Sagebrush’s new search engine helps quickly pinpoint relevant information

For teachers, students, and librarians, the ability to locate accurate, relevant information about a particular topic quickly and easily is critical. This ability might be greatly enhanced by a new search engine from Sagebrush Corp., called Pinpoint, that combines the best of meta-searches and clustering to deliver search results from a district’s own library resources—as well as external subscription databases, web sites, and web search engines—in a single step, all grouped according to category.

“School districts are investing in high-quality resources”databases, cataloged web site collections, online references, magazines, and books—but unless students can access all of them without difficulty, those resources go to waste,” said Jim Zicarelli, chief executive officer of Sagebrush.

Pinpoint gathers, evaluates, ranks, and reports the most relevant results from these and other online sources. Because it’s web-based, students can access the results from anywhere, at any time. The software reportedly supports databases from bigchalk, EBSCO, Gale Group, Grolier Online, H.W. Wilson, NewsBank, and ProQuest, and it also can accommodate others upon request. It does not include the cost of these resources; schools would still have to subscribe to each one separately.

With Pinpoint, Sagebrush says, students can better manage information overload and more easily navigate through search results by selecting relevant content groups, because it clusters the results into sub-groups based on context. For example, if you typed in the search term “mercury,” it would group the results into topics such as Mercury the planet, Mercury the Greek god, mercury the element, Mercury Theater, Mercury the car, and so on, instead of returning an unordered hodgepodge of resources.

The software also reportedly can search for age-appropriate material. At the beginning of a search, a user self-selects whether it is a grade school, junior high, high school, or adult search. Over time, for each search term, the search engine analyzes what resources are most useful based on how often and by which age group they are accessed. “If it turns out most kids click on Grolier versus something else, the search engine learns from that,” said Bret A. Busse, technology and marketing director for iXMatch, the company behind the new search technology. “It learns the relationship between the user’s level, what’s being searched, and what’s being used.” Pinpoint does not act as a content filter, but it does come with a standard list of useful web sites that schools can customize.

(800) 533-5430

Live webcasting is easy with this appliance from Codifica

Teachers can broadcast their lessons live over the internet or archive them for future viewing with MediaSite Live 2.0., an easy-to-use appliance distributed by Codifica LLC of Coconut Grove, Fla.

MediaSite Live simplifies the process of webcasting without the complications of authoring and production. This comprehensive solution allows users to capture, stream, deliver, and archive synchronized audio, video, and other multimedia presentation material without expensive media production equipment and with unprecedented flexibility, convenience, and speed.

“I was so impressed with the simplicity of this product and the gigantic possibilities for its use,” said Barbara K. Sugarman of The Carrollton School in Miami.

To use the device, teachers simply need a digital camcorder, a microphone, and good lighting in their classroom. MediaSite Live captures the audio and video of a teacher’s lesson and synchronizes it to supporting documents used in the lesson, such as electronic whiteboards, transparencies, or PowerPoint slides.

MediaSite Live reportedly captures and streams any type of digital content—from presenter video to transparencies, opaque projections, interactive whiteboards, presentation graphics, and Microsoft Office applications, including PowerPoint slides, screen shots, and live web pages.

“Our teachers simply plug their laptops into the system, and whatever they pull up on the monitor is instantly presented and can be streamed across the internet in a highly professional and efficient manner,” said Joan Lutton, head of The Cushman School and president of the Florida Council of Independent Schools.

Teachers can stream lessons live and/or save them for viewing later. The supporting software walks the teacher through the process of configuring the webcast for 56K or high-speed internet access. The appliance and supporting software costs about $23,000.

(305) 445-4405

Help elementary students meet AYP with this software from McGraw-Hill

Yearly ProgressPro, from McGraw-Hill Digital Learning, is an online, curriculum-based measurement tool designed to raise the achievement of students in first to sixth grade. The software addresses instruction, assessment, and intervention to help elementary school students succeed on the yearly tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

“The need for research-based solutions proven to raise student achievement, coupled with growing accountability demands, makes it critical for teachers and administrators to instantly know where to focus instruction and where their students rank within state and national standards,” said Brad Onken, president of McGraw-Hill Digital Learning. “Yearly ProgressPro provides these data in an easy-to-use tool that continually assesses progress over the entire curriculum to ensure adequate yearly progress [AYP].”

Yearly ProgressPro works through weekly, 15-minute tests that assess the entire grade level curriculum to prevent slippage of student skill mastery. Exercises and practice sets are included to introduce or explain a given skill and provide for automatic instruction. A data management system then allows educators to track students’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as whole-class performance on specific skills or skill groupings.

Yearly ProgressPro Math is now available, and the company plans to launch Yearly ProgressPro Reading next. The math tool gives teachers more than 500 individual skills assessments aligned with state and national standards, but an additional 19,000 assessments are available.

A school license for Yearly Progress Pro costs $2,995 per year, per subject for up to 250 students and $6,995 per year, per subject for up to 1,000 students. District-level pricing is available upon request.

(800) 848-1567, ext. 4424

Save money on paper and toner with Print Manager Plus 4.0

Print Manager Plus 4.0, from Software Shelf International Inc., lets you set a limit on student printing and avoid budget disasters that can result from uncontrolled, irresponsible printing. Besides saving paper, it’ll also save toner and wear and tear on your school’s printers, the company says.

Print Manager Plus supports printing from most operating systems and all printer types. It installs in seconds on any Windows-based print server, requires no agents, and makes no changes to printer drivers.

The software enables users to enter a different page cost per printer (taking into account whether it prints in color or black-and-white, for example) and thus can calculate exact printing costs per user or printer. The interface contains built-in reports showing how many pages each user or printer has printed over specific time periods and the actual cost of these activities.

Using the software, you can set an overall price quota per user or group over a certain period of time, limit job sizes by user to a specified number of pages, or restrict printing jobs based on file type, application, or by keywords in the document title. The company claims that in an average school environment of 1,000 students, the software pays for itself in paper and toner saved every ten days.

Print Manager Plus 4.0 is licensed per print server. One license—including annual maintenance—costs $596.25. For purchases of 51 or more licenses, the price drops to $371.25 per license.

(800) 962-2290

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