Monday, November 16, 2009

NYS Teacher Center Technology Initiatives

This past weekend I attended the NYS Teacher Center Fall Focus Conference. One of the standards for the NYS Teacher Centers included technology. Specifically, it reads: "Professional development promotes technological literacy and facilitates the effective use of all appropriate technology." To that end, we were introduced to several technology initiatives that I would like to share.

The EEZ-Educational Enterprise Zone: The NY Institute of Technology (with Verizon and the Hitachi Foundation) created Educational Enterprise Zones. Content for these programs include cultural institutions, museums, research centers and small businesses. There is a focus on video-conferencing with museums and cultural institutions. More can be found in their EEZBook (although this catalog of best practices is dated 2006).

Safari Live: Our district teachers were recently introduced to Safari Montage, an online streaming video service. Another product available from Safari is called Safari Montage Live. Safari Live is an interactive video-conferencing on-demand desktop product. An excellent solution for professional development, distance learning, and virtual field trips. It should be easier than ever (bye, bye Polycom) to set up virtual field trips with Safari Live and similar tools.

Thinkfinity & ThinkfinityNY: There are lots of free lesson plans and resources in this archive. Consortium partners include EconEd Link, ArtsEdge, Science Net Links, and many others. Especially strong for k-8. There are different portals for educators, parents, students, and afterschool programming. For those teachers who are looking for interactive white board activities, users can search for specific interactive activities using Thinkfinity. Examples include a planet size comparison activity or this factor game.

NY Online Academy: This online academy is geared for teacher professional development. In the most recent catalog, available courses included An Overview of Autism, Grant Writing: Effective Proposal Writing for Educators, and Using Digital Resources to Enhance Reading. Comprehension.

Intel Teach Program: This program provides multiple pathways to support professional growth that include interactive forums, and high interest, visually compelling short courses that explore 21st century learning concepts. Training programs are provided by Intel along with free resources such as the visual ranking tool, seeing reason tool, and the showing evidence tool.

SAS Curriculum Pathways: SAS is the largest privately held software company in the world and they provide free curriculum pathways for core subjects (including Spanish). I've compared this product a bit to Plato and my early impressions is that SAS is easier to navigate for both teachers and students but is not as robust in terms of classroom setup and total number of resources. Nonetheless, Plato is quite expensive and SAS is free and growing. SAS is also piloting software that will give it more Plato-like functionality. One of SAS's most impressive tools is their Writing Reviser. This is an impressive tool that enables students and teachers to analyze writing samples on a variety of criteria include wordiness, prepositions, voice, parallelism, and others.


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