News and Trends(28) - Tech Learning

News and Trends(28)

New ways to track assets; How to save cash with tech; Sites we like; What the next president needs to know about ed tech spending; Printing Money (sort of); Getting help with E-Rate; Keeping laptops secure; How virtual schools can save real money; Other grant news
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Follett Releases Destiny 8.5

The average school system loses nearly $250,000 every year in assets such as laptops, sports equipment, and even software licenses, according to a recent study by Quality Education Data. These costs are especially pricey when it comes to tracking technology. Using tools such as the new version of Follett's management software can reduce those wasted costs.

The latest version adds new features to the product's Asset Manager component. A user can now create maintenance schedules and generate automatic email notifications when hardware is due for maintenance chores such as updating virus software or configuring computer power management to save energy.

Asset Manager is one part of an overall release of Destiny 8.5, a family of products related to managing school assets. Other optional components include Library Manager, Media Manager, and Textbook Manager, which help districts find how much they can save by buying used copies of needed texts, and how much revenue they can generate by selling surpluses. Reports from all components are generated from one centralized platform, which can be accessed anywhere via the web. The new Destiny 8.5 also adds the Destiny Quest Search Interface to its Destiny Library Manager.

Follett Destiny Asset Manager

Two Ways to Use Tech and Save Cash

DELIVER DIGITAL MEDIA ONLINE:
The initial cost of delivering media content via a server-based digital management system averages about $3 per student (including hardware and software). School districts can realize their ROI in about as little as one year, just factoring in savings on duplication alone. Online subscriptionbased content averages about $1/title/school/year compared to around $30 videotape or DVD. No more buying (and updating) DVDs and CDs. No more managing tricky schedules for the check-out of DVDs and CDs. With online delivery of server-based digital media, any title (or segment) in the system can be delivered anywhere, anytime—even home. Resources, bandwidth usage and licenses can also be easily updated and managed from a centralized location, ensuring a district won't be vulnerable to license violations. [Source: SAFARIMontage]

USE DIGITAL CLOCKS:
K-12 clock systems are analog and not networked, leaving the Facilities Department with a huge task of keeping track of all clocks to ensure accuracy. When there is a power outage, every clock needs to be reset and synchronized with every other clock. Just changing the clocks for Daylight Savings Time every year can cost several thousand dollars in man hours for medium to large school systems. Consider switching to Ethernet-powered clocks. These run on a network, so don't require AC outlets. This efficiency could translate into big long-term savings. [Source: Inova On Time]

Sites We Like:
myfirstpaycheck.com

When Celeste Lavin, a 16-year-old sophomore at Lower Merion High School in PA, set out to find her first job, she wasn't sure where to start. She turned to her older brothers for advice and the family decided to share what they learned about first jobs with others through myfirstpaycheck.com. Teens can search the site for local job postings, employment resources, and resume tips—all for free.

Give the people what they want

According to poll results released by The Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA), 86% of voters say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who is committed to equipping students with the skills they need for the twenty-first century through public investments in science and technology education. Here's how it broke down by party:

DEMOCRATIC VOTERS

more likely overall (65% much more likely)

REPUBLICAN VOTERS

more likely overall (38% much more likely)

INDEPENDENT VOTERS

more likely overall (46% much more likely)

SOURCE: HTTP://SEFORA.ORG/

PRINTING MONEY (SORT OF)

Sure, OKI Data wants you to buy printers. But the multinational printer company also wants you to save money while you do it. Its managed services division recently performed an audit on Westbury School District's (NY) technology resources—more than 1,600 computers scattered throughout six schools from pre-K to high school levels. Before the makeover, the district spent about $498,000 annually on print document output. It now expects to save more than half of that each year by following these tips from Oki Data consultants:

1. Migrate away from expensive inkjet printers that expend a significant portion of the technology budget towards a centralized and consolidated fleet of color and mono workgroup laser printers, ensuring increased productivity and a low total cost of ownership.

2. Redeploy technology resources more equitably and effectively by placing lower-cost, mono workgroup laser printers in areas that require heavy printing volumes, and affordable color laser printers in shared computer labs and individual classrooms to aid students' learning.

3. Utilize Color Access Policy Manager to place comprehensive print controls on classroom printers, helping manage the expanded color capabilities and keep a handle on printing costs.

4. Consolidate devices with all-in-one document management solutions that prove invaluable to administrators by saving time, space, and money.

5. Employ a long-term print management strategy that includes annual assessments and technology refreshes, ensuring continuous technology improvements and maintaining a low total cost of ownership.

[Source: www.okidata.com]

Sites We Like:
www.grantsalert.com

GrantsAlert.com is a free service designed to make life easier for schools searching for education grants. The site is packed with information about identifying new funding opportunities and includes a help center, blog, useful links, a free grant guide, and much more.

