Up to $5,000 to educators teaching ‘green’ concepts

With $150,000 in new grant funding designated for projects that integrate green-related topics and experiences into the classroom, the NEA Foundation is growing its Learning & Leadership and Student Achievement grants program for individuals and teams of educators.  The expansion of the grants program was made possible by unprecedented back-to-back financial commitments from Nickelodeon and Staples Foundation for Learning.

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iPod Touch and writing support software for winning student

To help students find inspiration in reading and writing, Cambium Learning Technologies and The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum is inviting middle school students in grades five through eight to take part in the "Courage in My Community" writing contest.
Students are to write a descriptive, personal essay about witnessing courage in their community or family, or about personal acts of courage they have faced, and how that courage has made an impact in their lives.
The winning student will receive a Kurzweil 3000 USB Professional Color software and an Apple iPod Touch. Their school will receive half-day training on The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum, a Kurzweil 3000 Web License Learning Lab Pack with one Professional Color license and four LearnStation licenses (valued at over $3000, and two seats in Cambium Learning Technologies’ Kurzweil 3000 online training course.

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Schools, Universities Rely on Blackboard for Education Continuity

WASHINGTON – September 30, 2009 – At George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., e-learning has long been a central part of the school’s plan for education continuity. Prompted by concerns over the H1N1 flu, GW officials have now stepped up preparedness efforts – much like their counterparts at schools and universities nationwide – according to Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB), a global leader in education technology.
 
Having already set minimum e-learning competency standards for faculty and staff, GW has now launched a series of workshops in partnership with Blackboard consultants to give staff the chance to gain more confidence in the key areas of holding classes online: posting course materials, creating assignments and using communication tools like discussion boards and forums.
 
“The Blackboard platform is a core component of our academic continuity preparedness plan, which makes sense since so many use it on a daily basis,” said Yordanos Baharu, Director of GW’s Instructional Technology Lab. “Part of what we’re doing in training is getting faculty to think about Plan B. With this plan, we’re confident that we can mitigate potential disruptions and provide students and faculty the support they need to continue teaching with Blackboard’s system.”
 
“Across our community of practice, we’re seeing a great deal of work to leverage e-learning and mass notification technologies in response to H1N1,” said Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard. “But much of that work is not new, nor is it limited to H1N1. In many cases, it builds on efforts by school and university officials to develop broader preparedness and continuity plans that center on key technologies that already touch students, staff and parents every day.”
 
Earlier this year, officials at Clear Creek Independent School District near Houston, Texas communicated regular updates on H1N1 to students, parents and staff using the Blackboard Connect mass notification technology. The outreach helped to prevent the spread of false information and assured the school community that no cases of H1N1 had been reported.
 
“To be able to reach 37,000 students and their families in a matter of minutes – in our superintendent’s own voice – is a very powerful capability,” said Chad Stevens, Chief Technology Officer at Clear Creek. “That would have been impossible before. Now we know that if something happens we can get the right information out and keep our customers at ease. We put a lot of systems in place to communicate and keep students caught up, and Blackboard Connect and Blackboard Learn are a big part of that.”
Clear Creek officials have also applied lessons learned during hurricanes to the present concern over H1N1. Last year, when Hurricane Ike shut down the district for nearly two weeks, teachers and students leveraged online learning to avoid missing academic targets for the year thanks to the ability to communicate and complete assignments even while school buildings were closed.
 
“We would not have reached all of our academic goals without hard working teachers who were able to use Blackboard technology to do more work in less time,” said Stevens. “Going forward, we know we can keep kids from falling behind despite absenteeism we may see due to H1N1 or other issues. We can continue the business of education without interruption.”
 
Across the globe, universities in Asia have used Blackboard technology for years to enable schools and universities to deal with pandemic situations. In response to the SARS and Avian influenza outbreaks, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) launched a preparedness program in 2005 that includes closing segments of its 35,000 student campus for one week at a time each year to help faculty and students be better prepared for what might happen during a real emergency.
 
During “E-Learning Week,” instructors communicate lesson plans that enable students to interact online, complete assignments and tests and follow video lectures. Progress is monitored by faculty and university officials, and in addition to supporting uninterrupted academic work, the plan can help prevent the spread of infection or illness by limiting physical contact or proximity.
 
“With pandemic events it’s not if, but when,” said Daniel Tan, Director of the Centre for Educational Development at NTU. “What we’re trying to achieve is learning continuity. Our plan allows university officials to close the campus with a high level of confidence that education operations can continue successfully online. We’re more prepared each time we do it, and we can make the transition without panic, ensuring a comfortable and routine change of learning mode.”
 
According to Tan, NTU’s E-Learning Week initiative helps go beyond preparedness to promote the general use of technology in teaching and learning. Students have responded positively to the ability afforded them by online learning to work independently and at their own pace, prompting some to call for the program to expand to cover additional weeks, or even months. 
 
For more information about Blackboard solutions that support education continuity, please visit http://blackboard.com/Company/Education-Continuity.aspx.
 
About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard’s solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
 
Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects,” “will,” and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of our Form 10-Q filed on August 6, 2009 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company’s views as of September 30, 2009. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company’s views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company’s views as of any date subsequent to September 30, 2009.
 
 
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Small Liberal Arts College Defies Economy and Attracts Most Diverse Class

 

Bethlehem, Pa., September 30, 2009—Moravian College, a small selective liberal arts college in Bethlehem, Pa., has realized an admissions milestone in the face of a down economy and shifting demographics­—20% of its freshman class are from historically under-represented groups. The College enrolled 379 freshmen making the Class of 2013 the fifth-largest and most diverse class in the College’s 267-year history.  
 
Before the economic downturn last year, Moravian began an aggressive outreach program to attract more students from historically under-represented groups to the College. Admissions counselors, coaches, and others participated in the recruiting process. “The effort resonated with guidance counselors, students, and their families—the message was that Moravian was serious about increasing diversity among under-represented groups and first-generation students, and that Moravian is accessible to quality students of all backgrounds,” said Bernard Story, vice-president for enrollment at Moravian.
 
With 20% of the class of 2013 coming from underrepresented groups, Moravian among the top of four-year private colleges.  “We were ahead of the curve last year compared to  similar colleges in attracting these students,” Story explained. 
 
In 2008 Moravian College embarked on an initiative to discover and develop a more diverse student body as part of its 7-year strategic plan. “Our goal was to increase the percentage of students from underrepresented groups by one percent each year until we reached 15%” Story noted. “The fact that we surpassed our previous mark of 11% in this financial environment is quite astonishing actually.”
 
Story directed a great deal of credit to Angie Colon, Moravian’s coordinator of multicultural outreach who runs the MVP Program (Multi-Cultural Visit Program). The program brings students from New York and Philadelphia to campus to experience what college would be like by visiting classrooms, meeting with faculty and students, and staying overnight.
 
As a result of programs like MVP, Moravian’s applicant pool included more students of diverse ethnic, social economic backgrounds and more first-generations students. “ “The pool more closely mirrored the demographic shift among those seeking higher education,” explained Story.
 
Moravian‘s efforts to diversify its student body has had a financial impact on the bottom line.  The college has increased its tuition discount rate by 3% and utilized $1.3 million in contingency funds to enroll the class of 2013. Because of its long-held tradition of educating first-generation students and valuing diversity, Moravian established the Heritage Grant to increase financial aid for low-income students.
 
“Moravian realized a perfect storm. We had a large number of students who wanted to go to college, the ability to attract them, and then help them financially in a tough economic environment, which resulted in our dramatic increase in diversity,” Story noted. “What is even more remarkable, Moravian relies heavily on tuition revenue to fund its operation. The fact that we built a contingency fund enabled us to attract and enroll the class.
 
