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NECC 2009: Instruction, Assessment, and Collaboration (continued)

neccimagesnecclogomerMcGraw-Hill Education announced CINCH Mathematics, a teacher-led digital math program for grades K-6. CINCH Mathematics uses interactive whiteboard technology and student response devices from new McGraw-Hill partner Promethean. The program helps teachers plan, teach, assess, and differentiate instruction with the help of an online tool. Students learn math concepts and acquire skills through teacher-led, interactive whiteboard classroom instruction, and the program collects each student’s answers submitted through student-response devices so teachers can use them to personalize instruction. Besides Promethean, McGraw-Hill also announced new partnerships with eInstruction, eScholar, Qwizdom, and Renzulli Learning. The company said these partnerships will help support new products while also enhancing its existing digital solutions.

Microsoft announced a collaborative initiative led by its U.S. Partners in Learning program and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to establish a new national, student-driven virtual help desk for K-12 teachers and nonprofit organizations. Over the next three years, Microsoft and CNCS will create a program that aligns a student service opportunity with President Obama’s United We Serve initiative. It will focus on giving students real-world learning experiences as they support nonprofits and teachers who are using technology in the classroom.

mimio unveiled the latest version of its Studio 6 interactive teaching software, which now fully supports Mac and Linux users as well as those using Windows. mimio also introduced a free online educator community called mimioConnect (, which allows teachers from anywhere in the world to share their ideas, lesson plans, expertise, and enthusiasm.

Netop launched a new version of its Netop School classroom-management software, with a new interface design and enhanced features to support teaching and learning. Netop School 6.0 has a user interface based on the Microsoft “Ribbon” design used in Office 2007. This design moves away from traditional pull-down menus, grouping commands in a “Ribbon” at the top of the screen. Teachers now have one-click access to commands with clear labels, and they can customize the “Ribbon” to match their individual needs and preferences. Enhanced features include easier creation and editing of lessons outside of the classroom, improved views of student computers, the ability to record and replay previously taught lessons, and enhanced support for evaluating student work, the company said. Technical enhancements include support for Windows 64-bit operating systems and improved support for terminal servers.

NetSupport touted its Real Time Audio Monitoring software, which features a new Language Lab Mode. Users can see which computers have live audio activity, listen live and record the desktop sounds or audio content of any student PC, listen to the microphone feed for each student and instantly correct pronunciations where required, and even conduct a two-way audio conversation with any student to provide feedback without class disruption, NetSupport says.

netTrekker, a safe and kid-friendly internet search tool, announced a partnership with BrainPOP. Starting this fall, netTrekker subscribers will have the option of upgrading and adding BrainPOP’s animated, curriculum-based video content to their accounts. netTrekker also launched a new online community for educators, called netTrekker Village, that provides a forum for teachers to share tips, strategies, and resources as they network with their peers around the world. netTrekker offers more than 300,000 digital resources, including educational video games, web sites, and audio and video lesson plans–and its My Portfolio feature allows educators to share technology resources with students and other teachers across a school district.

Panasonic introduced three new-generation Panaboards (electronic interactive whiteboards) that combine an integrated stereo sound system, advanced text and graphic capabilities, and a rugged Fine Enamel hard-surface, anti-reflective screen with scratch and shock resistance. Available in three diagonal panel sizes ranging from 83 inches (UB-T781W), to 77 inches (UB-T781), to 64 inches (UB-T761), the new Elite Panaboards feature seamless PC and projector integration, on-board streaming media playback (compatible with AVI, WMV, MPG, and SWF formats), a spotlight mode for highlighting a specific part of the screen, and a screen-capture utility that automatically records every operation performed on the board, along with accompanying audio commentary, Panasonic says. Other features include simplified driver and software setup, an ergonomically optimized electronic pen for mouse-like operation, control of a PC from the board with on-screen keyboard input, and integrated drawing tools.

PLATO Learning’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery platform offers a multitude of functions, including standards and curriculum management, custom course creation, and thorough data analysis and reporting features. The company says its services have helped rural school districts cut down on dropout rates. Having online classes as an option has trimmed dropouts by as much as 15 percent in some school systems, PLATO says.

PolyVision introduced the eno mini–a mobile companion to its eno interactive whiteboard that offers the same features, benefits, and environmental certifications, PolyVision says. Teachers can magnetically detach the eno mini from any ceramic-steel surface and move freely about the room. Using the same Bluetooth-enabled stylus, teachers and students can collaborate on lessons by simultaneously using up to three styluses on eno mini slates and eno interactive whiteboards. Even without an interactive whiteboard, the eno mini can transform any classroom with a projector and computer into a dynamic and interactive learning environment, PolyVision says. Features include a rugged grip surface, a slate that has no battery to charge and no electronics to fail, an ergonomic design, antimicrobial protection, Cradle-to-Cradle Silver certification, and a lifetime warranty.

Promethean unveiled a redesign of its collaborative classroom learning solution, the ActivClassroom for Everyone. As part of the redesign, Promethean has tripled its number of interactive whiteboard options to make sure every teacher has a solution that meets his or her needs. The ActivBoard 300 Pro, a direct replacement for the current ActivBoard, includes built-in speakers, an integrated amplifier, two USB ports, Dual User input, and ActivInspire Professional Edition, the company’s teaching and curriculum development software–which now includes a self-paced learning option. The ActivBoard 300 is an upgradeable board that doesn’t come with speakers or Dual User input, but these can be added later. And the ActivBoard 100 Range provides a simple, cost-effective choice for schools on a more limited budget. Promethean also has added a brand-new ActiView camera to its ActivClassroom solution; it’s a visual presenter that allows the sharing of information and three-dimensional objects.

