American Education Corp. , a provider of research-based, core curriculum instructional software for kindergarten through adult learners, showcased new electronic titles in its flagship product, A+LS, a network-based, K-12 instructional courseware program. One new elective, titled “Career Essentials,” features new titles in psychology and physical science.
Apangea Learning, which offers a supplemental instructional program called SmartHelp, demonstrated the latest version of its product, SmartHelp 4.0. The product offers differentiated, one-on-one instruction through web-based technology that combines an “intelligent” tutoring system with human tutors. New features in version 4.0 include a motivational system, similar to a credit-card reward point system, designed to inspire students to learn by rewarding progress with points that are redeemable for prizes; and a customized reporting system with a user-friendly graphical interface that provides both a classroom overview and individual student profiles. This information can be captured as a Portable Document File (PDF), JPEG image file, Word document, or Excel spreadsheet, Apangea said.
The Cisco Networking Academy announced an evolution of its core curriculum to keep pace with the changing requirements of an increasingly connected world and the growing demand for a technically skilled workforce in a competitive global marketplace. These new courses fit in with the program’s focus on giving students the skills they need to pursue IT careers in business-critical positions and industries ranging from technology and finance to medicine and entertainment. The newly expanded Networking Academy curriculum provides both entry-level and more advanced students with the expertise they need to succeed in a wide range of careers. The curriculum now consists of two tracks, CCNA Discovery and CCNA Exploration, which address different student segments based on their academic experience and goals. In addition, the Networking Academy’s Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) curriculum has been updated to prepare entry-level and advanced students for careers in enterprise networking.
CompassLearning, a producer of standards-aligned curriculum and assessment tools for pre-kindergarten through high school, highlighted its Odyssey line of products. Odyssey Matemáticas, for example, is a browser-based curriculum for K-4 students whose first language is Spanish, while Odyssey for English Language Learners is a browser-based program to help kindergarteners through adults develop skills in reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Planning to release new material this fall, CompassLearning recently issued the Parent Toolkit, an internet program to promote parent involvement and to serve as a resource on education and technology for school administrators.
CTB/McGraw Hill announced that Acuity Algebra, the newest addition to its Acuity family of diagnostic and predictive benchmark assessments, has been selected as the standard achievement assessment for a RAND Corp. study of the effectiveness of a technology-based mathematics curriculum. The five-year study, funded by a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to rigorously evaluate the curriculum. The study’s results will help schools nationwide in selecting the most effective mathematics curricula for their students, the company said.
Educational Insights showcased Quiz Bowl, a new game based on the company’s Classroom Jeopardy game. Teachers can program Quiz Bowl with questions and answers corresponding to point values in a simple computer-based format. The system comes with two scoreboards and 10 buzz-in controllers. Additional controllers can be ordered.
eLearning Systems International announced the addition of more than 200 science topics to its library of integrated, web-based courses for elementary and secondary school students. Units include biology, physical science, life science, and earth science. The company’s WebLessons simplify the process of using the web as a teaching tool by giving teachers and students instructions, study questions, vocabulary, quizzes, and inquiry-based projects, all centered around rich-media content from online resources. The new science curriculum follows a step-by-step learning path. Students are introduced to the topic through a situated learning proposition that activates prior knowledge and generates interest. Next, WebLessons guide students through a series of web resources related to the topic. Afterward, students take a short quiz to reinforce their newly acquired knowledge, and then they complete a final written project related to the initial scenario, making the entire activity circular, the company says.
ePALS, a producer of collaborative learning products for K-12 classrooms and homes, introduced a free web service for educators, experts, and people seeking answers to education-related questions. Dubbed Ask ePALS, the new service has been launched in collaboration with Yedda Inc. , a social question-and-answer platform. Educators and other users of Ask ePALS will be able to share information and expertise about education issues in a community of interested participants. To facilitate their use of Ask ePALS, people can add a widget to their school web sites, blogs, or home pages that enable easy, interactive access to the service. ePALS, which calls itself the world’s largest community of online learners, also offers In2Books, a research-based online literacy program. Yedda uses an open online environment to connect knowledge seekers and sources of information around the world.
