COMPUTERS

Reading Skills Software

Students Use Technology Managing Youth Sports Protect Your New Device Tablets At Work Top Searches on Yahoo! Digital Movies and TV Shows Manage Private Information

Schools Spend Less, Students Learn More

(NAPSI)—If you’re like many parents, teachers, school officials and others who care about education in America , you have probably figured out that scrutinizing millions of students every year with standardized tests may not be the most effective approach.

The Problem

Often, educators say, the only thing that seems to have become “standardized” is the endless amount of time students spend filling in bubble sheets on exams, rather than improving their academic skills.

A Solution

Fortunately, there may be a way schools could teach to the individual needs of the student—not just teach to the test—and do so at only a fraction of the cost.

That’s what happened at Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). It spent less time testing the students, tripled performance gains and saved money by putting technology at the center of its reading curriculum.

For many years, districts across the country have made huge expenditures on assessments. The return on investment, however, depends not just on the accuracy of the test but often on how effectively teachers are able to use the data to improve instruction. In the case of Cahuenga Elementary, the administration took the guesswork out by investing in a software program that has become an essential component of the school’s reading curriculum.

Used by more than 1 million students in the U.S. , the research-proven educational technology lets students work independently on activities that build reading proficiency and provide teachers with a real-time, individualized action plan to support each student on the skills with which he or she is struggling.

The key to this process is the software’s Assessment Without Testing functionality, which gathers performance data as students develop their skills on the software. This assessment data is correlated to some of the most commonly used tests so schools can forgo much of the testing throughout the year and use data from the software instead. This saves time and money.

An Educator’s Advice

“Finally, we have a highly effective program that we can rely on to drive student achievement scores up while driving expenses down,” said Dr. Chiae Byun-Kitayama, Instructional Director, Educational Service Center East LAUSD and former Principal, Cahuenga Elementary School. “How can districts afford not to use Lexia Reading?”

Learn More

For further facts about how Lexia Reading can reduce the amount of time and money spent on testing, visit www.lexialearning.com or call (800) 435-3942.

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Parents, Students And The Digital World

(NAPSI)—When it comes to navigating the digital world, many parents admit that their children are a step or two ahead of them. Today’s world is not the same as it was just yesterday. Embracing this, Sylvan Learning introduced SylvanSync™, a digital instructional system that uses the best of technology to provide students with an engaging, personal learning experience.

The experts at Sylvan are offering the following tips to help students use technology wisely.

Safety First: As soon as a child first begins to use online resources, make sure to create a safe Web environment. Carefully monitor and control usage and employ protective tools such as safe search engines with parental controls.

Match Up: Make sure your child’s use of technology matches with what he or she is learning in school. Look for programs that engage several senses—visual, auditory and hand-eye dexterity.

Reinforce: Children should be encouraged to use technology to reinforce what they see and learn in the real world, and use real-world experiences to reinforce what they learn using technology.

To learn more about Sylvan, visit www.sylvanlearning.com or call 1-800-31-SUCCESS.

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Help For Coaches Right In The Palms Of Their Hands

(NAPSI)—Managing a youth sports team is rewarding but it can be complicated.

To help, a new mobile app provides coaches and team managers with a simple way to keep track of players, games and scores, right on the field.

What It Is

A Web- and mobile-based tool used by 1.5 million youth coaches, managers and parents to streamline sports team management has just introduced a completely revamped version of its popular app for iPhones and Androids with much greater interactivity and dozens of new team management and communication features.

It’s already used by more than 100,000 teams across a variety of sports, including soccer, baseball, hockey, football and basketball. The same core functionality that’s on the website can now be accessed with any smartphone or tablet.

The new app is easy to access and lets users immediately change or add information on the go. Coaches and managers can sign up new players, add new player information, schedule new games or practices and perform other administrative tasks without waiting to be in front of a computer.

With a simple but powerful interface, the system makes it easy to keep track of rosters, schedules, game and practice attendance and availability, team payments, statistics and more. Comprehensive messaging functions keep everyone in touch, and with a strong focus on usability and simplicity, it’s software many people actually find fun to use.

Called TeamSnap, it has enthusiastic users in 177 countries and teams representing over 100 different sports—as well as nonsport groups.

Coaching For The Coach

At the site, there’s a useful blog with advice such as:

When first taking over a team, coaches should communicate with players and parents, and

• Carefully review each statement for clarity to guard against any misunderstanding

• Add a personal note about who you are and what makes you qualified as a coach

• Invite the athletes and their parents to contact you with any questions or concerns

• Ask that families confirm receipt of the communication and follow up with anyone who does not respond

• Save a copy of the letter.

