[NewsWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
November/December 2001
Copyright © Information Today, Inc.
by Kathie Felix, News/Reviews Editor

News of the latest products and technology for K-12 may be sent directly to Kathie Felix at 5746 Union Mill Rd., PMB 605, Clifton, VA 20124 or to kfelix@infotoday.com.


Census Bureau Report on Computers and Children
In the year 2000, nine out of 10 school-age children (ages 6 to 17) had access to a computer, according to a Census Bureau report titled "Home Computers and Internet Use in the United States: August 2000." Most of the students (four out of five) used the computer at school, while two out of three students had a computer at home. According to the report, 54 million households, or 51 percent, had one or more computers in the home in August 2000, up from 42 percent in December 1998. In the year 2000, more than four out of five households with computers had at least one family member using the Internet at home (44 million households). When the Census Bureau first collected data on Internet use in 1997, fewer than half of the households with computers had an individual online. U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of the Census, 301/763-4636 or http://www.census.gov/.

Riverdeep Acquires Assets of The Learning Company
Riverdeep will pay Gores Technology Group $40 million in stock and will assume $20 million in liabilities in the form of inter-company debt, in exchange for substantially all of the assets of The Learning Company. The assets include The Learning Company name, and all of its education software brands such as Reader Rabbit, Carmen Sandiego, ClueFinders, Oregon Trail, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, and Zoombinis. Riverdeep will also acquire the development and distribution resources associated with these assets, including established school, consumer, and international businesses. As part of the deal, Riverdeep will have an ongoing relationship with Brøderbund, the productivity and e-commerce division of The Learning Company that will remain with Gores. Riverdeep, 800/362-2890 or http://www.riverdeep.com/.


Research on Libraries
A series of data reports examining school and public library statistics have been released by the National Center for Education Studies (NCES) Library Statistics program. The reports, spanning 1992-1998, are available at no cost in MS-Access format, ASCII format, or as a .pdf file and can be downloaded online. Four older reports on school library media centers, covering the years 1990-1998, also are available. NCES, http://www.nces.ed.gov/.

MARC Mechanic
MARC Mechanic provides a custom data clean-up service to correct and enhance library databases. Users transfer a copy of their library's MARC database online to the MARC Mechanic site. After a thorough review by MARC experts, customers may select options best suited to their library, including update and supplement subject headings; standardize Dewey call number prefixes and cutters; correct ISBD punctuation and non-filing indicators; correct material type designations (GMD) and proper formats; and correct and update control and leader fields. Prices begin at $500 per library, depending on the collection size. Significant discounts are offered for users of MARC Magician and MITINET/marc software. Volume and district-wide purchase incentives are available. MITINET/marc Software, 800/824-6272 or http://www.mitinet.com/.


Encarta Challenge 2001
The Encarta Challenge 2001 finals will be held Tuesday, November 13, at the Good Morning America studios in New York City. For the event, five finalists advancing from the nationwide playoffs will win a trip for two to New York for a face-to-face final event hosted by Ben Stein, comedian, writer, and host of Comedy Central's Win Ben Stein's Money. The player with the strongest research skills will win a $50,000 college scholarship, a 2002 Ford Focus ZX3, and a Gateway computer. Four runners-up will receive $5,000 cash for college and a Microsoft Dream package of hardware and software. The Encarta Challenge asks students nationwide between the ages of 13 and 18 to answer questions such as, "In what country can you find Macgillicuddy's Reeks?" Players can find the answers to each question at http://encarta.msn.com/ or other reference sources. Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/.

The Funding Factory
The Funding Factory allows schools to earn points by sending in empty printer cartridges donated from businesses, families, and others. The points can be redeemed for technology and recreational equipment available through The Funding Factory's online catalog. Participation is free; there are no registration costs. Collection boxes with attached prepaid shipping labels are supplied at no cost. The labels include name, address, and account number. More than 17,000 schools and organizations participate in the company's programs. The Funding Factory, 888/883-8237 or http://www.fundingfactory.com/.


AlphaSmart and Palm OS
AlphaSmart has licensed the Palm OS platform to expand its product offerings to new segments of the education market. AlphaSmart plans to continue to introduce enhancements to its AlphaSmart 3000 low-cost portable writing, keyboarding, and test-taking tool while pursuing the development of higher-priced Palm OS-based solutions that address specific curriculum requirements of high schools, community colleges, and universities. The company will create links between its Palm OS-based products and the AlphaSmart 3000 product line. AlphaSmart, 888/274-0680 or http://www.alphasmart.com/.

Pocket PC 2002
Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 offers new features including improved existing applications, added auto-configuration options, and improved interoperability with Palm OS-based devices. Among the updated features: a new Windows Media Player 8 with support for the latest Windows Media Video and Audio 8 technology, including streaming and new electronic reading possibilities via the new version of Microsoft Reader. Also featured is a new Terminal Services application that allows users to access their Windows operating system-based server through their device, supports strong passwords, and introduces the ability to connect to corporate information via a virtual private network (VPN). Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/.

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