T&L News(145)

Put to the Test: Carol S. Holzberg reviews the Edugrader; All They Want to Do is Have Some Fun; AVerVision Forum Refer a Friend Contest; What's New; Open letter to the Next POTUS
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Week of: September 8, 2008

  • Put to the Test: Carol S. Holzberg reviews the Edugrader

    Retail Price: $25
    Description: This combination ink pen and electronic grading tool marks paper-based assignments and tests with comments you write, while keeping track of the final score as you mark the work.
  • All They Want to Do is Have Some Fun
    A new study from the University of Central Florida found that immersive educational video games improve students' mathematics understanding and skills—and significantly raise scores on district-wide math benchmark exams.
  • AVerVision Forum Refer a Friend Contest
    Prize: AVerMedia Document Camera
    Sponsor: AVerMedia
    Details: Teachers and educators who are members of AVerMedia's Teacher forum have a chance to win a document camera by referring others to the forum. At the end of every month, the forum user with the most referrals will win a new AVerVision document camera. This contest will run along side AVerMedia's Forum Contest, launched in June, where active forum participants are randomly chosen once a month to win a document camera.
  • What's New
    Vivitek announced its first products for the projector market—the D326MX and the D326WX. Both units use the latest DLP technology from Texas Instruments, projecting sharp displays with good image quality. The 720p HDTV format brings 720 lines of vertical resolution transmitted at one time, so the HD projectors produce more clarity for fast-motion events such as sports events.
  • Open letter to the Next POTUS
    Last month I posted a manifesto of sorts to my Website. I was following a meme started by a group of other edubloggers called "Five things policymakers ought to know!"—bullet points for politicians and administrators to consider when trying to improve public education.

Put to the Test: Carol S. Holzberg reviews the Edugrader

Retail Price: $25

Description: This combination ink pen and electronic grading tool marks paper-based assignments and tests with comments you write, while keeping track of the final score as you mark the work.

How to use in the classroom: Teachers program the pen for highest possible score by entering that number in the non-illuminated LCD window. They grade the work by pressing the error button each time there's a mistake and can add bonus points for extra work. The pen displays the final score in percent. It also shows number of points awarded for correct answers, the number of points deducted for wrong answers; and maximum points possible.

Pros: The pen automatically calculates the score in percent while keeping track of right and wrong answers. It's lightweight. The ink pen allows for written comments. Easy to use. Uses relatively inexpensive common button cell batteries and ink cartridge.

Cons: The pen clip isn't really designed for use on a lanyard, and it's a bit bulky to hold. it doesn't just power on with a simple click.

Overall Impression: The edugrader pen is very useful for teachers who must grade printed tests, it's a number cruncher made in heaven.

All They Want to Do is Have Some Fun

A new study from the University of Central Florida found that immersive educational video games improve students' mathematics understanding and skills—and significantly raise scores on district-wide math benchmark exams. Using Tabula Digital's DimensionM over an 18-week period, researchers reported the following results:

  • The experimental group who played the Tabula Digita video games scored significantly higher on district math benchmark tests than students in the control group.
  • The majority of the interviewed teachers and students reported that the participants' math understanding improved as a result of playing the educational video games.
  • According to the teachers, the games were effective learning tools because they were experiential, offered an alternative way of teaching, and increased student time on task.
  • According to the students, the games were effective because they offered math in adventurous and exploratory context.

While this is just one small sampling of the effect educational games can have in the classroom, it does support the argument that video game-formats can be motivational for some students.

AVerVision Forum Refer a Friend Contest

Prize: AVerMedia Document Camera

Sponsor: AVerMedia

Details: Teachers and educators who are members of AVerMedia's Teacher forum have a chance to win a document camera by referring others to the forum. At the end of every month, the forum user with the most referrals will win a new AVerVision document camera. This contest will run along side AVerMedia's Forum Contest, launched in June, where active forum participants are randomly chosen once a month to win a document camera.

Deadline: Ongoing

For more information: For complete rules please visit www.avermedia-usa.com/.

ThinkQuest Web Site Competition 2009

Sponsor: Oracle Education Foundation

Details: The competition is open to teams of students, ages 9-19. Teams are challenged to develop an educational Web site on topics of their choosing. Qualifying entries will be published in the ThinkQuest Library. Prizes include laptop computers, digital cameras, school grants, and a trip to the awards event in San Francisco, depending on placement.

Deadline: April 2, 2009

For more information: Full details of the new ThinkQuest offerings and benefits are available at www.thinkquest.org.

What's New

Vivitek announced its first products for the projector market—the D326MX and the D326WX. Both units use the latest DLP technology from Texas Instruments, projecting sharp displays with good image quality. The 720p HDTV format brings 720 lines of vertical resolution transmitted at one time, so the HD projectors produce more clarity for fast-motion events such as sports events. The D326MX and D326WX DLP projectors are dust- and filter-free design minimizing maintenance and replacement needs and keeping the projector running at top energy efficient levels. Both projectors also have an Eco-Mode lamp setting enabling up to 4,000 hours of lower-energy performance.

