School bus security goes high tech with Honeywell’s Digital Chaperone
Honeywell Inc. has introduced a new all-digital video and data recorder system designed specifically for school buses. Intended to help keep school buses safe and secure, the Digital Chaperone DDR400 captures images and audio digitally on a mobile hard drive.
The system is available with an optional GPS module, which reportedly records vehicle location, geographic direction, and speed data along with related video and audio information. It also features wireless network capabilities, allowing surveillance footage to be reviewed via a Wi-Fi network, Honeywell says.
Included in the system is Honeywell’s new D52 camera, which provides great flexibility in mounting options, the company says. For example, the camera can be mounted on the bulkhead or looking straight down rather than forward. The D52 also offers a wider field of view, concealed wiring, audio capabilities, and a rotating gimbal for easy camera adjustment.
“The D52 camera allows for maximum coverage in a single enclosure,” said Brian Curliss, product line manager for Honeywell Video Systems. “The rotating gimbal eliminates the need to mount multiple cameras to achieve the same coverage.”
The DDR400 system is equipped with BusView Player and Toolbox software that allows users to find, print, distribute, and archive video and audio files for future use. The software is compatible with Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. With BusView, users can connect the DDR400 unit to a PC or laptop to view a single camera image or quad image. The system also can be configured to meet various specifications using the BusView Toolbox application.
The solution supports up to a 60-gigabyte mobile hard drive, which allows for longer recording times. It’s also compatible with previous DDR systems, so users can mix and match camera types if they desire, Honeywell says. Pricing starts at $1,820 but can range up to $4,825, depending on system needs and configurations.
New Lawson software leaves behind the hassle of managing employee leave programs
Lawson Software has released a new human resources software solution, called Absence Management for Government and Education, intended to reduce the time and cost associated with managing complex employee time and leave plans.
By automating and streamlining formerly manual administrative processes, the application enables government and education HR staff to focus on other activities, such as hiring and strategic planning, Lawson says.
“Managing increasingly complex leave policies for 29,000 employees holding 30,000 positions required flexibility and automation,” said Scott Hamilton, human-resource information services analyst for the University of Wisconsin Systems, a beta site and lead adopter of the software. “Lawson has allowed us to streamline management of diverse employee leave plans while ensuring compliance with evolving leave laws and union policies.”
Besides reducing the administrative burden associated with employee time and leave programs, Lawson Absence Management for Government and Education can help HR staff ensure compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act and other laws governing intermittent and continuous leaves of absence, Lawson says.
The program enables school HR staff to create multiple plan types for diverse employee groups, facilitate the automation of complex union environments, and accurately calculate and track leave of absence eligibility and time balances by position. This is critical, the company says, because government and education employees frequently hold multiple positions funded by different budgets over fractional work years and full-time equivalencies. The software also reportedly automates plan enrollments, updates, and terminations based on changes in employee status and other user-defined criteria; manages carryover balances and limits to prevent overuse of leave time; and includes strategic trend analysis reports.
Meet the test of providing continual assessment with this new tool from STI
According to the American Association of Higher Education, student assessment works best when it is ongoing, not episodic. Improvement is best fostered when assessment involves a coordinated series of activities undertaken over time, monitoring progress toward clearly defined educational goals.
To help school leaders address this challenge, Software Technology Inc. (STI) has created a web-based solution called STIAssessment. The software reportedly integrates with any existing school or student information system to help schools increase student achievement and meet No Child Left Behind requirements.
“Without the integration of systems, data are disparate, and it is difficult to pinpoint areas for improvement in curriculum and instruction,” said Rob Fiance, CEO of STI. “Our new tool allows for the archiving and alignment of student data to assessment data, creating a living assessment record that follows students throughout their school career.”
STIAssessment aims to make frequent benchmark testing and continuous tracking of student achievement easy to manage. Using the solution’s STICreator, educators can develop their own test items and tag them to state and district benchmarks to create their own assessments. Or, they can select questions from an existing test item bank to create assessments that are tightly aligned with local standards.
The solution addresses the varying levels of access to technology in the classroom by allowing educators to deliver and score assessments either online or on paper. The scanning technology offered in STIAssessment imports paper-based student test scores into the online assessment platform. Minutes after students have taken their tests, the software reportedly can provide formative assessment data by student, class, school, or district. Reports can be accessed online for immediate feedback, and data can be exported easily into a Microsoft Excel file to complete the required reports, STI says.
The software’s online data analysis tools enable district administrators, principals, and teachers to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and alter instruction accordingly. Administrators also can view test performance data in aggregated or disaggregated format to allocate resources where they are needed most, STI says.
STIAssessment costs $12 per student per year, with volume discounts available.
ProQuest adds standards-based searching to its K-12 information services
ProQuest Information and Learning has introduced dynamic, standards-based searching capability into its K-12 information products, which include eLibrary, eLibrary Curriculum Edition, and the SIRS family of databases. The new search feature enables educators to find resources in ProQuest’s extensive portfolio of K-12 databases according to specific content standards and benchmarks.
ProQuest says it is the first aggregated database provider to offer dynamic searching across all content areas and every current state and national learning standard. When complete, the company’s standards-based search feature reportedly will cover all core curriculum subject areas and will include all states’ standards for English, language arts, math, science, and social studies–as well as national standards for technology and health. “Dynamic” searching means that users will receive updated search results as soon as new content is added or standards change.
Standards-based searching will save time for educators during the lesson-planning process and will ensure that library resources are aligned directly with learning goals, ProQuest says. Educators can use the new feature to search through more than 50 million documents in ProQuest’s databases, including full-text periodical articles, reference works, primary sources, web sites, maps, pictures, audio and video clips, transcripts, and more–all united in a single search.