Where To Learn More

You can find further information, coaching tips and a look at all kinds of sports online at www.teamsnap.com.

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Before “Newphoria” Strikes, Experts Advise to Protect your new Device

(NAPSI)—When it comes to high-tech holiday gifts, experts remind those who received a new laptop, smartphone or tablet as a gift this holiday to avoid being swept away by the feeling of “newphoria.”

That’s the term the security-conscious professionals at Norton by Symantec use to describe the state of joy people experience after receiving a new gadget. They urge consumers to remember that just because a device is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s secure.

“When consumers rush to adopt the latest high-tech gadget, security is often an afterthought. It’s important to secure your device to protect your investment as well as your personal data,” says Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate with Norton by Symantec.

To help, Merritt offers these tips:

• Make sure your new mobile device is PIN-protected, insured and that you have downloaded a security app such as Norton 360 Multi-Device, which can protect all your devices including laptops, PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.

• Always use reputable websites with secure pages when shopping online. You can tell whether a Web page is secure from the padlock icon located in the browser address bar on pages where you are entering financial information like your credit card. Make sure the website address includes “https” and that the browser address bar is highlighted in green.

• Keep your security software up-to-date. Cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever before and they’ll jump on any social trend to spread malware and steal your personal details.

• Be smart—use a unique, complex password for each online account you have and update your passwords regularly. Avoid using the “Remember My Password” option on websites in case your device is lost or stolen.

To learn more, visit www.mobilesecurity.com or www.facebook.com/norton.

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Caution: Tablets At Work

(NAPSI)—Entertaining as they are, tablet computers and smartphones are not all fun and games.

Consider this: With 75 percent of all workers involved in jobs that require mobility, handheld devices are playing an increasing role in business. In fact, according to The Mac Observer, 94 percent of Fortune 500 companies were either testing or deploying iPads for business use, while Forrester Research recently reported that 81 percent of companies have plans for tablet use and predicts 250 million tablets will be in employees’ hands by 2016.

In addition to e-mail and Internet access, workers use tablets for specialized apps or for remote uses such as sales support and customer presentations. Across industries, executives are using them for management dashboards and project management apps.

Health

Health care offices are passing out tablets so patients can complete medical histories online. Hospitals use them for electronic record keeping, paperless prescriptions, diagnostic reports and teaching tools. EMTs and fire departments use tablets for real-time data to reduce risk, improve safety and support information sharing between agencies.

Education

Tablet use in education is also booming. According to one recent survey, 26 percent of teachers have access to tablet computers and 55 percent of administrators and 47 percent of principals have tablet access. Some school districts let students bring their own tablets to support classroom learning and bring textbooks to life.

Construction and Utilities

Field staff and utility workers such as repair technicians use tablets for appointment information and access to diagrams and repair manuals.

Keeping Business As Usual—Every Day, Everywhere

With all these tablets going to work, companies are scrambling for technology that protects their investments. iPads don’t do water. Nor do they do dirt, snow or shock. Whether out at a construction site with dust, shock and weather to contend with or in a classroom where accidental drops and sticky fingers can wreak havoc, businesses want their employees to be able to conduct “business as usual” without worrying about their investment going down the drain.

Though there are ruggedized protective cases that allow tablets to withstand some calamities, they can be bulky and limit access to key tablet functions.

Now there’s an option to protect on-the-go workhorse tablets no matter where they are or what they are doing. Sleekly designed to add only a fraction of an inch to an Apple iPad, the LifeProof nüüd case protects against water, dirt, snow and shock-while maintaining access to all tablet functions. It gets its name from its unique design, which protects the tablet without covering up the screen.

Optional accessories include shoulder and hand straps, a floating LifeJacket and a cover that also functions as an adjustable stand for watching movies or typing. The company also has a line of protective cases for smartphones.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.lifeproof.com or call (888) 533-0735.

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Partisan Politics, Glorious Games, A Seesaw Recovery And A Galloping Pop Singer

(NAPSI)—Here’s a unique way to gauge social trends and interests in the year’s top stories, compelling newsmakers, and viral fads. The rankings in this Year in Review come from online users’ own online search habits on Internet giant Yahoo!, the daily habit of millions of people worldwide.

Top Searches on Yahoo!

1. election

2. iphone 5

3. kim kardashian

4. kate upton

5. kate middleton

6. whitney houston

7. olympics

8. political polls

9. lindsay lohan

10. jennifer lopez

In the Obsessions category, the iPhone 5 snagged the No. 1 slot in a list mostly dominated by pop culture trends such as “The Hunger Games,” reality TV breakout Honey Boo Boo, British boy band One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen’s much-memed song “Call Me Maybe” and the galloping global hit “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop singer Psy.

