Whether you're considering new assessment tools, digital projectors, or network security products, it pays to know what's on the cutting edge of educational technology. Technology & Learning has gathered dozens of new products that could help your school or district perform better and satisfy those important mandates.
8e6 Client is an endpoint Internet filtering system designed for K-12 schools that have off-site laptops connected to their networks. It is geared toward stopping spyware, malware, and other security threats, as well as inappropriate content.
The Talking Search Bar combines search technology with a text-to-speech feature to enable users to highlight Internet text and have it read to them out loud. Useful for ELL students and children learning to read, the Talking Search Bar can convert any Web page into text. Users can choose to listen to a male or female voice.
AMDG's online K-12 courses will now be offered through AOL@School. Students can take the courses — which include remedial and AP classes — and earn credits that can be applied to their high schools.
1-Click Answers 2.0 for Windows, featuring AnswerTips, allows users to access more than three million topics on Answers.com using the alt-click feature on a mouse. AnswerTips offers an abbreviated version with an easy pop-up information bubble. The program is free and can be downloaded at www.answers.com.
The new iMac runs on an Intel Dual Core processor and comes with an ATI Radeon X1600 video card, iLife, and built-in Webcam, and more.
Advantage School offers instructional support and staff development services to help schools implement Academy of Reading and Academy of Math; Advantage District provides support and services for district administrators who need to implement software programs.
Averatec's 1100 Series notebooks are driven by Intel Centrino Mobile Technology. The ultralight notebook weighs less then four pounds and has a one-inch-wide profile, with a 10.6-inch screen. The lithium-ion battery offers five hours of user time. Microsoft Windows XP Professional software is packaged with the notebooks, which come with a one-year warranty.
The Pinnacle Studio Academic Toolkit introduces students to video editing and allows users to create documentaries, superimpose video clips, employ pan-and-zoom techniques, and make DVDs. More advanced offerings include Avid Xpress Pro Academic and Avid Media Composer Academic.
Set to launch in the fall, BrainPop Jr.'s animated movies will focus on children in grades K-3 and cover a range of topics. Each movie will come with activities involving creativity, logical reasoning, vocabulary development, and more.
My First Keyboard and Mini Mouse were designed for the fingers of young children and come with color-coded sections. USB and PS2 connectors are included. In addition, Califone has released a line of wireless speakers that feature transmission ranges of up to 160 feet and can be connected to whiteboards, LCD projectors, and computers.
Circus Ponies Software
Notebook 2.1, information-managing software for Mac OS X, has added features such as the Starting Point system for getting organized, support for the Cornell Note-taking system, PDF generation tools, and the ability to export HTML to Apple's .Mac service.
A new software package, ClassLink OnTrack, combines a curriculum mapping tool with an electronic portfolio of student achievement, assessment, and feedback, all designed to help teachers, administrators, and parents review students' portfolios and appropriately support learning. The package is being offered with a free weekly Webinar.
Effective Technology Integration is an online professional development program geared toward helping educators improve student performance through technology. The six-part program covers topics such as math, language arts, differentiated instruction, and more.
CLEARVUE & SVE
PowerMediaPlus.com has added video, audio, and image features that allow users to create and share their own educational podcasts. A search system lets educators locate podcasts by subject for classroom use. In addition, the site's current events portal has been redesigned to include news summaries, weekly video features, and a "This Day in History" element.
Multimedia Fusion 2 uses drag-and-drop objects and an event editor to allow users to create multimedia presentations, applications, and games without having to know programming code.
Odyssey Mathematics 7-8 focuses on math concepts and procedures for middle school students and is aligned to state and national standards. The program enables educators to track student progress and covers concepts such as geometry, measurement, algebra, and data analysis. Odyssey Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary is aimed at improving information retention for grades 3-8.
