More than 500 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s Florida Educational Technology Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering multimedia creation tools:

Alias Systems Corp. demonstrated Maya, three-dimensional graphics and animation software reportedly used by professionals at Disney and other companies to bring their computer images to life. The company says it recently dropped the price of Maya Complete by 73 percent and Maya Unlimited by 56 percent, making the software affordable even for educational institutions.

Canvastic Inc., a brand-new company based in Colorado, introduced its self-titled software program, a project-focused desktop publishing tool for K-8 students that works with Windows or Macintosh computers, including Mac OS X. Company founder Steve Gandy, a 25-year veteran teacher of K-6 students, said he created the program in response to what he saw was a real need in the marketplace.

Other desktop publishing programs are either too full of “toys” (like Kid Pix) that can take away from instructional time, or they are geared toward older users (like Microsoft Office or AppleWorks) and are too complex for elementary-age kids, or they are built on a proprietary publishing platform (like HyperStudio) that is really a separate programming environment and not just a publishing tool, Gandy explained, adding, “This is the solution I’ve been looking for in my own classroom for years.”

A unique feature of the software is that it can grow with the user, Gandy said. It comes with a complete set of tools for drawing, painting, or adding graphics to text–but it’s scalable and can be customized to fit the ages or ability levels of students by adding or removing toolbar items.

Using Canvastic, students and teachers can write and present information in a variety of ways. Its tools allow for the creation of maps, diagrams, and graphs, as well as the importing of pictures and text. Pricing starts at $69 for a single license or $949 for a building or site license, with volume discounts available.

Corel Corp. introduced a new K-12 site license to help schools reduce costs and simplify administration of the company’s graphics, office productivity, and digital photography software. Corel’s education software portfolio consists of the following applications: CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12, CorelPainter IX, WordPerfect Office Student and Teacher Edition, Paint Shop Pro 9, and Paint Shop Pro Studio. Under Corel’s new site license, schools may select one, two, or all five of these applications for one set price. In addition, no reporting or tracking of seats is required, simplifying administration and giving teachers and faculty more time to focus on their students, Corel said.

A site license for one Corel product carries a suggested retail price of from $1,000 to $1,750, depending on the product selected. Schools may purchase a site license for any two products for a suggested retail price of $2,500, or they can purchase all five products in Corel’s education portfolio for a suggested retail price of $3,500. Schools participating in Corel’s new K-12 program will receive one set of media, a site license, free home and laptop usage for all faculty and staff members, and free training for CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 12 and Corel Painter IX. Also, when a school purchases Corel’s site license, the professional development centers in its district will be eligible to receive a free site license and one free training seminar, the company said.

FETC 2005

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  • Macromedia launched its 2005 Education Innovation Award program, which recognizes outstanding digital communication projects created by educators and students. The K-12 competition begins now, with competitions for higher education and independent student projects to follow. The K-12 program allows educators in public and private schools, after-school programs, and training centers in North America to submit projects showcasing creative use of technology in the classroom using Macromedia products. One winner will be chosen in each of three categories: academic projects, eLearning, and collaboration and community. The winner in each category will get a $2,000 cash prize, plus a copy of Macromedia Studio MX 2004 with Flash Professional software. Winners also will be featured on the Macromedia web site and might be profiled in a case study or other materials. The deadline for submissions is May 1.

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