ProQuest showcased its eLibrary service, a full-text multimedia database and search engine that gives students access to more than 2,500 full-text magazines, newspapers, books, and transcripts–as well as thousands of maps, pictures, educator-approved web sites, and audio/video files. Users can sort their search results by relevance, date, file size, Lexile or reading level, publication, and source, while librarians and educators can find content that is directly linked to state and national teaching standards. A BookCart functionality allows librarians and educators to build links to pre-selected content, creating reading lists, subject and topic pages, standards-linked lessons and activities, community interest pages, and even pre- or post-assessments, ProQuest says.

Quantum Learning Network promoted its line of books and DVDs designed to aid students in studying math and writing, while bolstering their critical thinking and leadership skills. The company also helps parents and educators understand new technologies popular with children, such as social networking, and it offers a guide to understanding different learning styles.

Qwizdom announced the release of WizTeach, a new software application designed for use alongside existing classroom technologies. WizTeach gives educators on-screen teaching tools that complement the interactive whiteboards, projectors, tablets, student response systems, and document cameras they already use. It also integrates seamlessly with any application, such as Microsoft Office software, web browsers, and curriculum software, Qwizdom says. Using WizTeach tools, educators can annotate, draw, and explain a concept while directly working inside their web browser or another software application. Qwizdom also announced the Qwizdom Q-VR, a web-based “virtual remote” that allows students and educators to connect and communicate through any web-enabled device. Students log in through a dedicated web site, join a class session, and can view lecture slides live on their computer or through a web-enabled cell phone or other PDA device. They also can respond with their answers to multiple choice, true/false, yes/no, rating scale, numeric, fill-in-the-blank, and open text response questions. In addition, a self-paced mode allows students to log in and take exams or make up homework assignments at their own pace, the company says.

SAFARI Montage announced the launch of the SAFARI Montage HD Network, an online community where users can share best practices that are both technical and instructional. The network aims to provide a place for customers to share ideas, exchange video playlists, and become more proficient users of the SAFARI Montage video-on-demand and digital media management system. The company also announced that its system now integrates with SMART Board interactive whiteboards, and it demonstrated Version 4.0 of SAFARI Montage, which features support for new file types (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), as well as a new folder system that organizes playlists by district and user.

Schoolwires introduced a specially priced suite of products that includes the Schoolwires platform, which empowers teachers with online classroom collaboration tools and informs community members through dynamic web content. Integrated within the platform is a digital file-sharing solution designed to increase collaboration within and beyond the classroom. The 2009 Value Bundle also includes a flexible package of professional services credits to help districts meet their professional development needs.

Sebit, maker of the Adaptive Curriculum series of online instructional materials, introduced Adaptive Curriculum High School Math and Adaptive Curriculum High School Science. Developed in partnership with Arizona State University, the new products use realistic images and dynamic interactions to motivate and engage students in learning math and science. Adaptive Curriculum is an interactive online environment containing lessons called Activity Objects. These lessons teach students with a variety of learning styles, using guided discovery, problem-solving scenarios, and interactive exercises. Adaptive Curriculum High School Math features Activity Objects for courses such as Algebra I, Algebra II, and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability. Adaptive Curriculum High School Science includes Activity Objects in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Serif, a developer of desktop publishing and graphics software, announced that its Serif Design Suite of programs have been aligned with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Education. Serif worked with reseller Educational Resources to attain the designation, which will enable schools to purchase Serif products using federal grant money, the company said. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant program supports local centers that give students from low-performing and high-poverty schools academic enrichment opportunities through an array of before- and after-school and summer activities. The Serif Design Suite includes tools for bitmap and vector drawing, animation, desktop publishing, and web publishing. Serif is also offering a “Back-to-School” discount of 20 percent off the cost of all its products purchased through its partner, the Douglas Stewart Company. This discount applies to both individual products and site licenses. The promotion ends Sept. 30.

Software Technologies Inc. (STI) is giving Alabama students exposure to online learning. Students entering the ninth grade must complete one online course by the end of high school, and STI hopes to help the state’s students meet this requirement by giving them access to STI State and Information Live, an education portal. Through this portal, students can learn via video conferencing, web-based classes, or a combination of the two.

Studywiz launched new Mobile eLockers for its Studywiz Spark Mobile service, a dynamic, 24-7 online learning space for schools. The new eLockers provide storage space for teachers and students on the iPhone or iPod Touch for all file types, support audio and image recording, and provide both on- and offline access to learning, Studywiz says.

Tabula Digita, developer of the award-winning DimensionM ( educational video games for math, is releasing its first immersive online science game series. Called “The League of Scientists,” the series is being offered free of charge to students in grades three through five and is meant to help students build their knowledge base.

TEL.A.VISION helps students define their life goals by incorporating technology children are familiar with: video. The nonprofit organization helps students make short videos–complete with audio and sequenced photos–that spell out what they want to be, and how they’ll get there. TEL.A.VISION provides tutorials for students to make their own videos to show to classmates and teachers.

Texas Instruments announced Math Nspired, an online resource center for algebra and geometry teachers. TI says its Math Nspired lessons will offer customizable activities to help students build conceptual understandings of key math concepts and help them use TI-Nspire technology to visualize concepts and explore multiple representations.

Verizon Thinkfinity hosted a talk with blind mountain climber, adventurer, author, and former teacher Erik Weihenmayer, who teamed with actor-director Eric Close to demonstrate how bringing a sense of adventure to the classroom can inspire and engage students to reach their full potential. The event was part of an initiative that pairs the principles of adventure sports with practical tools like Verizon’s free content portal in an effort to help teachers move beyond their textbook when teaching. Weihenmayer put that concept into action by inviting Close and several teachers from the audience to take part in a rope team exercise to demonstrate the importance of teamwork on the mountain and in the classroom.

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