Clicker 5 focuses on helping K-5 students with their writing skills by working on areas such as sentence building and labeling. Students using the software can create talking books that incorporate digital photos, sounds, and video, and the program can be adjusted to suit special needs students who cannot use a mouse. The Clicker Explorer feature lets students search and open files from www.learninggrids.com.
SchoolVue is a PC lab management/classroom control tool that allows an educator to broadcast his or her screen — or a student's screen — to other users. The software also enables educators to monitor students as they work, record screen sessions, create and give tests, and control PCs remotely.
Geared toward a variety of ages and completely Web-based, CustomTyping.com's typing training includes talking coaches, tests, tailored step-by-step training, and educator resources. It also has a tutorial section aimed at helping students with special needs.
Designed for districts with large user bases, Network Composer is a smart appliance that allows administrators to manage security and network performance. The product controls bandwidth-intensive applications, stops spyware and viruses from entering the system, logs IM conversations, and prioritizes traffic to help the network function smoothly.
The CIPAFilter is a network hardware appliance that filters out inappropriate content, spam, spyware, and viruses. It also features Web reporting, traffic and bandwidth management, and mail server and routing elements.
The latest version of eLearning Suite includes Learning Environment 8.1, which offers new assessment options and blogging; Learning Repository 3.5, which allows for effective tagging and learning object reuse; and LiveRoom 4.0, featuring chats and a presentation management area.
The ii3 IP Speaker Series from Digital Acoustics is a paging system based on a school's existing LAN or WAN. The series includes a variety of speakers (ceiling mounted, surface mounted, and weatherized horns) and wall intercoms. Software is included with the units.
Digital Directions International
The HELP (Helping with English Language Proficiency) program is a Web-based supplementary curriculum that includes more than 36 hours of math instruction for grades 6-8. The program is designed for English Language Learners with a particular focus on Spanish speakers.
One Place offers access to online digital media from one integrated access point. The product is integrated with Discovery Education unitedstreaming, Discovery Education Health Connection, Atomic Learning, Maps.com, and other content providers.
DyKnow Vision and DyKnow Monitor are now available in version 4.2. Enhanced features include chat, live streaming audio, Attendance Tool, Notebook Writer, and Bulk Import Utility. DyKnow software is available for free download at www.dyknow.com/download and is Windows compatible.
Recently launched Elluminate Live! Version 7.0 offers new features that include multimedia file transfer, social networking, closed captioning, an enhanced toolbar, and two-way talk for small groups.
Clip art maps that can be customized and edited for the classroom are available on CD-ROM in PowerPoint or Adobe Illustrator format. The maps come with sample lesson plans. One hundred editable maps and 700 clipart images are available.
ETS and the State Educational Technology Directors Association have released a free informational toolkit, "Using Data for School Reform," for educators at state, district, and school levels.
The Power Save Mac is an intelligent utility that can be installed as a preference in a Macintosh hard drive and programmed to log off, restart, shut down, or start up the machine at specified times. Built-in controls allow for automated shut down after periods of inactivity, too, so the computer can always be in Power Save mode. The utility is compatible with Apple Remote Desktop. It's available as a free 60-day download at www.faronics.com/mac.
FileMaker Pro 8.5 now offers built-in integration with live Web data. The program also includes the FileMaker Learning Center, which features free video tutorials, how-to guides, and other resources to help users master the software.
Florida Virtual School
Designed for online schools, Virtual School Administrator performance management system offers the ability to track school progress by student performance and data management, student registration and enrollment, role-based reporting, and communications.
Destiny Resource Management Solution v6.5 is a suite of browser-based applications that allows educators to manage library, textbook, and instructional media resources, as well as fixed and portable assets. New features include summaries of student fines and cash flow reports.
Version five of WYNN software features a redesigned browser module and speech interface; an updated Web Toolbar; the ability to work within WebCT; and more.
ExamView v5.2 has been expanded to include an item remediation summary that links to content provided by netTrekker. The program lets educators create question items with assessments, as well as work sheets and study guides. It also allows for the delivery of assignments online.
