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 school management software:

The Administrative Assistants Ltd. (AAL) demonstrated its latest software program, Executive Assistant, a new decision-support tool that enables school leaders to mine the vast amounts of data captured by the company’s student information system software, eSIS. Powered by technology from Oracle Corp., Executive Assistant allows users to create ad-hoc queries and reports from live student data or run “canned” reports created by AAL. After choosing the data you need, you can view results in a spreadsheet format or sort them into graphs for easy comparison, AAL said. You can also continue to drill down into the data to see deeper levels of detail; perform longitudinal studies and comparisons of grades, test results, and more; schedule automatic updates or analyses at regular intervals; and export data into Excel or HTML format.

Centurion Technologies announced the release of CompuGuard CornerStone, hard-drive protection software for schools and businesses. The program write-protects the user’s hard drive from permanent changes, rendering “spyware” and “malware” programs powerless, the company said. After the computer is rebooted, it is restored back to the optimal configuration settings established during installation or preset by a network administrator. With CornerStone installed, computer users also are free to safely experiment without harming their machines, Centurion added, and school IT administrators won’t have to spend valuable time or money debugging the computers later.

Excelsior Software is now offering its premier electronic gradebook software, Gradebook2-SE, to teachers free of charge. Teachers can download the free version from Excelsior’s web site. Gradebook2 allows teachers to customize their electronic gradebook to accommodate any grading system or formula. Teachers also can set up the software to include standards-based outcome tracking. The free, stand-alone version will need to be populated with class rosters and other student information by hand, but in schools using Excelsior’s Pinnacle student information system, the gradebook can pull this information automatically. In a survey of Miami-Dade County educators, teachers overwhelmingly said they were able to save valuable time when using Gradebook2, Excelsior said. The company also will be releasing a native version of Gradebook2 for Macintosh OS X users this spring.

FileMaker Inc. distributed copies of its Education Starter Kit, a free bundle of five ready-to-use school database solutions for educators and administrators, to FETC attendees. The Education Starter Kit comes with a 30-day free trial of FileMaker Pro 7, the company’s flagship database solution, and the platform upon which the starter kit applications are based. FileMaker also unveiled five all-new FileMaker Pro 7-based solutions for schools, created by third-party software developers Super School Software and New Century Data: Parents As School Partners, designed to help parents be better partners at education planning meetings; Database Projects for Kids, comprising video lessons that can be accessed via the internet or on CD-ROM, student workbooks, a Teacher’s Guide for extending learning into a classroom setting, and supplemental materials, such as clip art, sound files, and add-on toolkits; Classroom Observations for School Administrators, designed to save school principals and administrators time during the classroom and school site observation and evaluation process; Classroom Observations for Teachers, which allows educators to make careful observations of students to personalize their teaching methods; and CatAndMail, which allows easy concatenation (linking) and eMailing of PDF files from within a FileMaker Pro 7-based solution.

Follett Software Co. introduced a new wireless scanning device that gives librarians, teachers, and other school staff members the ability to get instant access to their library and textbook information from anywhere within range of their school’s wireless network. Built for users of Follett’s Destiny series of resource-management applications, the Follett Falcon combines the freedom of wireless access with high-performance barcode scanning and PDA technology, Follett said. Teachers and textbook managers can use the Falcon with Follett’s Destiny Textbook Manager software, and librarians and media specialists can use the device with Destiny Library Manager, to quickly circulate books or take inventory wherever the books are kept, saving time and increasing accuracy. The Falcon is a durable, lightweight handheld computer that can access Follett’s Destiny software in real time using the Microsoft Windows CE.NET 4.2 platform. It features a large, color LCD display, an internal pop-up keyboard, an external stylus, and a built-in scanner for easy data input. More than 4,000 schools in 200 districts across the U.S. and Canada have adopted the Destiny resource-management system since its introduction less than two years ago, Follett said.

FETC 2005

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  • Canadian firm StudentsAchieve Software announced that it is moving into the U.S. market as of FETC. The company’s StudentsAchieve program is a complete learning management system that combines an instructional delivery platform with assessment capabilities, teacher collaboration tools, online gradebook and reporting features, and parent communication tools. The product’s goal is to increase teacher collaboration, foster greater parent involvement in their children’s education, raise the completion rate of student assignments, and develop a larger sense of school community, said Ted Bradshaw, CEO. StudentsAchieve came out of research at the University of Alberta five years ago and now boasts some 100,000 users in Canada.

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