FableVision announced its partnership with Emmy award-winning Toon Boom Animation to jointly develop educational solutions for K-12 and consumer markets. This partnership builds upon Toon Boom’s extensive work in animation technology and FableVision’s understanding of learners, educational technology, and constructivist learning tools, the companies said. “Toon Boom is fully committed to the educational market and our close collaboration with FableVision reinforces our intention to develop easy-to-use, educative, and fun applications for students and schools,” said Joan Vogelesang, president and chief executive officer at Toon Boom. Added Peter H Reynolds, FableVision’s CEO, founder, and executive creative director: “We’re on a mission of creativity and self-expression, providing the tools and support to get kids creating and sharing.”
Houghton Mifflin Learning Technology (HMLT) announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft, designed to make it easier for K-12 and higher-education students, parents, teachers, and administrators to access HMLT’s educational resources. As part of the agreement, HMLT will develop its next-generation flagship Learning Village instructional web portal on the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0 and use Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the Microsoft Learning Gateway. The alliance opens up opportunities for educators to integrate all of their content, applications, and resources from one central source, HMLT said, using technology to manage and monitor their web-content needs district-wide.
Knowledge Adventure introduced the Knowledge Adventure Academy: Early Literacy, adaptive software for students learning to read. Based on research from a variety of sources, including the National Reading Panel, the program aims to help teachers implement current strategies for reading improvement and manage students’ individual literacy needs, regardless of their initial skills. The program builds skills in the areas of alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, phonics, word building, spelling, and decoding. It consists of lessons delivered via computer-based technology, as well as classroom materials, worksheets, decodable readers, electronic big books, and a take-home disc. This disc extends learning into the home, the company says, thereby spurring parental involvement.
Learning.com previewed its Aha!Math product, a supplemental mathematics curriculum for students in grades K-5 that incorporates web-enhanced, multi-sensory lessons and activities. The program, which is aligned to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics focal points, as well as state math standards, can be used independently by students or with an interactive whiteboard for full class participation, the company says–giving teachers the flexibility to provide instruction as most appropriate. The software will launch in August.
Lexia Learning Systems announced a new version of its reading software for students in grades K-12. Lexia Reading v5, available this fall, brings three Lexia reading titles into one enhanced management system; features usage and progress reports on its home page; enables students to access the program at home; includes new and expanded management tools and reporting features; and offers a choice of delivery methods, Lexia says. Schools can have Lexia host the software and access it online; they can host it on their own servers and distribute it across their network; or they can distribute it on individual machines via a CD-ROM.
MaestroReading.com previewed its research-based portal for improving students’ literacy skills. In preparation for its official launch in September, MaestroReading.com is offering a range of free resources, including an adaptive nonfiction text about Leonardo da Vinci, as well as several interactive, research-based learning games that focus on discrete elements of the reading process. The site’s developers are currently beta-testing the software in a number of schools under the umbrella of the English Montreal School Board, while offering its services free of charge to parents, educators, and students across North America. In September, MaestroReading.com will be available to schools on a subscription basis, although several services–including a diagnostic tool for pre-readers, information on the reading process, and a comprehensive list of other literacy resources–will continue to be offered at no cost.
Microsoft, which recently formed an alliance with Houghton Mifflin Learning Technology, unveiled a range of new products and resources aimed at improving learning environments around the world. New products include Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium 2008, the Cool Conversation Traveling Tutor, and the School of the Future Resource Kit. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and the company’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, recently met with 36 student software designers from around the world for the company’s Imagine Cup 2007, a student software programming contest, to brainstorm ideas on how technology can transform education in the future.
The nonprofit MIND Institute announced a new software title to prepare struggling middle school students for success in algebra. “ST Math: Algebra Readiness” expands MIND’s line of research-based math software for elementary students into the middle-school level and will ship in the fall. This supplemental program, for students requiring math intervention in grades six and above, applies MIND’s patented Spatial Temporal (ST) computer exercises to help meet what MIND calls a “national crisis” of students failing algebra in middle schools. Through conceptualization and step-by-step learning, rather than pure memorization, the software can be used to prepare students before they enter an Algebra I class, or as an intervention to help students already struggling with algebra, MIND says.
