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TCEA 2013: New software for curriculum and instruction

Through a partnership with Samsung, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is bringing its HMH Fuse app for teaching algebra and geometry to Android devices.

Mobile apps for education were all the rage at the 2013 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin this month, as developers of classroom software announced new apps for teaching grammar, learning algebra on Android devices, and turning iPads into collaborative learning tools.

But the news from the TCEA exhibit hall wasn’t just about apps, as a number of classroom software companies announced more traditional curriculum and instruction tools as well.

Here’s a roundup of new curriculum and instruction products discussed at TCEA.

Edmentum, formerly known as Plato Learning, announced a partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) to create a new product called MAPLink. It uses the diagnostic capabilities of NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) computer-adaptive exams to give students in grades 3-8 a personalized path to improvement in reading and math, using Edmentum’s Study Island skills-practice software.

Gaggle highlighted its iPad app, which gives iPad users the same access to Gaggle’s collaborative features, such as a cloud-based digital locker for storing files and accessing them from anywhere; GaggleTube, a safe alternative to YouTube for uploading videos; calendars, assignments, eMail, blogs, and discussion boards.

The Gaggle app is free, though users will need a Gaggle account to log in. Gaggle representatives said the app solves common challenges for schools using iPads, like how to store and share files for collaborative learning, as well as how to share classroom iPads without having to share eMail addresses or use a generic address—which leaves schools vulnerable to anonymous misuse.

Gaggle says it’s still working on getting its social wall and class pages into the app, and then it will develop a version that works on iPhones as well, followed by an Android version—which the company hopes to launch in time for the next school year.

Grammaropolis demonstrated its animated software for teaching grammar skills. Developed by educators, Grammaropolis depicts various parts of speech as animated characters—starring in songs, books, and videos—whose personalities are based on the roles they play in the sentence. The software is available online and via apps for Apple iOS devices.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Samsung Electronics have announced a partnership to offer HMH’s digital content—including an Android version of the HMH Fuse app, which offers a full curriculum for algebra and geometry—on Samsung’s range of Android-powered tablet devices, including the Galaxy Note 10.1. HMH also will bring hundreds of its content titles to Samsung’s Learning Hub platform, the companies said. HMH Fuse used to be available only for iPads.

Learning.com unveiled a new custom curriculum publishing tool that helps users build and publish customized digital units that align with their curriculum maps and instructional goals, using their own existing materials or the free and subscription-based content from Learning.com’s single sign-on portal. Subscribers to Learning.com need only one password to access content from their existing digital assets, as well as more than 300,000 learning objects from at least 60 content providers, the company says.

McGraw-Hill Education introduced a number of products at TCEA, including FLEX Literacy, a reading intervention program for students in grades 3-8. The program includes three components, the company said: adaptive online instruction, print-based reading and response, and projects.

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