Week of: May 27, 2008
- The Big Winners
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) announced last week the winners of its 23rd Annual CODiE Awards—the only peer-reviewed awards within the software and content industries, which includes many companies devoted to education technology.
- OLPC in the USA
Inexpensive laptops, made with third-world children in mind, are also starting to show up in American classrooms. The One Laptop Per Child project was started in 2005 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty, with the goal of designing a low-cost but highly functional laptop for children in third-world countries. So far, developing countries such as Rwanda, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia and Haiti, among others, are participating in programs to bring XO-1s to children. Add the United States to that list: the XO-1 is beginning to appear in American classrooms.
- What's New: Recent products for edtech
Classroom Jeopardy! StandardsLink games cover key content in life science, Earth science, physical science, unifying concepts and processes, and the history and nature of science. What sets these games apart is that the clues and responses for each game have been carefully customized to curriculum standards in Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina and Texas to ensure that educators are reviewing the specific science content in their state curriculum frameworks and testing on their high-stakes assessments.
- Twist and Teach
Fujitsu's LifeBook T2010 is at home on the desk or one-on-one with students
The Big Winners
SIIA and industry partners recognized winners in 76 categories, including Best Online News Site, Best Education Game or Simulation, Best Mobile Solution, Best Social Networking Solution and Best Blog. Awards were also given to several best overall products and the industry newcomers that are making an impact.
Edtech winners included:
Education Newcomer of the Year: Adaptive Curriculum
Best Education Solution: Encore IEP Service Assurance (Spectrum K12 School Solutions, Inc.)
Best Education Game or Simulation: DimensionM (Tabula Digita)
Best Mobile or Handheld Education Solution: LaunchPad (ClassLink, Inc.)
More than 1,100 CODiE nominations were submitted by 600 companies in a total of 76 categories. A panel of expert judges narrowed the field to 340 nominees, from which the 2008 CODiE winners were chosen.
OLPC in the USA
The nonprofit education organization Teaching Matters recently started up the first XO-1 pilot program for middle school students, and in February, sixth-graders at the Kappa IV school received their own XO-1s.
According to Teaching Matters's director of educational services, John Clemente, the students took to the relatively simple XO-1s right away. "We're over two months into it, and the students are still very enthusiastic about the use of the computers," he says.
Teaching Matters goals are to lower the overall cost of computer ownership for schools, while also improving curriculum quality. To that end, Teaching Matters developed a curriculum aimed at getting the students using a computer to learn how to write. "We're thinking about how the learning environment is going to change when there's ubiquitous access to computers for students," says Clemente. Students are able to share their work with each other online, and teachers can easily track the students' progress.
But are students learning better? "The struggling writers in the class with the XOs did better than they had in the past," Clemente says, "and better than the struggling writers in the other classes." Teaching Matters is now working to bring XO-1s into two more city schools, in the Bronx and Brooklyn, in the next few months.
Teaching Matters's ongoing project blog is at olpcnyc.wordpress.com.
What's New: Recent products for edtech
Students compete as contestants in three rounds of game play just like on the TV show Jeopardy! Teachers can set up the game in minutes using the StandardsLink game cartridge with the Classroom Jeopardy! hardware system. When plugged into a television monitor, the hardware includes everything needed to play the game, including score boards, student buzzers and Jeopardy! images and sounds that turn the classroom into a game show studio.
The state-specific versions of Classroom Jeopardy! StandardsLink or Science are available for grades 3 through 8. The national standards version is available for grades 3 through 5, as well as for middle school organized by Life Science, Earth Science and Physical Science. Each ETA/Cuisenaire Classroom Jeopardy! StandardsLink for Science package includes one grade-specific cartridge with five sets of Single, Double and Final Jeopardy! games and a teacher's guide on CD-ROM. The teacher's guide provides keys to game clues and correct responses, blackline masters, extension activities, and tips for using the technology. Each package costs $49.95 and will be available in April. The Classroom Jeopardy! Game System may be purchased through ETA/Cuisenaire for $499.00.
Inspiration Software expects to help teachers with creative lesson plans for helping young learners with last week's launch of "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Math Made Visual." Developed to support elementary teachers as they use the new math tools in Kidspiration 3, this addition to Inspiration Software's library of lesson plan books includes 30 lesson plans aligned to National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards and designed to support K-5 math instruction. Created by Inspiration Software, Inc., Kidspiration 3 supports students in kindergarten through fifth grade as they build conceptual understanding in math, strengthen reading and writing skills and develop thinking skills across the curriculum.
Single copies of both "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Math Made Visual" and "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Reading Essentials" are $29.95. Volume licenses for individual schools, available in an easy-to-share, electronic format, are $199. Sample pages from "Kidspiration in the Classroom: Math Made Visual" can be downloaded at www.inspiration.com/kidsclassbook. A 30-day free trial of Kidspiration 3 can be downloaded at www.inspiration.com/freetrial. For more information, call 800-877-4292 or visit http://www.inspiration.com/order to find a local education dealer.
CTB/McGraw-Hill last week announced the release of TerraNovaÂ£ Online, its norm-referenced assessment product, on an enhanced Web-based platform that provides more robust reporting capabilities so educators can receive faster results to inform classroom instruction.
TerraNova is the first research-based, norm-referenced assessment that has the flexibility to be administered online and in paper-and-pencil format with reporting capabilities that allow seamless comparisons between both formats regardless of how the test is administered. TerraNova Online also includes a variety of report styles to provide educators with data in the format most useful for their purposes, including a narrative home report for parents. Paper-and-pencil test results can be incorporated, allowing comparison with state or other data. For more information: call 800.538.9547 or visit www.CTB.com.
Fujitsu's LifeBook T2010 is at home on the desk or one-on-one with students.
Company: Fujitsu Computer Systems (www.fujitsu.com)
Pros: Light and thin; must-have docking station; inexpensive
Cons: Disappointing performance; no external monitor port on system; no lid latch
The magic of using a convertible tablet PC in the classroom is that it can effortlessly go between a traditional keyboard notebook and a pencentric screen, making it two computers in one. Despite its subpar performance, Fujitsu's LifeBook T2010 delivers an excellent screen and exceptional battery life at an unbeatable price. At 3.6 pounds and 1.3-inches thick, it's smaller and lighter than either Lenovo's ThinkPad X60 or HP's tx1000z, making it the choice for those who roam around the classroom or school. The 12.1-inch touchscreen stays bright even in moderate sunlight and works well for scribbling a diagram or typing a paper. While the display is flush, the surface isn't rough enough to feel like pen on paper. It swivels and folds flat but only when the display is straight up.
With 19-millimeter keys that have a generous 2.3-millimeter depth, the T2010 is just as good as a notebook. While the T2010 has a responsive pointing stick, many will miss the lack of a touchpad. In spite of its slow processor, the T2010 outperformed Toshiba's Portege R400 by 20 percent but lagged behind HP's tx1000z and Lenovo's ThinkPad X60 tablet. Its 5-hour battery life blew them all away and is more than enough for a full school day's worth of lessons, taking attendance, and Web surfing.
The LifeBook T2010 comes with a 1-year warranty, Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 along with a good assortment of tablet software.