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FETC 2009: Instructional Solutions

3DVinci, a producer of three-dimensional design project materials that blend left-brain analytical skills with right-brain creativity, announced the updated version of ModelMetricks, a series of books that use free software to teach K-12 students to visualize, create, and analyze in 3D. ModelMetricks’ products help students learn to do 3D design projects for a variety of academic disciplines. Projects are based on Google SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D design application. The ModelMetricks project-based approach enables new users to create their first designs in SketchUp within a few minutes, the company said.

AIM Education announced new features that enhance its online Learn360 video streaming service for K-12 schools. During the product’s first year of use in schools, the Learn360 development team listened to teacher feedback and responded to their ideas by creating a personalized "My Learn360" home page for teachers. The page is filled with tools that teachers wanted to help them complete tasks faster and strengthen communication with students and colleagues, the company said. From the new home page, teachers now can take advantage of an assignment and quiz creation tool; the ability to upload and share any of their own documents and media; a classroom blog-creating tool; more activities and teacher’s guides; a personalized calendar; and a podcasting tool.

The American Education Corp. released U.S. History I, a new core social sciences course for its A+nyWhere Learning System. U.S. History I is the first full-semester course component of a comprehensive, year-long course of study that is appropriate for grades nine through 12, the company said.

ANGEL Learning, a provider of enterprise eLearning software and services, unveiled its new Lesson Plan Builder. An application that’s included in the ANGEL Learning Management Suite at no additional cost, ANGEL’s Lesson Plan Builder allows teachers and instructional designers to easily create template-based, standards-aligned lesson plans that can be shared across an institution, promoting consistent instructional design and enabling the sharing and reuse of high-quality content, ANGEL said.

AVRover demonstrated its ONfinity CM2 Max, a portable interactive whiteboard system that provides interactive functionality without a whiteboard device attached to the wall. The ONfinity solution turns a wall, projection screen, dry erase board, chalkboard, or any surface into an interactive whiteboard, the company said.

Blackboard Inc. announced the latest version of its software, Blackboard Learn (formerly the Blackboard Academic Suite), which brings engagement and assessment activities together in a single, open platform that spans course delivery, community engagement, content management, social learning tools, and outcomes assessment, Blackboard said. The new release integrates with open-source and homegrown course management systems like Moodle and Sakai, allowing these to be accessed within Blackboard Learn via a single login, according to the company.

Discovery Education and the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology announced a partnership that will provide Discovery Education Science to middle school educators and students statewide. Correlated with Connecticut state education standards and designed expressly for middle school pupils, Discovery Education Science enables educators to quickly locate and use a variety of engaging multimedia resources, including videos, animations, images, articles, and virtual labs, to reach students through a medium they are already familiar with and eager to use in the classroom, Discovery said. Each middle school student in the state can access the service with a unique username and password, enabling teachers to create individual learning plans for each pupil. In addition, an online assessment component quickly identifies student understanding of science concepts throughout the learning process. This feature helps teachers assess student learning to ensure that lesson goals are achieved.

Discovery also announced several key upgrades to its Discovery Education streaming service. This digital video-based learning resource now features an enhanced landing page that encourages customization and allows users to access all Discovery Education services, as well as preview new additions to the media library. The new Discovery Education streaming landing page, My Discovery Education (My DE), will help the service’s more than 1 million users easily identify and use new content added to its library of more than 5,000 videos and 50,000 video clips, Discovery said.

Educate Online, which provides online educational intervention programs, announced findings that suggest the use of its services for direct, one-on-one intervention for both supplemental and in-school programs results in learning gains among students who complete the program.  In a recent study in South Dakota, students who received intervention services from Educate Online during the 2007-08 school year reportedly saw average gains of 18 points on the South Dakota State Test of Educational Progress. is an online teaching and learning resource that uses highly engaging activities, which are inclusive and interactive in nature, to cover the core subjects of language arts, math, and science, according to the company.

