tuckman, Ph.D., dean of Fordham Graduate Business. "The Economics Department at Rose Hill and members of the accounting, management, and communications areas at the Schools of Business have also contributed their expertise. It truly is a University program."

Finnerty has been a professor of finance at Fordham since 1987. He also has extensive experience in finance, including service as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and as a director at Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. Goswami has been a consultant to the ABB Group on corporate strategy issues, and to Chase Bank.

Students who have earned an M.B.A. and who would like a deeper understanding of finance and have strong quantitative skills will find the MSQF program a valuable complement to their degree, or as excellent preparation for a Ph.D. program in finance. For more information about the program, see the MSQF web page at Fordham Business: www.fordham.edu/msqf

"The MSQF Program will enhance Fordham Business School´s position in the New York market," Tuckman said. "Its development is one of the important initiatives in Fordham University´s strategic plan, and we are committed to making it a great success."

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,600 students in its five undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx, Manhattan and Tarrytown, and the Louis J. Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y. The Graduate School of Business Administration, established in 1969, has been recognized nationally for the quality and innovation of its programs, which prepare graduates for global competition.

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KURZWEIL 3000 SUCCESSFULLY RAISES READING SCORES AND GRADES OF ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

Bedford, MA Jan 25, 2007 Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc. (www.kurzweiledu.com), a member of Cambium Learning Technologies, is pleased to announce the successful culmination of one teacher´s efforts to secure and implement Kurzweil 3000(R) in her high school, leading to improved test scores and student independence. Her success is seen as example of technology integration that is being encouraged statewide through new Tech for Learning trainings offered by the Arizona Department of Education.
A Woman with a Mission

Mary Hinson is Job Developer, Instructor, and Transition Specialist at Catalina Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona–an inner-city school with approximately 1,500 students from 48 countries, speaking 43 languages. Catalina has one of the highest, most diverse populations of students in the state, with nearly 300 students identified as Special Needs, and an additional 300 English Language Learners. Hinson´s focus is helping high school juniors and seniors with special needs successfully transition from secondary school to college or the workplace.

As part of her job, she regularly visits local colleges and companies to see how she can best prepare her students to succeed in their new environments. Hinson observed that while there were a number of excellent resources for graduating students, including Pima Community College and the University of Arizona´s SALT Center (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center), students were often not sufficiently motivated or lacked the time to take advantage of them.

Both institutions were promoting the use of Kurzweil 3000, a versatile reading and writing software program. As Hinson learned more about the program, she became convinced that introducing Kurzweil 3000 to her high school students would ease their transition to college or the workplace.

Hinson was determined to provide her special education students with the same technology they would encounter after graduation. As a first step, she established a collaborative relationship with Pima Community College and the SALT Center to promote the use of programs like Kurzweil 3000 to students and teachers at Catalina.

Hinson describes herself as a go-getter. "Once I make up my mind to do something, I don´t stop until I achieve it." Her philosophy–"No, never means no"–has paid off. "I keep knocking on doors," Hinson explains, "until I find the right resource." By sheer perseverance, she has been able to raise over $1.5 million dollars in funding for her various initiatives.

Kurzweil Teaching Excellence Software Award Winner

To further her mission of getting Kurzweil technology into her school, Hinson applied for and won a Kurzweil Teaching Excellence Software Award given to K-12 teachers committed to integrating technology into their curriculum to help students with learning disabilities reach their potential. As an award winner, she received two copies of Kurzweil 3000, a scanner, and a full day of training.

After the training, Hinson had little difficulty convincing Catalina´s principal to purchase additional Kurzweil 3000 licenses so that more students could use the software. She then persuaded the head of Information Technology for Tucson Unified School District to supply the additional computers. Once the technology was in place, Hinson was able to secure funds from the district to train a handful of special education teachers as well as the head of Information Technology on the use of Kurzweil 3000.

A Dream Realized

By February 2006, Kurzweil 3000 was up and running on 20 computers housed in the computer lab and available to students at all times. Hinson made the judicious decision of using the lab to teach her daily English classes so her students could learn to use Kurzweil 3000 as they worked on their assignments. In addition to helping struggling readers, Hinson found the program´s study skills toolbar to be particularly helpful in teaching students to track different types of text, organize their ideas, and turn highlighted text into working outlines.

Soon after Kurzweil 3000 was installed, Hinson got permission for students who had Kurzweil 3000 written into their Independent Education Plans (IEPs) to use the software to take their AIMS (Arizona´s Instrument to Measure Standards) test. Simply by using Kurzweil 3000, several students made impressive gains in their scores.

