New High-Interest / Low-Level Reading & Math Program Addresses Students with Special Needs

Plantation, FL November 3, 2009 — Learning Today, Inc., a South Florida-based reading and math software publisher (http://www.learningtoday.com), announced the implementation of their Smart Tutor and new MangoMon programs in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS).    The programs were launched this week to 6,000 M-DCPS students with disabilities and the teachers and staff who support them.

After conducting a focus group comprised of M-DCPS special education transition experts last spring, Learning Today developed and introduced a new web-based interface for their Smart Tutor program. The resulting interface, now known as MangoMon (http://www.MangoMon.com), was designed specifically to meet the needs of middle and high school students with intellectual disabilities. The program is aligned with the Florida Sunshine State Standards Access Points, which drive the curriculum, instructional strategies, and student outcomes as measured by Florida’s Alternate Assessment for students with cognitive/intellectual disabilities.

Learning Today’s Smart Tutor program has been successfully utilized by M-DCPS students with intellectual disabilities in elementary schools since the 2003-2004 school year and was introduced to transition students (teens to young adults) with similar disabilities during the last two school years. Although Learning Today’s Smart Tutor program had previously been determined suitable for elementary-age students with cognitive disabilities, the focus group determined that it would also be appropriate for older students if the program could be introduced to them in a modified, high-interest manner.

“We attribute the creation and resulting success of MangoMon to the work of the transition experts and their students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools,” commented Robin Baker, Executive Vice President of Learning Today. “We had informally witnessed the program’s success with older students for some time, but sought the advice of experts in the field to ensure that it was accessible for their students in a new, adaptable way.”

Following the focus group’s findings, Learning Today and the school district launched a two-month pilot program in eight M-DCPS middle and high schools last year. As a result of this pilot program, much of the new MangoMon web-based interface was designed by the district’s transition students. During the course of the pilot progam, the Learning Today staff realized that many of the disabled students were very gifted in the arts, as demonstrated by their elaborate, detailed drawings and paintings. A resulting art work display area was added to MangoMon.com for these students to display their art work.

M-DCPS Instructional Supervisor for Transition Services and of Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, Jill Brookner, led the focus group and authorized the pilot program for the transition students as well. “I am a firm believer that if you give a research-based program to the staff and students to evaluate, they will absolutely determine whether or not it is appropriate for their needs,” stated Brookner. “Learning Today was willing to accept the scrutiny for better or worse, and fortunately it turned out for the best.    We were able to use some of our district’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to bring both programs to the staff and students this year. They are thrilled that the district was able to support the program financially and that there were students and staff included in the process of determining the appropriateness of the program.”

In an effort to save district funds, improve productivity and time management, and advance her staff’s ability to engage in professional development via distance learning, Brookner requested that the training be launched via Learning Today webinars (web-based professional development seminars). Separate webinars are offered online for each program on a dedicated M-DCPS registration website.

Learning Today’s Smart Tutor & MangoMon reading and math programs are research-based and provide placement assessment and individualized instruction. The online learning management systems allow educators to use reports to improve teaching and learning, manage individual lesson plans, and provide information to encourage parents to be involved in their child’s education. Free teacher resources include a teacher forum, as well as reading and math games for whole group instruction.

About Learning Today, Inc.

Learning Today, Inc. provides schools, school districts, and extended-day learning centers with web-based reading lessons and math lessons that support instruction and targeted intervention. Learning Today’s software program includes tools that help administrators and teachers seamlessly provide reading and math assessments, differentiated instruction and reporting. Based in Plantation, FL, Learning Today can be found at http://www.LearningToday.com. Other software programs include MangoMon for middle and high school intervention, Smart Tutor for home education, and free flashcards for Special Education and ESOL education.

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School Improvement Network Unveils PD 360 Version 3

November 3, 2009 – Salt Lake City, UT –School Improvement Network’s PD 360, the leading on-demand professional learning resource, has expanded its features to include Professional Learning Courses that can be customized per district, school or teacher. In addition, expanded content and capabilities are now available in the Community, Journal and Search features. With the release of version 3 this week, PD 360 continues its cutting edge delivery of what schools and teachers want most in an on-demand resource.

