Assessment and data management

Chancery Software displayed its Program Management application, which integrates with other features within Chancery Student Management Solutions (SMS) to define programs, determine student eligibility, enroll students, track student participation, and report on program information. Users can create program descriptions and categorize programs into groups. cTools, another feature of Chancery SMS, gives users the ability to extend information tracking capabilities in their Student Information System (SIS). Chancery also announced that the Houston Independent School District has chosen Chancery SMS as the foundational software solution in its plan to implement an enterprise-level SIS.

Excelsior Software announced that both Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Broward County Public Schools have cited increased teacher productivity as a key need fulfilled by the company’s Pinnacle assessment management system. Developed from a research study conducted in Miami-Dade County on the Pinnacle gradebook, a new research tool–the Teacher Work Matrix–helps examine teachers’ work routines and measure the impact of technology on teacher effectiveness and efficiency, Excelsior said. announced the nationwide availability of its TechLiteracy Assessment, a new online authentic assessment tool to measure elementary and middle school students’ proficiency with information and communications technology. According to the No Child Left Behind Act, schools must ensure that every student is technologically literate before he or she finishes the eighth grade. Districts throughout the United States can use TechLiteracy Assessment to gather data to meet this NCLB mandate and also to determine how to modify their curriculum to ensure mastery of these critical skills, the company said.

Lexmark demonstrated its Testing and Assessment Solution, which provides real-time, data-driven analysis of student performance and gives teachers and administrators the ability to prepare test materials, scan and score tests, create reports, and analyze data from a single multi-function printer. Lexmark Bubble Sheet Technology lets teachers and administrators create forms using “bubble” technology for testing, student registration, incident reports, and parental consent forms.

STI announced it is working with Fairbanks LLC to help school districts recoup millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements. Throughout Alabama, districts reportedly are using STI’s Special Education Tracking System to gather the data necessary for claim filing and collection, significantly reducing the amount of time and paperwork required.

Sunburst Technology announced a new version of the “Let’s Go Learn” K-12 math and reading diagnostic assessment programs. Through a partnership with publisher Let’s Go Learn, Sunburst will launch a new version of Let’s Go Learn as an assessment tool that it will debut through its new “Sunburst Learning Solutions” program. Through this program, educational specialists work with schools and districts to customize and create targeted intervention solutions to improve students’ achievement, Sunburst said. The company also announced that it has added a new standards engine to provide the highest level of alignment possible to the content in its online learning environment, and it has added new content to this environment for middle and high school grades.

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Grants, funding, and contests

Dell announced the winners of its FutureReady program, a collaboration among Dell, Microsoft, and Intel designed to help students reach their full potential through innovative uses of classroom technology. The three winners each will receive technology and services with an approximate retail value of $250,000 to make their ed-tech vision a reality.

Market Data Retrieval and Redrock Reports announced the availability of School Funding Services, a complete, turnkey system that offers a comprehensive online database covering federal, state, local, and private funding programs and updates. The site also offers informative tips, analysis, and consulting services for K-12 education companies and educators.

Oracle Corp.’s Oracle Education Foundation promoted its ThinkQuest competition and also highlighted the need for competition judges. Judging begins on May 11, and judging volunteers need to be currently employed as teachers or have five years of education experience, be proficient in English, be able to evaluate and score web sites based on provided criteria, have time to devote to the competition, have an internet connection, and be uninvolved in the competition as a team member.

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Hardware and infrastructure

Cisco Systems highlighted three educational institutions that serve as models for Cisco Connected Learning for Schools, a technology blueprint. The three educational sites–a large district in Florida, another in Texas, and a small high school in Arizona–are expanding teaching and learning, enabled by a single, converged Internet Protocol (IP) network. Using their network, schools in the three model sites can add applications and services to improve administrative efficiency and enhance student and teacher productivity.

