Back to School with Microsoft New Tools, New Technology – Stories

REDMOND,Wash。

Aug。

8,2002Sometraditionsareheretostay。

Everyautumn,forinstance,studentsrelyonhard-boundbooks,linedpaper,andinkpens。

Buttheresanewplayerintheback-to-schoolmixthatsbecomemoreprominentwitheachpassingyear:technology。

Forthisfallsannualback-to-schoolpilgrimage,Microsoftexpectstomakelearningeasierandbetterforstudents,parents,andteachersbyofferingtoolsandresourcesdevelopedspecificallyforacademicendeavors。

ThelatestversionofMicrosoftEncartaofficiallyMicrosoftEncartaReferenceLibrary2003wasreleasedinJuneintimeforupcominghomeworkassignments。

Also,MicrosoftandNationalPTAteameduptodevelopahomeworkWebsitetohelpparentsdiscovernewwaystoassisttheirchildrenwithhomework。

OthertoolstohelpwithhomeworkincludeOfficeXPforStudentsandTeachers,WindowsXPProfessionalandOpticalWheelMouse(seesidebar)。

And,untilSept。

30,Microsoftwilldonate5percentofeverysaleoftheseproductstotheNationalPTA,whichplanstousethefundstoenhancelocalandnationalparentprograms。

Ibelievethatwereonthecuspofarevolution,saysGaryAlt,editorialdirectorofMicrosoftsEncartaReferenceLibrary。

Technologyhasopenedthefloodgates。

Thereismuchmoreinformationavailabletostudentsandteachersthaneverbefore,whichcreatesadefiniteneedforasourceoftrustworthymaterial。

MicrosoftsEncartaReferenceLibrary2003,accordingtoAlt,isjustthatsource。

HepointstoabroadrangeofnewfeaturessuchastheHomeworkCenter,literatureguidesforbookssuchasTheGreatGatsby,TheGrapesofWrath,andacoupleofHarryPotterofferings,abookofquotesandtoolssuchasChartMakerandProjectStarterasexamplesoftoolsstudentscanusetoconductresearchforassignments,planstepstocompletevarioushomeworkprojects,andbuildafamiliaritywiththemostcommonlyreadworksofliterature。

Encarta,Altsays,ismorethanatraditionalencyclopediaadaptedtofitthespecsofthe21stcentury:itsareferencelibrary。

The2003versionhasmorethan30,000editor-selectedWebsites,recommendationsforfurtherreading,multi-mediafeaturesincludinghistoricalspeeches,music,andthree-dimensionaltoursoflandmarksaroundtheworld,andresearchguidelinesthatwereestablishedbyMicrosoftandateamofteacherstohelpstudentsthroughassignmentslikesciencefairprojects,booksreportsandoralpresentations。

Encartahastheabilitytobuildconnectionsandcommunities。

Itwillhaveanimpactonthehome-schoolconnectionandenablebettercommunicationamongstudents,parents,andteachers,Altsays。

Itallowsteacherstoconnectwithotherteachersandcollaboratearoundthecurriculumdevelopmentprocess。

Thewholecommunityaspectofthisissignificant。

ButwhypayforinformationwhenitsavailablefreeofchargeontheInternet?

That,Altsays,isoneofthemostfrequentlyaskedquestionsaboutareferencetoolsuchasMicrosoftEncarta2003。

Theanswer,inaword:reliability。

ThereslotsofgoodstuffontheWeb,buttheresjustasmuchgarbage,hesays。

YoucanrunasearchonanygiventopicandcomeupwithanynumberofWebsites,butthereliabilityofthemwouldrunthegambit。

Webcontentisoftenwrittentopushacertainpointofview。

Encarta,hesays,offersparentsandstudentsanassurancethatcontentislegitimate。

InadditiontoaseasonedstaffofprofessionaleditorsAlthimselfhasbeenineducationalpublishingfornearly30yearstheEncartateamdrawsontheexpertiseofsome2,200expertcontributors。

Mostareuniversityprofessors。

Thecontributorsnotonlywritecontent;theyadviseAltandhiseditorialstaffontrendsintheirspecificfields。

ThechallengeinworkinginamediumsuchasEncarta,Altsays,ismuchthesameasthoseonefaceswhenwritingaprintedandboundencyclopedia:Howcanexpertcontentbepresentedinawaythatsunderstandabletostudentsbutnotwatereddowntothepointofirrelevancy?

DoesEncarta2003hitthemark?

Theproof,Altsays,lieswiththeusers。

MicrosoftEncartaReferenceLibrary2003:theClassroomPerspective

KimBeattieteachestechnologytosixth-,seventh-andeighth-gradestudentsattheOrozcoAcademy,apublicmagnetschoolinChicagothatoffersspecialprogramsforbi-lingual,gifted,fineartsandsciencesstudents。

JudeFouquier,13,isgoingintoseventh-gradeattheBellevueChristianSchoolinsuburbanSeattle。

AndJakeNordquist,22,isfinishinghisbachelorsdegreeincommunicationsattheUniversityofWashingtoninSeattle。

AllgiveEncarta2003athumbs-up。

Imtotallyimpressed,saysNordquist。

HefindsiteasytofindwhatyourelookingforinEncarta2003,almostregardlessofthesubjectmatter。

HecheckedontheweatherinNewYork,comparedliteracyratesusingtheworldatlas,andtookseveralvirtualthree-dimensionaltoursafeaturethatgivesusersavisualwalkthroughofhistoricalsitesrangingfromtheAcropolistoAbuSimbo,thetempleofEgyptianPharaohRamsesIItoBeaumarisCastle,unfinishedcastleofKingEdwardIofEngland。

Beattie,too,isabigfanofthe3-Dtours。

UsingItalyasatopic,shesaysitwassimpletoaccessanextensiveamountofinformation,including360-degreepicturesofthemaincanalinVenice,theColiseum,andotherlandmarks;articlesthatincludeoutlinesforquickandeasyreference;linkstorelatedarticlesfromothersourcesandadjustable,multi-layeredatlasesthatrevealeverythingfromweathertoaltitudetolocalrestaurantsandspecialtyshops,Italianradiostations,awealthofphotographs,theItalianflag,eventheItaliananthem。

ItnavigatesjustliketheWeb,soitseasytogetaround,shesays。

Beattiealsolookedupthewomenssuffragemovement,whichisstudiedbyeighth-gradersatOrozcoAcademy。

Itbroughtupalotofconnected,relatedinformation,shesays。

Thevalueofaresearchtoollikethisisthatithelpsstudentsmakebroadconnectionstheymightnototherwisemake。

Itallowsforbroaderexplorationoftopics,anditwillallowthestudentstoexploreinseveraldifferentdirections。

ForFouquier,thesoon-to-beseventh-grader,Encartaisntexactlynew,butEncarta2003hasrenewedhisenthusiasmformulti-mediaand3-Dfeatures。

Yougettolookaroundandseeallthedifferentplacesandwhattheylookedlikebackthen,hesays。

Itscool。

FouquiersayshelooksforwardtousingEncartaforthisyearsschoolassignments。

WhenIhavetowritethingsIlluseitalot,hesays。

Itsaloteasierthanbooks。

Youjusttypeinawordanditcomesupratherthanhavingtogothroughabooksearchingforit。

MicrosoftJoinsHandswithNationalPTA

InadditiontoreleasingEncarta2003inJune,MicrosoftjoinedforceswithNationalPTAtocreateaWebsitetohelpparentsbetterassisttheirchildrenwithstudying。

DevelopmentoftheWebsitewasdriven,inpart,bytheCallingAllParentssurvey,whichaskedparentsabouthomeworkconcerns,anduncoveredsomeofthebarriersparentsfacewhenhelpingchildrenwithhomework。

Thesurveyfoundthatmorethanathirdofparentscitetimeasthebiggestfactoraffectingtheirabilitytohelpwithhomework。

Some50percentoftheparentssurveyedsaidtheyspentlessthanonehourperweekhelpingwithhomework;CD-ROMresourceswerethemostmentionedasaresourceparentsneededbutdonotcurrentlyown;and51percentoftheparentssaidtheyareunabletorememberinformationaboutthesubjectmatterwithwhichtheirchildrenneedhelp。

Thesite(seeRelatedLinks,aboveright)givesexamplesofhowparentscanengagetheirchildreninhomework,providestipsonhowtohelpstudentsprioritizehomework,andexplainshowparentsandstudentscanusetechnologytomakehomeworkeasierandmoreefficient。

NationalPTAworkedwithMicrosofttopreparematerialsforthesite,focusingontopicssuchashomeworktips,howtohelpyourchildprioritizeclassassignments,andparentinvolvement。