“We are already hearing compliments from faculty members about the quality of the students,” Story noted proudly.  “The class most closely resembles the one we have always envisioned at Moravian, one that is both academically strong and diverse.
 
“Moravian’s strategic plan and demonstrated ability to enroll students with a lower economic status gave us the fortitude to pursue the ambitious goal; however, the lofty numbers may not be sustainable,” Story said. “We will not be able to replicate this year’s success in subsequent years.  Our plan moving forward is to meet our targets, but not exceed them to the extent we did this year, unless we are able to become less tuition-dependent by generating revenues in other areas such as investments and fund raising. We may recalculate our targets based on the changing circumstances.”
 
Other notable characteristics of the Class of 2013 include:
·         Over 250 community service projects were conducted by members of the class over the course of their high school career
·         32 percent of the class are expected to choose a major in the natural sciences
·         Nearly one-third of the class are members of the National Honor Society
·         Over one-third of the class are first generation college-bound
 
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America’s sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.

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TeamDynamixHE Advisory Council Helping Shape Project Management Technology for Higher Education




COLUMBUS, Ohio – September 29, 2009 – Driven by the understanding that the IT priorities for higher education are different than those for the corporate environment, TeamDynamixHE today announced the formation of the TeamDynamixHE Advisory Council (TAC). The self governed council, which is made up of TeamDynamixHE customers, will serve as the product governance committee for the company, providing insider insights and ideas that will help drive future innovation for TeamDynamixHE’s Web-based project and portfolio management solution. Major changes in the company’s recent product release were driven directly by the needs and enhancement requests of the TAC members.

 

Among the members of the TAC are the following:

  • Bart Prickett, Director of I.T. Support Services, Columbus State Community College;
  • Bruce Bills, Software Engineering Director, BYU-Idaho;
  • Clay Fulton, PPM Project Lead, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.);
  • Glenda Ranallo, Project Manager, Syracuse University;
  • Patrick Bennett, Executive Director of Campus Services, Franklin University (Columbus, Ohio); and
  • Wonda Yuhasz, WebCT Coordinator, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

 

“It has become increasingly evident that project management solutions that are designed for the corporate world simply do not translate well in higher education,” stated Fulton, a founding TAC member.  “There is a big difference in higher education IT planning and corporate planning, and our needs and priorities are not the same as those of a large corporation. While TeamDynamixHE was designed for the higher education market, maintaining the connection and keeping a pulse on the changing dynamics of the industry are important to the company. As a council, we work closely with TeamDynamixHE to help deliver a product roadmap that will inevitably benefit the entire industry.”

 

Ranallo added, “We formed this team to help ensure that TeamDynamixHE continues to be useful and valuable as a tool for higher education IT groups to fulfill and communicate their institutional missions.”

 

TAC Chairperson Bennett noted, “Higher education is highly consensus- and committee-based, requiring a low-risk approach and greater communication. Frequently, there is a wider range of project management understanding, therefore tools and processes have to accommodate both the novice and expert. Our environments are more open to cross-institution collaboration and have a greater opportunity to benefit from knowledge sharing. And finally, compliance, student experience, retention, educational quality and maintaining accreditation are bigger drivers than hard ROI, which is the main focus for corporate PPM solutions. With these factors in mind, all of us in the council have a tremendous interest in steering a maturity model and a solution that can serve as a PPM standard and help improve IT governance across higher education.”

 

The TAC meets quarterly to discuss product ideas and help prioritize the changes for future versions of the company’s product. The council is self-directed and has elected various leadership positions to facilitate meetings and interaction with TeamDynamixHE.

 

“We initiated the advisory council to work similar to how colleges and universities operate, using consensus- and committee-based methods to help us ensure that we continue to deliver a solution that is in line with the needs of our customers,” said Andrew Graf, lead analyst for TeamDynamixHE. “We appreciate the time and effort of our council members and look forward to their ongoing contributions to the evolution of TeamDynamixHE and the overall support for project management in higher education.”

