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 articles, activities, games, and teacher materials on more than 125 different dinosaurs. Like its sister databases, which showcase animals, biographies, science, and social studies, PebbleGo Dinosaurs 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 marketing-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.