ePALS Classroom Exchange has introduced a safe, affordable, and customizable eMail solution for K-12 schools and districts. Called ePALS SchoolMail, the new service is a fully hosted solution, providing access to student and teacher eMail accounts from any internet-connected computer. Student accounts can be monitored by teachers and include the ability to filter out messages containing profanity, key phrases, attachments, or other questionable content. You can also set filter options based on the sender or recipient’s address or domain, so you can limit access to members of your school community only or to members of the ePALS Classroom Exchange community of 3 million students and teachers in 182 countries. In addition, access to external links, private chat, and other features can be blocked or unblocked at your discretion.
Accounts can be managed and centralized at the class, school, or district level. The service gives users the ability to send broadcast eMail messages at the class, school, or district level; track students’ eMail use; customize domain names and school or district interface; and control access to discussion boards and chat rooms, such as a chat room for district principals only or a discussion board for French students.
Another unique innovation of SchoolMail is its automatic, built-in language translation feature, which creates a multilingual user experience. Translations are available for 17 language pairs, including English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. ePALS licenses a language translation application from a company called e-lingo and customizes it for use in SchoolMail.
Pricing for SchoolMail, which depends on the size and number of schools in a district, ranges from $3 to $8 per student per year in the first year, but a discount as high as 40 percent may apply in the second year of use. (613) 562-9847
Enterprise Student Information System (eSIS)
eSIS, a brand-new web-based administrative tool from Administrative Assistants Ltd. (AAL), is designed as a complete, web-enabled, user-friendly information system for tracking and managing student data in real time. Its multiple, optional interfaced modules let you collect, store, and manage an extensive amount of data on students in grades preK-12.
Developed using Oracle’s database technology, eSIS includes student demographics, scheduling, attendance, grade reporting and tracking, sports eligibility, historical data, and state reporting features. Optional modules include special education, continuing and adult education, student health information, fee management, curriculum tracking, and standardized testing.
AAL, the developer of eSIS, is a member of the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) initiative, which will allow the seamless transfer of information between SIF-compliant systems once a certification process is approved. (800) 668-8486
iMind Integrator, from California-based iMind Education Systems, is a web-based curriculum management, delivery, and assessment tool that allows educators to create and deliver lesson plans and assessments that are correlated automatically to state standards.
Through its partnerships with Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) and Achieve, iMind has aligned a set of core skill areas and learning objectives to the standards of 49 states (Iowa hasn’t developed a set of state standards yet). Teachers and curriculum planners can click on a template and build lesson plans around these various learning objectives, and iMind’s patent-pending correlation engine automatically aligns the lesson plans to the apporpriate state and national standards.
iMind Integrator includes a database of more than 500 web resources that have been linked to these standards as well, including online activities from FunBrain and Riverdeep Interactive Learning. Teachers can search for these resources by state standard or learning objective and can incorporate them into their lesson plans. In addition, the system will refer users to outside resources, such as best-of-breed software, that also meet the desired objectives. For an additional fee, iMind will import a school district’s own curriculum software into the system and correlate it to the standards in its database.
Integrator is a server-based solution that can be hosted by the school district or iMind itself and is sold at an annual fee per user. (877) 534-6463
Like iMind Integrator, NetSchools Orion–from Atlanta-based NetSchools Corp.–is an internet-based subscription service that provides instructional management and assessment tools aligned to state standards. One difference is that Orion is hosted for schools in a closed-gated, password-protected online community.
Like Integrator, Orion features a lesson-planning application that is linked to a database of resources and communication tools. When school districts sign up for the service, they indicate which standards documents they want to use. Teachers then click on an objective and receive a list of links to web-based resources they can integrate into their lesson plans. They can build lesson plans or units and save them for personal or school-wide use.
The NetSchools Orion database contains more than 50,000 unique online resources that are correlated to various states’ standards, according to the company. Online assessment-building tools also are included, so a student can take an online test and get immediate feedback as to whether he or she has mastered a particular objective, along with links to remedial resources.
For an additional fee, users can get a premium membership, which comes with access to a web library of more than 200,000 unique URLs of NetSchools partner companies (examples include the Associated Press and its photo library, Classroom Connect, Homeworkhelp.com, and Apex Learning). This additional fee includes customization of the service to include a school district’s own software or local standards. (877) 638-7247
Chicago-based Limitless Inc. has introduced a complete, browser-based school enterprise system that provides a streamlined approach to scheduling, grading, attendance, administration, and facilities management (including financial, transportation, library, and food service systems), according to the company. Called SchoolSpace, the solution reportedly brings these elements together into one seamless, easy-to-use package.
The system runs on an enterprise-wide database that organizes, stores, and retrieves critical information. This single-database structure is superior to modular designs and provides every user with real-time access to all data, according to Limitless. Once data are stored in the system, they are available throughout all applications, eliminating the need for multiple data entry.
The system includes a feature called Analysis Suite, which provides a bevy of comparative, trending, graphing, and holistic tools to evaluate student and overall school performance. With a few mouse clicks, users can get reports and graphical analysis that can be used to make more informed decisions about instruction.
SchoolSpace also includes communications tools, such as Assembly Space (a virtual meeting space online) and a proprietary visual chat feature that is still being developed. In addition, the company’s partnership with SonicWall provides users with state-of-the-art security, content filtering, and antivirus protection.
SchoolSpace is generally run from a school or district server, but Limitless can host the application for smaller districts if requested. The solution costs about $5,000 per school, plus an additional $5 per student per year for tech support and automatic upgrades. For districts with more than five schools, SchoolSpace costs about $2,500 per school. A tour of the system is available on the company’s web site. (866) 724-5512
Computer Curriculum Corp. (CCC) and NCS NovaNET, two divisions of NCS Pearson, have merged to form a single entity called NCS Learn. The new organization is scheduled to release a web-based product this summer called NCS4Schools, which the company describes as an “all-encompassing school management system” in which assessment, content, and student information are seamlessly integrated.
The product–actually a “solutions framework,” according to the company–will leverage the curriculum and assessment tools of CCC and NovaNET with NCS Pearson’s student information and financial systems and the textbook content of Pearson Education to create an “intelligent classroom.” This system will tie together instruction, assessment, remedial resources, and back-office enterprise functions into a single solution that enhances teaching and learning, NCS Learn said.
Through a password-protected web site, teachers, administrators, parents, and students will be given access to assignments, reports, and web-based assessments that measure progress toward state standards. A company spokesman said NCS4Schools would be offered either as a locally hosted and deployed, server-based solution or as an ASP-based model hosted by the company. Pricing hasn’t been set yet, but it will consist of a basic annual subscription fee per student, with optional supplemental components at an additional charge. (800) 242-7117
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