Created in response to teachers' desire to have more control over the Internet in the classroom, Surf*Lock2 is a plug-in for GenevaLogic's Vision classroom management software. The tool allows users to turn browsing on or off with a single click and limit students' access to certain Web sites. Surf*Lock2 is compatible with filtering software and does not require a server. At the time of this writing, the plug-in is only available for Windows.
Two new wide-format whiteboards, the SchoolBoard 1071 and 1085, measure 71 diagonal inches and 85 diagonal inches, respectively, and include high-precision electromagnetic technology and optional Bluetooth connectivity. The whiteboards come equipped with InterWrite software.
HP's Back-to-School PCs are offered at discount prices for students and educators, including the Pavilion dv2000 notebook PC and the Pavilion Slimline s7500 Series PC.
Infinite Campus's latest version of Infinite Campus District Edition 2007.1, a Web-based educational management system of student information, provides new and improved features such as individual editors to customize learner planning, federally compliant special ed plans and evaluation documents, management capabilities of demographic and household data, and clearer identification of enrollment status of students. With District Version 2007.1, districts can manage student education processes, curriculum, instruction, assessment, communication with parents, internal reporting and analysis, state reporting, and even food service.
With brightness at 2000 and 2500 lumens, respectively, the XGA IN32 and IN34 projectors also feature multiple inputs, serial interfaces, and monitor-out capability.
InspireData software enables students to collect and work with data in order to solve problems and come to conclusions in the subjects of math, science, and social studies. The program supports plot types such as Venn, stack, pie, and axis; students can also chart data over time.
Version 2.0 of Virtual Business Management is a suite of business curriculum software that focuses on training students to deal with real-life management situations such as employee strikes, lawsuits, transportation issues, and the effects of various ownership types.
LeapTrack Reading Pro offers reading instruction to K-8 students who are targeted as performing significantly below grade level. It focuses on comprehension, word recognition, vocabulary, and writing.
The Indigo Learning System employs wireless handhelds that allow students to complete standards-aligned assessments that are then beamed to their teacher's computer.
Among the many new printers from Lexmark are the X34x all-in-one printer series; the C500n color laser printer; and the X642emultifunction printer, which features up to 45-pages-per-minute printing and copying speeds.
McGraw-Hill Digital Learning
McGraw-Hill's diagnostic assessment and achievement tool, Acuity, helps teachers predict students' success rates on state NCLB assessments and target instruction as necessary. Acuity's suite of assessments includes both online and pen-and-paper options, designed to be administered every two months.
Microsoft's Student Encarta Premium 2007 includes math, science, foreign language, and language arts help for students working on homework assignments. The program features Microsoft Math, which comes with graphing calculator software, as well as Learning Essentials for Students, which provides curriculum-based templates and tutorials for reports and projects. The company's SharePoint Learning Kit and Community Kit provide source code for educators to make their Web sites hubs for learning.
The Xtenda X300 enables the networking of personal computers by distributing the excess power in one machine to up to seven other machines through the installation of a PCI card. All machines connect at the same speed, run quietly, and can run independently of each other. X300 Terminal Server software is included.
NetSupport School 8.5 classroom management software now has student auto login, Internet cobrowsing, and additional testing components. Educators using the software can record all screen, keyboard, and mouse activity on student computers and also limit Web surfing to approved sites.
netTrekker d.i. has added text-to-speech support; the new Read Aloud feature, eligible for IDEA funds, reads highlighted text back to the user.
NeuronFarm's free professional development e-modules cover reading topics such as how to deal with attention and behavioral problems, tips for helping struggling readers, dyslexia, and comprehension strategies.
NoviiAnimator lets users create animated cartoons and pictures. The software is designed for PalmOne handhelds.
The Intelliboard interactive whiteboard has a multimedia pen that acts as a mouse, complete with left- and right-click functions, that allows educators to use Mac or Windows programs or surf the Web. The whiteboard comes in 47-, 62-, and 77-inch versions.