 

About TeamDynamixHE

TeamDynamixHE is the leading provider of Web-based project and portfolio management (PPM) solutions for the higher education market. The company’s suite of project tracking, reporting and portfolio management software provides the work tools and environment necessary for successful project management and delivery, in addition to project and portfolio management and planning, IT governance, resource management, helpdesk ticketing, time and expense tracking and knowledge management.  TeamDynamixHE is currently used by a number of leading colleges and universities, including Syracuse University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbus State Community College, The Ohio State University and Franklin University. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio. For more information, visit www.teamdynamixhe.com.

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ALA issues guidance on showing video content in classrooms

When the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was enacted in 2002, librarians hoped it would clear up copyright exceptions for the digital delivery of content for distance education. In reality, understanding what is permitted under the TEACH Act in combination with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and existing fair-use exceptions has become even more confusing. To help clarify one aspect of the confusion—digital delivery of video content to the “physical” classroom—the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have released a document titled “Performance of or Showing Films in the Classroom.” Available as a PDF file, the document was written by Jonathan Band, legal counsel to the ALA and ARL; Peter Jaszi, professor of law and faculty director of the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law; and Kenneth D. Crews, director of the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University. http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/copyright/fairuse/web-digital%20delivery%20in%20classroomrev3psa.pdf

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Preparing Classroom Teachers to Educate Students with Autism Places Huge Demand on School Districts

 

DENVER (Sept. 30, 2009) – According to the United States Department of Education, more than 80 percent of children with autism are in general education classes for at least part of each day.  This means that approximately one in four general education teachers works directly with a student with autism, and nearly all school staff members interact with a student with autism on a regular basis.  Challenged by an increasing number of students diagnosed with autism in the school system, districts are struggling to prepare general education teachers and frontline paraprofessionals to educate and care for this growing population.

 

As an example of the issues districts are facing, in a recent analysis, Virtual Expert Clinics found more than 90 percent of surveyed educators are uncomfortable having a child with autism in their classroom.  Also, frontline paraprofessionals and teaching assistants who work with children with autism often have high turnover rates – every 9 months – which requires districts to train new staff on a consistent basis.

 

"Autism needs to be demystified for all educators, especially classroom teachers," said Kevin Custer, CEO of Virtual Expert Clinics.  "Districts can provide training that combines flexible online learning opportunities, visual representations such as videos, and examples that can be practiced first-hand in the classroom.  The smallest amount of training can make a huge difference in the education of a child with autism, and leveraging opportunities delivered online provides educators and administrators with a cost-effective and manageable professional development solution."

 

In addition, a study by the Special Education Expenditure Project (conducted for the U.S. Department of Education) found that special education classes, therapists, aides, transportation, and facilities for a student with autism cost on average nearly $19,000 per year, or roughly triple the cost of a typical student.  Providing cost-effective training and having autism-focused resources available to general education teachers and staff will help significantly to decrease these expenditures for districts nationwide.

 

And, intervention for children with autism is no longer a "one-size-fits-all" answer.  This places a great deal of pressure on district leadership to design and implement differentiated instruction plans that meet the expectations of all parties.

 

There are technologies available that can help districts address these growing concerns.  For more information about one viable online solution, visit www.AutismPro.com.

 

About Virtual Expert Clinics, Inc.

Virtual Expert Clinics, provider of a 21st century response to educating students with autism, works with school districts, early intervention providers, and governments to supplement quality programs.  The company’s flagship product, AutismPro, allows administrators to build capacity and helps educators to improve outcomes.  Virtual Expert Clinics has offices in Denver, Colo., and Fredericton, New Brunswick.  For more information, visit http://www.AutismPro.com/Media or phone 1-866-462-0991.

