Sprint Corp. of Overland, Kan., has developed a communications solution for K-12 schools called ParentLink Suite, which it says will help schools improve their level of parental involvement and thus improve students’ performance.
The ParentLink Suite is a communications system that brings together teachers, parents, and students. Through the system, parents have instant access, by telephone or via the internet, to their childrens’ school information. There are three components to the system: Attendance Server, which helps parents and teachers track attendance records down to the individual class period; ParentLink (Homework Hotline), which allows for two-way messaging between the school and home; and Teachers Assistant, which provides parents 24-hour a day access to their child’s grades, even between grading periods.
The ParentLink package, developed through Parlant Technology, consist of a PC-based interactive voice response unit that works with a school’s phone system and administrative computer network. The cost of the system, which ranges from $15,000 to $35,000, depends on the size of the school and the applications it will be used for.
White Pine Software Inc. has introduced a distance learning solution called ClassPoint, a system based on its business-oriented CU-SeeMe and MeetingPoint group conferencing technologies. ClassPoint creates an instructor-led virtual classroom that lets teachers and students interact from different locations using real-time audio, video, text chat, whiteboard sharing, and web surfing.
ClassPoint, which can be used over the internet or an intranet, consists of three components: an instructor client and a student client, which operate in a Windows 95 or NT environment, and a server that runs on Windows NT. A Macintosh version is slated for release later this year. The system runs on either a LAN-based or dial-up IP connection. Licenses are available in 10, 25, and 50-user bundles.
White Pine says the solution mirrors the kind of interaction that takes place in traditional classrooms, with an instructor visible to the entire class and who can call on a specific student to “speak.”
The price range for educational entities is $5,095 to $17,995. A trial of ClassPoint is being offered for $995, which includes materials for one instructor, five students, and the server.
Grolier Multimedia Reference Suite
Grolier Interactive, the leading developer of multimedia encyclopedias for schools, has released the Grolier Multimedia Reference Suite, a CD-ROM package that includes the 1999 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia Duluxe Edition, the Hammond Atlas of the World, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations Expanded Multimedia Edition Version 2, and the Wall Street Journal Almanac.
Grolier says the five-disc multimedia package offers up-to-date research data and statistics, information about the world and cultures, and resources spanning every reference need.
The latest version of Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia, for example, provides 36,000 disc-based articles, with an additional 22,000 articles available through the software’s two online encyclopedias. The articles bring together 163 high-quality videos, 15,000 images, 1,200 maps, and 15 hours of sound.
The CD-ROM reference package retails at a suggested price of $89.99.
Panasonic Office Products Co. has unveiled the Panafax DX-1000, a high-performance, plain-paper multifunctional system that combines high-quality eMail, print, and scan functions in a single unit.
The DX-1000 can be used like a standard fax machine or for sending messages as eMail file attachments over a LAN or to an internet-connected eMail address. The system has a built-in Ethernet network interface and features faster transmission speeds than conventional fax machines when being operated on a LAN. The unit also features its own internet protocol address, meaning there is no dial-up or connection time.
Other features of the DX-1000 include standard PC-fax capability, which allows it to operate as a virtual LAN fax server, local and remote access, and an inbound routing system that delivers fax messages directly to a user’s eMail address.
Panasonic says the DX-1000 will be priced competitively with 33.6 fax machines currently on the market.
California-based Knowledge Universe, a family of companies providing lifelong learning opportunities to individuals and organizations, has created a division to focus exclusively on the needs of teachers. The new unit, Teacher Universe, will offer instructors technology planning, professional development, instructional tools, and career and life planning services.
Knowledge Universe says the division recognizes the difficulty of fitting training into complicated school scheduling and tight budgets, and thus will provide teachers with effective, affordable, and accessible training and tools.
Teacher Universe currently offers technology planning for schools and professional development services in technology and curriculum integration for educators. These services are the same ones that used to be provided through the Educational Marketplace division of Knowledge Universe’s Productivity Point International subsidiary, which has worked with Microsoft, Compaq, and IBM, among others, to establish technology training centers. Teacher Universe will build on these offerings while also leveraging other divisions of Knowledge Universe.
Synsor Corp. has introduced a new changeable computer furniture system for classrooms and labs. Synsor says its ShuttleSystem is the only furniture system on the market designed to change as schools’ needs change.
ShuttleSystem combines an advanced self-aligning, push-button connection system, called ShuttleLatch, with unique workstation shapes that are specifically designed to facilitate both group and individual study. The system’s design is based on a precise set of one-of-a-kind worksurface shapes, each designed to integrate with one another to allow for a range of learning environments, from traditional rows to rectangular clusters, circular or oval small group clusters, and conference-style horseshoe arrangements.
The furniture system is available with a full range of options, such as two workstation heights, locking casters, locking wire-management covers, carpet or laminate high sides and backs, and hanging or mobile storage drawers. For durability, Synsor says all ShuttleSystem workstations are manufactured with premium materials and include solid metal-to-metal connections at every connection point.