Pearson Education launched enVisionMATH, a research-based math program for elementary students. It combines digital and print material with a “visual learning design” that can be expanded to include animations. The company also presented an update of its WriteToLearn tool for instruction and assessment. This web-based product gives students immediate feedback to help them with reading comprehension and writing skills. Students’ essays are evaluated by automated technology that considers the meaning of text, in addition to spelling and grammar. Meanwhile, Pearson announced the start of a Digital Literacy Fellowship Program to promote the use of digital technologies among teachers serving Hispanic communities.
phase-6 discussed its new web-based product aimed at helping students commit newly learned vocabulary to long-term memory. Based on work by the German brain researcher Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) and his theories about how people retain and forget information over time, phase-6 uses multimedia flash cards and repetitions at specified intervals to support long-term recall. Started about six years ago, the company reports having broad success in Germany, with use by some 240,000 students. As the company now moves into the U.S. market, it is testing its system in two California high schools and expects to announce additional pilot projects soon.
PLATO Learning demonstrated its computer-based and eLearning solutions for kindergarten through adults. With products such as Straight Curve Mathematics and PLATO Test Packs, the company aims to provide a complete, web-based learning platform, branded the PLATO Learning Environment. Within this environment, teachers have access to fixed benchmark tests, PLATO courses aligned with state standards, and solutions to help students reach their individual learning goals, the company said.
Pokémon USA described a school and classroom management system that it has added to its Pokémon Learning League, a standards-based, online suite of animated, interactive lessons in language arts, math, science, and life skills for grades 3 through 6. Using the management tool, school administrators and teachers can quickly assess students’ progress and tailor instruction to their individual needs, the company said. Students also receive support in the form of feedback to guide them through various instructional activities, as well as points for completing various topics. An assignment feature lets teachers set due dates for students’ work and monitor their progress. Meanwhile, Pokémon USA described a partnership with the Northern California Media and Technology Consortia (NCMTC) and the Ed1Stop.net portal to give educators, administrators, and students access to Pokémon Learning League. Through NCMTC, which selects web resources for educators in six California counties, participants can access material during the school day or when they are at home. Ed1Stop.net, an online gateway provided by the Contra Costa County Office of Education in Pleasant Hill, Calif., will offer the Pokémon Learning League to contracting schools in six counties, including three counties served through NCMTC.
SAS inSchool announced the release of Curriculum Pathways 2008, the latest version of its flagship web-based educational product. Reportedly used by students and teachers in more than 30 states, Curriculum Pathways gives high schools, community colleges, and virtual schools core content in English, mathematics, social studies, science, and Spanish. It contains more than 170 InterActivities and 855 ready-to-use lessons that enable technology-rich instruction and engage higher-order thinking skills, SAS says.
Software MacKiev announced that it has repurchased Roger Wagner Publishing, along with the HyperStudio trademark from Sunburst Technology. Roger Wagner is working with Software MacKiev on a new generation of HyperStudio products, and HyperStudio 5 is scheduled to arrive later this summer, the company said. It will use the latest technology to provide students with an up-to-date, multimedia creative tool for presenting stories and ideas. Also, with Software MacKiev’s 3-D Weather Globe and Atlas, students can view the world with NASA maps and real-time satellite data. Some features of the 3-D Globe include real-time weather and cloud cover data, updated topography information, hurricane patterns, and famous routes traveled.
Tabula Digita and Apple sponsored a multiplayer math tournament with players from around the United States, using Tabula’s new 3D Evolver multiplayer game for algebra and pre-algebra, the latest addition to the company’s DimensionM series of interactive, three-dimensional video games. 3D Evolver is based on standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and allows students to compete in the classroom or from around the world. According to Tabula Digita, its educationally focused, multiplayer video games enhance student learning by incorporating critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a collaborative environment.