 

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School buses jettison piped-in radio service with advertising

Apparently, BusRadio has reached its last stop: The controversial radio programming this week stopped piping music and advertising to school buses in the Denver area and across the country, reports the Denver Post. Child-advocacy groups that have fought BusRadio since its inception four years ago are claiming victory, saying the service targeted kids with advertising and what some felt was inappropriate music. BusRadio sent music and commercials over the internet to school-district servers that forwarded the programming to buses using wireless transmitters. More than 1 million students nationwide reportedly listened to the broadcasts. A few weeks ago, after a Federal Communications Commission report on BusRadio was released that was somewhat critical, the company’s president, Steve Shulman, said the company was downsizing but had no plans to close. But there were rumors within the industry that BusRadio was having trouble selling advertising. As late as last week, its only advertising was for the movie "Barbie and the Three Musketeers," which went straight to DVD…

Click here for the full story

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PCI Education Partners with WeAreTeachers to Provide Community Members with Special Education Expertise

SAN ANTONIO and AUSTIN, TEXAS (Sept. 30, 2009) – WeAreTeachers, the online social and business network that brings together teachers, learners and content in the education industry, announces a partnership with PCI Education, the number one provider of resources for students with special needs.

This new partnership gives special education teachers a way to connect with one another, to share best practices and to interact with one another, as well as with PCI Education, to create a classroom culture that is up-to-date with the latest and best in teaching techniques and products.

“This partnership with WeAreTeachers allows us to interact with special education teachers in an exciting way,” said Lee Wilson, CEO and President of PCI Education.  “We look forward to lending our expertise to the WeAreTeachers community.”

“Special education teachers have a vital and unique place in the education system,” said Sandy Fivecoat, CEO and Founder of WeAreTeachers.  “This partnership allows us to continue to provide them with the best support, ideas and products in the education field.”

To view the PCI Education home page on WeAreTeachers, visit www.weareteachers.com/web/pcieducation.

About WeAreTeachers
WeAreTeachers (www.weareteachers.com) is a social and business community for educators, businesses, and education marketers designed to enable community members to share, connect, and collaborate using Web 2.0 tools and services.  It is the first community to include The Knowledge Marketplace that gives both educators and businesses the ability to share, sell, and receive recommendations on knowledge-based content and products.  WeAreTeachers is committed to giving back to the educator community by distributing tangible rewards through educator grants and incentives from transactions and sponsors in The Knowledge Marketplace.

About PCI Education
PCI Education offers more than 7,500 instructional materials for a wide range of students with special needs, including significant or developmental disabilities such as autism.  In addition, the company’s products are used in English language learner and adult literacy classes, and to help students performing below grade level.  Based in San Antonio, PCI Education has been helping educators lead students to success in school, at home and in the community since 1991.  For more information, visit www.pcieducation.com or phone 800-594-4263.

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For more information:
–Nicole Horne, PCI Education, 800-594-4263, ext. 126, nhorne@pcieducation.com
–Emily Embury, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., 608-839-9800, emily@cblohm.com
–Donnine Souhrada, WeAreTeachers, 940-230-1206, dsouhrada@weareteachers.com

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Florida’s new reading assessment overwhelms system’s computer capacity

The new computer-based Florida Assessments for Reading Instruction promised to offer better information about students’ early-literacy skills and older students’ reading abilities. But there’s been trouble with the test system launched this school year, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The Florida Department of Education has found that its computer capacity, which it said was a "bandwidth problem on the contractors’ end," was not sufficient to handle the volume of tests. Many schools reported that students would start taking the diagnostic tests, only to find the system slowing down, freezing up, or just shutting down entirely, losing everything previously done. Lee County’s superintendent reportedly decided last week that his district would not participate until the problems are fixed. In the last few weeks, the state education department has scrambled to add more capacity and has also put districts on an every-other-day testing schedule, hoping a slowdown in usage would give them time to test the new capacity and troubleshoot for other problems, memos from the department show…

Click here for the full story

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