Logitech’s iFeel Mouse
The iFeel Mouse, by Logitech of Fremont, Calif., lets users experience tactile sensations in the palm of their hand as the cursor bumps and jumps over icons, menus, folders, tool bars, web buttons, and hyperlinks. The mouse could be a great aid to learning for young students as it “slides” across a web site image of ice or bumps across an image of stones.
The iFeel Mouse simulates the sense of touch by using TouchSense technology and software from Immersion Corp. The technology works by digitally translating computer events into realistic tactile responses that can be felt by the user’s hand. A tiny motor built into the mouse vibrates and moves the mouse to simulate a number of sensations that correlate to what is pictured on the screen.
“As the on-screen landscape becomes more and more complex, it can often be challenging to ‘home in’ on web links or accurately seize a desired application or tool from the hierarchy of the ‘start’ menu,” said Wolfgang Hausen, senior vice president and general manager of Logitech’s Control Devices Division. “In the real world, we rely heavily on our sense of touch to orient and guide us. Why not use it to enhance our computing experience as well?”
The software supports Flash and Shockwave standards from Macromedia, so web page developers can add “touchable” content to their schools’ web pages.
The iFeel Mouse, with a translucent bottom and iridescent metallic blue finish, is an ambidextrous unit that offers a high degree of precision, while requiring no cleaning because it’s optical. It also functions as a standard mouse. In either mode, it is powered by Logitech’s award-winning MouseWare software, with its innovative WebWheel feature that allows users to scroll easily. The suggested retail price for the iFeel Mouse is $39.95.
Discourse LabLearner enables teachers of all subjects and grade levels to integrate web-based lessons into their curriculum effectively, as it allows teachers to keep every student on the same web page at the same time. It also lets teachers display customized questions or comments over each web page and see answers from every student instantly.
Students can follow hyperlinks from a starting page to research answers to a teacher’s questions independently, but the teacher can bring all of them to the next page in a planned sequence of web pages at the press of the button.
Developed by Discourse Technologies Inc. of Milwaukee and distributed by SmartStuff Software of Oregon, this software fosters 100-percent classroom participation by keeping the whole class focused on the same task. Aimed at schools with state-of-the-art computer labs, Discourse LabLearner also offers real-time assessment through charts and reports that teachers can create for each student or for the class as a whole. The reports can include questions asked during the lesson, answers to those questions, and statistical information on the number and percentage of questions answered correctly.
Plato Simulated Test System
Schools and districts worried about how their students will perform on state exams can find out before it’s too late with the Plato Simulated Test System, developed by Plato Learning Inc.
“Our new web-based assessment system is essential for any school wanting to determine how well-prepared its students are for these important exams,” said John Murray, president of Plato Learning. “In addition to assessing each student’s readiness for exams, the system determines the specific instruction required to fill identified skill gaps.”
The Plato Simulated Test System, sold on an annual subscription basis, provides educators with critical information on student, class, school, and districtwide test readiness. The system gives teachers full control of the timing and frequency of practice tests, which are designed to emulate the actual test experience.
Students may take the practice tests from any computer equipped with a browser, including their home computer. The system scores the practice test and provides instant feedback, according to the company. For students enrolled in schools using Plato software, the system automatically creates an individualized learning path to fill the gaps.
To help educators keep effective records of student progress, the system creates graphical and text reports for every student that can be viewed online. Educators can view individual student reports and class performance data, while administrators can view data by class, school, or district.
Kyocera Mita copier-printer-scanner
Kyocera Mita America Inc., of Fairfield, N.J., offers more productivity along with advanced printing and scanning tools with the KM-6230, a system that copies, prints, and scans all in one solution.
“The KM-6230 will be the benchmark product for all other manufacturers to emulate,” said Raymond Synder, Kyocera’s digital product marketing manager. “Not only is the KM-6230 a productive system, but with its 3.6 million-image drum yield, it helps users lower their total cost of ownership while increasing their efficiency.”
This machine has fast copy and print speeds and an 8.5 gigabyte hard disk drive, with a capacity of more than 16,000 letter pages at 6 percent coverage. The print and copy resolution is 600 dpi, while the scanning resolutions range between 200 and 600 dpi.
Buyers have a choice of optional finishing devices, including 3,000-sheet capacity, an all-position stapler, standard two- and three-hole punch, and a seven-bin sorter. The KM-6230 also features a Saddle Stitcher that can center-stitch folder ledger or letter documents. The total system costs $21,800.
Knowledge Adventure’s SiteCentral 1.0
Educational software maker Knowledge Adventure has released the latest version of its web creation tool SiteCentral, with a range of enhanced features for Windows that make designing web pages easier and faster for both teachers and students.
SiteCentral 1.0 comes on a hybrid Macintosh/ Windows CD-ROM with a significant upgrade for the Windows platform. The newest version features a built-in spelling correction system, more on-screen space for web page design, improved import filters for sound and animated GIF files, and advanced hyperlink editing.
SiteCentral enables teachers and students to drag-and-drop into place every web page element and special effect. A new Java Applet tool makes it easy to incorporate numerous special effects and capabilities into web pages, such as images, music, sound effects, slideshows, and search engines.
Using this tool allows both students and teachers to learn the fundamentals of designing, assembling, and posting their own web sites on the internet. Instead of concentrating on HTML or Java programming, users can focus on the content. “Educators have come to identify ease of use in web authoring with SiteCentral,” said Martha Connellan, senior vice president and general manager of Knowledge Adventure’s school group.
Current SiteCentral users can download the newest version for free. The teacher’s edition, which includes two copies of the software, is $75, while a site license for 15 users is $425.
Syntax Communication’s EduTalk
EduTalk, a new service from Syntax Communication Group, provides school districts with the interactive tools necessary to communicate with their school communities effectively. EduTalk empowers school districts by providing technological resources that credibly manage their communication efforts and inform communities in a clear and innovative manner, according to the company.
“Just as the internet is bringing the world closer together, so should interactive media be a tool for school districts to effectively reach their community,” said Chris Keegan, division director of EduTalk. “Our goal is to facilitate the communication process between schools and their constituencythe school community.”
EduTalk offers school districts web site packages with varying levels of functionality, customized media technology solutions, CD-ROM applications, dynamic presentations for meetings and public forums, online surveys allowing for immediate community feedback, intranet solutions to manage the information flow within a district, and streaming video to help bring school districts into the digital age. The prices vary according to which projects are requested.