Standards-based searching launches directly from the products’ main search page, with customized displays and workstation access. Users will find topics, web sites, and articles that match the curriculum standards for their state. With a few clicks, users can find benchmarks and begin matching them to ProQuest resources, the company says; results display all topics related to the chosen benchmark.
FileMaker offers five free, ready-to-use database solutions for schools
FileMaker Inc. has introduced an “Education Starter Kit,” a free bundle of five pre-designed, ready-to-use database solutions for educators and administrators. The solutions can be used right away to track faculty and staff efficiently; manage curriculum, admissions, and gradebooks; store mathematical clip art for ready use; manage registrations and course offerings; and organize class materials all in one place.
With HumanResources, developed by School Base (http://www.school-base.com), users can access and maintain basic demographic information for all employees, as well as assignment history, certificates, degrees, dates of service, professional credits, and more. Users also can track salary information and charge it to one or more accounts.
CourseTracker, developed by iSolution (http://www.isolutions-inc.com), manages courses offered by semester, quarter, and year and tracks all students who have taken those courses. Users can view all enrolled students by class, as well as those who are wait-listed. Upon course completion, users can easily record grades and print report cards, the company says.
Math Art, from Super School (http://www.superschoolsoftware.com), allows teachers to find and use the math clip art needed to build mathematical word problems. This customizable solution comes complete with a built-in teacher’s notes section to help teachers create story problems that will assist students in meeting state standards. Sample clip art is included to give teachers a head start in building their own clip-art libraries.
CourseWizard Lite, developed by Waves in Motion (http://www.wmotion.com), is a course registration solution that helps administrators manage their staff development programs easily and efficiently. Users are able to create basic catalogs, manage course availability, track grades and registration, and more.
Curricula, a curriculum management solution from dbGenius (http://www.dbgenius.com), allows a teacher to store and manage the content for an entire class curriculum. Computer files, such as a slide presentation or spreadsheet application, can be stored in the database along with the lesson outline and objectives. Teachers can search the database to select a lesson plan based on subject matter, grade level, and other information.
The Education Starter Kit also comes with a 30-day free trial version of FileMaker Pro 7, a standard database program reportedly used by more than 10,000 schools worldwide. FileMaker Pro is now available to eligible educational institutions for $149, which is half off the suggested list price for the software.
Pearson Digital Learning announces super NovaNET release
Pearson Digital Learning has unveiled the biggest release to date of its NovaNET online courseware system, with 129 new or enhanced multimedia lessons. NovaNET, a standards-based curriculum and assessment system designed for students in grades 6-12, provides individualized instruction for thousands of learners across the nation, Pearson says.
The NovaNET 2004 release includes 79 brand-new chemistry lessons and 50 new multimedia-enhanced lessons in math and language arts, all benefiting from a new look that offers an attractive, intuitive interface designed to make learning easier and more engaging for students.
According to Sandra Lassiter, product manager for NovaNET, the release should be particularly appealing to high schools as they struggle to help students obtain the math and science skills necessary to meet adequate yearly progress requirements and for an increasing technology- and science-based society.
“Many students struggle in these subject areas because some concepts are difficult to grasp through standard textbook and lecture means,” said Lassiter. “A recent study by the National Science Foundation found that computer tutorials dramatically improve student attitudes toward these subjects.”
The addition of the 79 new chemistry lessons means that the NovaNET chemistry curriculum now constitutes a full high school chemistry course. These new chemistry lessons teach students through simulated experiments, problem sets, and animations, including video. Topics include bonding, elements, measurement, atomic structures, gases, oxidation and reduction, rates and equilibrium, acids and bases, and more.
Among the 26 enhanced multimedia lessons in language arts, topics include reading comprehension, grammar and usage, reference, spelling, and vocabulary. The 24 enhanced lessons in math address such topics as polynomials, factoring, and graphing and equations.
The new release, consisting of two CDs and support materials, has been shipped at no additional charge to all current NovaNET subscribers.
Customers may deploy the new lessons–as well as the entire NovaNET library of multimedia lessons–from the CDs or from the NovaNET web site. All NovaNET lessons operate on both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Shoulder your tablet PC comfortably with this unique case and strap
The first time Don Spencer, president of Intelligent Technologies Inc., tried to use his new tablet computer as a writing tool, he realized two things: “This four pounds is going to get too heavy very soon,” he said, and “if I put this computer down, it’s going to get lost or stolen.” He searched the web for something that would hold his tablet while he was using it–and when no such product could be found, he designed one of his own. The result is a close-fitting computer case that aims to solve both problems.
The IT Tablet Computer Case is a form-fitting case on an adjustable shoulder strap. The front cover folds back when the case is opened and can be secured against the back panel. The computer fits snuggly into a flexible synthetic binding that holds the computer firmly against the back panel. Users simply open the case and rest the bottom against their stomach, while the top of the case is suspended from the shoulder strap for secure, comfortable writing or other tablet work.
When not writing, the computer can hang comfortably on the hip without fear of being dropped or damaged. The writing stylus is securely fastened to an 18-inch cord to prevent its loss–a problem as common as losing a pen, but with more serious results, Spencer says.
The shoulder strap wraps around and can be secured against the width of the case, so users can stow the computer neatly in a backpack. A “typing strap” allows users to stand and type with convertible tablets (or notebook computers) suspended in front of them with four-point stability.
Cases are designed for each of the most popular tablet computer models and are made of a sturdy, canvas-like nylon. Standard colors are blue or black, but Intelligent Technologies also can provide specific school colors or even arrange for embroidery or silk-screening of a school’s name or mascot.