One student was able to raise her reading scores from "falls far below" to "meets the standards"–a gain of 300 points. As news of this initial success spread, more and more of Hinson´s students started to use Kurzweil 3000 for all of their subjects. It was not unusual, Hinson recalls, to be stopped by a colleague who wanted her to know that students who were getting low Cs were now getting Bs on papers and quizzes.

Even more important than grades, from Hinson´s perspective, was the fact that her students were functioning more independently and were more self- assured and at ease. "I can´t emphasize the importance of this," Hinson remarked, "because so many students with special needs are constantly anxious that won´t be able to perform. Kurzweil 3000 has given them the confidence they need."

Most students, Hinson recounts, are hard workers, but because of their learning challenges, their grades often do not reflect their effort or their knowledge. Kurzweil 3000 opened a door to a whole new level of understanding and competency. As one student remarked, "If I had Kurzweil all during high school, I could have learned so much more."

Taking it to the Next Level

Hinson then planned for equipment needs for the fall of 2006. In addition to the 20 computers in the lab, she identified science, social studies, math, foreign language, English, and ELL classrooms to place two or more computers with Kurzweil 3000. While initially focusing on students with special needs, she wanted to give any student who needed it immediate access to the curriculum.

Finally, Hinson shared her students´ successes with her principal, district superintendent, SALT and Pima partners, as well as with Froma Cummings at the Arizona Department of Education.

Cummings, Director of Assistive Technology and Textbook Accessibility for the state of Arizona, recalls meeting some of Hinson´s students. "My main concern is making technology available to students who need it," Cummings remarked, "and so I was delighted with the progress Hinson´s students had made. My real satisfaction, however, was in seeing how technology had changed the way these students felt about themselves."

She was touched by how Hinson´s students supported each other and saying such things as, "I used to think I was dumb, but now I know I´m really smart." or "I never picked up a book unless I had to, but now I love to read."

Encouraging Hinson to share her success with the broader community by presenting at regional and national conferences, Cummings noted that successes like Hinson´s can help teachers see how the right tools can dramatically improve students´ grades and their belief in themselves as learners. She hopes that other Arizona schools will be inspired to participate in the new Tech for Learning trainings offered by the Arizona Department of Education.

Arizona schools interested in integrating Assistive Technology, Universal Design for Learning, and Educational Technology into their curriculum can become Tech for Learning Communities and receive special training and ongoing coaching. This pilot program is designed to increase the number of "technologically savvy" professionals who in turn can assist and recruit others. "We´re all about capacity building," says Cummings, "and teachers like Mary Hinson are our best examples of what we hope to attain statewide."

About Cambium Learning Technologies

The technology division of Cambium Learning, Cambium Learning Technologies comprises IntelliTools, Inc., Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc., and Acceleration Station. IntelliTools (www.intellitools.com) has been a leading provider of technology that helps students learn to their fullest potential, especially K-8 students who use assistive technology, have individualized education programs (IEPs), have limited English proficiency, or are generally struggling to achieve. Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc. (www.kurzweiledu.com) is widely recognized as an innovator and leading provider of reading and writing software for individuals with learning difficulties and for those who are blind. It provides high-quality assistive technology to people who face obstacles in accessing the printed word, enabling them to lead more independent lives. Acceleration Station provides online standards- aligned testing and assessment for at-risk K-12 students.
Website: http://www.cambiumlearningtechnologies.com

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Dell introduces new rugged-design laptop

The New York Times reports that Dell has built an “all terrain” laptop named the Latitude ATG D620–The ATG stands for “All Terrain Grade.” Dell says that the laptop is designed to military specs and includes a keyboard resistant to spills, a heavy-duty case, and a screen that is visible even in direct sunlight. The machine weighs about 6 pounds and is about 2 inches thick…

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Ruckus Network widens online music service

Ruckus Network, which distributes movies and music online to colleges nationwide, is expanding access to its ad-supported music download service to any college student in the United States. Previously, Ruckus’ free service was available only to students at universities that had entered into an agreement with the company.

Now, as of Jan. 22, any student with a valid university “.edu” eMail account can use the service to download music to his or her computer free of charge.

The Herndon, Va.-based company aims to boost the rolls of college students who use its service to woo more advertisers seeking to market to young audiences. The company adopted the ad-supported business model about a year ago.

“Free and legal digital music has just become broadly available to the most active and engaged music consumer group on the planet,” said Michael Bebel, Ruckus’ president and chief executive.