EduPlatform, an all-in-one solution that facilitates teaching in wired or wireless network environments and computer centers, demonstrated its Classroom Manager application. Classroom Manager helps teachers maximize instructional time and gives them the tools necessary to minimize common distractions associated with computer and internet access. EduPlatform also offers Lesson Builder, which allows teachers to create engaging lessons by merging and sequencing files from commonly used digital resources.

eInstruction announced the launch of its Interwrite DualBoard, which it calls the first dual-pen interactive whiteboard to hit the market. The DualBoard allows two pens to be used at the same time on a single interactive whiteboard, allowing two students to work simultaneously at the front of the classroom. eInstruction also launched the Interwrite Mobi System, a multi-user, multi-tablet system. The Mobi System supports student-centered, collaborative learning, and it allows teachers to contribute along with students to the same digital content, ranging from team activities to learning simulations and interactive lessons. Mobi’s built-in color LCD display reports student responses instantly, making it easy for teachers to identify students in need of special attention or lessons that require re-teaching, the company said.

ePals demonstrated In2Books, a research-based, curriculum-aligned eMentoring program for third through fifth graders. In2Books fosters reading, writing, and thinking skills across the curriculum by pairing students with mentors or pen pals, and it’s been found to improve students’ literacy skills and love of learning, ePals said.

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) announced the Learning Recovery Center, an online-learning service that provides personalized instructional opportunities for students. Built using the latest research on student engagement, the center reportedly will tailor course content and activities to meet the specific needs of students. Teachers at the Learning Recovery Center will create authentic assignments, alternative assessments, and prescriptive instructional practices based on the learning patterns or styles of each student, FLVS said.

The Grow Network/McGraw-Hill launched a new program called the MyGuide Personal Learning Program. MyGuide uses cognitive research and patented technology to transform formative assessment data into a precise, personalized learning curriculum for each student, coupled with targeted, easy-to-implement, differentiated instructional strategies, the company said.

Lumens Integration introduced the Lumens PS660, priced at $1,995, breaking through the $2,000 price barrier for high-definition desktop visual presenters, the company said. Representing a new generation of digital visual presenters, the Lumens PS660 reportedly is the first SXGA desktop visual presenter in its class to offer one-touch integrated audio and video recording, HDMI interface, and SDHC support. The PS660 also includes features such as HD 1080p resolution, true SXGA resolution output, 15x optical zoom, and a five-year unlimited warranty.

NASA and USA Today promoted No Boundaries, a project designed to help students explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math as they learn about the space agency and its activities. The project includes a national competition that gives students the chance to win $2,000, VIP passes to a NASA launch, and the opportunity to present their projects to NASA.

Pearson announced a new program, Miller & Levine Biology, that uses real-world experiences to make curriculum topics relevant to students. Biology students go on real-life science video adventures created by scientist-authors Ken Miller and Joe Levine.

Pearson Education demonstrated three new products: PowerTeacher 1.5, Pearson Tapestry, and the DRA2 Handheld, Tango edition.

PowerTeacher 1.5 is a web-based grade book for K-12 educators. The software connects a teacher web portal with a web-based grade book that enables teachers to access and report key student data such as attendance, grades, demographic information, daily bulletins, and classroom or individual assignments. PowerTeacher also allows teachers to customize the grade scale for students with special needs, export and import scores, set students into filterable groups, and calculate "what if" scenarios to determine what students would need to do to raise their GPAs.

Pearson Tapestry, set to debut this fall, is a program that combines student web portals, information systems, and course management into one unified environment. The software was developed in partnership with more than 500 educators, creating one system that eliminates multiple sign-ons and brings together achievement, academic, and assessment data.

The DRA2 Handheld allows teachers to use the same four-step developmental reading assessment that is usually done on paper from a handheld device. Once the assessment is complete, teachers have instant feedback on individual student results, Pearson said. The DRA2 does not require software to be installed–everything is done on the handheld, which creates instant accountability reports to help teachers and administrators gain more time for instruction.

PolyVision demonstrated the eno, a new interactive whiteboard solution that combines the simplicity and ease of a traditional whiteboard surface with interactive performance–all without cords, cables, or costly installation, PolyVision said. eno reportedly is the first three-in-one interactive whiteboard solution–dry-erase marker, magnetic, and multimedia–giving teachers a flexible, versatile tool that keeps pace with the demands of today’s students, according to the company.

Promethean unveiled a number of new products at FETC. Activsoftware Inspire Edition, the latest version of Promethean’s interactive whiteboard software, reportedly can be used with any brand of interactive whiteboard. It combines the functionality of both Activprimary and Activstudio into a single software solution that allows users to operate with their preferred and most familiar interface. To celebrate the preview launch of Activsoftware Inspire Edition, Promethean has announced a U.S.-based blogging competition. The competition is open to U.S. educators who use any brand of interactive whiteboard in their classroom. The first-place winner will receive a complete Activclassroom teaching environment valued at more than $8,000. Users can download a copy of Activsoftware at The deadline for submissions is Feb. 13.