 
PD 360 continues its rapid growth with over 500,000 users and 11,000 schools now having access to the most comprehensive on-demand professional learning resource available. Version 3 will propel on-demand professional learning to a new level with the following enhancements:
·         Learning communities for both private and public communities
·         Learning communities customized according to the individual teacher’s interests
·         Premium groups are available with additional content and services
·         Learners can journal privately at anytime to record learning and/or ideas to try in the classroom
·         Profiles can be customized and enhanced to allow collaboration between learners with similar interests
·         Search tool include more filters and keywords to allow for more efficient searching
·         More than 30 Learning Courses have been added
·         Learning Courses can be customized to meet specific learner’s needs
·         An offline player allows users to play PD 360 videos even when they are not connected to the Internet
 
“The success of PD 360 continues to surpass my expectations. On-demand professional learning was an unmet need for schools and PD 360 answered that need. Districts, and most importantly teachers, are continuing to use this resource at a phenomenal rate. Even more exciting, we are seeing large increases in the amount of use from schools who have been users of PD 360 for over a year.  The data shows that if someone goes into PD 360 and looks at content there is a greater than 70% chance that they will come back—indicating that educators are finding strong value in PD 360 ,” said Chet Linton, CEO of the School Improvement Network. “With Version 3 we have continued to add more of the customization requested by teaching professionals.”
 
About PD 360
PD 360 is the leading on-demand professional learning resource for educators with over 500,000 subscribers. Teachers, administrators, professional learning communities, coaches, etc., have access to over 1000 indexed and searchable video segments that present real, best-practice classroom examples. Each segment includes content from respected educational experts such as Michael Fullan, Rick DuFour, Doug Reeves, Rick Stiggins, and many others. PD 360 can be used to create a structured learning experience for an individual teacher, professional learning community, or entire school. It bridges the gap between training and classroom implementation with job-embedded follow-up, tracking, and reflection tools. PD 360 also gives educators access to an online community of teaching professionals that allows interaction and collaboration either within a district or across the United States and world. See a demonstration at www.pd360.com.
 
About the School Improvement Network
Founded in 1991 by two school teachers, School Improvement Network empowers educators with comprehensive, research-based, professional learning tools that build teacher expertise to foster greater achievement among their students. As the home of The Video Journal of Education, PD 360, and The Learning Framework, School Improvement Network offers content from the largest group of educational experts, the broadest range of topics, and the most classroom examples anywhere. School Improvement Network boasts the world’s largest educator-verified, on-demand professional development network with over 500,000 users. To learn more about School Improvement Network’s dynamic resources, visit www.schoolimprovement.com.
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Educational video games mix cool with purpose

A growing number of children are playing educational video games as part of their school curriculum, in after-school programs, or via the web from home, reports the New York Times. After years of watching technology transform the way children play, socialize, and learn, a range of academics, foundations, and start-up companies are working on games that will put the passion children have for the genre to good use. Gamestar Mechanic, for example, is part of the curriculum of Quest to Learn, a New York City public school focused on game-based learning that opened this fall. A nonprofit group called the Institute of Play set up the school, and its executive director, Katie Salen, helped design the game with financing from the MacArthur Foundation. The difference in many of today’s educational games is that they are online and social, allowing children to interact and collaborate to achieve common goals. Unlike the stand-alone boxed games of the 1980s and 90s, the newest educational games are set up like services where children can enter a virtual world, try on a character, and solve problems that often relate to the real world. Newer games work concepts of math, science or language into the actual game mechanics, rather than stopping for something that feels to the player like schoolwork, experts say. In Gamestar Mechanic, for example, players must use physics concepts to figure out how to get two players to arrive at the same point at the same time…

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New iTunes web site offered for Neb. teachers

The Nebraska Department of Education and Apple Inc. have partnered to offer teachers a new online educational tool, reports the Associated Press. A new site on iTunes U will allow Nebraska educators to access informational videos developed by the state’s education department. The department’s education technology administrator, Mike Kozak, unveiled the project Oct. 30 at the Administrators’ Technology Conference in Kearney. Apple, which owns iTunes U, chose Nebraska as one of 10 states to initiate mobile learning at the K-12 school level. Apple provides server space for the video project at no cost. State education officials hope to use the site to provide homework help for students eventually…

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University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business Launches Global Classroom of the Future Using Cisco Telepresence

The University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, ranked consistently as one of the top schools in the country for international business, today announced that it has signed an agreement with Cisco to utilize the company’s revolutionary Cisco TelePresence technology to deliver a range of global Executive Education and Graduate-level business and management courses. Moore becomes one of the first business schools in the country to utilize the high-definition conferencing as a way to offer students and executives around the world a variety of “blended learning” options for participating in business education programs.