Hewlett-Packard announced the launch of the HP 1:1 Computing in a Box pilot solution program, in which HP has bundled the required hardware (either a notebook or a tablet PC), software, and services that a school needs to effectively deploy the technology backbone of a one-to-one teaching and learning program. The company claims it can provide all of these services for as little as $1 per student, per day. HP also announced a new One-to-One Institute, a national effort to help transform schools into high-performing, student-centered, and technology-rich learning environments. HP is a founding sponsor of the nonprofit institute, which will offer research and advice on one-to-one computing environments for education. In addition, the company introduced a series of new digital projectors for the education market. The projectors feature bright output, high compatibility with other devices, and remote networking tools.

Jasmine Technologies, a technology company that provides a complete solution of hardware and software products and services to help fully digitize K-12 schools, promoted its digital education solution that integrates a student information system, a school administrative system, curriculum content, and date-mining assessment and reporting tools. All of this is made available through a tablet PC or wireless network hosted on servers. Jasmine also provides guidance and training for curriculum content and development, as well as fundraising services to help schools implement the technology. Karisma, Jasmine’s flagship product, incorporates a tablet PC that houses books, textbooks, handwritten notes, notebooks with drawings, and other materials. Einstein, another product, allows school administrators to organize information about grades, school attendance, and demographics to make better decisions and improve student performance.

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Instructional technology

Academy123 announced the release of NutshellMath, an online math homework instructional service that gives users nearly 40,000 interactive math explanations and multimedia demonstrations of math concepts. The service reportedly is aligned with leading pre-algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, and geometry textbooks used by middle and high school math students. A two-week trial is available.

BrainPOP promoted the release of BrainPOP en Espanol. The new site uses BrainPOP’s animated short-video format to present Spanish-language content in science, math, social studies, language arts, health, and technology. BrainPOP also announced that it is featuring new science movies during March, April, and May as part of science season. Twenty new movies will extend BrainPOP’s science base, focusing on the environment, heredity, and biology, the company said.

Carson-Dellosa School Division announced its Get Ahead Math software, which is a standards-based intervention program that allows users to monitor student and class progress, quickly implement the program without extra work, and fill in skill gaps, the company said. The software provides one-on-one instruction, guided practice, and assessment for standards-based concepts found in grades 3-8, including Algebra I. It gives students a four-step learning method in which they take a video tour of the topic area, watch an example problem, complete a worksheet, and then take a quiz at the end.

Discovery Education announced the release of unitedstreaming v3.0, featuring more digital content for full curriculum coverage, plus significant updates to Discovery Health Connection. The company also highlighted new opportunities for teachers to connect and share ideas to inspire learning via the Discovery Educator Network.

DyKnow displayed DyKnow Vision, an instructional software program that fosters interactive learning and allows students and teachers to collaborate directly with two-way communication throughout lessons. DyKnow Vision operates on any PC but is designed to take advantage of the tools built into pen-based computers in particular. Teachers can poll the class or retrieve, display, and replay student-specific work. Teachers and students also can access and replay their personalized DyKnow notes from any internet connection. The company also offers DyKnow Monitor, a PC control application that lets teachers view thumbnail images of student screens, block internet browsing, and allow for centralized server management.

Evan-Moor, an educational publishing company that uses professional educators to write, edit, and test products, unveiled, an online library containing supplemental learning activities across the elementary school curriculum. is designed to improve test scores and reinforce basic skills, and it includes lesson-planning tools and different age-appropriate activities, such as comprehension worksheets, science experiments, and classroom plays. Subscriptions to the service will begin in May.

ExLogica Inc. promoted its “Just Read, Florida!” initiative, which is designed to improve overall reading skills of Florida students, with the goal of having all students in the state reading at grade level or higher by 2012. As part of the initiative, districts submit a K-12 Comprehensive Reading Plan to the state, describing in detail how they will meet the reading goals. The plans must identify students that need reading assistance based on FCAT scores and then ensure that these readers are enrolled in appropriate reading classes.

FableVisionannounced that its K-5 writing software program, Stationery Studio, has been selected by Apple Computer for inclusion in the new Apple Digital Learning Series. Stationery Studio allows children to customize the pictures and layout of their writing paper, encouraging them to be creative and have fun while writing. The company also demonstrated its BrainCogs software, an interactive program designed to tap into various student learning styles and develop personalized thinking strategies. In addition, the company’s Essay Express teaches students how to structure essays and write them easily.

GeeGuides, which provides an animated art-education curriculum, promoted its sayART, seeART, and doART programs. The lessons are aimed at engaging school-age children and were developed by education professionals. sayART focuses on imparting a foundation in the principles, elements, and concepts of art. seeART takes that knowledge a step further into meaning and interpretation, and doART lets children take what they have learned and delve into their own artistic ideas.

GTCO CalComp demonstrated the InterWrite PRS, a classroom personal response system. Teachers can create questions in PRS software or in PowerPoint and can import questions from publishers and export grades to their grading systems. The system features instant grading and reporting features, and the PRS RF devices have 2-line LCD display, a self-registration feature, and the ability to ask questions in different formats. The company also announced a national partnership with the North American Division (NAD) Office of Education for the Seventh Day Adventist. Through the partnership, NAD’s 1,000 K-12 schools and 15 colleges will be able to purchase InterWrite interactive products and software at special pricing and be serviced through a dedicated reseller channel.

Harcourt Achieve, a division of Harcourt dedicated to at-risk student learning, announced two new reading and technology programs for struggling middle and high school students–ReadOn and ReadNow with Power Up. The differentiated reading products engage students with current events, multimedia, and adolescent and teenage content matter across all subject areas.

Inspiration Software, which develops and publishes software tools that focus on visual thinking and learning, highlighted the recent release of Inspiration 8, as well as a new teacher resource book called “The Thinking Classroom: Using Inspiration to Meet Curriculum Standards.” The book explores visual learning’s role in mastering fundamental thinking skills and helps teachers integrate Inspiration and visual learning tools across the curriculum. Inspiration 8’s new features include a RapidFire tool for quick brainstorming, a template wizard and a Site Skeleton export feature for web site creation, and a word guide. The company also offers free equipment loans.

iScienceProject demonstrated HOBOware, a new graphing software package for use with HOBO data loggers, which are portable electronic recording devices that can monitor temperature, humidity, light, and other types of data. HOBOware is compatible with both PC and Macintosh computers and uses a point-and-click user interface that allows students to select environmental parameters to display, format graphs, and interpret data, the company said.

LearningSoft debuted its new Indigo Learning System, a handheld computing system that incorporates formative assessments and interactivity via a wireless network. The handheld devices feature a thumb keyboard, integrated wireless networking, stereo sound, a high-resolution gray screen, and a 90 MHz ARM processor. LearningSoft partnered with Zipit LLC to use the company’s Zipit Wireless Messenger device as a platform for the system.

The nonprofit MIND Institute introduced a new mathematics intervention software program aimed at sixth-grade students with below-grade math proficiency. ST Math: Early Middle School Intervention teaches students crucial prerequisite math standards from elementary school, which they have not yet mastered, but which are required for success in middle school math and in preparation for pre-algebra or algebra courses, the institute said. As with MIND’s original ST Math series for students in grades K-5, mathematical-reasoning and problem-solving abilities are emphasized using a unique, non-language based approach.

Pearson Digital Learning announced the latest version of its KnowledgeBox K-6 digital learning system. The new version 4.0 gives users access to standards-based multimedia content for reading, language arts, science, math, and social studies. Using this new version, teachers can drill down to objective levels, reducing lesson-planning time. KnowledgeBox 4.0 also features 11 new lessons across all content areas and 240 updated, pre-built lessons.

Promethean announced the release of Activprimary 2.5, the latest version of its lesson development software for K-4 classrooms. The new release incorporates a keyword search for quickly locating teaching resources, as well as streamlined lesson creation and the ability for teachers to more easily incorporate multimedia resources into their lessons, the company said. The Activprimary 2.5 upgrade is available from Promethean’s web site as a free download for current users of the company’s Activclassroom solution.

Riverdeep announced a joint education venture with Microsoft that integrates Riverdeep’s Learning Village instructional portal and Destination Success content and curriculum with Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, giving educators and students greater online access to educational resources that can help children succeed in school, Riverdeep said. The first project the two companies are working on together is a collaborative effort that allows selected school districts in Florida to leverage their current Microsoft technology infrastructure with the Riverdeep Learning Village portal.

RM Educational Software demonstrated its RM Easiteach software, which gives teachers tools to build lessons using any interactive whiteboard. Teachers can create interactive lessons; save, reuse, and share these lessons; and select extra content and subject support for each lesson. RM also announced the availability of the RM Mobile One Laptop, launched in collaboration with CDI Computers, which has been designed to support all-day classroom use. The laptop has a rubber bumper plate protector and a hard LCD screen. An external battery charger allows users to charge a second battery and switch when needed.

Scholastic announced Zip Zoom English, which supports kindergarten through third-grade English-Language Learners in developing critical language and reading skills. Zip Zoom English provides a research-based interactive learning environment that helps students build oral language and vocabulary skills in English, critical word knowledge, phonemic awareness and phonics skills, listening and reading comprehension, and more. Scholastic also announced that its ReadAbout program, a new supplemental reading achievement technology designed to improve vocabulary and comprehension skills for students in grades 3-6, was selected for a national impact evaluation study by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Tiger Woods Foundation announced the dedication of the Tiger Woods Learning Center, a youth-education facility located in Anaheim, Calif. The event, held in early February, served as the culmination of a four-year effort. The center, which is two stories and 35,000 square feet in size, will give students in grades 4-12 access to free, interactive enrichment programs in reading, math, science, and technology. Specific classes promote career exploration and preparation in areas such as forensic science, engineering, aerospace, video production, and home design.

Valiant Technology displayed the Roamer, an educational robot that encourages students to think. Users program the robot through an on-board keypad, which causes it to move forwards or backwards, turn, play music, or leave a trail. The Roamer can be used for pre-school students but also is challenging enough for eighth graders. Educators will receive a 10 percent discount on the product through May, Valiant said.

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Library and research tools

netTrekker d.i., a child-friendly search engine for schools, now includes readability ratings for its search results, according to its developer, Thinkronize Inc. Designed to support differentiated instruction, netTrekker d.i. reportedly provides students and teachers with fast and easy access to more than 180,000 educator-selected, standards-based online resources. Now, the search engine goes a step further by assigning each resource a readability measure based on Lexile ratings and eight other popular methods, Thinkronize said. Using the standards-based search results generated by netTrekker d.i., educators can find grade-level content at one of five reading levels matched to a particular student’s abilities.

Questia announced its newest initiative, Questia Lesson Plans. These are the latest addition to Questia Classroom, a teacher and student resource center designed for instruction in grades 9-12. The lesson plans are written by education professionals, searchable by subject level, and fully integrated with Questia’s content and digital tools, the company said. Each lesson plan reportedly includes reading resources.

Sagebrush Corp. announced the upcoming release of Sagebrush InfoCentre v2.1, an upgrade to its library management system. The update will take place in April, and new features include a reading program search, customizable label printing, simplified circulation functions, and an optional Enhanced Content module that allows for integration of cover images, table of contents, author images, and more, Sagebrush said.

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Multimedia creation software

SolidWorks demonstrated Cosmic Blobs: Lab Rat Edition, a creativity software application that encourages artistic and constructive skill development by enabling the creation of, and interaction with, 3-D computer graphics. Modeling tools and interactive controls work like modeling clay on the computer to enable the creation of amazing, three-dimensional graphics. Open architecture allows for ongoing content additions through expansion packs and web site downloads, and 3-D models can be saved as picture images and movie files for use with other creativity programs and productivity applications, SolidWorks said.

