OWINGS MILLS, MD -- Help is readily available for Maryland's K-12 education community and families, with the debut of a new Web site called Thinkport .

Developed through a partnership between Maryland Public Television (MPT) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education (CTE), and funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Star Schools Program, Thinkport provides free multimedia resources for the classroom, online professional development, innovative technology tools and a place for educational exchange between educators and families.

The creation of this extensive digital platform is the product of two years of research and close collaboration between the partner organizations, key education groups and experts from across the state. In addition, CTE and MPT have worked closely with a statewide team of teachers and principals to develop and write instructionally sound content for the site and assess the effect of this instruction on student outcomes.

"Teachers have told us that they would like a Web site that saves them time by offering instructional resources of consistently high quality that are engaging to students; lesson plans and projects that are aligned to state standards and tailored to grade level and content area; professional development focused on technology-integrated instruction, and finally teachers would appreciate a mechanism for communicating with parents easily," said Jacqueline Nunn, Ed.D., director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education. "It's a tall order, but Thinkport meets all of those needs with one innovative Web site."

The four main parts of the Thinkport site are: Think Classroom, which houses a rich collection of standards-based lesson plans, projects and student activities, video clips and online field trips; Think Career, which offers continual professional development opportunities including online courses; Think Technology, which keeps teachers up-to-date on the rapidly evolving world of educational technology through sharing "what works;" and Think Family & Community, which serves as a gateway between school and home, extending communication and learning.

Thinkport also provides a free set of innovative tools designed to enhance the site's value and usefulness to each registered user, including a personal space on the site where users can save, access and share files from anywhere, at anytime; a classroom Web site builder; activity, lesson and project builders; and a member directory.