TECH TIE IN
New and Emerging Technologies:
- Visual Literacy and 21st Century Skills
- Explore the concept of visual literacy and learn why being visually literate is considered an essential 21st century skill.
- Visit www.techlearning.com/events and click on Tech Forum Chicago 2006 to access conference presentation materials on this topic.
MAP for Primary Grades is an adaptive assessment tool aimed at tracking progress of students in grades K-12. Designed to chart math and reading growth, the program features interactive pictures and sound and will soon include prerequisite and skills checklist tests.
StudentMate is a Linux-based handheld laptop that features a 7-inch color touch screen, a full-size keyboard, and word processing, spreadsheet, and scheduling programs. Educators can administer tests using AssessMate, and students can track their homework assignments with Homework To Do.
Orchard Software (Siboney)
Language Concepts K-2 uses music and animation to help students with subjects such as punctuation, writing and editing, letters and sounds, words, and more. It includes assessment features aligned to state standards and is included within the Language Arts K-3 bundle.
The PARADIDACT is a mobile IT equipment system that allows users to move and store laptops, printers, and projectors from room to room. It features an integrated wireless access point, remote management of laptops in docking stations, and automatic battery recharging.
The PASeries Reading now has a diagnostic suite of assessments designed to chart student progress in reading for grades 3-8. Diagnostic tests cover knowledge areas such as comprehension, literary analysis and vocabulary, and vocabulary and phonics. Current PASeries Reading customers will receive the addition for free.
The DocuPen RC800 is a full-page, portable scanner that weighs two ounces, measures eight inches in length, and can scan an entire page of text in four seconds. The device can be recharged as it runs and comes with two MB of flash memory (holds up to 100 pages of text).
Straight Curve Mathematics Series 2 is a supplemental curriculum aimed at improving understanding of math concepts common to grades 3-5: decimals, fractions, problem-solving, and more. Available on the PLATO Learning Environment, Straight Curve is licensed on a subscription basis via the Internet and includes assessment tools, state and national standards alignment, and individualized instruction.
Instructor RP enables videoconferencing with an electronic whiteboard without the need for a PC. It comes with the IP-ready VSX 8000 system; a six-port internal video bridge; PowerCam Plus, which adjusts depending on the speaker; a digital microphone array; an annotation system; and a self-contained rear-projection unit with a 66-inch screen and touch control.
LockDown Browser creates a secure testing environment for users of the Blackboard and WebCT systems. The custom browser prevents students from printing, copying, accessing other URLs, or starting other applications once a test starts.
RM One/CDI Computers
The RM One PC is designed to take up half the desk space of a traditional computer and includes a coating to prevent graffiti and protective screen covers. Each PC can be bolted to a desk and includes cable clamps to prevent theft.
The InfoCentre library management system allows librarians to create custom reports, scan current bar codes, and clean up MARC records. Designed to work on Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Novell systems, InfoCentre also comes with a browser-based interface that can be customized to address each library's work processes.
Curriculum Pathways is a Web-based resource aimed at grades 8-12 and covers topics such as English, mathematics, science, and Spanish. It allows educators to add notes to Pathways resources, and it also includes InterActivities, which are designed to encourage critical thinking in intermediate algebra and other subjects.
Scholastic/Tom Snyder Productions
A new version of Scholastic Keys, which tailors Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to the needs of elementary school students, has added built-in lesson plans for language arts, math, science, and social studies.
Web-based SchoolMessenger ASP Plus is a parent notification service that includes always-available messaging and the ability for educators and administrators to create personalized voice messages and e-mail in various languages. Parent alerts can be timed to address absences, emergencies, and so on.
The SchoolNet 7.0 school performance management system gives users a personal portal page and features improved metrics tools for measuring district-wide progress and problem areas.
