January 24, 2011

New lesson materials - 3 fractions Gizmos

We've added new Lesson Materials -- Student Exploration sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocab sheet -- for 3 more math Gizmos!

Part-to-part and Part-to-whole Ratios

Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers

Fractions with Unlike Denominators

As usual, these Lesson Material documents are available as both Word docs and pdf's.  (Word doc form allows you to edit the documents yourself.  The pdf gives you the same document in a smaller filesize, but it is not editable.)

Hope these new materials enhance your use of Gizmos! More to come.

Posted by Dan at 11:15 AM in Help (User Support), Site Announcements, Using Gizmos | Permalink

June 03, 2010

Gizmo demo movies are live!

Who says that all the blockbuster summertime movie action is only taking place on the big screen?

We're happy to announce that all 80 Gizmos with the "purple bar on the left side" appearance have a demo movie!

These Gizmo demo movies are quick (~3 minute) how-to movies that show you what each Gizmo can do, and how you can interact with it.  The movies don't teach the lesson (see the Lesson Materials or Exploration Guide for that), but they should help get you comfortable with that Gizmo.

Demo movies come with voice-over narration, so be sure you have your sound turned on.  (We recommend using headphones if in a lab setting.)

Movies are appropriate for teachers or students.

To access the demo movie, click on the "Demo" button in the purple bar, at the lower left corner of the Gizmo.


Posted by Dan at 03:57 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

April 16, 2009

Gizmo demo movies - elementary science - done!

It's been a long time coming, but at long last, every elementary science Gizmo has a demo movie!  (That's 40 of them, if you're keeping score at home.)

The "movies" are short (about 2 minutes each) and have a simple "how-to" approach. They show how to use the basic features in the Gizmo. If students are brand-new to a Gizmo, the demo movie would be a nice brief introduction to it.

The movies feature a voice-over, so be sure audio is turned on before watching.  (In a lab setting, you probably either want to project it for the whole class to watch and listen to, or have students use headphones.)

To see a demo movie, click on the "demo" icon at the bottom left corner of the Gizmo, in the purple bar, as shown below.


(Note: Demo movies will only appear in elementary-level Gizmos - the ones with the purple bar on the left side.)

Tip: To find the 40 elementary science Gizmos, either click "Browse Gizmos" and browse through the grade 3-5 science offerings, or just type "elementary science" (without the quotes) in the search field.

Enjoy!  We hope these are useful for both teachers and students.

By the way, the elementary math Gizmo demo movies will now slowly start appearing also!  We hope to have all 40 of them complete by the end of 2009.

Posted by Dan at 02:40 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

June 26, 2008

Shockwave (for Director) Plug-in

In recent months Adobe has updated the Shockwave plugin to version 11. This is to enabled MacIntels to run Gizmos without having to use Rosetta mode (a good thing!).

Recently the plugin has stopped functioning on older Macs (PowerPC Macintosh), and we have reported this issue to Adobe and they are aware of it.

If you are on a Mac and Gizmos will not properly load, please drop a line to customer support (support@explorelearning.com) and let us know. We have put together some documentation that will help people with older Macs get version 10 of the plugin running on your computer so you can enjoy the Gizmos.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause in the near future. We are hoping that Adobe will get the plugin fixed in the next few weeks.

Note: For MacIntels version 11 of the plugin is working without any known problems. We are also working on updating our help page related to plugin issues.

Update: Adobe updated the plugin this morning (June 27, 2008) so Shockwave 11 works properly on PowerPC Macs.

Posted by Raman at 09:23 AM in Help (User Support) | Permalink

April 29, 2008

Shockwave 11 Released

This past week Adobe released Shockwave 11. We are currently (and have been for a few weeks) testing our site to insure that our Gizmos still run as they should. As is the case with all new software, there is always a chance that some users may get errors when trying to use the Gizmos.

If you have any problems, please drop a line to or call EL Support and we will do everything to help you solve any problems you may have.

Note: This new release will allow MacIntel users to use Gizmos without having to use Rosetta mode, which is very good news!

Posted by Raman at 01:25 PM in Help (User Support), Site Status/Known Issues | Permalink

November 16, 2007

Update on Shockwave for Intel-based Macs

Several of the developers here at ExploreLearning attended the recent Adobe Max conference in October. One of the reasons we went was to learn more about the status of the Shockwave plug-in on Vista and Intel-based Macs (or MacIntels).

Currently MacIntel users have to run their browser in Rosetta-mode (as I do at home). Our site will automatically let you know how to do that if you try to use a Gizmo on a MacIntel. This is not a long-term solution for viewing the Gizmos, and Adobe is working feverishly on getting a new version of the plug-in released.

