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 presentation technologies:

Cisco Systems announced a new Cisco Internet Protocol (IP) Videoconferencing Solution for K-12 schools. The solution combines Cisco IP-based hardware and software with the Educator MXP Series product line of videoconferencing systems from New York-based TANDBERG. The combined package allows educators to easily and cost-effectively create a fully interactive distance-education classroom, Cisco said. TANDBERG’s Educator MXP Series features improved video quality with the introduction of H.264 support for high-quality video over lower bandwidth; a 50-inch, super-high resolution (SXGA) plasma screen; digital audio technology with true CD-quality sound; an expanded multipoint capability that enables up to 11 audio and video participants in a single call; and a Rear Instructor cart, monitor, and camera for constant eye contact with near and remote students, TANDBERG said.

GTCO CalComp demonstrated new software that adds greater functionality to the company’s InterWrite PRS, an audience response system that allows students to answer questions throughout a lesson with a wireless, remote-control-like transmitter. The improved software gives teachers the ability to export grades from a quiz or in-class assignment directly to leading course management systems, including the Blackboard Learning System, Web Assign, and WebCT. Version 3.10 of the InterWrite PRS software also gives teachers more options for administering and reporting students’ results from classroom tests and quizzes. For example, teachers now can produce summary results by question, cumulative grades by student, and session attendance.

SMART Technologies unveiled the latest version of its SMART Board software, which offers several new capabilities intended to enhance the classroom use of interactive whiteboards, SMART said. New features in version 9.0 include support for wireless and mobile devices, improved content management, more drawing tools, and an intuitive, flexible interface that boosts accessibility for younger and special-needs students. The company also announced the availability of $64 million in SMARTer Kids Grants for SMART products for the 2004-2005 school year. Available to all accredited, nonprofit education institutions, museums, libraries, and home schools in the United States and Canada, these grants are worth from 20 percent to 70 percent of the suggested list price of SMART Board interactive whiteboards, Sympodium interactive pen displays, Expression multimedia cabinets, and SMART software. Schools can apply for an unlimited number of grants. Applications must be received by September 30, 2005.

FETC 2005

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