Skyward has introduced a free tool called SkyCoder, giving customers more control over their data management.

An Australian maker of web security software is making a big push into the U.S. education market by offering 10 school districts free one-year licenses of its product.

A Texas firm that designs and hosts school websites discussed how its services—which are 93-percent eRate eligible—are saving school administrators time and money, while improving school communications.

These were some of the many school network and communications systems on display at the 2013 Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference.

Here are some of the highlights.

AMX displayed its SchoolView product, a hardware and software solution for integrated communications that works with a school’s existing data network, giving administrators complete control over multiple school communications systems (including PA systems and digital signage) with no integration or logistical challenges.

The solution includes SchoolView ResQ, SchoolView Signage, SchoolView Bell and PA, SchoolView Classroom, and SchoolView Unified Campus. The components are scalable and work together to help school leaders customize bell schedules, signage, and communication efforts, AMX says.

Australian company ContentKeeper is making a push into the U.S. market with its web security software, which it says is the only program that uses non-proxy-based SSL decoding for full scanning of web traffic over school networks. ContentKeeper’s web security software also has very granular social media controls; users can block or unblock individual features within Facebook, YouTube, and other common social media tools. To prove the value of its software for education, the company said it’s donating one-year licenses for 1,000 seats of its Web Filter Pro software to 10 lucky school districts; the deadline for applying is April 30.

Gabbart Communications showcased its school website design and hosting services, which it says are 93-percent eRate eligible as a Priority One service. The company’s websites include integrated calendars, school and teacher web pages, secure online forms, podcasts and video, lesson plans, online polls, blogs, and RSS feeds, among other features. The websites also include “dynamic” announcements, meaning school leaders can post announcements with start and end dates, so they never have stagnant information on their site. All announcements that expire remain on the site’s back end, so administrators can edit and repost announcements that recur each year—saving valuable time.

The company says it can get 90 percent of schools up and running with their website within 30 days, and on-site training in site administration is included. What’s more, users can update their site from a mobile device. Contracts are offered on an annual basis, so schools don’t have to lock themselves into a long-term contract.

Lightspeed Systems displayed its new website, which includes customer testimonials, product tutorials, and simpler navigation. The company also highlighted its three products to help schools manage mobile learning programs: network filtering and safety with Rocket appliances, mobile device management with Mobile Manager, and a collaborative learning platform, My Big Campus. Together, these tools form Lightspeed’s Mobile Learning Essentials solution—designed to ensure a smart approach to mobile learning that balances IT and classroom needs for safe, effective use of student devices, Lightspeed said.

Skyward said it has updated the Family Access portal within its school administrative software to work more like Facebook, an interface that parents and students are quite familiar with, and is getting ready to launch a learning management system as well. The Skyward Course Management Center will include “digital lockers” for students, a teacher content locker for sharing documents and assignments, and electronic discussion boards—all tied directly to the company’s online gradebook software.

Skyward also has introduced a free tool called SkyCoder, giving users more control over their data management. Using SkyCoder, Skyward customers can tailor their screens and data field rules to fit their needs without using in-house development staff or expensive customizations, thereby saving time and money, the company said.

SunGard K-12 Education said it has partnered with One Call Now as its provider for mass communications. The alliance brings One Call Now’s mass notification capabilities to SunGard’s software, the company said—extending the communications features of its eSchoolPLUS student information system.

Xirrus discussed its advanced wireless networking technology, a modular design that reportedly solves for density and bandwidth issues. The company’s wireless arrays, including the XR 520, use between two and 16 radios, combined with a high-gain directional antenna, onboard multi-gigabit switch, controller, firewall, threat sensor, and spectrum analyzer. This architecture provides up to four times the coverage, eight times the bandwidth, and eight times the capacity, Xirrus says.