Texas Instruments (TI) launched the TI-30XS MultiView scientific calculator. Designed in collaboration with teachers to meet the educational needs of today’s students, the TI-30XS MultiView helps make the transition to higher mathematic concepts easier, TI said, through its layout and grouping of keys, as well as a “list functionality” feature. The calculator can be used for geometry, general math, statistics, pre-algebra, algebra 1 and 2, trigonometry, general science, and biology. It also adds new capabilities to help improve students’ visualization of math equations. The product will be available at mass merchandisers and electronics retailers in time for back to school this fall. The TI-30XS MultiView comes packaged with a snap-on protective hard case, non-skid rubber feet, and hard plastic, color-coded keys.
Thinkronize, developer of the educational search engine netTrekker d.i., showcased the addition of a “21st Century Skills Channel” to the product. According to Thinkronize, the new channel offers students and educators several paths to resources that support the teaching of core 21st-century skills: life skills, focusing on character traits and personal habits; learning and innovation, which deals with critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills; and literacy in information and communications technology (ITC), which concentrates on information and media literacy. Part of netTrekker’s goal, a company representative noted, is to help users navigate the web by giving them more useful, educationally focused search results–a few hundred “hits,” perhaps, instead of the millions of links they might get from other products. Instead, users of netTrekker are directed to more relevant, “educator-selected” sites, the company said.
The Trevor Romain Company, which provides multimedia products to promote students’ “social and emotional fitness,” presented a selection of its products, including videos, books, and Flash animations. A new series, called Trevor Romain’s Real Life Strategies for Counselors & Teachers, provides lesson plans and activities for children in grades 2 through 5. The person behind the company, which bears his name, is a South African-born author and illustrator of a series of self-help books for children. Trevor Romain, the man, suffered from dyslexia as a child and attended special-education classes until he reached the fourth grade. He says students tend to perform better in school if they “feel good about themselves and can deal positively with difficult situations.” The company’s material deals with such emotional topics as bullying, divorce, and grief. Sample titles: “Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain” and “Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves!”
Vernier Software & Technology demonstrated LabQuest, a new handheld device that places data analysis at the fingertips of science students and educators, whether they are in the lab or in the field. Students can plug in Vernier sensors to acquire real-time graphing and analysis via the device’s color screen for subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science. LabQuest allows students to collect data from more than 50 sensors and view and analyze the data in a meter, data table, or graph. The device also enables students to draw a prediction before taking data, display a tangent line on their graphs, and use linear and curve fits, autoscales, integral functions, and statistics in their analysis. The handheld device contains six sensor ports, a built-in temperature sensor for measuring ambient temperatures, and a built-in microphone for recording voice. Starting in September, Vernier will offer to science and math educators across the country a number of free hands-on workshops in data-collection technology using computers and calculators, the company said, adding that participants will have the opportunity to train with LabQuest.
Voyager Expanded Learning, a creator of K-12 reading and math programs for schools, promoted a new series of DVDs and discussed other programs and products it offers to “bring all students to proficiency.” Owned and operated by the education publisher ProQuest, Voyager offers “core, intervention, and supplemental programs based on the most current research.” With its material being used in more than 25,000 American classrooms, Voyager said it reaches “half a million students from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and all levels of learning ability.”
Weatherbug, a provider of live, local weather information, showcased new educational programming tools and demonstrated how students of all ages can use these tools to create compelling and creative applications–such as web-based widgets and gadgets–that incorporate live weather information from the WeatherBug Network. WeatherBug also launched a National Online Science and Programming Fair for K-12 students. The fair, designed to teach students about innovative ways to display substantial information while researching and learning about the environment around them, is scheduled for this fall.
After creating World Book Kids, an educational resource for K-12 students, World Book Online is ready to release a higher-education online resource called World Book Advanced. This new addition reportedly features 1.3 million primary-source documents, including books, full-text articles, and selections–all fully integrated with the encyclopedia’s content. Research and teaching tools include timelines, a citation builder, and a place for saved research.