At the conference we (the EL developers) met with several of the developers from Adobe that are working on the new version of the plug-in, and we got to see an early version of the new plug-in being used. Development continues and they let us know that they are trying to get the new plug-in released by the end of this year.

We know Adobe is hard at work on getting the plug-in updated, and we certainly hope it arrives in the very near. Thanks for your patience.

Go Gizmos!

Posted by Raman at 04:28 PM in Help (User Support) | Permalink

October 28, 2005

How do I get the most out of Gizmos?

ExploreLearning Gizmos are great learning tools, but how you get the most out of them? How do you make time spent with a Gizmo effective learning time for your students? These are questions we've heard a lot from teachers, and they are crucial questions.  No tool automatically causes students to learn.What approaches seem to work for a lesson using Gizmos?

We've put together three documents that we hope will help answer those questions.

Posted by Dan at 03:05 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 06, 2005

Now Showing: Gizmo Demo Movies!

ExploreLearning has gone Hollywood! (sort of...) We've added five demonstration movies to our site:

The introduction movie is perfect for first-time visitors to ExploreLearning.com. It answers the question, "What is a Gizmo?" and also shows how Gizmos can help improve teaching and learning. (All that in under 8 minutes -- not bad, huh?)

The four Teaching with Gizmos movies show how you might teach a specific lesson using Gizmos. Each of these movies focuses on one Gizmo and highlights what that Gizmo helps you do to enhance student learning. (These movies are about 4-to-6 minutes each.)

We hope these movies are helpful to you. Maybe they can even help you take your teaching with Gizmos to another level. Let us know what you think!

Links to the movies are on the front page of ExploreLearning.com, and also in our new-and-improved Help Center (click on the small gray '?' at the top right corner of the screen).

By the way, these movies are large files (anywhere from 2 MB to 6 MB). They take some time to download -- depending on the speed of your internet connection, of course -- so be patient. They're well worth the wait!

Posted by Dan at 04:41 PM in Help (User Support), Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Shockwave on Linux Systems

In the past we've had several people asking about the Shockwave Plug-in on Linux systems. Our Gizmos require the Shockwave Plug-in to function, and in the past we have told people that there was no Plug-in for Linux.

One teacher recently let us know that our Gizmos can be used with no problems in the Linux operating system when using a product called CrossOver. If you are using a Linux system, and want to use our Gizmos, feel free to get more information on the relatively inexpensive CrossOver software. It allows you to use Windows software applications, as well as browser Plug-ins such as QuickTime and Shockwave.

Posted by Raman at 03:12 PM in Help (User Support) | Permalink

August 30, 2004

Using the Gizmo Screen-Capture Feature

Did you know that all the ExploreLearning Gizmos have a nifty screen-capture feature, built in? With only a couple clicks, you can place a custom, professional-looking image, taken from a Gizmo, into your worksheets, quizzes, and tests!

Here are some sample quizzes we created, with help from the Gizmo snapshot feature:

Here's how to do it:

Step 1 – Set the Gizmo up however you want.

Any snapshot you take of a Gizmo will capture the current state of the Gizmo. So, anything you can set up in a Gizmo can also become a snapshot!

Step 2 – Take the "snapshot"

copy screen button
fig. 1

To take a snapshot of the entire Gizmo, click the "Copy Screen" [fig. 1] button at the bottom of the Gizmo.

camera icon
fig. 2

Many Gizmos also give you the option of taking a snapshot of just a portion of the Gizmo, like a graph, bar chart, etc. To copy the snapshot area, click on the camera icon (fig. 2).

copy screen icon
fig. 3

(Note: In our older Gizmos, click the icon shown in Figure 3 to take a snapshot of the entire Gizmo, or click the clipboard icon [Figure 4] to capture the snapshot area of the Gizmo.)

Now the snapshot is stored on your computer's clipboard.

copy region icon
fig. 4

Step 3 – Paste the snapshot

Open a word processing document, such as a Microsoft Word file, place your cursor where you'd like the snapshot to go, and paste it.

Step 4 (optional) – Edit the snapshot

As with any other image, you can use the graphics tools in your word processor to resize, position, crop, etc. the Gizmo snapshot.

size handles
fig. 5

Resizing tip: To resize the image, first click on the image once to select it. You will see some "handles" along the edges of the snapshot. Clicking and dragging those handles resizes the image. If you drag a handle on a corner of the image (the cursor will become a double-headed arror, e.g., fig 5), it will retain its correct proportions. If you drag a handle on the middle of one of the sides of the image, it will become distorted.


The best thing about the screen capture feature is how easy it makes it to merge the virtual manipulative world of Gizmos with the traditional, paper-based world of handouts, worksheets, and quizzes that are part of every teacher's repertoire. Students, too, can make use of the screen-capture feature as part of homework or reports that they turn in.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 02:48 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 29, 2004

International Users: Font Issue

font being incorrectly displayed We have recently become aware of a problem for international users (reported in both Israel and Poland) where the font inside the Gizmo is not legible. The problem is shown in the image to the right.

