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T&L News(147) - Tech Learning

T&L News(147)

WHAT'S NEW; WHAT'S NEW; Product: LS Test Builder; Must Reads; Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways
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Week of: September 22, 2008

  • WHAT'S NEW
    GoAnimate.com allows teachers and students to create animations without a drawing background or a technical understanding of advanced software such as Flash. GoAnimate.com includes a demo and detailed tutorials that introduce animation basics and an overview of the GoAnimate Studio. The site offers simple to more advanced features that provide users with a variety of possibilities for customizing their animation.
  • WHAT'S NEW
    GreenCity is a new 10-lesson online enrichment program for students in grades 6-12 (AlternativeEnergy.com). GreenCity explores the causes and effects of excess pollution and energy use in entire populations using Electronic Arts' SimCity Societies, a software program that allows users to construct dynamic virtual cities. Each of the GreenCity program's 10 lessons has two main parts—game play and real-world applications. Through an initial Web tutorial, students learn to build their own virtual SimCity based on societal model, and then set specific goals, monitor their city's energy use, and chart growth. The students will then control their city, choosing environmentally-friendly, alternative energy options for city infrastructure.
  • Product: LS Test Builder
    Retail Price: Based on the number of users within a school, but calculated per site based on total student population. For example, a school with 450-500 students can expect to pay $2 per student for a 12-month license which includes the full item bank with questions for language arts, math, social studies, and science, plus access for all students and staff.
  • Must Reads
    Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools
    Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum
    www.iste.org/ 1-800-336-5191
    Provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and their use in the classroom and in professional development. Topics include blogging as a natural tool for writing instruction, wikis and their role in project collaboration, podcasting as a useful means of presenting information and ideas, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development.
  • Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways

    An online instruction system that coversthe four basic core areas of the curriculum.

WHAT'S NEW

GoAnimate.com allows teachers and students to create animations without a drawing background or a technical understanding of advanced software such as Flash. GoAnimate.com includes a demo and detailed tutorials that introduce animation basics and an overview of the GoAnimate Studio. The site offers simple to more advanced features that provide users with a variety of possibilities for customizing their animation.

The School Improvement Network (SINET) has expanded PD 360, its on-demand professional learning resource. Over 10 hours of additional research-based video content, divided up into over 100 segments, is now accessible for all PD 360 users. The new content provides teachers and administrators with training segments that address many critical topics and feature respected experts. Each of these programs has an average of 10 segments, with each segment being 5-10 minutes long. Sample topics include "Accountability for Greater Student Learning with Douglas B. Reeves" and "Data-Driven Decisions To Improve Results with Mike Schmoker."

Web Technology Fundamentals (www.uclaextension.edu) is for people who want to understand Web technology and its practical applications. Students learn how to design and assemble a Web site; topics include Internet architecture, the client/server model, use of graphics, promoting a Web site, and use of Web technology for intranets. Each student will create a small Web site consisting of three to five pages. Topics include an overview of advanced tools, popular authoring tools, graphic software programs, where to find free space for your personal sites, shareware, and more.

WHAT'S NEW

GreenCity is a new 10-lesson online enrichment program for students in grades 6-12 (AlternativeEnergy.com). GreenCity explores the causes and effects of excess pollution and energy use in entire populations using Electronic Arts' SimCity Societies, a software program that allows users to construct dynamic virtual cities. Each of the GreenCity program's 10 lessons has two main parts—game play and real-world applications. Through an initial Web tutorial, students learn to build their own virtual SimCity based on societal model, and then set specific goals, monitor their city's energy use, and chart growth. The students will then control their city, choosing environmentally-friendly, alternative energy options for city infrastructure.

The new Blackboard School Central online learning platform lets K-12 school districts of any size to securely and reliably expand learning opportunities and teacher professional development. A fully hosted offering, the platform provides an affordable, entry-level solution for schools and districts seeking to enhance classroom instruction or offer classes online, and can be customized for each district to ensure ease of use for teachers, students, and administrators.

The new EduTone Ecosystem (www.viptone.com) lets users simultaneously search multiple sources of content—including internal databases as well as millions of images, lesson plans, e-books, biographies, and educational games—all with a single search query. The EduTone Ecosystem provides role-based access to Web resources using a single sign-on portal. No more managing multiple online services. EduTone Search automatically includes federated search across free channels like the Library of Congress and EduTone's Web 2.0 social networking connects teachers from around the world.

Teachscape's Module of the Month (M.O.M.) club makes available one or more courses found within the company's new online professional development platform Teachscape XL. Each monthly module has classroom video and content such as English Language Development at High School (November) and Book Review: Speech to Print and Book Review: Overcoming Dyslexia (December). Registration for the M.O.M. club is free and can be found at www.teachscape.com/xl. M.O.M. Club members will receive an email on the first of the month announcing the newly selected online course and how to access it via a Teachscape provided free username and password.

Product: LS Test Builder, www.learningstation.com

By Carol S. Holzberg, PhD

Retail Price: Based on the number of users within a school, but calculated per site based on total student population. For example, a school with 450-500 students can expect to pay $2 per student for a 12-month license which includes the full item bank with questions for language arts, math, social studies, and science, plus access for all students and staff.

Description: This Web-based test generator enables K-12 educators to create standards-based tests for classes in language arts, math, science and social studies. Tests can measure learning for purposes of either formative or summative assessment, or to provide individualized instruction by targeting specific content standards for emphasis or review. Special tools allow teachers to create and manage classes or groups of students, set instructional content for class, groups, or selected individuals, and view test results in several report formats, including class, student, or class performance compared to other classes. Results may be accessed directly in the browser (HTML) or downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet. LS Test Builder also includes practice self-tests, which students can take on their own.

How to use in the classroom: Since the product allows teachers to create standards-based tests for four content areas, teachers could use the site to create questions for both formative and summative assessments. Similarly, since students receive immediate feedback on tests they take (complete with recommended study guide), they could use the practice tests to see how much they know, or to sharpen skills in areas where they need more practice. Alternatively, they could take practice tests to become more familiar with the kinds of questions they are likely to encounter on the state-mandated standardized tests.

Pros: Since the program is Web-based, it can be used from any computer with Internet access. Students can practice with standards-based self-tests. Teachers create classes, enter student names, and create tests from banks of ready-made test questions. They can also create their own standards-based multiple choice and true/false test questions. A three-step "custom question wizard" simplifies the task.

Teachers and students log in to the password-protected Web portal to access the ready-made, standards-aligned test banks or teacher-created tests. Tests may be shared among teachers. Teachers at a site can preview or print a shared test, then copy it for use with another class. Tests may be printed or viewed with or without an answer key.

When viewing test results online, teachers can follow a Thinkronize NetTrekker d.i. link to the actual content standard tested. At the NetTrekker site, they can view other helpful educational resources designed to support teaching and learning.

Cons: When preparing custom questions, there is no link to NetTrekker d.i. for viewing state standards or strands. [ED NOTE: when building custom questions, aligning it to a state standard or indicator is integrated into the process. The third step in creating the question is to choose the indicator to which the question pertains.] Only students with Internet access can use this product. There are no options for generating "Open Response" questions.

In classes where there are just one or two computers, providing equal opportunities for all students to use this product might pose problems. Teachers would have to take their students to a lab or send students to the media center in the library. Schools would have to ensure they had sufficient network bandwidth and technology infrastructure in place to accommodate the online use. If the Internet goes down, the product doesn't work. Students could use the product at home, if they had a computer with Internet access, but not all students have this option or they may have time limits set for computer use because they have to share the resource with other family members.

Overall Impression: If the product came with a test option with access to all program features and options for a 60-90 day period and our teachers found it helpful, we would be more inclined to try to find the money to pay for it. It's easy to use. It not only generates questions, it reports on test results. It can be used for both formative and summative assessments.

Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, cholzberg@gmail.com, (Shutesbury, Massachusetts) is an educational technology specialist and anthropologist who writes for several publications. She works as District Technology Coordinator for Greenfield Public Schools and the Greenfield Center School (Greenfield, Massachusetts) and teaches in both the Licensure program at Hampshire Educational Collaborative (Northampton, MA) and online in the School of Education at Capella University. Send comments or queries via email to: cholzberg@gmail.com.

Must Reads

Web2.0 New Tools, New Schools
Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum
www.iste.org/newtoo
1-800-336-5191
Provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies and their use in the classroom and in professional development. Topics include blogging as a natural tool for writing instruction, wikis and their role in project collaboration, podcasting as a useful means of presenting information and ideas, and how to use Web 2.0 tools for professional development.

Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying
Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin
www.corwinpress.com
1-800-233-9936
A comprehensive guide to identify, prevent, and respond to this increasingly serious problem. The book is primarily based on Hinduja and Patchin's original research with thousands of adolescents, many of whom were victims of cyberbullying. In addition to providing numerous practical strategies for educators, parents, and other youth-serving adults, the book includes personal stories and case scenarios of youth affected by or involved in real cyberbullying incidents, an extensive overview of terminology and legal issues, and a clear explanation of the scope and prevalence of online aggression among youth.

Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation
By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal
mitpress.mit.edu
1-800-405-1619
Examines three aspects of participation in society online: economic opportunity, democratic participation, and inclusion in prevailing forms of communication. The authors find that Internet use at work increases wages, with less-educated and minority workers receiving the greatest benefit, and that Internet use is significantly related to political participation, especially among the young. The authors examine in detail the gaps in technological access among minorities and the poor and predict that this digital inequality is not likely to disappear in the near future. Public policy, they argue, must address educational and technological disparities if we are to achieve full participation and citizenship in the 21st century.

Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways

Description: An online instruction system that coversthe four basic core areas of the curriculum.

How to use in the classroom: An instructor can create a lesson for a class or an individual student and assign it to them to be complete and submitted online. The instructor can also create a blog for the class; parents and students can subscribe to the blog to keep up-to-date on what is going on in class. The teacher can also add individual notes (called flags) to lessons to customize them for the class or the student.

Pros: The interface is easy-to-use. I like the blog feature. The ability for the instructor to set flags (make personal comments) is also a good. It uses SAS Strategic Performance Management and SAS Human Capital Management. These data collection tools are where SAS shines above many of the competitors.

Cons: The program only links to national standards, not state standards as do some of the competing products. It was also very easy to navigate away from the main site when view some of the demos. This will allow students to drift to other subjects rather than stay on task. The program does not allow an instructor to create a podcast and videocast.

Overall Impression: There are many products like this on the market, many with more features that are relatively low-priced (two that come to mind are nettrekker and SchoolFusion). The fact that the program is not coordinated to state standards is disappointing since remediation is a huge use for this product, and meeting AYP depends on meeting state standards notional standards. However, if a school can work with national standards, the SAS Curriculum Pathways does have excellent data collection tools.

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