[NetWatch] [MultiMedia Schools]
January/February 2001
Copyright © Information Today, Inc.
by Kathie Felix, News/Reviews Editor

News of the latest Net-related 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.

* Net News

Internet in Nearly Every School
At the start of the 2000/2001 school year, 95% of America's public schools were connected to the Internet, according to a report from Quality Education Data. The figure is expected to rise to 99 percent by the time the school year ends. The number of schools online has risen 16 percent since 1998 and 7 percent since 1999. While past studies have shown that teachers primarily used the Internet for research, this study shows that 81 percent of the teachers surveyed now use the Internet to evaluate curriculum material. A growing number of educators are also using the Internet for lesson planning (52 percent) and professional development (53.2 percent). The statistics were compiled for QED's Internet Usage in Public Schools 2000, 5th edition. Quality Education Data, 800/525-5811 or http://www.qeddata.com/.

Cyberstudy: Education and the Internet
The Internet is increasingly seen as an integral part of the educationalexperience by both parents and children, according to information gathered by a recent America Online/Roper Starch Cyberstudy. The study results revealed that 76 percent of online Americans expect education to be significantly affected by the online experience, 74 percent agree that it is important for children to know how to use the Internet, 81 percent believe that it is important for students to be taught to learn how to use the Internet at school, and 64 percent believe that being online has improved the quality of their child's homework. The study also showed that 56 percent of the children surveyed prefer going online over school and the public library as a resource for homework, and 74 percent believe the Internet needs to be used more effectively in the classroom. America Online, 888/339-0767 or http://www.school.aol.com/.

Rural School Web Site
Navigating Resources for Rural Schools [http://nces.ed.gov/ surveys/ruraled/] is a new online resource developed by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics at the request of members of Congress representing the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska. The site provides links to data and information on conditions in education in rural America such as enrollments; National Assessment of Educational Progress scores; course taking, drop outs, and transition to college; availability of advanced course offerings and technology; teacher characteristics, class size, technology, discipline, and facilities; and support for learning, including parental satisfaction and involvement, community support, and financial support. U.S. Education Department, 800/USA-LEARN or http://www.ed.gov/.

* Net Teaching

Online Collaboration
The Teacher's Guide to International Collaboration on the Internet [http://www.ed.gov/Technology/guide/international/index.html] contains online tools and resources organized by subject areas that will help teachers get started with or expand ongoing international collaborative activities. The page links to elementary, middle, and high school projects, as well as to organizations involved in international education via the Internet. The guide was developed as part of the Department of Education's International Education Initiative. U.S. Education Department, 800/USA-LEARN or http://www.ed.gov/.

Information-Literacy Skills
Follett Software's new free Web Links page [http://www.pathwaysmodel.com/resources/weblinks/] provides direct links to some of the best Web sites found by educators for help in teaching information-literacy skills. The page organizes the Web site information into six categories: information literacy, authentic learning, authentic resources, interactive learning, research, and Web-based tools. Follett Software Company, 800/323-3397 or http://www.fsc.follett.com/.

Professional Development
The Online Teacher Development Institutes [http://www.teacherdev.com] from Apex Learning feature instructor-led online workshops designed to help states and school districts offer easy access to professional development. The Institutes are built to meet the specific needs of states and districts and are targeted to each teacher's experience level—from beginner to advanced. More than 100 workshops are expected to be available in the coming year, covering subjects such as Classroom Management, Standards, Assessment, Language Arts, Mathematics, and Technology. States and districts may organize their teachers into cohorts to take online workshops together, encouraging peer interaction. For an additional fee, teachers who successfully complete a workshop are eligible to earn college credit from accredited colleges and universities. Apex Learning, 800/453-1454 or http://www.apexlearning.com/.

Literacy Resources
The Cognitive Concepts Web site [http://www.cogcon.com/] now features a searchable database of reading and learning specialists and speech language professionals and audiologists, designed to help parents and others seeking professional services for children who are at risk for reading and learning difficulties. Additional new resources on the site include information for teachers and specialists seeking funding, guidelines, and sample proposals for independent researchers and Web-based games for teachers who want to encourage students to practice early-literacy skills at home. Cognitive Concepts, 888/328-8199 or http://www.cogcon.com/.

* Net Learning

SkillsTutor offers home and hospital-bound students free access to its Web-based test preparation and instructional program, through a partnership with the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). School districts in Mt. Vernon and Westbury, New York, are the most recent to participate in this project. Designed for grades 6-12, the SkillsTutor online instruction is appropriate for mainstream and special needs classes, Title I programs, and GED classes. The coursework includes online instruction and testing in reading, writing, language arts, mathematics, and information and workforce readiness skills—with a library of more than 500 instructional activities and lessons, including pre-tests and progress reports. Site license pricing is available for school and district school-based students. SkillsTutor, 888/391-3245 or http://www.skillstutor.com/.

