Electronic Resources for Schools

Article excerpt

REPORT CARD

***** = Highly Recommended **** = Recommended *** = Good ** = OK in some cases * = Don't consider

This section provides concise, original reviews of new or important hardware, software, websites, and electronic media that relate to the K-12 curriculum. All reviews are written by practicing educators who, in most cases, have used the software in a school environment. Where grouped into broad, age-appropriate categories, these categories should not be viewed as prescriptive. To facilitate "comparison shopping," these reviews are highly structured. Reviewers prepare a "report card" based on a five-star scale.

GENERAL INTEREST PROGRAMS

Cognite

Company: Follett Software Co., 1391 Corporate Drive, McHenry, IL 60050. Phone: (800) 323-3397; internet: www.follettsoftware.com/cognite.

Price: Contact Follett Software Co. for individual pricing.

Audience: K-12 teachers, students, parents, and principals.

Format: Web-based digital learning environment.

Minimum System Requirements: A computer with internet access and school or district installation of Destiny Library Manager and subscriptions to WebPath Express and Standards from Follett Software Co.

Description: Cognite is a digital learning environment that integrates discovery and organization tools, collaboration, and communication.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Cognite is accessed with a username and password. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: Some platforms are so intuitive they need little instruction. Just click and go. You'll figure it out. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now, specifically for education, there's Cognite.

That is to say, before Facebook, there were email, coffee table photo albums, annual family holiday newsletters, mailed party invitations, and ... really, how did we do it?

These sorts of technologies so fill a need, it's hard to even remember how it went premicrowave, precell phones ... precar. The platform, the service, the ease of use simply rises up to meet your needs while memories of how it used to be just fall away.

For example, in the old days, parents required interrogation skills to keep abreast of student progress: "What'd you do in school today, Johnny?"

(Slight pause. Blank look on Johnny's face.)

"Nothin'."

"Alright. How 'bout you sit down in the chair, under that light. Sit up straight with your hands on the table where I can see them, and let's try that again."

Or at school, a caring teacher might have been better off with training as a forensic scientist:

"Where's your homework, Johnny?"

(Slight pause. Sad look on Johnny's face.)

"Dog ate it."

"Alright. Bring your dog in. We're going to swab his cheeks for traces of graphite and paper."

I mean, really. What did we do? The sad fact remains: not much. We did what we could with the technology we had. But oh, how things change. Designed to transform the way teachers teach and students learn, Cognite encourages the development of 21st-century literacy skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and research abilities by giving students a space to share ideas and develop solutions.

Cognite provides greater access to resources, allowing teachers to create a more engaging digital learning environment. It further helps organize the K-12 classroom by giving teachers the opportunity to spend more time with their students, and it serves as a liaison in helping teachers collaborate, develop, and disseminate lesson plans, organize materials, create assignments, grade projects, and communicate with parents and students from anywhere at any time. …