NECC 2009: Computers and Infrastructure

neccimagesnecclogomerCDI Computers, which describes itself as North America’s largest distributor of refurbished computers, says it has seen demand skyrocket during the economic recession as schools and universities look for high-quality computers at reasonable prices. More than 250,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada buy computers from CDI, said the company, which purchases used computers from many Fortune 500 companies and refurbishes them before selling them to schools at discounted prices.

Dell unveiled a Mobile Computing Station for its Latitude 2100 netbooks, designed to make implementation of a one-to-one computing program easier for schools. The Mobile Computing Station stores, charges, and networks up to 24 Latitude 2100 netbooks with just one Ethernet cord and one power cord, Dell says. It also lets administrators deliver system updates remotely while the netbooks are charging and locked in the Station during class breaks or overnight. Dell also announced a partnership with Stoneware, through which it will provide Stoneware’s webNetwork “private” cloud-computing solution to Dell education customers who request it.

HP touted its small and ultra-portable Mini Notebook PCs as a practical solution to schools’ one-to-one computing needs. HP announced that the North Kansas City, Mo., School District is deploying 6,000 HP Mini 2140 Notebook PCs to its students, and the company demonstrated its latest addition to the Mini Notebook family, the HP Mini 5101, which offers a fully integrated 2-megapixel webcam and an ergonomic design that the company says places the mouse in a more natural position for children. HP also has teamed up with Knowledge Network Solutions to expand its professional development offerings for educators, and the company recently announced $6.7 million in grants to school districts through its HP Innovations in Education program.…Read More

NECC 2009: Instruction, Assessment, and Collaboration

necclogomerAmerican Education Corp., publisher of the A+nyWhere Learning System, announced that it has released Spanish I B, a new world language course for its online courseware system. Spanish I B is the second full-semester course component (Spanish I A is the first) of an integrated, yearlong course of study for students in grades 9-12. Included in the courseware is a Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish dictionary. The content and concepts of the Spanish I B course are based in part on the National Standards in Foreign Language Education, developed in cooperation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Spanish I B offers an advanced focus on vocabulary, pronunciation, reading, and writing of the Spanish language. The 72 lessons, divided into 18 weekly units, cover a variety of topics and build on the conversational and grammatical skills that were introduced in Spanish I A.

AverMedia, a provider of presentation and surveillance technology, announced the AVerPen Interactive Collaborative Learning Solution. The AVerPen is a device that combines the features found in interactive whiteboards, wireless slates, and student response systems–offering mobility, simultaneous teacher-student engagement, and immediate feedback from virtually any surface in the room, the company says. Starter sets include one teacher pen with four student pens, all able to work simultaneously. Teacher pens can control all AVer+ Software features, as well as activate, limit, or expand student pen functions, and the pens fully integrate with AVerVision Document Cameras. The AVerPen is expected to be available in September.

Buzan Online Ltd., a U.K.-based company, is expanding its reach to the United States. The company’s focus is the iMindMap, software that provides a graphic technique to harness a person’s full range of cortical skills–word, image, number, logic, rhythm, color, and spatial awareness. Buzan Online says this allows users to think in a more effective and brain-friendly way, giving them an advantage over individuals stuck in “old-fashioned linear thinking patterns. Now, you can see the whole picture and save time by becoming more efficient.”…Read More

NECC 2009: Instruction, Assessment, and Collaboration (continued)

neccimagesnecclogomerMcGraw-Hill Education announced CINCH Mathematics, a teacher-led digital math program for grades K-6. CINCH Mathematics uses interactive whiteboard technology and student response devices from new McGraw-Hill partner Promethean. The program helps teachers plan, teach, assess, and differentiate instruction with the help of an online tool. Students learn math concepts and acquire skills through teacher-led, interactive whiteboard classroom instruction, and the program collects each student’s answers submitted through student-response devices so teachers can use them to personalize instruction. Besides Promethean, McGraw-Hill also announced new partnerships with eInstruction, eScholar, Qwizdom, and Renzulli Learning. The company said these partnerships will help support new products while also enhancing its existing digital solutions.