The company estimates that several hundred thousand students at more than 100 universities already use its service. Those students can download movies, too, and also benefit from better network bandwidth and download speeds, owing to music and movie file-caching servers placed on the school’s campuses.

Students outside Ruckus’ network of affiliated universities will not be able to download the approximately 4,500 movies available through the service, but they will have access to the company’s more than 2.1 million music tracks, which they can download to their computer free of charge. To transfer audio files to a portable music player, however, users must pay either $5 a month or $19.99 per semester. This portability fee also applies to students whose schools are affiliated with Ruckus.

Ruckus says schools entering into agreements with the company benefit through the placement of caching servers on campus. Because students don’t have to download music and movies remotely from outside servers, the arrangement cuts down on the amount of bandwidth used–and therefore reduces the amount of money the schools spend maintaining their networks. The service itself is free to participating schools; Ruckus generates its revenue through advertising and the portability fees it charges students.

Previously, students at universities without an agreement with Ruckus had to pay $5.99 a month to download music from the service and couldn’t move the tracks from their computer.

Ruckus is hoping that students at unaffiliated schools will embrace the service and see the value of legal downloads, said Ruckus spokesman Tim Hurley. “We think this will create some champions from among the student base to really bring [our service] to the attention of administration at those schools and help drive sales.”

Since the new campaign was announced on Jan. 22, a significant number of new members have signed up for the service, said Hurley.

Ruckus came under fire in late 2006 for what some school administrators viewed as questionable marketing practices. The company started a group on the popular social-networking site Facebook, in which a fictional persona named “Brody Ruckus” tried to get students to join the group by promising them details of a “threesome” with his girlfriend and another girl. Ruckus also reportedly sent eMail messages to students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, promoting an agreement with the school that apparently did not exist.

The company attributed these mistakes to an overzealous employee and said it regrets the errors (see story: Ruckus upsets college music scene).

Link:

Ruckus Network
http://www.ruckus.com

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Science Guy to educators: ‘Change the world’

The 2007 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) kicked off Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., with an ambitious challenge from keynote speaker Bill Nye to conference participants: “Change the world.”

Best known for his work on the Bill Nye the Science Guy television program, which earned him seven Emmy Awards, Nye also has written four books. He is the host of two currently-running television series: The 100 Greatest Discoveries, which airs on the Science Channel, and The Eyes of Nye, which airs on PBS stations.

“The next decade is going to change the world, and we’re all going to be here for it,” Nye said, addressing the audience in his trademark blazer and bowtie.

Nye discussed how his father’s fascination with sundials inspired his own interest in how science impacts everyday phenomena, then linked his own personal interests and experiences with FETC’s mission–to promote educational technology.

He discussed recent discoveries and findings on the planet Mars and related them to today’s science education. “If life is discovered on Mars, it will have been by a team of people educated by public schools, and that’s a celebration of educational technology,” he said.

“That, my friends is the essence of science–the joy of discovery,” Nye told the crowd.

“We are facing a serious business here on Earth; we are facing a very serious future unless we get on it,” he said, referring to science and education. “It was through exploration of other worlds that I first got this perspective.”

Nye discussed the issue of global warming and the fact that some influential political activists and others in leadership roles do not believe it to be a problem.

“This is where we, as educators, must change the world,” he said.

President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative, designed to increase the number of scientists, technical workers, and qualified math and science teachers, should be a motivation to educators, Nye said.

“That’s what we need–you have to change the world,” Nye said, continuing his theme of change. He then described several different scientific problems and their potential solutions, emphasizing that through education, the nation’s students may come up with the answers to some of today’s most pressing questions.

“One hundred years ago we were riding horses to work, but now we’ve changed and we have cars,” he said. “In another hundred years we can change again, and that is up to us as educators, to make our students realize that [science] is a worthy pursuit.”

More than 8,500 teachers, administrators, and educational technology experts reportedly are in attendance at this year’s conference.

“FETC is a great opportunity for teachers to learn how technology can enhance their students’ learning experience,” said Michael Eason, executive director of the Florida Educational Technology Corporation, which manages the annual conference. “Those attending learn about best practices from national experts on educational technology, as well as [from] their peers. Plus, they will see–and can purchase–the latest innovations in classroom technology in our 250,000-square-foot exhibit hall.”

The conference features more than 200 hour-long concurrent sessions that will provide professional development and demonstrate how ed-tech products, applications, and best practices can be used in the classroom.

In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to tour Orange County’s Ocoee Middle School, a technology demonstration school for the state of Florida.

Links:

FETC 2007
http://www.fetc.org/fetc2007/index.cfm

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