“Our collaboration with Cisco allows us to take executive learning to a whole new level,” says Raymond Smith, Associate Dean of Executive Education at the Moore School. “The use of Cisco TelePresence and other technologies will fundamentally change the way we think about global learning and teaching in a way that is more visually stimulating and interactive than any vehicle ever used in educating executives.”
Moore School Dean Hildy Teegen points out that the study of international business requires an understanding of the interface between the practice of management and the political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions that shape global business. “One way of achieving this is through a process of dialogue between faculty, students, business and government from different cultures and countries around the world,” she says. “At the Moore School, we now have the technological capability to bring the world closer together and make this happen in real time.”
The Moore School plans to first integrate the Cisco Telepresence in its Professional MBA Program beginning in February 2010. In addition, the School will utilize the new integrated learning platform in a variety of its Executive and Graduate Degree programs – including its Master in International Business, a new Executive Master in Higher Education Management and in various programs with the School’s 20 partner institutions around the world.
“Working alongside leading universities and business schools like the University of South Carolina’s Moore School, together we are creating 21st century learning environments that more effectively prepare students to participate in the global economy,” says Scott Westlake, Director of Market Development at Cisco. “We believe that the Moore School has the vision to use Cisco’s technology in a way that will truly change the way the world learns.”
 
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Affordable MyVision Classroom Management Software Now Available

CHICAGO – Nov. 3, 2009 – Netop, the world’s largest provider of classroom management software, today announced the launch of MyVision, the essential tool for teaching with technology, available at a price any school can afford.

 

Designed for teachers who need simple, basic controls over classroom computers, MyVision is the affordable entry-level classroom management solution that works on both Macs and PCs. MyVision Basic provides four essential tools for teaching with computers, so any teacher can supervise student computer work, share engaging on-screen demonstrations, instantly capture the attention of the class and control student Internet access. Available via low-cost online subscriptions, MyVision Basic is ideal for teachers who have never been able to afford standard classroom management software.

 

In addition, MyVision Free, which offers the most fundamental tools for teaching with technology, is now available to all schools as a free download. With MyVision Free, teachers can supervise student computer use, monitor Web browsing, assess student progress, identify students who need extra help and improve classroom time on task. MyVision Free provides a subset of the features in MyVision Basic and may be upgraded seamlessly at any time.

 

The innovative classroom management software solution is launching after the completion of a successful beta test that began in September 2009. In just that short two-month period, more than 600 educators participated in the test of MyVision Basic.

 

“The response that we saw to our beta test of MyVision really impressed upon us the importance of making affordable classroom management software tools available to all teachers,” said Kurt Bager, CEO, Netop. “In the future, we plan to continue to develop a continuum of classroom management software tools solutions that will meet the unique needs of schools and districts around the world.”

Rob Evans, Technology Co-Director at West Central School Corporation in Francesville, Ind., was one of the early testers of MyVision Basic. His small district serves 900 students in three schools.

 

Evans’ response to MyVision Basic exemplifies what other educators around the country are saying. “Our small Indiana, rural, cash-strapped school corporation has been waiting for a product like yours,” he said. “MyVision Basic is just what we need and at a price we can afford.”

 

MyVision is the first in a series of next-generation products to be offered by Netop’s Education Solutions team, which was formed when Netop acquired GenevaLogic in July 2008. GenevaLogic developed Vision6 classroom management software, a full-featured solution that provides the easiest and most effective way to teach with computers. Netop is known as an expert in remote-control solutions and offers Netop School software, which provides the highest performance solution for classroom management. Netop will continue to offer both Vision6 and Netop School for those educators who want to take their classroom management tools to the next level.

 

For more information or a free 30-day trial of MyVision, go to http://www.netop.com/myvision. Through a special introductory offer available until Dec. 31, 2009, a one-year subscription to MyVision Basic is available at the discounted price of $149. The regular annual subscription price is $199. To purchase MyVision Basic, go to http://www.netop.com/buymyvision.

 

About Netop Solutions A/S

 

Netop develops and sells software solutions that enable swift, secure and seamless transfer of video, screens, sounds and data between two or more computers over the Internet. The company has three business areas: Administration, Education and Communication.

 

Netop’s unique and cost-saving Administration solutions make life easier for IT professionals with Remote Control and IT Asset Management. With the market-leading solutions for Education classroom management and corporate e-learning, Netop helps students and teachers to achieve optimum results through virtual education. Netop Communication solutions, including unified communications, let customers, partners and colleagues meet easily and safely in the virtual space via video conferencing, instant messaging, voice and file sharing over the Internet.

 

Netop employs 152 people and has subsidiaries in the United States, Great Britain, China, Romania and Switzerland. The company sells its solutions to public and private clients in more than 80 countries. Netop Solutions A/S shares are listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and are part of the SmallCap+ index. In 2008 Netop Solutions had a total revenue of DKK 92.1m. Read more at: www.netop.com.

