Apple Digital Media Studios
This new line of products from Apple Computer puts on wheels and on the move virtually everything teachers would need to integrate digital media content into the classroom.
The Mobile Digital Media Studio consists of a portable cart that comes complete with eight wireless iBook laptops, a scanner, a digital camera, a digital video camcorder, headphones, and microphones. Also included in the package is a video projector, which allows teachers and students to share what they have created with the entire class.
If security and mobility are an issue, the storage cart provides educators with a portable, convenient, and secure way to transport and share the technology throughout the entire school.
Apple offers two other Digital Media Studios as well: the Professional Digital Media Studio provides students and teachers with access to the industry’s most advanced digital editing components, while the Custom Digital Media Studio offers schools all the products needed to transform existing Apple machines into complex digital media tools.
Apple’s hope is that these digital studios will provide students with new ways of communicating and expressing themselves. The Mobile Digital Media Studio sells for $19,999, while the Professional Digital Media Studio goes for $27,499. The Custom Digital Media Studio starts at $2,399.
SuccessMaker Classroom from NCS Learn
This new product from NCS Learn allows schools with limited resources to get more than 6,000 hours of standards-based instruction from the company’s SuccessMaker product suite of comprehensive courseware.
SuccessMaker Classroom is geared to provide smaller, less technologically advanced institutions with access to computer-based learning tools and lesson plans. The Classroom version allows small schools to choose from three different product bundles at an affordable price: Elementary Core, Elementary Selection, and Middle School Core curricula.
Each bundle contains a combination of standards-based activities and instruction for several major subject areas. There are programs for math, language arts, and English as a second language. Students can also hone their critical thinking skills through real-world simulations and structured explorations.
SuccessMaker Classroom’s power and economy lie in its delivery via the Quantum Snap Server 1000/40GB, a portable, cost-effective server that fits easily into a classroom or lab and is easy to install and maintain, according to NCS Learn. Schools must purchase the server directly from Quantum or a Quantum reseller.
“Just because a school is small or has limited technical resources doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from the power of comprehensive courseware systems,” said Steve Gardner, vice president of marketing and business development for NCS Learn. “This is a perfect way for private and rural schools, after-school programs, and even Boys & Girls Clubs to let technology help their students achieve their potential.”
NCS Learn delivers the product to the school and supplies two days of on-site consulting during its implementation. SuccessMaker Classroom is available only in 10- or 20-license packs; however, because licenses are defined by computers instead of users, multiple students can benefit from each license.
Find-It-All Collection from Follett Software
For students, the internet can be a daunting and sometimes dangerous place to search for information. The Find-It-All Collection from Follett Software aims to help kids find the best, most accurate information in the least amount of time through the use of a single, easy-to-use search interface.
The solution consists of two components: One Search, which offers students 24-hour, one-stop searching of multiple resources simultaneously; and Knowledge Links, which provides access to thousands of safe, high-quality K-12 web sites.
One Search simplifies the search process by enabling students to search multiple databases at once, anytime, anywhere via the internetincluding subscription-based services you might already use and those available free of charge on the web. Students can avoid time-consuming, repetitive searches by viewing one set of results from the combined resources.
Knowledge Links broadens students’ access to information even further by enabling them to conduct research safely on the web. It gives students direct access to more than 160,000 educator-approved web sites, organized by subject area. Follett says these links soon will be aligned to state and national standards.
Annual subscriptions to Find-It-All One Search and Find-It-All Knowledge Links sell for $699 apiece. If purchased together, the total package costs $1,200.
Lightspan Early Reading Program
For children, learning to read at a young age is crucial; for educators, developing such skills in students can be difficult. The newest program from Lightspan Inc. is intended to facilitate the process by helping students in kindergarten through first grade grasp reading skills through the use of internet activities, lesson plans, assessments, and teacher professional development tools.