The new AVerVision SPB350 Visual Presenter combines a 5 megapixel camera sensor and 1080p HD output with 20X AVer OpticalTM Zoom, interactive software, network sharing capability, and more. The 5 mega pixel sensor produces extremely clear, sharp, live images. A high-speed, full-motion frame rate ensures moving objects can be viewed with little or no distortion. The 20X exclusive AVer Optical Zoom provides exceptional clarity when zooming on small details or text, with a total zoom capability of 160X. The networking capability of the SPB350 allows users to connect to and view a live presentation through a location's local area network. Presenters even have the option of allowing the features of the document camera, such as annotation, zoom or image capture, to be controlled by remote LAN participants.

The new eBeam Interact v.2.1 (www.luidia.com) provides improved functionality, such as Screen Recording and Scrapbook Image Writer, and allows teachers to access easily an extensive online image gallery. The upgraded screen recording feature allows users to: record everything that happens on the desktop and include voice tracks from the computer's microphone, playback instantly in the eBeam movie player, and then save the recordings as .avi, .wmv, or .swf (Flash) movies. The Scrapbook Image Writer allows users to export documents into Scrapbook from any application, such as AutoCad or Adobe Acrobat, with the print function. Teachers and students can access an impressive online library of photographic images from the eBeam Gallery.

Mark-My-Time digital bookmark tracks reading time, allowing kids to take responsibility for their own reading and focus on what they are reading without the distraction of watching a clock. The product features a countdown timer so kids are alerted when reading time is up. Or, there's a cumulative timer, ideal for multi-session reading. Available in bright neon colors, the digital bookmark fits conveniently between the pages of any book.

Open letter to the Next POTUS

By David Warlick

Last month I posted a manifesto of sorts to my Website. I was following a meme started by a group of other edubloggers called "Five things policymakers ought to know!"—bullet points for politicians and administrators to consider when trying to improve public education. The idea appears to have been from Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strange Land (for the bookmarks, enter the URL down below.) T&L editors asked me to tweak it a bit to give our next President some big-picture 21st century education advice. Here's my take.

1. Keep politics out of education.

I remember when the 1983 Nation at Risk letter was published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, stating that our children were attending schools of mediocrity. I had already been teaching for many years, and I remember saying, "This is fantastic. With this, our government has to start investing more in education." Little did I know that their political interests would not come from paying for better classrooms. Instead it would be in redefining education—and as a result, the institution was taken over by amateurs.

Education is a profession, and teachers are among the most educated professionals in most communities across the United States. They know education. They know the content. They know their children. It is critical that they be empowered with resources, infrastructure, and time to creatively craft new learning experiences for their students that are relevant to todays digital and networked information environment. National leaders must support and empower teachers to work smarter, not just force them to work harder.

2. Widen the definition of accountability.

As we examine any listing of 21st century skills (collaboration, innovation, information literacy, etc.), we see nothing new. These are skills that have long been valued. What is new, as revealed by the report from The Conference Board called "Are They Really Ready to Work?" and others, is that these are entry-level skills. Traditionally they were skills gained "on the job," by a few, and they usually led to promotion.

Today, they will best be gained in our classrooms through on-the-job style learning experiences—and these learning experiences will best occur as a result of performance-based assessments that are authentic to 21st century conditions. High-stakes testing is an industrial age solution to an information age problem.

3. Recognize that the greatest assets of ours schools are in its people.

A vast majority of teachers and administrators are highly educated, experienced, dedicated professionals with a sense of success based on high expectations. It is also crucial that we start to consider the learners in our schools as a critical asset to the learning experience.

The greatest gain to education will not come from modernizing our classrooms with projectors and digital whiteboards, though these are crucial refinements. The greatest gain will come from the collective knowledge and experience of the education community. Infrastructure must be invented and implemented that cultivates an ongoing professional conversation across the entire education landscape where a learning lifestyle is not only taught by teachers, but also modeled throughout the profession.

4. We skimp on the creative arts at our own peril.

The STEM subjects are critical to our future prosperity. However, in the market place, it is the aesthetics that we value, that we shop for, that we choose and buy. For the very same reason that we promote STEM, we need to invest just as much in the creative arts.

It is equally critical that our students become full citizens within their entire physical, cultural, societal, and political environment. This means that greater investment must fall to the entire curriculum; health, physical education, communication, literature, ethics, and the social studies. If you think about the real problems of the world, they are not problems of science and math. They are problems of communication, people, communities, and values.

Anyone who reads this and is inspired to share their list, can consider themselves tagged.

David Warlick will be speaking at the Tech Forum on October 24 at the Palisades Executive Conference Center in Palisades, New York.

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