Top Searched Obsessions on Yahoo!

1. iphone 5

2. political polls

3. mega millions

4. the hunger games

5. honey boo boo

6. fifty shades of grey

7. one direction

8. call me maybe

9. gangnam style

10. titanic

Unlike the Top 10 Searches, which is compiled by calculating the search volume of related keywords, a term has to show significant search volume and significant percentage spike compared to last year. That’s why Election claims the top search term of the year but doesn’t make Obsessions, whereas Political Polls make both lists.

Other online compulsions included Mega Millions, thanks to a record jackpot that could be played across 42 states.

With a look at the last two years of Obsessions, you see some patterns emerging: the breakout book (although “Fifty Shades of Grey” is many degrees removed from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), the bubblegum song (one girl’s “Friday” is now “Call Me Maybe”), the reality TV show (Honey Boo Boo is the new “Jersey Shore”), even politics reared its head in 2010 with The Tea Party. This year, though, there’s no celebrity meltdown (Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan previously held those honors), no collectibles (Silly Bandz) and no bizarre pranks.

You can see the entire report at yearinreview.yahoo.com.

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UltraViolet Adds New Value To Movies As Holiday Gifts

(NAPSI)—Give a friend or loved one a favorite film or TV show for the holidays and it’s probably going to come with an added bonus—the freedom to watch it anywhere, anytime.

That’s because thousands of films are now available digitally to watch on a variety of devices through the new UltraViolet system.

With UltraViolet, your friends and family can not only watch the movies and TV shows they own at home while on the sofa, they can also stream and download the content in their libraries anytime, anywhere on such devices as tablets, mobile phones, game consoles and PCs.

All this means movies and TV shows have even more value as holiday gifts because UltraViolet has made home collections more mobile, convenient and easier to share than ever before.

Signing up is free and easy. Here’s how to include UltraViolet in someone’s stocking:

• Give a friend or family member a movie with an UltraViolet sticker attached to the package.

• Give a gift card that can be used to buy movies online. Many come with UltraViolet rights.

Your friends and loved ones can also convert existing DVDs and Blu-ray Discs into digital versions at stores like Walmart.

UltraViolet works like this: Your collection of movies and TV shows is stored in the “cloud.” Up to six family members share the collection, streaming and downloading the films they like so they can watch them whenever and wherever they want on the devices they choose.

UltraViolet also makes travel for the holidays easier. Waiting at the airport or time spent on long flights goes faster with an enjoyable movie for the family to watch. And having a digital collection of your movies accessible on a mobile device, tablet or PC can provide the right entertainment on a cold night by the fire.

For more information on how to get started enjoying the benefits of UltraViolet, go to www.uvvu.com.

 

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Sharing Caring And Safety

(NAPSI)—When it comes to helping elderly relatives adjust to changes in their lives, even the most devoted adult child may not see all the signals or know what to do—especially if he or she is far away—but help can be available.

What To Do

To the extent possible, talk with your elderly parents gently and honestly about their wishes, their abilities and their options. These conversations are helpful and put the adult child in a better position to make decisions later when the parent may not be able to do so.

What Help Is Available

Fortunately, recent technological advances can make aging easier: Velcro fasteners, lightweight wheelchairs, devices to control appliances and dial telephone numbers. There are walk-in bathtubs for people who have difficulty climbing into an ordinary tub.

Also helpful can be an entirely private, ad-free website in which to manage private information associated with your elderly parent, from Social Security numbers to lists of online accounts and passwords or medications. It’s a safe place to store and manage those binders full of information most people keep.

Social networks can be a place to confer, organize and connect about private family issues—the key, though, is privacy. On this one, the information is shareable with anyone you designate as a trusted participant, even relatives across the globe. That means everyone concerned about someone’s care can have the latest information.

What You Get

There’s a journal for keeping tabs on recent activities, a place to trace medications, a to-do list, key contacts, a notepad for tracking key accounts and a place to upload important files and documents. This can be done securely and privately and without the worry of this information being shared beyond your control. Called CareZone, it can mean you don’t have to worry about privacy, where the information is kept and stored, or how it’s used.

The information can be available on any device you use to access the Internet—smartphones, tablets, Macs or PCs. The service is free through 2012 and will cost $5 per month in 2013.

Where To Learn More

You can find further facts about CareZone, Inc. online at www.CareZone.com or call (888) 407-7785.

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