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Got Grokker?

In the ever-expanding World Wide Web, the most relevant resources for research are not always on the first page of Google results. Sometimes they're not even on the first 20 pages. Data visualization tool Grokker offers some relief for users looking to quickly retrieve pertinent information from deep within the Web and other digital resources. The software groups search results pages according to content, then maps them into concentric spheres based on their relative importance. For example, a search on "King Arthur" produces spheres labeled "myths," "histories," and "musicals." Students can click on the most relevant sphere, and continue clicking until they drill all the way down to the individual sites they need. Maps can also be edited, saved, and shared via e-mail, offering teachers a great way to quickly guide students to important Web sites or files.

Everybody's Talkin'

In chilly Orlando this past January, T&L editors were on the job at the Florida Educational Technology Conference. Following are some highlights:

  1. Can you say customization? Yes, it remains the name of the game in hardware and software solutions from Gateway, Dell, HP, and others to curriculum providers such as CompassLearning, Holt, and Riverdeep, who are including diagnostic tools in their software to help teachers individualize lessons.
  2. Discovery Channel School is high on the education radar with its Win a Wireless Lab sweepstakes, a recent partnership with United Learning, and an ongoing deal with World Book to provide science resources for secondary schools.
  3. Desktops still rule, but "choice of access" was a much bandied-about phrase. Laptops, Palm and Pocket PC handhelds, and even tablet PCs were everywhere to be seen.
  4. Data mining and storage products were vying for favor with supes and other administrators intent on helping their districts correlate student information to achievement. (See this month's cover feature, "Data: Mining with a Mission.")
  5. Special needs applications were also high on the agenda. Curriculum Associates is automating paperwork, Hosts Learning offers reading intervention, Kurzweil is focused on accommodations for special kids, newcomer Provenio provides lesson plans to teach behavior and social skills, and Chancery's SMS streamlines the IEP process.