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TCEA 2010: Exhibitor News

This 3-D-ready projector from BenQ was one of several new products on display in the TCEA conference exhibit hall.

A partnership between Texas Instruments and NASA to develop free math lessons with a space exploration theme, professional development from PBS TeacherLine for educators who teach online, and new 3-D-ready projectors and content were among the highlights from the exhibit hall at the Texas Computer Education Association conference in February.

Here’s a roundup of TCEA exhibitor news…

The American Education Corporation announced the release of Algebra I: A Function Approach Part 2, a new interactive high school course for the company’s A+nywhere Learning System courseware program. Part 2 gives students varied interactive approaches to solving algebra problems using real-world examples and scenarios.

Apperson Education Products announced a new program that awards up to $1,500 to schools on the company’s web site receiving the most votes. The school with the most votes wins $1,500, second-most votes award $750, and the school with the third-most votes wins $500. Money may be used for any educational purpose, such as a new computers or software.

BenQ introduced the MP780ST, an extreme short-throw DLP projector with full 3-D capabilities and built-in whiteboard functionality. The projector’s PointDraw technology can turn any surface into an interactive whiteboard. It also includes a LAN display for integrated daily video announcements or emergency messaging, and USB video without the need of an external VGA cable. The MP780ST features 2,500 lumens, a 2,500-to-1 contrast ratio, and WXGA (1,366 x 768) resolution for wide-screen display.

Bretford introduced a new line of Intelligent Laptop Computer carts. The line includes two different models with space for either 20 horizontally stored or 30 vertically stored laptops. The carts also feature a power management system that decreases heat and electrical stresses while proportionally distributing power to the laptops.

CDI, a supplier of recertified brand-name computers, announced that Vienna High School District No. 13-3 won the first ever CDI “Share Your Story” contest. Vienna High School Principal Patrick Harner wrote a compelling story about the district’s efforts to keep technology current for all students so they can enter the 21st century world of college and work with high-level technology skills. CDI is giving the district a complete tech lab valued at more than $10,000. The company also operates a recycling program and ships more than 25,000 units on a monthly basis.

CDW-G discussed its work with Katy Independent School District in Texas, Upper Darby School District in Pennsylvania, and Evansville Vanderburgh School District in Indiana to improve the districts’ core IT infrastructure and enable 21st-century learning initiatives. Districts sometimes make technology decisions without having the correct infrastructure in place, and ensuring that technology purchases will be well-supported is essential, CDW-G said.

Dell unveiled new services and relationships to help educators integrate digital content into their teaching practices. A partnership with Agilix Labs, for instance, makes that company’s BrainHoney platform available to Dell customers. BrainHoney is an open platform that allows teachers to align their lesson plans with state standards to develop curriculum maps using a simple drag-and-drop interface. It also generates daily reports on student progress toward state standards. In addition, Dell’s Digital Content Adoption Services include an assessment to help school leaders ensure their technology infrastructure can support digital instruction, as well as private computing clouds that enable teachers and students to share resources over a network.

Epson displayed its line of K-12 and higher-education projectors. The PowerLite 85 features energy savings, Mac compatibility, a wider-range microphone, and the ability to project lines or a graph onto a whiteboard for math or handwriting lessons. Its wireless functionality gives educators the ability to send data across a school’s network.

Hatch introduced its TeachSmart Learning System, a comprehensive SMART Board package developed specifically for early childhood education. The system lets children independently access learning activities. Students can narrate their work, and teachers can electronically save their observations and create portfolios.

Hitachi displayed its line of projectors and projector tools, which give educators and IT staff access to easy scheduling, easy IT configuration, centralized reporting, eMail alerts for necessary maintenance, monitoring, a content sharing feature, and function control over a LAN connection. The Projector Messenger Application lets educators display real-time text messages on the projector screen.

JTM Concepts revealed Classroom Cubed, a program that promotes the use of 3-D applications to enhance the learning experience by giving students a clear and complete visualization of difficult concepts and subject matter.

Lightspeed Systems previewed a new service called My Big Campus, which will be available at no extra charge to users of the company’s content-management technology. My Big Campus aims to help educators find a balance between safety and learning, the company says, by enabling them to offer safe social networking, post and tag YouTube videos that will pass through Lightspeed’s content filter, and otherwise take advantage of Web 2.0 tools safely.

Livescribe showcased the Pulse Smartpen, a pen equipped with a computer that digitally captures and syncs handwriting and audio. The pen can be used after class as students study and review material, or to clarify messy handwriting or a missed phrase. A blog on the company’s web site offers tips and lesson plans submitted from teachers across the globe using Smartpens.