Groovy Music Series allows students to create music and teacher-directed activities, and it comes in versions for young students who need the basics to more complex musical ideas for children who have completed earlier programs.
The SMART Board 600i includes the new Unifi high-offset, short-throw projector; the 94-inch SMART Board 690 interactive whiteboard offers 33 percent more active working space than the 680 model.
The new version of Broderbund KidPix Deluxe 3X enables students to include their creations in podcasts that parents can subscribe to via iTunes. The software has also allows students to import tracks from Garageband and export files to iMovie HD. KidPix Deluxe 3X runs on Macs with OS 10.1.5 or newer.
The StylePro Series and DeluxePro Series LCDs come in 17- and 19-inch versions with a variety of feature combinations. The StylePro has one-touch height adjustment, 350-degree swiveling, and front-panel headphone jacks. The DeluxePro features digital inputs and stereo speakers, as well as the option for a USB hub for users who need to switch between PCs.
The InformationNOW Web-based reporting tool has been expanded to include a student information system. InformationNOW is designed to allow educators and administrators the ability to search multiple data sets for producing reports, track data over time, and create custom reports using the system's query tools.
Targeted at grades 2-8, WriteBrain software supplements writing instruction with activities that focus on areas like brainstorming, editing, organizing, and more. Aligned to state standards, the software can integrate teacher-created lessons and offers assessment reports.
This Web portal gathers author programs, book readings and guides, and other resources in order to encourage student enthusiasm for reading. Educators can peruse K-12 booklists, links to professional resources, and information about award-winning books.
The Portege M400 is a lightweight tablet PC (4.5 pounds) with an optical drive and five hours of battery life. The Portege M400 is constructed of shock-absorbing materials and has a spill-resistant keyboard. Gigabit Ethernet, V.92 modem, and Intel wireless are standard; Bluetooth wireless is optional.
The N-Charge Power System is an external lithium-ion battery pack that extends the life of laptop batteries by up to 10 hours. The heavy metal-free battery pack is available in two models, the VNC-130 and VNC-65. Both fit easily in a student's backpack; the V-130 weighs about three pounds, while the V-65 weighs less than two. The battery packs recharge completely in two to four hours.
VBEduCast is a video delivery system for education that includes the ability to stream Windows Media audio and video; VBPresenter, which offers PowerPoint and other multi-media content; a video camera; and a prepaid streaming service.
The new Five-in-One Dynamics Sensor System lets students measure acceleration, force, and altitude — then send the data to their computers wirelessly. The device has a three-axis accelerometer, a force sensor, and an altimeter in one unit, and it retails for about $250. The sensor is accessible to both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
Multiple computers can connect wirelessly via the WPG-100 presentation adapter to ViewSonic's PJ658 LCD projector. The projector includes a PIN lock to prevent unauthorized use, a security bar to prevent theft, and a Whiteboard mode to reduce glare when used with whiteboards.
Voyager Expanded Learning
Passport Reading Journeys: Beginnings, Grade 6 uses literature based on science and social studies, video content, and Web-based software to help students with reading. It also offers assessment tools to chart student progress.
The iRespond-Lite personal response system communicates wirelessly via RF and allows educators to administer tests and quizzes. Each unit includes a PIN log in and runs on AA batteries.
For even more new products, go to www.techlearning.com's expanded version of this guide.
On the Horizon
A working prototype of the much-anticipated $100 laptop was on hand for demonstration at June's NECC conference. The bright red, super-rugged device features a bigger screen than a portable DVD player, a rubber keyboard, and a dual mode display for easy viewing in both natural and artificial light. The low-cost computer runs with Linux on the desktop, uses less than 2W, and can be operated by human power via a crank or foot pedal. Kids can connect to peers and the Internet through a WiFi mesh network that also allows them to share memory. Initial launches will likely target Nigeria, Brazil, Argentina, and Thailand, but watch for its inevitable U.S. debut down the line.
— Susan McLester