Thanks to a few emails with our users, we have found a way to deal with this problem which is due to having anti-aliased fonts within Shockwave-based content. It may take a week or two for us to integrate the solution in to the Gizmos. Please check back here for an update in the next week or two.

Posted by Raman at 09:46 AM in Help (User Support), Site Status/Known Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 18, 2004

User Support: A Team Effort

Regarding our user support, ExploreLearning customer Michael Franke from the Spartanburg Day School writes:

"I want to thank you for your incredible tech support. As I mentioned to Paul, I was in the software business for 17 years prior to getting into teaching, and I've seldom seen better. You can quote me on that."

Thanks, Michael!

From the start, we've made customer support a very important part of our business. To that end, then, we've made sure every ExploreLearning team member gets first hand experience with customer support. For instance, the "Paul" whom Michael refers to in his praise above is Paul Cholmsky, our Director of Research and Design.

So while Paul is busy writing grants, designing Gizmos, and researching the effectiveness of virtual manipulatives, he also participates in one, four hour support shift each week. We all do.

If you ever find yourself having to contact user support, don't be surprised if the EL team member helping you is the president of the company or one of the folks who codes the Gizmos or designed the site.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:13 AM in Help (User Support), Testimonials | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2004

Search Gizmos by Title

We've added the capability to search Gizmos by title. You'll find the search box located in the sidebar on all "Browse the Catalog" pages as well as "My Homepage."

Please note that this search capability is limited to just words found in a Gizmo title, so it may not meet all your needs for keyword or topic searching. We are working behind the scenes on a more robust search solution, but wanted to roll out this temporary search in the meantime.

We hope you find this helpful.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:57 AM in Help (User Support), Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2004

Important Password Information

We've uncovered a known issue that is causing some users to have problems attempting to login to the site:

  1. If you're creating a new account, do not start your password with a zero (as the system removes it).
  2. If you've already created an account where the password starts with zero and you're having trouble logging in, try dropping the zero.

    For example,
    if you're password is 04MyPassword, try 4MyPassword instead.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:16 AM in Help (User Support), Site Status/Known Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 20, 2004

Quick Tip: My Profile

Did you know you can change your personal information including your username and password by going to the "My Profile Page"?


To go to your "My Profile" page, just look for the icon of the jumping jack man on the top right of every main page (example icon shown to the right). Or choose the "My Profile" link located in the footer of every main page on the site.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:07 PM in Help (User Support) | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 09, 2003

User Support: Mad Props!

Recently, customer Celeste Capone, a network technician supporting a junior high school in Baldwinsville, NY, gave us some "mad props" (as the kids like to say) regarding her user support experience with ExploreLearning:

This did solve the problem! I have to admit, when I saw your message, I thought it was one of those cop-out responses that we often get from vendors, but it was an easy enough fix (especially since it didn't even require a re-boot), so I figured I'd humor you. I was wrong, and it worked like a charm! The teacher is thrilled, too. I told him he definitely got his money's worth for his subscription. I was also impressed at the speed of your reply, something else we don't see very often.

Thanks again for your assistance.

Thank you, Celeste, for choosing EL and giving us the chance to resolve the issue.

If you're wondering, here's the problem as stated:

One of our science teachers has set up an account to use your labs in his classes. We are having a problem with an error that appears when the students are logged onto the network and try to launch gizmos.

They receive an error that the Shockwave update is required. The systems are locked down, so students are not able to download or to install applications. However, if I log into the systems as an administrator, and run the update patch, I am able to launch the gizmos. But, when I log the students back in, they still receive the same error message. In addition, even before running the upgrade, the version number on the Shockwave executable file is I have also granted the student users full access to the \winnt\system32\macromed folder, as suggested by Macromedia.

And this was the solution: Download the latest version of the Shockwave uninstaller, run it while you are logged in as an administrator, then re-install Shockwave and set the permissions as specified.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 02:30 PM in Help (User Support), Testimonials | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003

For New Users: A Quick Start Guide

If you need a little help getting started with our new Web site, take a look at this Quick Start Guide. This handy guide provides simple instructions for teachers who need to:

  • edit their profiles;
  • put Gizmos on their personal homepages;
  • organize their Gizmos;
  • enroll students in classes;
  • check assessment results; and
  • retrieve student usernames and passwords.

The Quick Start Guide is an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, so you may need to download the latest Acrobat Reader plug-in.

The guide is also available in our online help system.

Do let us know if you find this useful, or if you have suggestions for improving it!

Posted by David Lapides at 12:12 PM in Help (User Support) | Permalink | Comments (0)