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RealTime IT News

Chalk One Up for Science

[Vancouver, BRITISH COLUMBIA] Science nerds in over 42,000 schools will soon have access to a number of science-related interactive online resources, games, experiments and news as a result of a distribution agreement that was signed between NTS Computer Systems Ltd./Brainium and bigchalk.com.

NTS, best known for its series of DreamWriter computers that are embedded with educational software, announced its intent to merge with Brainium last May. Brainium is an educational content provider specializing in Internet-based courseware. The merger is still under review.

Bigchalk.com is a subscription-based network that offers content, learning tools and community-based resources to teachers, parents and students. Under this distribution agreement, bigchalk will make available to its subscribers Science Brainium, an online science program designed for students in grades three through eight.

"We are very pleased to offer Science Brainium as part of our growing best-of-breed supplemental curriculum offerings," said Sue Collins, senior vice president and general manager at bigchalk. "Science Brainium is an excellent tool for teachers to truly engage students in standards-based curriculum and integrate technology into the classroom."

The push to bring technology to the classroom has created a lucrative market for content providers and technology developers, who are wasting no time trying to peddle their products to educators.

Among these companies is software developer eZedia Inc., which is aggressively growing its educational business. Today the company announced a licensing partnership with the Ontario Institute for Students in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). The organization will utilize eZediaMX, a multimedia presentation program, on 235 workstations throughout departmental, research and development, and multimedia labs. eZediaMX enables users to create and integrate multimedia reports, interactive training programs, electronic image archives, audio overlays and media sequences.

"Our agreement with OISE/UT is a tremendous opportunity to expose current and future educators to technology that allows students to focus on being creative with text, video and sound without having to get bogged down with arcane technical constructs," said Art Monk, CEO at eZedia. "This lets educators, students, and researchers take full advantage of all the digital media they encounter daily over the Internet, in e-mail and from the digital still and video cameras that are taking the market by storm."

While companies like eZedia, Brainium and bigchalk focus on the development of educational content, Cognos is addressing this market by touting the benefits of its back-end systems. The company develops business intelligence technology. Ben Plummer, vice president of marketing at Cognos, emphasized the need for educational institutions to continually improve their information-sharing methods.

"Educational institutions are under continual pressure to find innovative yet cost-effective ways to organize, use and share information to improve their services," he said. "Cognos business intelligence solutions are allowing schools and school boards to effectively use information as a value add, in order to allocate resources to their maximum impact and maintain fiscal responsibility. They are also offering parents and other constituents an easy way to access information on school and student performance in a very secure environment."

Educational facilities such as Yale University, Georgetown University, and Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnic University are using Cognos to analyze test results, upgrade curricula, streamline administrative tasks, and identify and forecast trends related to student performance.