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Ed-tech innovations curb cell phone cheating—and more
Software that can manage students, networks, and more—in one system
Impero Solutions, a U.K. company, offers a program called Impero Education Pro, which combines the features of several types of software in one system.
Here are some of the software’s capabilities…
• Classroom management: Impero Education Pro helps keep students safe and on task while they’re online. Teachers can see their students’ computer screens, and they can block, control, or broadcast screens remotely—putting the teacher in control of the lesson.
• Real-time monitoring: A keyword detection system alerts teachers to potential risk. The software ships with a built-in “abuse library” that can be customized with additional terms suggesting at-risk behavior—gang activity, bullying, child abuse, suicidal thoughts, and the like—and teachers receive an alert if any of these terms is mentioned over the school’s network.
• Network management: The program can save time by automating software patches and letting IT staff take control of users’ machines to resolve tech-support issues. Administrators also can set parameters for internet and application usage, and they can get detailed reports showing who’s been doing what on the network.
• Print management: School leaders can set limits and can track users’ printing activity.
• Power management: The software can power down any devices on the network according to a set schedule, or whenever the devices are idle. Using this feature alone, schools could see a return on their investment within six to eight months, said Impero Managing Director Jon Valentine.
• Software auditing: The program indicates the number of software licenses in use, so you can share these among various devices without exceeding legal limits.
• Asset management: An automated inventory feature can tell you the status of devices on your network, making auditing simple and helping with lifecycle planning. Reports include the usage patterns of each machine, helping you make better purchasing decisions.
These features are available in many other software programs as well, but few—if any—combine them all in a single system.
The management console requires Windows XP or above, though it can monitor and support any desktop OS—and support for Android devices is coming later this year. Impero Education Pro costs less than $30 per seat, per year; about 450 U.S. school districts are currently using the product.
Stop cell phone cheating with PocketHound
As more students own smart phones and other mobile devices, academic integrity is a subject that many school leaders are wrestling with.
The New Jersey-based wireless security firm Berkeley Varitronics Systems has a possible solution: It’s a pocket-sized cell phone detector that can tell when students are using a cellular signal when they shouldn’t be.
The PocketHound, which costs $499, is about the same size and weight as a deck of cards. When the device picks up a cellular signal, it will vibrate—and the blue LEDs on the top will light up.
The indoor range of the PocketHound varies, depending on the number of walls and the construction of the building. But in an open area, the detection range can extend as far as 75 feet, says Berkeley Varitronics CEO Scott Schober.
If a cell phone is in “Airplane” mode, it won’t transmit a cellular signal—but it still could be used to access information stored on the device. In that case, the PocketHound wouldn’t detect this activity. Still, it offers a way to ensure that students aren’t texting each other during exams.
Follow Dennis Pierce on Twitter: @eSN_Dennis.