American Women's History: An Online Encyclopedia provides 1,170 biographies of historical and contemporary figures selected from more than 35 Facts On File print titles, a timeline of more than 500 years of women's history, 225 subject entries, 200 primary source documents, 300 photographs and images, and 140 original tables, maps, and charts. The database incorporates two styles of historical division: eras specific to women's history and eras used in the National Standards for U.S. History. The topics covered include reproductive rights; affirmative action; civil rights activism; education; family, marriage, and divorce; health, psychology, and medicine; military and aviation; performing arts; politics, law, and government; and sports. More than 10,000 hyperlinks connect all entries thematically. Pricing begins at $198. Facts On File, Inc., 800/322-8755 or http://www.factsonfile.com/.

Cognitive Concept's GameGoo online games are based on state language arts curriculum standards for students in K-2nd grade. A total of 10 early-literacy games were developed for the 2000/2001 school year to allow students to practice the early literacy skills learned in the classroom. Game activities allow students to practice matching upper case "daddy" letters with lower case "babies;" distinguish realistic stories from make-believe tales; identify rhythm, rhyme, and alliteration in poetry; match vowel sounds to their letters; and more. Cognitive Concepts, 888/328-8199 or http://www.cogcon.com/.

* Net Tools

Web Tools and Special Needs
Free downloadable extensions for Macromedia's Dreamweaver and Fireworks software titles make it easier for users to evaluate their Web pages for accessibility based on the guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The extensions perform a test similar to that of Bobby [http://www.cast.org/bobby/], a free online benchmark for accessibility from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). The Macromedia extensions can be found at http://exchange.macromedia.com/. Macromedia also has announced plans for a Flash Accessibility Developer Kit to include guidelines, Smart Clips, and sample code to fully support development efforts. A new version of the Macromedia Flash Player will be modified to allow access to underlying data within a Macromedia Flash (SWF) file, permitting the text to be interpreted by assistive devices. Macromedia, 415/252-2000 or http://www.macromedia.com/.

The book SuperSearchers in the News: The Online Secrets of Journalists and News Researchers presents hard-won tips, techniques, and strategies for using the Internet and online services to get the scoop, check the facts, and nail the story. Author Paula J. Hane, a veteran online industry reporter, interviews the best in the business—highly sought-after authors, speakers, and Internet trainers who teach reporters and other researchers the secrets of online research. 256 pages, paperback. $24.95. Information Today, Inc., 800/300-9868 or https://www.infotoday.com/.

* Net Libraries

Databases Add Dictionaries
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, and The American Heritage Children's Dictionarywill be available online as part of a select group of EBSCO's general reference databases for school and public libraries. The electronic version of the American HeritageDictionary will allow access to 200,000 words and word forms, two appendices, and extensive biographical and geographical entries. The children's dictionary will be part of EBSCO's Searchasaurus search interface for young users, bundled with the Middle Search Plus and Primary Search databases. EBSCO Publishing, 800/653-2726 or http://www.epnet.com/.

Spotlight of the Month
SIRS Renaissance, an online reference database covering information on the arts and humanities, now offers a Spotlight of the Month. The new feature provides a collection of articles providing comprehensive coverage of monthly topics related to culture, literature, art, music, and more. Future topics include Native American Arts and Crafts, International Language Week, and Black History Month. Spotlight articles are accessible in the "Additional Content Databases" section of SIRS Renaissance and remain in the Spotlight of the Month archive for 1 year. SIRS Mandarin, Inc., 800/232-7477 or http://www.sirs.com/.

* Net Awards

Internet Innovators
A total of 15 teachers were named winners of the third annual Internet Innovator Awards sponsored by National Semiconductor Corporation. The winning teachers or teams received $10,000 for their personal use and their schools were awarded $20,000 to spend on technology training. The winning teachers are from California, Texas, and Maine—states where National has major facilities: Mary Buckman from George Hall School in San Mateo, California; Dave Forrest from James Logan High School in Union City, California; Jennifer Fraser from San Mateo Middle College High School in San Mateo, California; Richard Soos from Anne Darling Elementary School in San Jose, California; the team of Leonarda Brush formerly from Junipero Serra Elementary School in Daly City, California; and Jan Brier from Willie Brown Elementary School in Mansfield, Texas; Courtney Morawski from Willie Brown Elementary School in Mansfield, Texas.; the team of Alicia Benson and Meliss Foltz from Skowhegan Area High School in Skowhegan, Maine; Stephen Morneault from Memorial Middle School in South Portland, Maine.; Susanna Sharpe from Brunswick Junior High School in Brunswick, Maine; the team of Cara Stacy and Kim Fish from James H. Bean School in Sidney, Maine; and the team of Beth Vickery and Kristi Niedermann from Cushing Community School, Cushing, Maine. Applications are now being accepted for the Internet Innovator Awards to be presented in October 2001. The deadline for applications is June 22, 2001. Application information is available online. National Semiconductor, http://www.national.com/training/.

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