More than 200 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s T+L² Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering communication solutions:
The company behind both the NSBA and eSchool News conference blogs was Clarity Innovations Inc. Recognizing that effective change in education comes from the proper and meaningful application of technology, Clarity helps define vision, develop strategy, create instructional resources, and apply emerging technologies.
Experts in professional development and the use of blogs in education, Clarity’s Thor Prichard and Steve Burt were on hand in Denver to conduct workshops on both blogs and wikis–two solutions for improving stakeholder communication. Clarity also supports and trains school staff to increase their understanding of these emerging, web-based teaching tools.
In addition to its work with schools, Clarity is building the eSchool News Ed-Tech Insider blog, which will enable a select group of educational technology experts to communicate with readers of eSchool News Online on a daily basis.
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ClassWebs.net demonstrated its web site management tool that aims to connect teachers, parents, and students effectively, efficiently, and affordably. ClassWebs.net enables teachers to publish all types of class information–from handouts and lessons to student projects–for easy access from any computer, keeping parents informed and students up to date.
Edline, which strives to help keep parents informed and save teachers time, offers a set of web site and portal solutions specifically for use in K-12 schools. Working with schools’ existing software, student information systems, gradebooks, and desktop applications, Edline provides a stakeholder portal that ties each of these disparate systems together, allowing administrators to control who has access to what applications and from where. Students and teachers can search school databases for information about classes, assignments, and activities, and parents can access grades, consult child attendance records, read news, keep track of upcoming assignments, and mark events on the school calendar’all through a secure, password-protected online system.
Finalsite is offering free eMail service for one year for faculty, students, and administrators of schools that buy the company’s finalsiteCMS (Content Management System) solution by Dec. 12. Reportedly used by more than 400 schools, districts, educational service agencies, colleges, and universities, finalsiteCMS is intended to maximize the potential of school web sites for communicating with stakeholders. Finalsite also is offering a free, one-year subscription to ScheduleStar, a sports scheduling program designed by an athletic director for fellow ADs. This real-time scheduling application allows parents and students to be updated from the practice field automatically if practice is cancelled, for example.
Megan Stewart, global education director of Macromedia Inc., was in Denver to announce that the Blackboard Content System is now fully integrated with Macromedia Contribute 3, the content development tool released in July. Contribute 3 allows students and teachers to create and edit high-quality web content in a quick and easy way. Stewart said the tools provided by Contribute add a whole new dimension to Blackboard, enabling students to access a wider variety of content.
Macromedia is also issuing K-6 site licenses (up to 500 computers) of Contribute 3 that come with 10 copies of Macromedia Studio MX 2004. The K-6 license, which also includes teacher training resources, is available for a flat fee of $1,499 per school building.
Stewart described reaction to Contribute 3 as enthusiastic and said schools are thrilled with a version that works better than ever on a Mac OS.
Macromedia also promoted the upcoming release of its Captivate software, which enables educators to create video software tutorials. Captivate offers schools new opportunities for professional development, enabling a district’s most tech-savvy educators to train their colleagues. Captivate begins shipping in November.
StudentsAchieve said it recently was awarded the contract for delivering a new learning management system for the Parkland School Division in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada, near Edmonton. StudentsAchieve web-based software will be integrated into every school in the district. The system can be accessed from anywhere on the internet, and collaboration tools enable teachers to share content with other users on the system. The software features a learning management system that helps educators manage content and resources, helps improve teacher performance and student motivation, and involves parents in the learning process, the company said. The StudentsAchieve system also enables parents and students to link media and other content to homework, courses, and specific lessons.
Exhibitor information compiled and written by Online Editor Dan David, Managing Editor Dennis Pierce, Associate Editor Cara Branigan, Assistant Editor Corey Murray, and Contributing Editor Laura Ascione.