Promethean also launched the Promethean Developer Network, which gives academics, developers, and publishers access to a Software Development Kit to produce interactive content and applications. The company also debuted new additions to its online teaching community, Promethean Planet. The web site, which just surpassed 250,000 members worldwide, now includes a Premium Content section, offering more choices to teachers around the globe. Finally, Promethean introduced Activclassroom 2009, an enhanced suite of collaborative learning solutions that also includes Activsoftware Inspire Edition.

Qwizdom Connect is a full-scale assessment and instruction solution that provides the flexibility to perform diagnostic, formative, and summative student assessments on a schedule established by teachers and schools. The software enables the tracking of student progress by recording which state standards a student has mastered, as well as gathering data on pacing, performance analysis, predictors of success or failure, and early identification of academically at-risk students, according to the company.

RM Education demonstrated the RM MechRC, a robot with software that provides educational opportunities to explore simulations, behavior, modeling, control, and more.

SAM Learning U.K., a London-based company, released a white paper presenting results from the pilot testing of the company’s high school exit exam preparation program in the United States. The online math and science prep program has been piloted in the U.S. for the past 12 months in both urban and rural schools and in varying socio-economic situations. The program is entirely online, allowing students to use it at any time to practice for the math and science portions of their high school exit exams. The company reports that a substantial amount of usage occurs outside of school hours, suggesting that students realize the effort they put into using the program can pay off with better results in school. SAM Learning is in the process of re-branding the product for the U.S. market and hopes to reveal a new name and product branding in February.

Saywire, which provides safe social learning networks for schools, released a white paper on educational social networking that proposes an action plan for educators to use social technology to foster 21st-century skills. "Connections for Learning: Schools and the Educational Use of Social Networking" argues that the social web is one of the best ways for today’s Net Generation to learn by practicing skills necessary for college, work, and life as a global, digital citizen.

SMART Technologies debuted two new solutions at FETC: SMART Sync 2009, the latest version of its classroom-management software (formerly known as SynchronEyes), which includes a new interface; and the SMART Classroom Suite, an integrated software solution that includes SMART Notebook 10 for creating and delivering lessons, SMART Notebook SE for student assignments, scheduling, and file management, SMART Sync 2009, and SMART Response for student assessment.

SMART also announced that its SMART Notebook 10 software is now available for the latest core distributions of the Linux operating system. SMART said it’s now the only interactive whiteboard manufacturer to provide full versions of its whiteboarding software for all three major operating systems–Linux, Windows, and Mac. In addition, SMART said Intel Corp. will begin shipping its Intel-powered convertible Classmate PCs with SMART Classroom Suite software installed this year.

Tabula Digita, an educational video game company, announced its partnership with Pearson to provide video games that students can use to raise their math scores. Tabula Digita will customize its DimensionM video games to align with the math curriculum in Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley’s enVisionMATH program for elementary school math and Prentice Hall Math and Connected Mathematics for middle school math. The games will be available for the 2009-10 school year, the company said.

Teacher Tube, a web site similar to YouTube that launched in 2007 and now has about 54,000 videos and reportedly averages 800,000 users each month, provides a safe, educationally focused online community for sharing instructional videos. The site includes user-generated videos aimed at both teachers (for anytime, anywhere professional development) and students (to help teach key concepts).

Thinkronize’s kid-friendly search engine, netTrekker d.i., now allows educators to create, organize, and share content for standards-based instruction with fellow teachers within their school or district through an application called My Portfolio. My Portfolio gives teachers and curriculum directors the ability to create project-based learning activities and units for standards-based instruction. Educators are using its many customized features to scaffold, save, and share digital content, including resources found in netTrekker d.i. and from third parties, Thinkronize said.

Wireless eSystems, which offers student response systems, introduced its iRespond-UltraLite. The UltraLite is powered by the same proprietary Teacher’s Dashboard software as all other iRespond products, but it’s streamlined to allow users to gather formative assessment data on students during classroom lectures cost-effectively, according to the company.

Zarbeco offered a few different options for portable digital microscopes. TetraCam is a portable digital video microscope that is reportedly quick to set up and easy to use. MiScope, which is based on a unique optical design, produces sharp images at 40x to 140x magnification using a CMOS detector and integrated LED illumination. The ZDM Digital Microscope is a PC-powered, high-sensitivity megapixel camera that has a selection of interchangeable zoom lenses. And Zarbeco’s Video ToolBox software offers an advanced set of features for the display and analysis of video images, the company said.

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