Microsoft announced a collaborative initiative led by its U.S. Partners in Learning program and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to establish a new national, student-driven virtual help desk for K-12 teachers and nonprofit organizations. Over the next three years, Microsoft and CNCS will create a program that aligns a student service opportunity with President Obama’s United We Serve initiative. It will focus on giving students real-world learning experiences as they support nonprofits and teachers who are using technology in the classroom.

mimio unveiled the latest version of its Studio 6 interactive teaching software, which now fully supports Mac and Linux users as well as those using Windows. mimio also introduced a free online educator community called mimioConnect (, which allows teachers from anywhere in the world to share their ideas, lesson plans, expertise, and enthusiasm.…Read More

NECC 2009: School, Data, and Network Administration

neccimagesnecclogomerAerva demonstrated its Presto digital signage software. Both Presto and AerWave (for larger enterprises) are web-based applications for managing digital signage, with a full drag-and-drop user interface and social networking capabilities. With the company’s MoApp applications, users can add features such as polls, voting, text2screen, and pic2screen to their digital signage. Aerva also has integrated social networking widgets for Twitter, Flickr, and RSS into the software.

CDW-G recently announced the results of its 2009 School Safety Index (see story). Based on a national survey of more than 400 K-12 district IT and security directors, the index measures 10 indicators and four contra-indicators to set a national benchmark to gauge the current state of school security. The 2009 School Safety Index found that while K-12 districts are taking steps to improve their network and building security, an increase in the number of breaches caused an overall decline in schools’ physical and cyber security scores.

Century Consultants promoted its Star Base School Suite, a student information management system that has proven easily accessible for educators, counselors, and parents, the company says. School officials can customize Star Base settings to hide students’ personal information from unauthorized system users, and parents can see their child’s up-to-date grades using the web-based system.…Read More

NECC 2009: Professional Development and Consulting

neccimagesnecclogomerAdobe Systems announced that it will partner with Knowledge Network Solutions (KNS) to offer professional development courses for K-12 and higher-education faculty. The companies will provide on-site professional development to schools to help educators leverage Adobe software across the curricula, as well as in vocational courses.
As part of the offering, KNS has developed four two-day workshops that emphasize the use of Adobe Creative Suite 4 and Adobe Digital School Collection across academic disciplines. The workshops are Inspiring Environmental Action Through Graphic Design, Inspiring Environmental Action Through Web Design, Inspiring Environmental Action Through Video Production, and Inspiring Environmental Action Through Photo, Video, Audio, and Web Media. In addition to these two-day courses, KNS also has developed a one-day course on enabling institutions and districts to conduct their own staff development using Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro and Presenter. Each course is led by KNS technology integration specialists.
Adobe also announced the winners of its 2009 School Innovation Awards. The program honors the creative and innovative work of high school students in the U.S. and Canada. With the theme, “The World is Your Stage,” students submitted more than 430 projects in three categories: graphic and print design, film and video, and web design and development. The winners were Braighton Polack from Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, for “Simulation Sixty-Seven”; Michael Hoff and Tim Jacob from Bellarmine College Preparatory School in San Jose, Calif., for “Beating the Unbeatable: Joe Wise”; and Xizi Chen, Elizabeth Carp, Stephanie Yang, and Qiuling Zakaroff from Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, N.J., for “The MANNIS Project: Jens’ Adventure.”

Atomic Learning has launched a new training product to support educators in creating 21st-century-ready students. The company’s 21st Century Skills PD and Tech Integration solution provides professional development resources and curriculum materials to help educators infuse 21st-century skills into the classroom, including 21st-century skills concept training, classroom-ready tech integration projects and technology workshops on emerging topics.

PBS TeacherLine announced a three-part course to help anyone gain mastery of the International Society for Technology in Education’s national ed-tech standards for teachers and technology professionals (NETS-T). The nonprofit professional development organization also updated its Tech330 course, an online course that lets participants explore Web 2.0 tools while researching collaborative classroom products that use such tools.…Read More

Study: Students want more online learning

Despite a growing interest in online learning among students, the availability of online classes in K-12 schools and districts hasn’t kept pace with the demand, according to a new report from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc.

According to the report, more than 40 percent of sixth through 12th graders have researched or demonstrated interest in taking a course online, but only 10 percent have actually taken an online course through their school. Meanwhile, 7 percent of middle school students and 4 percent of high school students instead have pursued opportunities outside their school to take online courses–underscoring the disconnect between the supply and demand for online learning in today’s schools.

What’s more, a majority of school principals, 58 percent, say the online classes currently offered in their districts are primarily for teachers; just 31 percent say the classes are primarily for students. Additionally, while a third of teachers have taken an online course for professional development–a 57-percent increase from 2007–only 3 percent of teachers say they’ve taught a class online, a number that has not changed in three years. Just 13 percent of teachers say they’re interested in teaching online, a considerable mismatch with the growing student desire to learn online.…Read More