Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

D Is for Digital...and Disappointing

A new study says the potential educational benefitsof interactive technologies remain untapped.

In BriefA REPORT FROM the Joan Ganz Cooney Center atSesame Workshop has mixed news for the ed tech industry,finding that digital media is ever-present inyoung children's lives, but is not being used tothe fullest advantage in their education.

The center, named after the pioneering founder of the Sesame Workshop, released "D Is for Digital" at the first Sandbox Summit last month in its continuing effort to raise national awareness of the importance of interactive technologies in accelerating children's learning.

The 50-page report, authored by educational toy marketing expert and Cooney Fellow Carly Shuler, summarizes the center's analysis of the current interactive media environment for preschool and elementary-age children. The study grew out of the center's fall 2007 review of more than 300 mass-market informal learning products for kids ages 3 to 11. Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, says the results present cause for both optimism and concern.

"Kids today are spending almost as much time with media as [they are] attending school, so there is an opportunity to create more engaging educational products than ever before," says Levine. "Unfortunately, most of the new digital products we reviewed, with notable exceptions, do not yet promote the vital literacy, creativity, and problem-solving skills children need to succeed."

The report offers a number of recommendations aimed to help industry leaders make better use of key educational market opportunities. The researchers say not only digital media industry manufacturers need to take action, but also education researchers and policymakers, calling on the two groups to incorporate valuable research into product development; place new emphasis on the need for educational video-game development; encourage intergenerational interaction; and use regulatory standards to protect children from improper commercialism in their digital products.

If the digital media and education industries act on the report's advice, the hope is that school administrators and IT professionals will soon find a larger number of effective digital learning tools from which to choose, and kids will begin to receive more educational benefits from their favorite technologies, such as video games and cell phones.

To download the complete text of "D Is for Digital," visit here.


DOES YOUR SCHOOL districtsuccessfully and innovativelyimplement educational technology?If so, then it's a candidate forthe 2008 Sylvia Charp Award,given jointly by T.H.E. Journal andthe International Society forTechnology in Education (ISTE) in recognition ofa district's consistent, effective,and innovative use of technology.

The winning district will receive prize money to go toward sending two representatives to the National Educational Computing Conference, held June 29- July 2 in San Antonio, where they will be honored and presented with the award. In addition, the district will be recognized for its achievements in both T.H.E. Journal and ISTE's membership magazine, Learning and Leading With Technology.

The Sylvia Charp Award is given annually in honor of its namesake, the first-ever editor of T.H.E. Journal, and her groundbreaking contributions to the education technology community. By rewarding exemplary school districts, T.H.E. Journal and ISTE aim to inspire districts across the nation to creatively integrate technology into their curricula.

Nominations for the fifth annual Charp Award are being accepted through March 14; the winner will be notified on April 21. Visit here for detailed submission criteria and complete instructions.

:: Industry News

CA AND LET'S GO LEARN FORM PARTNERSHIP. In a collaborativeeffort to help boost student achievement,Curriculum Associates (CA) will integrate its lineof instructional reading and math programswith Let's Go Learn, an award-winning series ofonline reading and math assessmentprograms. Through this partnership,CA will be the exclusive distributor ofLet's Go Learn's diagnostic programsin the US and Canada.

PEARSON AWARDED THREE-YEAR CONTRACT. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has awarded Pearson's Evaluation Systems Group a three-year contract to continue managing teaching certification testing for the state of California. Pearson will administer the California Basic Education Skills Test, the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, and the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment. For more information on these certification programs, visit here.

SAS AND LENOVO TO TEAM UP. SAS and Lenovo have teamed up to preinstall SAS Curriculum Pathways software onto ThinkPad notebooks to enhance 1-to-1 digital learning for K- 12 students. The SAS software allows students to better incorporate the internet and multimedia aspects into their learning, while the ThinkPad notebooks provide safe and reliable learning tools with the latest processing capabilities and secure wireless connectivity.

:: Awards

ANNOUNCE SWEEPSTAKES. CDW-G and Discovery Education will outfit five lucky K-12 classroomsfor the 21st century. The winners ofthe sixth annual Win a Wireless LabSweepstakes, randomly selected fromall eligible entries, will receive classroomtechnology valued at around$50,000—including computers, interactivewhiteboards, and digital cameras.Discovery Education will also award$5,000 grants to the winning schoolsso they can choose technology thatmeets their specific needs. Deadlinefor entries is May 1; enter by visitinghere. Thefive grand-prize winners and 20 runnersupwill be announced in July.

GEOLEARNING TOOL HONORED. GeoLearning'sGeoMaestro 5 Series LMS Suite wasnamed the "Best On-Demand LearningManagement System" at E-Learning! magazine's Best of 2007 Awards. Award winnerswere chosen from a tally of morethan 50,000 votes cast by the magazine'sreaders.

WPI RECEIVES BIG CASH AWARD. The National Science Foundation awarded Worcester Polytechnic Institute $1.5 million to support the creation of an intelligent tutoring system aimed at helping middle school students deepen their understanding of scientific concepts. WPI is developing a system that will use computer simulations of scientific experiments, and will track how students tackle experiments in order to guide their learning and assess their progress. Researchers will work closely with the Worcester Public Schools to ensure that the project is aligned with Massachusetts state standards.

:: People

KAPLAN HIRES LEARNING SERVICESPRESIDENT. Kaplan,a provider of test preparation materialsand services, has hired educational publishingveteran Sari Factor as presidentof its K12 Learning Services division.Factor will work with school districts todevelop high-quality instructional programs,including reading and math intervention,academic skills support,professional development, test readiness,and college preparation.

MI NAMES NEW EVALUATION SERVICES VP. Assessment services provider Measurement Incorporated has named Thomas Kelsh its new vice president of evaluation services. Kelsh is a former senior research associate with MAGI Educational Services, acquired by MI in 2004. In his new post, Kelsh will direct all MI projects that assess education and human services programs.

WIKIMEDIA APPOINTS DEPUTY DIRECTOR. The Wikimedia Foundation has named Erik Möeller its deputy director. Möeller has been an active editor of Wikimedia Foundation's projects since 2001 and is a former member of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees. Möeller will lead the development and execution of various strategies and projects.

This article originally appeared in the 02/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.