In the classroom, the Lightspan Early Reading Programdesigned to work in conjunction with schools’ preexisting reading initiativesintegrates skills and exercises that have been scientifically proven to improve reading comprehension. Its approaches include practices for phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding activities, oral reading instruction to improve fluency, vocabulary development exercises, increased reading time, and professional development programs.
Out of school, the Early Reading Program encourages students to continue their education through a series of internet-related games and puzzles, as well as take-home lessons on CD-ROM.
Every aspect of Lightspan’s Early Reading Program is aligned to fit specific state standards, according to the company. The program can be deployed on a school-by-school basis or across entire districts at once.
Pricing varies and can be customized to fit the needs of individual schools. The starting price for district-wide implementation of the entire program is $26,250.
SurfControl’s Cyber Patrol 6.0
Internet filtering company SurfControl has enhanced its Cyber Patrol web content filtering software. The upgraded versionCyber Patrol 6.0offers school officials the ability to customize 40 categories of content to the needs of a class or even a specific student.
Filtered material includes more than 2.4 million web sites800,000 of which have been identified as web addresses for pornographic solicitation. The latest software also allows officials to block the use of internet chat rooms and memory-consuming MP3 downloads. Cyber Patrol 6.0 can even wipe out the flow of incoming junk mail to a school’s eMail server, according to the company.
The product’s new “threshold rules” allow schools to be more flexible in how they manage internet content. “Threshold rules” enable decision-makers to give older, more mature students greater discretion in what sites they can access, based on the amount of time and total bandwidth used in a given day.
“The new ‘threshold rules’ answer the call from schools that want to give students or faculty greater surfing freedom and allow them to manage their own time more effectively,” said Cyber Patrol Product Marketing Manager Bob Kessinger.
Pricing for Cyber Patrol 6.0 varies depending on the number of workstations. Schools looking to install the product on 100 workstations can expect to pay $1,779; for 250 workstations, the price rises to $3,557.
Star_Base School Suite from Century Consultants
This new suite of products from Century Consultants provides everything teachers and administrators need to track, manage, and maintain school-related information via the web.
For teachers, Star_Student allows them to track and consult student schedules, attendance charts, grading, and personal records. If a teacher needs information about a student quickly, this web-based program gives the teacher that access with the click of a button.
Star_Learning provides the ability to correlate standardized test results and allows teachers and administrators to evaluate the specific strengths and weaknesses of individual kids.
For administrators, Star_Finance offers a program that keeps track of payroll and several other budgeting and accounting needs of schools. From personnel records to invoicing, the product helps school leaders keep their books in order.
Finally, Star_Mobile allows teachers and administrators to make all of this information available wherever and whenever it is needed most by providing access to school records via the use of handheld devices.
Pricing for the entire Star_Base School Suite is based on the number of students covered, training and services included, and product components used. For more information, contact a company representative.
bigchalk Integrated Classroom
Integrated Classroom, from bigchalk Inc., is a new online tool designed to add immediacy and relevancy to any classroom lesson with engaging, supplemental online content.
The product gives teachers access to selected internet resources, multimedia content, and full-text magazine and newspaper articles drawn from the company’s bigchalk Library subscription database, as well as an archive of more than 15,000 lesson plans. All resources contained within Integrated Classroom are correlated to both textbooks and state and national standards, thanks to MediaSeek’s correlation technology.
Teachers can select from three methods to locate content matching their needs. The Subject view provides resources for more than 100 of the most studied topics for each K-12 grade and subject. The Textbook view presents resources mapped to the most widely used textbooks for each grade and subject, and the State Standards view offers resources correlated to state standards and assessments.
The product’s “advanced content management system” allows the company to customize Integrated Classroom to meet the individual needs of each district. This optional customization service enables educators to align the product’s online resources to the specific textbooks, supplementary curriculum, and standards used in their own districtsfor an additional fee.
To accommodate for various budgets, bigchalk allows for the product to be licensed at the district, school, or classroom level.