 

Press contacts:

Wendy Lienhart, L. Wolfe Communications, 630-920-0182, wlienhart@lwolfe.com

Lisa Wolfe, L. Wolfe Communications, 773-227-1049, lwolfe@lwolfe.com

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Million-dollar college presidents at all-time high

The fast-growing group of millionaire private college and university presidents has hit a new record, and it’s likely that even more college leaders will make seven-figure salaries once the slumping economy rebounds.

A record 23 presidents received more than $1 million in total compensation in fiscal 2008, according to an analysis of the most recently available data published Nov. 2 by the Chronicle of Higher Education. A record one in four in the study of 419 colleges’ mandatory IRS filings made at least $500,000.

Topping the list is Shirley Ann Jackson at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., whose total compensation the Chronicle pegged at nearly $1.6 million. She was followed by David Sargent at Suffolk University in Boston, who made $1.5 million. However, one-third of his compensation had been reported as deferred compensation last year and counted as salary this year–an example of the difficulty of making straightforward compensation comparisons.

Overall, median compensation for the group rose 6.5 percent, to $359,000, and it rose 15.5 percent at major private research universities, to $628,000. The figures essentially cover the 2007-08 academic year.

Those averages have almost certainly flattened or perhaps fallen since then, with numerous presidents–including Jackson–taking voluntary pay cuts this year amid widespread budget-cutting at their institutions.

But experts say the upward trend will almost certainly resume eventually. It might frustrate parents who are paying higher tuition, but experts insist the salaries reflect supply and demand.

"The baby boomers are retiring," said Ray Cotton, a Washington D.C.-based lawyer and expert on presidential contracts and compensation. "Boards are in a scramble competing against each other for the remaining available talent."

But the 24-7 nature of the job and the stresses stemming from the recession have made it unappealing to prospective candidates.

"Some people just don’t want anything to do with the job, because it keeps them up at night," said Chronicle editor Jeffrey Selingo. "In order to attract and retain good talent, [colleges are] going to have to pay for it. They may take a little break now because of the economy, but these pieces are still in place."

Still, colleges will have to absorb the public-relations hit that comes with offering seven-figure compensation to an academic leader. The average price of tuition plus room and board at four-year private colleges surpassed $39,000 last year, according to the latest figures from the College Board.

The Chronicle noted that 58 institutions charged more than $50,000 this year, up from just five last year. A number of those schools pay their presidents more than $1 million, including New York University, Columbia, and Vanderbilt.

The Chronicle also identified three former presidents who received compensation of more than $1 million in 2007-08, topped by retired George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg, whose benefits package was valued at $3.67 million. It identified 85 colleges paying at least a former president or other high-ranking official at least $200,000, typically in deferred compensation and bonuses.

"You wonder if these colleges are giving away the store when they sign contracts with employees," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been a longtime critic of pay practices at not-for-profit institutions.

The latest survey does not include presidential salaries at public universities, which have been rising in recent years but are generally lower than at top private institutions. Last year, just one public university president, Ohio State’s Gordon Gee, earned more than $1 million.

Nine private college presidents exceeded the $1 million mark in last year’s survey of the 2006-07 data.

Jackson, a physicist and former Clinton administration official, has clashed with Rensselaer faculty and been criticized for spending time away from campus to serve on six corporate boards. But she volunteered this year to return 5 percent of her base salary–which the Chronicle reported at just more than $1 million in fiscal 2008–to be used for student scholarships. All salaries for senior administrators are frozen this year, RPI said.

Jackson received a strong statement of support from the university.

Applications to the school have doubled, research volume has tripled, and $690 million in new construction and renovations have taken place in Jackson’s decade as president, said William N. Walker, vice president for strategic communications and external relations, in a statement issued by the school. A request to interview Jackson was denied.

"The value she contributes to the Institute far exceeds the amount she is paid," Walker said.

Highest paid private college presidents
Here are the top 10 leaders in total compensation at private colleges for the 2007-08 academic year (Source: IRS tax reports analyzed by the Chronicle of Higher Education):

1. Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: $1,598,247
2. David Sargent, Suffolk University: $1,496,593
3. Steadman Upham, University of Tulsa: $1,485,275
4. Richard Meyers, Webster University: $1,429,738
5. Cornelius M. Kerwin, American University: $1,419,339
6. Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia University: $1,380,035
7. Donald V. DeRosa, University of the Pacific: $1,350,743
8. John E. Sexton, New York University: $1,297,475
9. Robert Bottoms, DePauw University: $1,296,455
10. Jerry C. Lee, National University: $1,189,777

(Note: Meyers and Bottoms are no longer serving as presidents of the respective universities. Total compensation might include deferred compensation and other benefits and is not necessarily take-home salary. Kerwin, who was named president in 2007, was provost for much of the period covered.)

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