MHT Partners, a national growth-focused investment banking firm, has experienced great success serving clients in the education industry. Over the past 12 months, MHT has completed multiple education-related transactions, having successfully connected ed-tech companies with the financial and strategic resources they need to be successful. MHT focuses on partnering with education companies in the following areas: content and curriculum, delivery platforms, enterprise management software and teacher tools, hardware systems, for-profit education, professional development, and HR software and services.

mimio discussed its mimioConnect, an online community for teachers to share ideas and lesson plans for using the company’s interactive teaching technologies. These include an attachment that turns any standard whiteboard into an interactive surface; an Ink Capture System that lets teachers digitally capture notes written with a dry-erase marker, so students don’t have to worry about scribbling down notes—they can receive the notes in an eMail after class; and the mimio Pad, a thin, lightweight tablet designed for anyone to use, even kindergarteners. Available in 12 languages, with native-language moderators who can answer users’ questions about integrating mimio technology into their instruction, mimioConnect has attracted more than 16,000 active members in just over a year, said Senior Marketing Manager Robert Gierschick. He referred to the free service as a “live concierge service” for teachers, adding: “Teachers’ days are already jammed. Our obligation is to offer services that allow teachers to simply teach.”

NetOp displayed MyVision Basic, classroom-management software that works on Macs and PCs and lets teachers supervise student computer work, share on-screen demonstrations, and control student internet access. The software comes with a free download that offers a scaled-down version of the full product.

NetSupport promoted NetSupport School v10.5, which provides a link between visual and audible student monitoring. The product’s new audio monitoring component is useful in many aspects of education, NetSupport says—such as in foreign language classes where multimedia is playing an ever-increasing part.

PBS TeacherLine, the professional development arm of PBS, announced a partnership with the Texas Virtual School Network, in which PBS TeacherLine will provide its online facilitator training to the state’s virtual-school teachers. The instruction will help these teachers make the leap from face-to-face to online teaching successfully, while maintaining the quality of their pedagogy, PBS TeacherLine said.

Peoples Education showcased its ePath Knowledge suite, which gives educators state-specific content, pre-configured practice assessments, reporting tools, the ability to create and deliver ongoing formative assessments, and remediation resources.

Polyvision highlighted several customer success stories from across the nation. Pittsburg Primary School in Pittsburgh, Texas, is using Polyvision’s ēno interactive whiteboards in each kindergarten and first grade classroom on its campus. The ēno lets users project their computer screen onto a whiteboard, and they can use a regular dry-erase marker or a stylus to mark up the screen.

Promethean launched the Preparing for Standardized Tests program, developed in collaboration with the Chicago International Charter School. The test-prep program is designed to improve students’ performance on the reading and math sections of the PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams. The program includes a collection of interactive whiteboard lessons, and every week students will complete two essential skills lessons and answer the corresponding practice questions that are presented in a formal testing format.

Qwizdom previewed its Q6 Student Response System, which is available for pre-order in late March. It features a keypad similar to a cell phone, text input, and a larger LCD screen than previous student response models. The Q6’s radio frequency remotes let each student communicate with teachers from up to 328 feet away. Students enter responses with their remotes, and the teacher’s computer instantly receives and records the results.

Sanyo displayed its line of low-cost classroom projectors, which feature an auto-advance filter every 250 hours for optimum performance and networking software so that administrators can monitor projectors. The company also introduced a new mount along with a short-throw projector that works on any interactive whiteboard. The mount has integrated speakers and attaches directly to a wall, eliminating installation concerns.

SchoolCenter has joined forces with SimplyBox, which lets teachers and students capture, visually organize, and share content from the web or their own desktop. SchoolCenter will host a school’s SimplyBox accounts in its data center, and a $2-per-user fee ensures safety and security with monitoring by a central administrator.

Schoolnet announced the completion of Gradespeed SIS, a fully comprehensive student information system developed with partner districts. Gradespeed SIS lets districts manage and track school data, including schedules, student data, and parent communications. Administrators can submit state reports and design school schedules, and teachers can manage grades and give parents progress reports.

SMART Technologies demonstrated several of its newest technology products for schools, including one still in development. Using cubes with black-and-white shapes under a SMART Document Camera 2.0, SMART’s mixed reality projects 3-D images into the screen. SMART also updated its response system for secondary students with an alphanumeric keyboard that allows for written responses and typed-out mathematical equations.

TCPN (The Cooperative Purchasing Network) promoted its ability to help schools competitively bid and award contracts for commonly purchased products and services. TCPN follows state-mandated purchasing procedures and gives the same pricing to small entities as it gives to large buyers.

Texas Instruments announced that it has teamed up with NASA to develop free online math content for teaching Algebra I through AP Calculus. The “Exploring Space Through Math” curriculum will be aligned with standards from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), and it will be available on NASA’s web site and the TI Teacher Exchange later this year. It aims to use students’ interest in space exploration as a “hook” to get them interested in math. Students will be able to design a space capsule, control the launch of a shuttle, and more—learning key math concepts along the way. The curriculum follows the “5E” instructional model: engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate.

Texas Instruments DLP showcased its 3-D Ready DLP Projectors, which use millions of microscopic mirrors that reflect light to create a picture for projectors. The imaging technology can project two images on the screen at the same time—one for the right eye and one for the left, which, when used with 3-D glasses, create a 3-D effect.

Turning Technologies displayed its various student response software, ResponseCard keypads, and ResponseWare, a web-based polling application that creates a wireless response and voting system. Student results are instantly displayed allowing teachers to quickly assess student understanding and differentiate instruction. Results can be collected anonymously or tracked by individual with the use of a participant list and saved for later analysis and instructional planning.

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