Our readers’ top ed-tech picks for 2012

Network Sentry (Bradford Networks)

This network security platform enables users to manage their security policies and prevent unauthorized network access. Bryant University is using the product to provide secure but convenient network access to students using mobile devices throughout the campus.

“Network Sentry automatically detects and registers all devices, authenticates users, scans for policy compliance, and provisions network access accordingly,” said Jon Domen, network manager for the university. “This provides our IT staff with significant savings in both time and resources and has made the beginning-of-semester on-boarding process a non-event for students, faculty, and IT. In fact, users can log on from off campus to have their devices registered and remediated, so that when they arrive at our school, they are ready to use.”

Sapling Learning

Sapling Learning publishes e-textbooks in science and math that include online tutorials, graphics, interactive animations, scientific simulations, audio and video, online assessments, and more—creating interactive digital content for the most complex subject areas. It also offers online homework and practice solutions.

“I’m using the Sapling Learning Online Homework for my Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry Class. It’s an excellent tool for encouraging students to keep up with the material presented in the course by working on homework problems on a weekly basis, and for them to get credit for their efforts,” said Patty Somers, an assistant professor at Colorado State University. “The enrollment in the course is about 250 students, so traditional graded homework is not an option. Online homework for organic chemistry presents unique challenges, because students must draw molecules to be able to answer many of the questions. Sapling Learning has come up with an intuitive drawing module for the homework that students find fairly easy to use. The best part about Sapling is that they will customize the homework questions to suit your course; it’s not tied to any particular textbook.”

Tegrity Campus (Tegrity Inc.)

Tegrity Campus is a fully automated lecture-capture solution used to record lectures as well as supplementary course content. Its cloud-based model scales affordably, and students can search the content, collaborate with their instructors and classmates, take notes, set their own bookmarks, and more.

“I am now using Tegrity lecture capture for the 10th consecutive semester, dating back to fall 2008. It has absolutely revolutionized the way I teach, the number of students I can reach, and the efficiency and comprehensiveness with which I can provide … instructional content,” said Christopher Mizell, a math professor at Northwest Florida State College. “I collected data from nine face-to-face college algebra courses I taught prior to using Tegrity and eight college algebra courses I have taught with Tegrity.  Students in the eight courses I taught using Tegrity demonstrated a higher C-or-better success rate in their next sequential math class. … Furthermore, Tegrity has enabled our mathematics department to increase its distance-learning offerings from three courses to seven and to provide two additional blended course offerings during the same time span, while simultaneously elevating the level at which the instructional content is being provided.”

Total Course Solution (McGraw-Hill/Blackboard)

This integrated technology combines interactive learning exercises and online testing from McGraw-Hill with the Blackboard Learn course management system, so Blackboard users have access to McGraw-Hill’s digital content and assessment tools right from within the Blackboard environment.

“I returned to the classroom after having served the past 12 years as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Murray State University,” said Regents Professor Emeritus Gary Brockway. “I discovered that if I were to connect with today’s students in their very connected world, I would have to develop an engaging learning environment utilizing the latest in technology. [The McGraw-Hill/Blackboard Total Course Solution] has allowed me to design [a] basic marketing course with many incentives for students to participate. I have been able to design a very dynamic learning environment with a user-friendly course management system utilizing a single sign-on for students. Students come to class prepared, and as a result, I am able to utilize class time more productively for class discussion and participation.”

Turnitin (iParadigms LLC)

Turnitin improves the student writing cycle by preventing plagiarism and providing rich feedback to students. Its OriginalityCheck feature ensures original work by checking submitted papers against 14 billion web pages, 150 million student papers, and leading library databases and publications, and it also includes online grading and peer-review features.

“As a part-time adjunct instructor with a 60-hour-a-week full-time work schedule, I have come to rely on and appreciate the invaluable time savings the turnitin.com plagiarism detection system provides,” said Anderson University’s Daryl Iverson. “Not only does it help me to grade the 17 manuscripts per student that are part of the Senior Seminar that I teach, but it give my students a chance to see if they have properly used their sources in their writing and provides us with a time-stamp of their submission. I would not have time to check for plagiarism … without this system.”

eSchool News Staff

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