[NewsWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
September 2000
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.


K-12 Framework: Tech Specs
The Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) initiative has released its first technical interoperability specifications for K-12 instructional and administrative software. The specifications define software implementation guidelines that will directly affect infrastructure, student information services, data analysis and reporting, food services, grade books, human resources, financial management, instructional management, library automation, and transportation. SIF is expected to revolutionize the way information is stored, accessed, updated, and transferred—sharply reducing administrative burdens and their toll on a school’s human and financial resources. The more than 80 software publishers and technology providers and integrators involved in the project encourage education technology administrators to become involved with the SIF initiative as soon as possible. Software & Information Industry Association, 202/452-1600 or http://www.siia.net/sif/overview.html/.

Digital Learning
The CEO Forum on Education and Technology has released a comprehensive study charting the strategic uses of digital content in 21st century classrooms. The report, titled “The Power of Digital Learning: Integrating Digital Content,” offers a vision for digital learning and outlines strategies for integrating digital content into school curricula. According to the study, schools are not yet fully using Information Age resources to deliver superior learning opportunities, although they have made great strides in connecting classrooms. Among its recommendations, the report urges that school districts should have the flexibility to begin shifting significant portions of spending to digital content. The CEO Forum, a 4-year partnership of business and education leaders, is committed to improving the uses of technology in America’s schools. The group’s next report, to be issued in 2001, will be a study of outcomes and assessments using education technology. The CEO Forum, http://www.ceoforum.org/.

Girls and Information Technology
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has released a comprehensive report that calls for changes in the way information technology is used, applied, and taught. The study, “Tech-Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age,” is the culmination of a 2-year project by the AAUW Educational Foundation Commission on Technology, Gender, and Teacher Education. The report concludes that girls find programming classes tedious and dull; computer games too boring, redundant, and violent; and computer career options uninspiring. To address these and other problems identified in its study, the Commission recommends the development of non-gender-specific software, cultivating girls’ interest in technology concepts and uses, educating girls to be designers and not simply software users, preparing “tech-savvy” teachers, changing the public’s incorrect perception that computing is solitary and antisocial work, creating a shared family-centered computer activity area in the home, and setting a new standard for gender equity that emphasizes computer fluency across a range of technology problems and subjects. AAUW Educational Foundation, 202/785-7700 or http://www.aauw.org/.


Serials Manager
The new stand-alone program, Serials Manager, streamlines the management of subscriptions, vendors, receiving, routing, and claims. The program creates and modifies subscription information, including title, publisher, publication pattern, quantity, cost, ISSN, start date, and duration. The package integrates with existing library automation systems through the MARC 21 standard, allowing librarians to import records for patron searches with other library materials in the online catalog. Report functions include subscription renewals, claims, vendor information, and statistical reports illustrating costs by title and vendor. Available for Mac and Win systems, the introductory price of $695 includes 1 year of customer support. Sagebrush Corp., 800/533-5430 or http://www.sagebrushcorp.com/.

Spectrum Update
The Winnebago Spectrum 4.5.1 update includes a variety of new features, including 21 reports and a custom report index feature for Macintosh users, improved protection against improper server shutdowns and power outages, the ability to print or preview reports on Windows systems, a larger font size on bibliography displays for improved readability, more user control in searches, and faster performance in batch edit operations. Starting at $3,490, Winnebago Spectrum is available for both Win and Mac systems. One year of customer support is included. Sagebrush Corp., 800/533-5430 or http://www.sagebrushcorp.com/.


MS Curriculum Grants
Microsoft has awarded a total of $1.3 million in software licenses to 48 middle and high schools in the U.S. and Canada as part of its Curriculum Grant Program. The program, one of the company’s efforts to help address the Information Technology workforce shortage, is designed to help educators create leading-edge information technology curricula and courses that will help prepare students for college and the technology-driven workforce. The 2-year competitive grants award each school from $10,380 to $41,575 in software licenses and include the latest technology tools used in the workplace such as the Visual Basic, Visual C++, and Visual J++ development systems, Office 2000 Developer Edition, and the Visual InterDev Web development system, as well as the Windows 98 or 2000 operating systems, where needed. As part of the award, teachers agree to share current curricula and course materials by posting them at the Microsoft Web site [www.mainfunction.com/]. The site features a quarterly newsletter and online resources for high school teachers and students interested in computer science, programming, information technology, and Web development. Microsoft, http://www.microsoft.com/.

IRA Reading & Technology Awards
Six educators were honored as winners of the International Reading Association (IRA) Presidential Award for Reading & Technology 2000. The winning projects were selected for exemplary use of technology to encourage and teach reading skills. The grand-prize winner was Irene Huschak of Altoona, Pennsylvania. The regional winners included: Kristi Miller of Albany, Oregon; Caryl M. Jones of Tucson, Arizona; Rebecca Kelly of Delmar, Delaware; Anne Wall of Clarksville, Tennessee; and Gloria Antifaiff of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Learning Company presented the grand-prize winner with a laptop computer, $1,000 in reading software, and an expense-paid trip to the IRA convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Each regional winner was awarded a $500 package of Learning Company reading software. Applications for the 2001 awards are now available online at The Learning Company Web site. The deadline for entries is November 15, 2000. The Learning Company, 800/825-4420 or http://www.learningcompanyschool.com/.

