Here’s a look at some other news and announcements coming out of CoSN’s 2005 conference.
Roving Planet Inc., a leading provider of integrated wireless LAN security and management solutions, was on hand in Washington to demo its latest product. Called Central Site Director Release 2.9, the solution gives IT directors a means to control access to their school or district’s wireless local area network from a single, centralized location, such as a district server room.
According to Tom Ohlsson, marketing director for Roving Planet, CSD 2.9 gives technology coordinators the power to control not only who can access the network but also what levels of access are available to individual users. Administrators, for example, might be able to access administrative files, while students might be able to access only their personal class files, Ohlsson said.
CSD 2.9 also lets network administrators control public access to the network at any time, thus enabling a school to open up its network for PTA meetings and other public functions and then lock it down again during the school day, Ohlsson said. What’s more, a series of automated reports and systems alerts help technology coordinators assess overall network traffic, monitor for hardware malfunctions, and keep track of any attacks leveled against the network.
Adjustable session time-outs ensure that users cannot stay connected to the network for extended periods of time. According to Ohlsson, product pricing depends of the size and scope of the installation. Roving Planet also offers training and ongoing support to help district coordinators deploy and effectively maintain the network.
Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications Inc., producers of the Discovery Channel cable network, announced during the conference a new multi-year partnership with the Texas Education Service Center Region Five. The deal will give more than 87,000 students in 114 schools access to the company’s unitedstreaming video-on-demand service, the online video program that delivers judiciously selected educational videos clips and content directly to students’ desktops. “Region Five’s commitment to providing educators with the very best technology resources to improve the classroom learning environment makes them a natural partner for Discovery Education,” said Ron Reed, senior vice president of sales and integration for Discovery Education. “We’re thrilled to be able to expand our relationship to give educators across the region a way to bring classroom lessons alive with unitedstreaming.” With over 4,000 available full-length, core-curriculum videos chaptered into over 40,000 content-specific video clips, educators have the ability to enhance their lesson plans with multimedia content that is correlated to individual state education standards. The unitedstreaming technology is currently licensed to over 43,000 schools across the United States, reaching over 19 million students and their teachers. Free 30-day trials are available by visiting the company’s web site.
Cisco Systems Inc., a company increasing its emphasis on a wide variety of K-12 solutions, wants especially to help schools improve the security and efficiency of their wireless networks. During the conference, Cisco announced the release of CiscoSecure, a new wireless solution designed specifically for K-12 schools. The CiscoSecure Wireless Solution for K-12 helps bring the technology and the content to the students and the teachers, no matter where they are physically located, executives said. “Wireless Local Area Networks have become an essential tool for educators, providing them with anytime-anywhere access to the internet, eMail, and key productivity applications–essentially all of their daily information and communication needs at their fingertips,” said Charles Fadel, global lead for education for Cisco. “The CiscoSecure Wireless Solution for K-12 helps improve efficacy by extending the availability of content and applications alike.” According to Cisco, specific components of the solution vary, depending on the geographic and architectural needs of each school district, but a typical configuration includes: Cisco Aironet Series Access Points, Cisco-compatible laptops and PDAs, Cisco Routers and Cisco Catalyst Switches, Cisco Clean Access Control Server, Cisco Security Agent, and a CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solutions Engine for centralized management. Pricing is based on configuration. A 30-Day Free Test Drive Program is currently available to schools through the company’s web site.
Atomic Learning Inc., provider of online technology tutorials for teachers, students, and parents, was on hand to promote its ever-expanding line of 24/7 technology integration tutorials. With its online library of more than 10,000 tutorials covering 70 of the most common software applications used in schools, Atomic Learning currently reaches more than 2,000 schools and universities worldwide. Its product is reportedly used for self-directed staff development, as a supplement to on-site training courses, as course curriculum for students, and as an online resource textbook. The service includes a number of tutorials for both Windows and Macintosh-based software applications–from guidance navigating operating systems to information about word-processing, document creation, data, and presentation tools. A special section for teachers also includes a list of lesson plans and resources designed to work technology instruction into the fabric of traditional classroom exercises.
