NECC 2004: Digital imaging and creativity

More than 450 companies were at this year’s NECC displaying their technology solutions for educators. Here are some of the highlights of companies’ products related to digital imaging and creativity tools:

Focusing on preK-8 learners, 2SimpleUSA Inc. showcased its new 2Simple Music Toolkit, the latest entry in an extensive line of elementary educational programs. The two-year-old company is the North American publisher and distributor of products from 2Simple Software, a British publisher that dominates its nation’s early-learning market. The company’s flagship Early Learning Toolkit for preK-3 students has helped spur its rapid growth in the United States. Marketing manager Michael St. Louis said 2SimpleUSA has doubled its overall sales in the past year alone, citing the brand’s instant appeal. “The great thing about the [Music Toolkit] program is that it’s customizable for most students. And it’s not only easy for the students to learn, it’s also easy for the teachers to learn and to immediately integrate into their curriculum,” he said. Available at a single-unit retail price of $49.95, the 2Simple Music Toolkit can be purchased in bulk from increments of $29.97 to $19.63 per unit. The company also offers unlimited licensing for a flat fee of $833.66.

The substantial size and crowd-drawing power of the Canon USA booth was a reflection of digital imaging’s impact on the classroom and educators’ growing interest in digital video. One of several companies catering to the needs of educators looking to integrate video into their curricula, Canon showcased its PowerShot compact digital cameras and its EOS Digital Camera line, which offers several Single Lens Reflex cameras to meet educators’ demands. The company also prides itself in offering production-quality camcorders that are of high quality and yet affordable, helping schools with their distance-learning initiatives as well as with video presentation. In the works is an extensive Canon initiative that will focus on helping educators and their students understand the significance and principles of big-picture topics such as visual literacy.

Canadian software publisher Celedy Software came to New Orleans to announce the July release of CeledyDraw 2, a teaching and productivity tool for graphics design and desktop publishing. The latest release has been enhanced to meet the needs of teachers, including support for EPS, AI, PDF, and several other vector graphic formats that enable sharing across multiple platforms. More affordable than its high-end competitors, according to the company, the versatile software now features unlimited undo/redo commands, several new templates, and an “intelligent” user interface that can guess what a user is trying to do and adjust its context automatically, the company said.

eZedia Inc. previewed the Windows version of eZediaQTI 2.0, the company’s multimedia authoring software for creating rich internet web content and interactive movies. Without special programming or coding knowledge, eZediaQTI lets users combine and enhance video, graphics, animation, sound, and text to create web sites, internet banners, online presentations, and interactive content. eZedia also announced the winners of its Zoom-ed Classroom Contest. The winners of Apple eMacs were the first-grade classroom of West Tisbury School in West Tisbury, Mass., and the seventh-grade classroom of Nathan Twining Middle School in Grand Forks, N.D.

At a time when digital imaging was hotter than ever in education, Olympus America was at NECC demonstrating several products. The company also introduced new co-curricular materials designed to help teachers integrate digital imaging and visual learning into social studies and science classes for grades 4-6. The company’s online curriculum materials are located at In the area of educational tools, Olympus presented three of its digital cameras and its MIC-D digital microscope. Olympus also promoted the Sylus 410 digital camera with an all-weather, splash-proof design and lenses that suit the needs of advanced photography courses. To serve professional development needs, Olympus has introduced an online newsletter called “Visionary Educator,” available at Olympus said it is developing plans to train teachers to operate and use digital photographic equipment in the classroom and support those schools as technologies change.

NECC saw the debut of the Pinnacle Video and Advanced Video Toolkits from Pinnacle Systems Inc. These new products are designed to give teachers the tools to inspire and educate their students through video production. The toolkits are based on Pinnacle’s popular video editing software applications, Pinnacle Studio version 9 and Liquid Edition version 5.5. Each toolkit comes with product training materials from leading curriculum providers. The Video Toolkit includes a Quick Step Guide from Digital Classroom, and the Advanced Toolkit comes with Pinnacle Liquid Edition PowerStart from DV Creators, giving instructors out-of-the-box teaching tools to use with their video editing software. Both the entry and advanced video toolkits are available in the U.S. and in Canada. They are priced for the education market and are available in five- and 10-license packs, with volume pricing also available.

Serious Magic showcased its award-winning Visual Communicator software, which enables students and instructors to create dynamic videos in just minutes. The software is ideal for everything from campus-wide newscasts to video book reports, the company said. Visual Communicator also works with existing content and provides the flexibility to create video once and share it on the internet, over a campus network, or via CD and DVD. Check the company’s web site for demonstrations of the software’s capabilities.

TechSmith Corp., a provider of screen capture and recording solutions, announced new features to its SnagIt 7.1 software that aim to simplify the capturing, editing, and sharing of images, including support for MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger. SnagIt, which costs $39.95, streamlines the process of sending screen shots over MSN Messenger and Windows Messenger, and its web capture feature allows users to capture all the graphics from a web page or group of web pages in one step. Other features include automatic file naming, additional photo-edge effects, and drag-and-drop support for more than 20 file formats.

Looking to take its consumer-product success into the educational field, Ulead displayed its new VideoStudio 8 product, released in April. VideoStudio 8 simplifies the video-editing process, enabling educators to quickly produce high-quality presentations for their students. Students also can use the software to produce videos for school projects and extracurricular activities. The latest release offers refined, automated video editing tools that make it possible to turn videos into polished movies to distribute on DVD, CD, or the web. VideoStudio 8 offers a unique approach to video automation with tools that enhance the story-telling process. In addition, a full-featured Video Editor includes new and enhanced effects and filters, royalty-free music, and overlay and audio tools for more advanced editing techniques and control. Novice users can start out on the product’s lower level, working up to the more advanced features. The company’s web site offers sample lesson plans and other ideas for integrating video editing into a curriculum. VideoStudio 8 recently won PC Magazine‘s Editors’ Choice Award for video-editing packages.

This eSchool News Online report on the 2004 NECC is made possible with financial support of Dell.

eSchool News Staff

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