Excellence in Teaching Cabinet
Curriculum Associates has announced the winners of its 2000/2001 “Excellence in Teaching Cabinet.” Four educators were selected to receive a $1,000 implementation grant and up to $500 in products, in recognition of their winning teaching projects. The winners were Lottie Mosher of Pine Spring Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia; Janet Holloway and Nancy Longo of Hammonton Middle School in Hammonton, New Jersey; and Janet Hopkins of Westsyde Secondary School in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Curriculum Associates, 800/225-0248 or http://www.curriculumassociates.com/.

CCC Honor Roll for Schools
Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC) has launched a new Honor Roll program to formally recognize schools whose students achieve exceptional gains using CCC’s SuccessMaker courseware. The first Honor Roll schools, selected from among 16,000 schools nationwide, were Bowling Green Charter Elementary School (Sacramento, California), Centerville Elementary School (Lancaster, PA), Edgewood Elementary School (Fruitport, Michigan), Forest View Elementary (Boon, Michigan), and South Walnut Elementary School (Bangor, Michigan). Computer Curriculum Corporation, 888/CCC-4KIDS or http://www.ccclearn.com/.


The Power Mac G4 Cube
Apple’s latest offering provides the punch of a supercomputer in an 8-inch cube. The Power Mac G4 Cube, about one-quarter the size of most PCs, features a processor that reaches speeds of more than one billion calculations per second—well ahead of the fastest Pentium III. The 450 MHz G4 comes with Mac OS 9, 64 MB RAM, 1 MB backside level 2 cache, 20 GB Ultra ATA/66 hard disk drive, DVD-ROM with DVD-Video playback, the ATI Rage 128 Pro graphics card with 16 MB of graphics memory, 10/100BASE-T Ethernet, and 56 K internal modem. The cube runs in virtual silence—without a fan—making it even easier to appreciate the Apple-designed Harmon Kardon stereo speakers. $1,800. Apple, http://www.apple.com/.

Gateway’s TeacherWare package provides multimedia tools and training designed to help educators create dynamic multimedia presentations. The kit includes Leonardo’s Multimedia Toolbox from NEC Systems, a digital camera and photo kit, and a 1-year subscription to Gateway’s online training with unlimited access to more than 250 Web-based computing courses. Priced at $199, Gateway TeacherWare saves more than 30 percent on the retail value of the package’s components. Gateway, 800/846-2754 or http://www.gateway.com/.

The Flat Monitor
The Proview DX-797 provides a 17-inch cathode ray tube flat-face square color monitor at an estimated street price of less than $300. The unit features a pure flat distortion-free screen to display high-resolution characters and graphics. The DX-797 offers a .25 mm dot pitch and a maximum viewing resolution of 1600x1200 pixels at a refresh rate of 60 Hz (a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels is recommended for flicker-free images). The onscreen performance setting display can be accessed through a four-key panel on the bezel. The unit’s power saving features make it Energy Star compliant; the radiation controls comply with MRP-II standards. Proview, 877/377-6843 or http://www.proview.net/.

Computer & Web Resources for People with Disabilities
The Alliance for Technology Access has released the third edition of its book, Computer & Web Resources for People with Disabilities. Using the research, resources, and experience of the 42 Alliance for Technology Access Centers nationwide, the book examines laws, defines needs, highlights technological answers, and provides information about software, hardware, tools, organizations, national conferences, and Internet resources that expand human potential. 336 pages. $21—paperback. $28—spiral bound or ASCII disk. Add $3 per book, shipping and handling. Alliance for Technology Access, 415/455-4575 or http://www.ATAccess.org/.

Quick Start Technology
The Quick Start series provides simple tools designed to help educators get a jump-start on classroom technology. The Quick Start Flip Chart series provides spiral flip charts with built-in easels, designed to fit beside the computer for quick reference. Each includes step-by-step instructions with screen-by-screen illustrations, definitions, explanations, tips, and time savers. Flip charts are available for MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Claris Works/AppleWorks, HyperStudio, Inspiration, the Internet, and KidPix Studio. The Quick Start Training Guide series offers paperback guides divided into 45-minute sessions, with chapters corresponding to those in the Flip Chart series. Training guides are available for Claris Works/AppleWorks, HyperStudio, the Internet, and Microsoft Office. Quick Start Classroom Activities books help educators prepare before they get to the computer—with classroom activities, lesson plan information, and Internet connections for each activity. The Activity series is available for Claris Works/AppleWorks, HyperStudio, Inspiration, the Internet, Kid Pix Studio, and Microsoft Office. $25—flip charts. $15-17—training guides. $15—classroom activities. Educational Insights, 800/995-4436 or http://www.educationalinsights.com/.

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