Microsoft’s Teaching and
Learning Resource Kit
The fourth generation of Microsoft’s Teaching and Learning Resource Kit provides new tools and innovative ways for teachers and students to learn how to use the company’s Office XP product suite.
For teachers, there are both at-home and classroom guides. The kit offers tips and tricks for using Office XP in the classroom, education-specific tutorials, and demonstrations geared toward helping teachers explain the software to students.
In the classroom, this new kit allows students and teachers to explore and evaluate Office with more than 66 templates, including ones for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Also available are sample projects from teachers who already use Office XP successfully as an in-class tool, as well as a newly updated library of education-related clip art with some 2,500 images.
The double-CD set works on both Macintosh and Windows machines. Unlike other Microsoft software, the Teaching and Learning Resource Kit is exempt from copyright restrictions, meaning schools are encouraged to copy these materials to provide training for their entire staff.
This product is free if downloaded from the web. If users prefer hard copies, a two-CD package costs $6.95. Bulk orders of 50 packages are available for $279.95.
Clean Slate 1.1 from Fortres Grand Corp.
Fortres Grand’s Clean Slate 1.1 aims to wipe the board cleankeeping school computers virus- and problem-free.
The company says its new product, which automatically restores system drives back to their original configuration with every reboot, will keep public-access computers from storing unwanted viruses or dangerous programs.
Within seconds, Clean Slate’s program automatically scours any computer back to its original settings, eliminating any changes that may have been intentionally or unintentionally made by the previous user. Clean Slate will erase any added files, installed software, viruses, icons, and Trojan horsesanything that was not added as part of the system’s original and intended configuration.
If administrators wish, they can tailor the Clean Slate program so that it restores certain drives and leaves others as they are. A password is required to alter those settings.
According to Fortres Grand, this easy-to-install program takes only minutes to implement and requires no additional attention or updates. Pricing for Clean Slate varies depending on the number of machines: a single-user license is $49; up to 15 users, $279; up to 100 users, $495. For an unlimited number of users, the cost is $595.
ClassStation video communication package from Polycom
Polycom Inc. recently introduced a videoconferencing package for education, called ClassStation. This package, based on the company’s VS 4000 product, allows teachers and students to see each other and interact clearly in a distance-education environment.
Polycom’s VS 4000 technology allows anyone with access to a web browser to broadcast and take part in virtual classes, board meetings, and speeches. ClassStation brings this same technology to the classroom and tailors it to the teaching environment through two major innovations.
ClassStation’s CamCommand feature enables videoconferencing cameras to switch from the instructor to the student automatically whenever a student microphone is activated, allowing the teacher to see who is asking the question easily. Also, the product’s touch-to-talk microphones will pan, tilt, and zoom around the classroom to focus in on the speaking student.
“Our new ClassStation package is a complete, integrated videoconferencing solution that allows instructors to focus on teaching instead of technology,” said Craig Malloy, senior vice president and general manager of video communications for Polycom.
There are three versions of the ClassStation product, for small, medium, and large classrooms. According to the company, each package includes an appropriate number of monitors, microphones, cameras, speakers, and storage facilities for venues of varying size. Full-package prices range from $32,250 for small, $46,250 for medium, and $62,000 for large systems.
Placemark from Tom Snyder Productions
Administrators and teachers don’t need to become tech-wizards to make sure their schools’ web sites run as smoothly as possible. Placemark, a new product from Tom Snyder Productions, makes web sites simple to build and easy to manage.
Placemark aims to provide a less intimidating means of creating web content by taking away the need for complicated computer-speak (hypertext markup language, or HTML) and replacing it with pre-designed layouts and templates in a language that anyone can understand. One click of the mouse and the software’s ease of use becomes apparent: Teachers can add images to a site, post working links, and edit content with only basic computer skills.
For administrators, Placemark offers the ability to add or revoke user privileges, change passwords, monitor pages, and update sites.
Pricing varies according to the size of the school; for more information, contact a company sales representative.
NetSupport TCO, from NetSupport Inc., is designed to cut down on computer-related costs for schools and institutions by combining several network management functions into one easy-to-use desktop suite.
According to the company, TCO (short for “total cost of ownership”) instantly slashes computer networking costs by decreasing the number of software vendors being managed, improving help-desk support, enforcing systems’ original configurations, and making new programs and technology easier to implement across several machines.
NetSupport TCO can determine or make alterations to any or all computers on the network automatically. It can identify the presence of illegal or overused software on a machine. It can add needed tools and icons to several computers at once. It also can detect any missing hardware or software from networked machines, update virus detection capabilities, and take immediate inventories for payment and network management purposes. With TCO, all this and more can be done from a single desktop, saving time and money in the process.
Pricing for this product varies but is estimated at $40 per license. The company does offer education discounts and price cuts on high-volume orders. To receive exact pricing information for a specific order, contact a sales representative.