Questia Media, the online library company, is offering a free annual subscription to the head librarian in every secondary school in America, Troy Williams, president and CEO, announced at the CoSN conference. According to Williams, Questia offers students, researchers, educators, and librarians access to more than 54,000 books and more than 1 million articles. For $20 per student per year, he said, schools of any size, location, and resource level can provide library content equivalent to that available in the best endowed elite academies. The company’s online library, he said, provides 24/7 access to the world’s largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences, plus magazine and newspaper articles. To complement the online library, Williams said, Questia offers a range of search, note-taking, and writing tools. These digital tools help students locate the most relevant information on their topics quickly, quote and cite correctly, and create properly formatted footnotes and bibliographies automatically.
SAFARI Video Networks, a subsidiary of Library Video Company, highlighted its line of digital video networking solutions for schools, including its weDireq content delivery system, which lets teachers access educational videos stored on school or district servers for use in classrooms; its ViiC video-conferencing feature, which lets teachers and students communicate across vast distances; CreationStation, which lets educators upload customized, self-created videos to the network for inclusion in classroom lessons; its Digital Media Commander, a set-top box controller that lets educators toggle between multiple video programs–from school news clips to cable television programs to video-on-demand services–by way of a single user-interface, SecurPath, the company’s remote-controlled, video-recording system that lets educators keep an eye on the hallways, classrooms, parking lots, and other potential trouble spots throughout the school; and Pathways, SAFARI’s closed-circuit broadcast tool that lets schools show full-length DVD and VHS recordings in selected on-campus classrooms. Pricing for these various products can be determined by contacting the company directly. For more information about SAFARI and Library Video Company, see the web site.
Petaluma, Calif.-based IntelliTools Inc., a provider of learning solutions and accessible technologies for preK-8 classrooms, announced during the show that Arjan Khalsa, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder, was elected to serve on CoSN’s 2006 Board of Directors as a corporate representative. In this role, Khalsa will consult with educators in efforts to cultivate relationships between schools and the business community. Most recently, IntelliTools worked with CoSN to sponsor “Accessible Technologies for All Students,” a national report and online initiative focused on creating equal access to technology for all students.
Blackboard Inc. used its time at the CoSN conference to highlight its online classroom management and delivery system, which enables educators to leverage a wide range of standards-based curricular resources across the internet, with the goal of bringing those solutions to bear in the classroom to help improve learning. K-12 schools and districts in more than 41 states currently use the company’s software, which offers increased accountability through the use of daily student assessments; increased teacher quality by way of online mentoring programs and specialized working groups; the creation of virtual learning centers for students; virtual parent-teacher conferences, including online access to student grades and progress reports; and a portal system for creating separate web pages to manage extra-curricular activities, schools sports, and other special events. The goal, according to Blackboard executives, is to create a “Networked Learning Environment,” where students and teachers can view instructional content, collaborate with peers and colleagues, evaluate academic performance, and access learning materials at any time in efforts to achieve educational goals. To learn more about Blackboard, see the company’s web site.
Educational Systemics, a consulting firm dedicated to promoting high-quality education by helping service providers reach out to schools and districts, looks to open up the lines of communication between vendors and school decision makers and to refine educational products to achieve their intended goals. The firm increased its visibility by sponsoring a CoSN report on open-source software.
Ontario, Canada-based Desire2Learn Inc., a provider of enterprise learning systems to schools and universities, recently announced that the University of Iowa has selected Desire2Learn to supply the university’s enterprise learning system replacing two other existing providers. More than 28,000 students, 1,200 faculty and 13,000 staff at 11 colleges will be using the Desire2Learn system, a complete suite of teaching and learning tools for course development, delivery, and management. Desire2Learn’s enterprise system is built to support the needs of large institutions by providing better interaction and access to multiple colleges, departments, and programs. With an advanced architecture and special middleware, the Desire2Learn system will be integrated with the student information system, authentication system, and many other systems at the university to help ensure ease of administration and seamless connectivity.