SurfWatch Educational Edition

Internet filtering specialist SurfWatch has created a server-based content solution designed specifically for schools. Dubbed “SurfWatch Educational Edition,” the technology differs from filtering products by creating a secure learning environment–a “virtual sandbox”–that directs students to educational sites while keeping them away from inappropriate ones.

Among the partners whom SurfWatch has chosen to provide content within its secure learning environment are the Children’s Television Workshop, the creators of Sesame Street; NevaSoft, providers of web-based curriculum for teachers; the Internet Scout Project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation; the Tech Museum of Innovation, which offers interactive science and technology exhibits; and Yahooligans!, which enables safe surfing through a broad range of content for kids ages 7-12.

SurfWatch Educational Edition runs on both Microsoft and Netscape proxy servers. Pricing for schools starts at $495 for one server supporting up to 50 users. (800) 458-6600


SchoolSoft, a company based in Calif., has taken a PalmPilot handheld computer and equipped it with software tailored just for teachers. The result is a “pocket gradebook” that gives teachers the ability to track grades, attendance, and homework assignments quickly and conveniently.

PilotSoft was designed as part of a total networking solution for schools using SchoolSoft’s RecordSoft administrative software. The PilotSoft handheld “hot-syncs” with RecordSoft to exchange data, memos, and other information with the front office without using a single piece of paper and with no special wiring necessary. The PilotSoft solution offers a substantial savings for schools over a PC-based networking solution, according to its maker.

Even if you don’t plan to use the PilotSoft in conjunction with RecordSoft, it’s still a tool that can enhance teacher productivity. School or district packages cost $449 per machine and include site license, implementation, training, and first-year support. (800) 680-2225


Advantage Learning Systems has developed its first major software product for assessing mathematics skills in the classroom. Similar to the company’s STAR Reading program, which has been purchased by more than 8,000 schools since its introduction in 1996, STAR Math uses computer-adaptive technology to adjust the difficulty of test questions based on a student’s responses during testing.

By matching test questions to a student’s ability, the computer-adaptive test yields accurate scores more quickly than traditional tests. STAR Math also generates about 10 different types of reports to aid in student placement, to track student and class progress throughout the year, and to communicate with parents.

STAR Math will be available for single-computer or school-wide use beginning this fall. The single-computer license, at $399, allows for multiple testing of up to 40 students. The schoolwide license, at $1,499, offers network or unlimited testing for up to 200 students. (800) 338-4204

Little Fingers Keyboard

Teaching children keyboarding skills like touch typing is difficult, largely because a standard keyboard is too big for their smaller hands. The Florida-based company Datadesk has come up with a solution called Little Fingers–a keyboard engineered to allow kids between the ages of 7 and 14 to reach all of the keys easily, naturally, and comfortably.

The Little Fingers keyboard works with both PCs and Macs. It comes with a built-in rugged trackball that cannot disappear, eliminating the need for a mouse. And its small footprint-12.5 inches, including trackball-leaves plenty of room for work materials.

Little Fingers will be available in the fall to schools for $79.95. An even smaller version for children ages 3-7 will be available in the spring of 1999. (954) 524-4281

Mita PointSource Ai1515

This digital copier and network laser printer allows users to print, copy, and electronically collate documents at speeds up to 15 pages per minute (ppm) directly from a PC or local-area network.

The Ai1515 boasts true 600 x 600 dots-per-inch (dpi) resolution and 128 half-tone levels for quality output of photos, charts, and graphics. The machine is modular in design and can be used as a stand-alone digital copier or as a copier/network printer by adding optional printer and network interface boards.

Mita’s Ai1515 comes with 1.5 Mb of copying memory and 8 Mb of printer memory, both upgradeable. The base unit retails for $4,295. (800) 222-6482


Created by the New Hampshire-based company Better Education Through Technology (BETT), HomeworkNOW gives schools the ability to post their teachers’ classroom assignments quickly and easily on the internet, keeping parents informed of what is going on in their children’s classrooms.

HomeworkNOW’s main benefit is its ease of use, according to its maker: No computer or internet experience is necessary to use the system. Because BETT hosts and maintains the system on its own server, all a school needs to use HomeworkNOW is a single computer with internet access.

BETT is offering the HomeworkNOW software free to schools through September 1998. After September, BETT plans to charge a yearly fee of $1 per student, up to a maximum of $750. Future plans also include distribution of the software to schools that wish to run the program on their own servers. (603) 286-8575

Canon VC-C3 Communication Camera

This remote-controlled, one-piece videocamera is an ideal solution for videoconferencing, distance learning, or other forms of webcasting, according to Canon. The VC-C3 reportedly improves upon earlier technology with sharper images, better color reproduction, and the ability to pan or tilt to multiple positions at various speed settings.

You can control the VC-C3 videocamera via a hand-held infrared remote or via a PC using Canon’s Control Software. The software, designed with the look and feel of the remote, can be used to control up to four cameras from one computer.

Canon’s VC-C3 retails for $1,495. (516) 328-5960