E-books are not the only game in town when it comes to digital
content used by students in the classroom and school library.
Here’s a sampling of new products lauded by educators:
•“Storia is one of a portfolio of offerings of digital content” from
Scholastic, says Evan St. Lifer, v-p, digital initiatives at the publisher. In addition to Storia’s subscription collection of 2,100 trade
e-books, Scholastic offers a suite of Flix online resources. BookFlix
pairs video storybooks from the Weston Woods video collection
and related nonfiction Scholastic e-books. TrueFlix brings the
47-title True Books nonfiction series to life via streaming video, a
flipbook version of the book with literacy tools, and links to such
related content as primary source documents or articles from
Scholastic GO (formerly known as Grolier Online). Scholastic GO
is available as a standalone database as well.
•Rosen Digital’s online databases focus on the sciences for grades
three through six and on such topics as digital literacy and financial literacy for grades seven through 12. Publisher Roger Rosen is
particularly enthusiastic about the newly relaunched Teen Health
and Wellness database. He says that this resource is designed to
provide “at-risk youth with new information and solutions.” A
guiding principle for deciding on content, he notes, is “there is no
taboo information, only information.” To that end, Rosen has published content on such topics as date rape and acquaintance rape,
teen suicide, dating violence, body piercing and tattooing, crystal-meth abuse, and STDs. The database also contains stories from real
teens and offers 24/7 access to teen hotlines.
•Earlier this month, Capstone introduced PebbleGo Dinosaurs,
the newest entry in its PebbleGo database collection. Targeting
students in the preschool-to-second-grade range, presenting arti-
cles, activities, games, and teacher materials on more than 125
different dinosaurs. Like its sister databases, which showcase ani-
mals, biographies, science, and social studies, PebbleGo Dino-
saurs contains video, professional narration, and other literacy
tools. PebbleGo Next: State and American Indian Studies is an
extension of the line and is designed for students in grades three
through six. All the databases are accessible 24/7 via the Internet
as an annual subscription for enrolled students.
•During ALA Midwinter this past January, DK rolled out a
beta version of DKfindout!, an interactive, free-of-charge market-ing-free site for students ages seven to 11. The site incorporates
existing DK nonfiction content in the highly visual style that
students and educators associate with the publisher and revs it up
with such features as audio sound clips, videos, and quizzes. “Our
site traffic—and all the other key metrics—keeps growing,” says
Rachel Kempster Barry, v-p of marketing and publicity. “The
most critical thing we’ve heard from librarians is that they want
more content—and we are committed to providing it.” Barry
notes that a DKfindout! publishing program, headed by DK publisher Sarah Larter in the U.K., is slated for a 2016 launch and
will feature a series of books that complement the site.
•Jane Lofton, teacher librarian at Mira Costa High School in
Manhattan Beach, Calif., says her EBSCO E-book High School
Collection and E-book Academic Collection get extensive use.
“In high school, it’s so hard to anticipate what topics will be
researched,” she says. “Now with EBSCO, nine times out of 10
there is an e-book available on a certain topic. It’s raised my level
to that of an academic library.”
•Educators working with high school students can access 15
subject-specific history, social studies, and humanities databases
via the ABC-CLIO Solutions product line. Each title is structured to align with major textbooks and standards on the subject, and every database contains a plethora of primary and secondary sources in the form of images, documents, maps, audio,
or video, as well as activities and discussion prompts. Because of
the racial strife that has made headlines in the past year, ABC-CLIO has seen increased interest in the African-American Experience: The American Mosaic database.
•The Revere Awards, given annually by the AAP Pre-K– 12
Learning Group to recognize excellence in a variety of educational publishing disciplines, can help educators in their selection of digital content for use in the classroom. Last year’s winners and finalists are profiled online. Linda Swank, the group’s
program manager, says that as far as
entries for digital products go, “in
the past few years we’ve watched
them come into their own. Before
that, many people were
unsure if it was a fad.
But we’re definitely
seeing more sophisticated e-books
and other materials now. The level of quality is higher and that
forces everyone to raise their game.” Digital curricula, apps, and
games are categories that Swank says are increasing their award
entries. The Revere Awards turn 50 this year, and registration for
the 2015–2016 program opens October 5. —S.M.
BEYOND THE E-BOOK: