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.
Atomic Learning Inc. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Atomic Learning announced that it has expanded its scope of offerings to include tutorials for palmOne handheld computers. Handhelds are becoming an integral part of learning in many school systems, the company said, and administrators, teachers, and students interested in quickly learning how to use their palmOne handhelds will find these tutorials useful. The initial series of tutorials are free and can be accessed either through Atomic learning or palmOne’s education page. Atomic also said that Florida’s Broward County Public Schools has extended its relationship with the company through the 2007-2008 school year. More than 272,000 students and 30,000 staff members at Broward County have year-round, 24-7 access to Atomic Learning’s short, three- to five-minute online video clips that offer on-demand answers to users’ “how-to” technology questions, the company said.
3com Corp. has teamed up with Alinian, a provider of financial software, to offer administrators free use of an investment tool that can evaluate proposed technology solutions to determine if they’re a good value for the district. The Alinian ROI Analyst program is specifically calibrated with demographic data that can inform school district budget decisions, 3Com said. With a two-page set of questions, educators can identify what type of IT solution they’re looking for and the size of their district. The software then uses this information to analyze the proposed solution’s return on investment (ROI). The 3com product suite is used as the default pricing mechanism. But labor rates, industry averages within the United States, and other necessary economic information reportedly can be overwritten by users. The free service is designed to be a new foot-in-the-door strategy for the company–a 3com representative brings the ROI Analyst software to his or her meetings with school administrators, enters the relevant information, and generates a report based on that information. While you wait, your 3com representative would be happy to discuss with you all the voice-over-IP (VoIP) solutions that 3com offers. 3com representative John Halpin noted that all these solutionsare based on industry standards and therefore do not necessarily have the three- to four-year refreshment cycle common to many technologies. “The fact that we do everything for interoperability allows you to get better value out of your new investments, because we are not proprietary with the protocols,” Halpin said. “The cost of training for your people is also less, because [our solutions are] based on an industry-standard perspective.”
BrainPOP said it is working to make its entire library of video clips available in either English or Spanish. The company is recording Spanish soundtracks for each clip and will offer the Spanish versions alongside the English ones. A company spokesman said BrainPOP also is producing new content for students in kindergarten through second grade, and it is working with a third-party standards integration firm to align all its content with each states’ standards. BrainPOP hopes to have its content aligned with the standards of the nation’s largest states by the fall.
Bandwidth. Security. Budget. These have been key concerns for educators and administrators since the Internets establishment in the classroom.
That isn’t to say the Internet has not been a great educational tool. But with it comes child predators, inappropriate content, threats to school networks and bandwidth-draining applications.
8e6 Technologies offers monitoring, filtering and reporting solutions that address the concerns of Internet-assisted learning, in addition to integrating easily into any existing network infrastructure. And with the introduction of the 8e6 Mobile Client securing the learning environment now extends beyond the classroom:
Single-source provider–8e6 “owns” and supports the entire filtering and reporting solution
“Pass-by Technology” provides unparalleled performance and scalability
Dedicated appliances do not compromise other network/server functions
Filters URLS, IM, P2P, anonymous proxies and other emerging threats
Flexible reporting and archiving of Web activities
Remote filtering for PC and Mac laptops
8e6 Technologies has played a significant role in filtering the Web for over 10 years. During that time the company’s products have been refined and specialized to meet the unique needs of education.
For more information, please visit www.8e6.com/education or call 888.786.7999 and sign up for a free evaluation.