Thesiteincludesasummaryoftechnologytoolscurrentlyavailableforstudentsandparents。

ThesitewaspreparedusingthePTAsownresources,aswellasinputfromexternalauthorswithwhomtheorganizationhasworked。

ShirleyIgo,presidentofNationalPTA,saysshebelievesthattechnologycanhelpfosterstrongerpartnershipsbetweenhomesandteachers。

Theroleofparentscontinuestobecriticalintermsofsupportandreinforcementoftheirchildseducationalactivities,saysIgo,herselfaparent,grandparentand20-yearPTAvolunteer。

Technologyisthenewestareaofparticipation。

Itsanothercomponentofparentalinvolvementthatincludesawareness,education,andparticipation。

Microsoftalsoestablishedagive-backprogramwithNationalPTA。

ForeverycopyofEncartaReferenceLibrary2003,OfficeXPforStudentsandTeachers,WindowsXPProfessionalorOpticalWheelMousesoldbeforeSept。

30,Microsoftwilldonate5percentofthesalestoNationalPTA。

Thosefunds,Igosays,willbeusedtoenhanceparentinvolvementprogramsandoutreach。

WerereintroducinganinitiativetobringHispanicleadershipintoourorganization,shesays。

Welookatitasaspringboardtoeventuallyreachouttootherethnicandculturalgroups。

TechnologyandEducation:ANaturalFit

ForAlt,whoseentirecareerhasbeenspentdevelopingresourcesfortheeducationalarena,Encartaismorethanajob。

Ivebeenastudent,Ihavechildren,andmywifehasbeenateacherforacoupleofdecades,hesays。

Itsnicetodosomethingthatmakesadifference。

AndwhileheispleasedwithEncarta2003,heplanstocontinueholdingfocusgroupswithparents,teachers,andstudentswhousethereferencelibraryforthesakeofmakingimprovementstofutureversions。

Wereveryattunedtoourusers,hesays。

ItsalsosettledanoldscorethatAlthashadonhismindforyears。

OneoftheprimaryadvantagesofaresearchtoollikeEncarta2003,Altsays,isitscapacityforremainingcurrentviaweeklyupdatescomplimentsoftheInternet。

WhenusersareontheWeb,itsassimpleasclickingonUpdateEncarta,whichfacilitatesanautomaticcheckofwhatscurrentand,inthecasesofwhatsnot,aseamlessupdate。

Theencyclopediaswereoutofdatetheminutetheyrolledofftheprintingpress,saysAlt,recallinghishard-bounddays。

Allthoseyearsinprint,Ifeltbadlyforthepeoplewhoboughtthem。

ForAlt,workingonEncartahasresolvedthatdilemma。

OfficeXP,WindowsXPProfessionalHaveDoneTheirHomework,Too

InadditiontoMicrosoftEncartaReferenceLibrary2003,Microsoftofferspackagesdevelopedtoaidstudents,parents,andteachersastheyreturntotheclassroom。

MicrosoftOfficeXPforStudentsandTeacherswasdevelopedwiththegoalofhelpingstudentsturnregularreportsintooutstandingones。

AndMicrosoftWindowsXPProfessionaloffersstudentsasafeandsecureconnectiontotheschoolsnetwork,whichresultsinadditionaldigitalmediaandcommunicationstoolsthatcanbeusedforgrouphomeworkprojects。

TheOfficeXPforStudentsandTeacherssuiteincludesfeaturesthathelpstudentsorganizeinformationforreportsandpresentations,whichprovidesthemwiththefoundationtheyneedforcriticalthinkingandanalysis。

ItalsoeliminateslosthomeworkwithautomaticrecoveryandmodernizestheeditingandreviewingofdocumentswithcommunicationstoolslikeOutlook,MSNHotmailandMSNMessengerServicealltogetherinoneplace。

WithMicrosoftWindowsXPProfessional,studentscantakeadvantageofthePCsabilitytohandlemultipleusers,anintuitivevisualdesign,advancedenginesthataccommodatemultipleactivities,andadvancedcontroloptionsthatputthenoviceuseratease。

MicrosoftsaysitexpectsWindowsXPProfessionaltoenhancestudentsexperienceinareasthatrangefromusingthevideocapabilitiesofWindowsMessengertowritinganessayfortheclass。

ThroughSept。


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