Portable assistive technology solution from Xybernaut
XyberKids, from Xybernaut Corp., is a wearable assistive technology solution ideal for students with disabilities, such as autism or cerebral palsy. XyberKids consists of a computing platform, software, and peripherals built into a sturdy backpack with padded, adjustable straps that students can wear in the classroom.
“[We] have already achieved tremendous results by utilizing the XyberKids wearable computers during a six-month test deployment,” said Jeanne Gides, director of special services with Coventry, Ohio, Local School District, one of the first schools to beta-test XyberKids. “We feel strongly that this is empowering our students to … participate in less restrictive environments and gain functional independence more quickly.”
XyberKids reportedly aids students in a variety of tasks, including written expression, conversion of text and pictures into structured speech, supplemental communication through audio output devices, and enhancement of organizational skills. The standard backpack features a 500-megahertz Intel Mobile Celeron processor with 256 megabytes of memory, 5 gigabyte internal hard drive, and Compact Flash, USB, and Firewire peripheral ports.
Students enter and view data using an 8.4-inch, color flat-panel display with an onscreen keyboard and built-in handwriting recognition technology. In addition, XyberKids supports networked or wireless internet access. Prices for the XyberKids solution start at $4,995.
Remote management software from Apple Computer
With Apple Remote Desktop software for the Mac OS X, teachers and administrators can remotely manage other Macintosh desktops anywhere within the school’s local or wireless network.
The software allows a system administrator to provide remote assistance, collect system profiles, reconfigure computer settings, and install software on hundreds of computers without leaving his or her desk. In addition, teachers can use the software to observe up to 250 computer screens on a rotating cycle of four screens at a time.
Apple Remote Desktop features communication tools, such as real-time text chat, that allow teachers and students to interact privately across the network. The software also lets administrators or teachers take control of a user’s screen to spot and fix problems remotely. Remote Desktop supports multiple levels of administrator access, each with its own password, providing a secure way for teachers to assist students while restricting privileges for deleting items or changing system settings. Teachers and administrators can remotely control computers by locking screens, starting, restarting, sleeping or waking computers on an individual basis or for an entire workgroup or computer lab.
Apple Remote Desktop sells for $299 for 10 clients or $499 for unlimited clients.
New digital projector from PLUS Vision
PLUS Vision of America has unveiled a new, lightweight mobile projector that includes a CompactFlash card insert and presentation download software, eliminating the need for presenters to carry a PC.
The 5.6-pound U2-X2000 projector, which uses Texas Instruments’ Digital Light Processing (DPL) technology, uses digital connectivity, including a Digitial Video Interface, which means it doesn’t need to convert images to analog. It also features a chalkboard function that lets the presenter use a mouse to draw images directly on the screen, as well as digital and manual zoom, manual focus, and a remote control.
The projector contains full multimedia capabilities and supports the latest video standards, including HDTV with 480p, 720p, and 1080i High Definition imaging. It can connect to any video source and quickly switch between PCs, DVDs, digital camcorders, and TVs.
PLUS Vision is the new entity resulting from the January merger of PLUS Corp. of America and Lightware Inc. The U2-X2000 has a suggested retail price of $6,495.
Network security software from Sergeant Laboratories
Sergeant Laboratories has introduced a new network security system, called Aristotle. The Wisconsin-based company developed Aristotle to be a desktop usage monitor that tracks student computing at the desktop level and automatically notifies instructors in the case of unusual or dangerous activity.
The software lets school administrators virtually “walk the halls” of the school’s network to see what students are doing in order to catch hate mail, threats, or racial epithets as they are being typed. In one case, Aristotle reportedly detected a depressed student composing a suicide letter and automatically informed the school’s administration via eMail. In addition, Aristotle generates information reports that describe students’ and staff members’ computer use, such as which applications are being used by whom and when. Aristotle also conducts web site searching and filtering of inappropriate content.