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Presentation and communication technologies

AVerMedia Technologies focused attention on its new AVerVision300p Portable Document Camera, which features 3-megapixel resolution combined with 8X digital zoom and 2X AVERZOOM (AVerMedia’s proprietary equivalent to optical zoom), with up to 24 frames-per-second shooting speed.

Edulink Systems promoted its Intouch School Communication System, which uses telephone and web technologies to offer parent notification systems and services, emergency notifications, and web and telephone access. The system includes Intouch Autodialer, Intouch Online, Intouch IVR, and Intouch Emergency.

SMART Technologies introduced the SMART Board 600 series interactive whiteboard. This sixth-generation series offers larger screen sizes, a sleek look, an accessible Help button, a hardware expansion slot, USB connectivity, and new accessories for the same price as earlier products. The optional SMART Board Audio System includes a pair of 15-watt speakers, volume control, and an integrated, two-port USB hub.

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Professional development

Adobe Systems announced the Adobe Education Leader program, intended to cultivate ed-tech innovations by providing educators with resources such as education software, free curriculum, training, and a forum to share best practices. Educators are invited to participate in the program based on their exemplary use of Adobe solutions in the classroom and throughout the school community. The program includes a diverse group of individuals–from classroom teachers, technology coordinators, and IT directors to school, district, and state-level administrators.

Atomic Learning promoted its web-based software training for dozens of applications that students and teachers use every day. The library of short tutorial movies can be used as an integral part of a school system’s professional development programs, as a curriculum supplement, or as a software training resource. A subscription to the service gives users access to web-based training software, more than 17,000 tutorial movies, more than 200 technology-based classroom activities and curriculum resources, and more.

United Star Distance Learning Consortium (USDLC), a nonprofit, multi-state educational consortium, announced Literacy to Learn, a series of online video modules supported by video-on-demand technology. The videos address competencies common to recertification requirements in reading and technology. Educators can expand their understanding of literacy and what it means in the 21st century, see examples of how seamlessly technology can be integrated in the teaching of literacy, and become more adept at using the web as a tool for professional learning, USDLC said.

Vernier Software and Technology announced that, beginning in June, it will offer science and math educators extensive training in data-collection technology at 24 locations across the United States. Participating educators will spend one or two days with a skilled trainer, learning how to integrate computer and handheld data-collection technology into their science and math curriculum. Vernier also promoted the recent release of the Vernier Spectrometer, which is controlled by the company’s Logger Pro data-collection software with real-time graphing and analytical functions. Vernier also introduced the Biology ProScope Kit with a USB handheld digital microscope.

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School management software

central xchange demonstrated Sub-IT, an advanced automated substitute placement system that enables schools to find the most qualified substitute teachers and decrease absentee rates. Sub-IT uses a flexible technology framework of telecommunication systems and web-enabled applications so that teachers can easily announce their absences to all stakeholders online or by telephone. The system automatically notifies qualified substitutes, who also respond by telephone or the web. Their responses are reported to the school automatically. Teachers can request certain substitutes and can enter lesson-plan information in the system.

NetSupport highlighted the benefits of its desktop management software for schools. The programs help schools better manage and support computers on campus from the network level to the computer lab, NetSupport said. With NetSupport School, instructors can more easily instruct, monitor, test, and support students in networked classrooms. The latest version of the software includes optimization for wireless networks, 33-percent faster network performance, extended web browser support, a portable tutor feature, and other enhancements designed to maximize users’ productivity in the computer lab, according to the company. NetSupport DNA asset-management software, meanwhile, gives school IT professionals an affordable, easy-to-use system for keeping IT costs in check, the company said.

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Security solutions

Faronics introduced Anti-Executable, which uses its own technology to provide proactive protection again spyware, keyloggers, Trojan horses, viruses, and other types of malware. The product reportedly prevents unauthorized executables from launching, whether they are downloaded from the internet or introduced via any removable media. Faronics also displayed Deep Freez

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