Built as a network appliance, Aristotle just needs to be plugged in and turned on. It automatically starts reporting and responding to your school’s network configuration. Pricing begins at $5,400 to support 100 computers.
Reading fluency software from Soliloquy Learning
Soliloquy Learning, a new K-12 company that aims to help young students learn to read, has introduced its flagship product, the Soliloquy Reading Assistant. According to the company, this software advances reading fluency and comprehension of young readers using speech-recognition technology to provide immediate feedback to students as they practice oral reading.
Aimed at grades two to five, the software allows students to choose fiction or nonfiction passages from magazines such as Cricket, Spider, Click, and Ladybug. Students can choose to listen to a model of fluent reading or begin reading independently. If they get stuck on a word, they can click to hear the correct pronunciation. Words that needed prompting are color-coded for extra attention. Students also can hear their reading played back or take vocabulary or comprehension quizzes.
“We’re interested in providing teachers with tools that will allow them to be more effective, automate their evaluation of children’s readings, and better leverage their precious time,” said Bruce Bower, chief executive of Soliloquy Learning. He added that the Soliloquy Reading Assistant is “based on well-known and accepted educational science.”
The Soliloquy Reading Assistant costs $199.95 and is available only on CD-ROM.
School accountability software from TurnLeaf
After two years of development and piloting, TurnLeaf has released a school management and accountability program called Achievement Management System (AMS) 1.1. With AMS, school leaders can create and navigate charts and reports on student, teacher, and test information to help them understand how students perform across grade levels, curriculum subjects, classes, and schools.
AMS can benenfit staff members at all levels of a school district. Administrators can use the software to generate customized reports on any individual or group over time, factoring in data such as attendance or medical histories. They can use these reports for data-driven decision making or distributing to state authorities. Principals can use AMS to establish achievement profiles of their school, as well as help assign teachers more effectively and place students in classrooms, while teachers can identify achievement gaps among their students and plan instruction accordingly.
Pricing varies for each district; contact the company for more information.
Digital photo activity kit from APTE
APTE Inc., maker of the Internet Coach web learning software, has developed a digital photo kit with all the tools students and teachers need to add photos to classroom projects.
The Deluxe Edition Digital Photo Activity Kit enables students to take their own digital photos and use them with a variety of writing exercises to create unique newsletters, book reports, picture frames, and more. The kit includes a teacher’s activity book, a digital camera that can hold up to 80 photos, and two CD-ROMs. There are 50 templates in the program’s seven activity centers that make it easy to integrate photos, clip art, and web images into children’s creations.
Each kit includes a Writing Center section to create documents; a Movie Maker section to create movies from students’ photos; a Travel Center to create passports, maps, and travel journals; a Special Events section to create greeting cards and posters; a Craft Corner to create picture frames and stickers; and the Picture Games section, to incorporate photos into one of five games. The teacher’s guide is loaded with camera projects and writing activities to help get teachers started.
The Internet Coach Digital Photo Activity Kit Deluxe Edition costs $99.95. It is also available without a camera for $64.95.
Wireless computer remote from Gyration
The GyroRemote, from Gyration Inc., is wireless remote control for computers that offer teachers unprecedented mobility in the classroom. Using the remote, teachers can control PowerPoint presentations or any Windows application from anywhere in the classroom using simple hand gestures.
The GyroRemote, which weighs 6 ounces including batteries, allows users to launch and control supporting applicationssuch as multimedia players or internet browserswhile walking around the room. It uses radio-frequency technology with a 100-foot range, so it doesn’t require a line of sight to the computer. The GyroRemote also features GyroTools, a special-effects software program that allows teachers to add more than 75 dynamic effects to presentations while in progresssuch as drawing lines, highlighting text, or zooming in on portions of the screen.
The GyroRemote works with PCs running Windows 2000, ME, XP, or higher. It has limited functionality with Apple computers; only the cursor control and left mouse button fully function. The suggested retail price is $229, but education pricing is available.