BACK OFFICE BUSINESS

STILL HOPE FOR THE E-RATE

Yes, the E-Rate reputation has become more than a little tarnished thanks to recent cases of fraud. But, this fund is still a vital component of getting tech into lower-income schools.

Take the Highline School District in Washington State. The district wanted to implement a network to connect its 17,000 students, as well as faculty and staff. Their goal was to add bandwidth to access resources such as real-time streaming video sessions and an emergency response system.

The district turned to Qwest Communications, who helped the school access E-Rate funds and set up an affordable long-term networking plan.

"We couldn't have upgraded our network without the federal E-Rate program," says Mark Finstrom, director of technology at the Highline School District. Using E-Rate funds, the school was able to purchase the high-speed Qwest GeoMax and Qwest Metro Optical Ethernet (QMOE) services in 35 locations.

When setting up a plan for E-Rate funding, Finstrom says schools need to think more like businesses. He says a good network is at the heart of needed twenty-first century programs, so it's obvious districts need to implement creative funding plans. In a tight economy, the E-Rate still seems to be a viable option (www.universalservice.org). Just tread carefully.

KEEPING COSTLY LAPTOPS SECURE

From 2005 to 2006, there was an 81% increase in the number of companies reporting stolen laptops containing sensitive information (2006 Annual Study: The Cost of Data Breach. Ponemon Institute, LLC, 2007). How can you keep your laptops safe and costs down? Here are 10 tips.

1. UNDERSTAND THE RISKS.
As schools open up their networks to their mobile users, they expose themselves to greater security risks.

2. BE PROACTIVE.
If you can't identify the weaknesses in your network's security, someone else will. Educate yourself on the tools and techniques used today by cyber criminals as well as other security risks. Data security is a moving target that requires ongoing attention.

3. USE CABLE LOCKS ON LAPTOPS AS VISUAL
DETERRENTS. However, since most cable locks can be ripped off the plastic exterior of a laptop with a strong tug, they can't be the only theft deterrent.

4. AVOID LEAVING UNSECURED NOTEBOOKS UNATTENDED.
Lock them in cupboards, notebook carts, or other secure facilities when not in use.

5. KEEP LAPTOPS INCONSPICUOUS.
Laptops should be carried in inconspicuous carrying cases, such as backpacks or tote bags, instead of telltale laptop bags.

6. INSTALL ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE AND FIREWALLS.
Prevent unauthorized access and protect valuable information with data encryption software. Keep all software products updated to the latest versions or patches to help minimize security holes.

7. BACK-UP VALUABLE DATA ON A SCHEDULED BASIS.
Data back-up should be frequent to minimize the risk to the school in the event of loss.

8. CREATE A CONTINGENCY PLAN.
Identify possible damage should a breach in security occur. Contingency plans for security should be integrated with the school's overall disaster recovery plans.

9. USE ASSET TRACKING AND RECOVERY SOFTWARE.
Install an asset tracking and recovery tool to track and recover computers that are lost or stolen, and monitor any changes or disappearances in computer memory, hard drives, or peripherals.

10. INVEST IN ADVANCED DATA PROTECTION.
Network administrators should be able to track fixed, remote, and mobile computer assets and remotely wipe sensitive information in the event that a computer is lost, stolen, or nearing the end of its lifecycle.

[Source: Absolute Software, www.absolute.com, makers of Computrace.]

Virtual Schools Save Real Dollars

The Lund Combined School is a small rural K-12 school with only 110 students. Lund has just four full-time teachers, who teach about 30 courses combined. This meant the students were limited in what courses they could take, and the teachers were maxed out. To help supplement this program, the superintendent secured funds from a Nevada competitive education grant to bring in The American Academy (TAA), an online courseware company.

The students can now pick from 230+ accredited courses—and Lund doesn't have to take on extra salaries. This is a significant savings for the school. The salary and benefits for the area total roughly $50,000 per year, per teacher. The school would need several more teachers to offer courses similar to TAA, totaling about $150,000. Comparatively, the TAA program only cost them about $2000 for the 2007-2008 school year.

GRANT NEWS

Excelsior Announces New Grants Program

It's no surprise that teachers who have a grasp on the overall achievement pictures in their classrooms perform better. These teachers don't just teach to the test, but use achievement results to inform their instruction and meet individual learning needs.

To support these educators, Excelsior Software announces a new Grants and Funding Program. The company will work with schools and districts to access the funding required to build successful achievement-based programs and to provide the training needed to sustain those programs. This includes developing strong proposals for state, federal, and foundation-based resources—a valuable resource for schools without grant-writing support.

For more information about the Excelsior grants program, visit www.excelsiorsoftware.com

New Science Grant

By 2010, jobs in science and engineering nationally are expected to increase by 2.2 million. To help educators create a science classroom supported by technology, Fourier Systems launched the Computing Science Exploration Grant Program. Fourier Systems will match the contribution of the applicant up to a $7,500 value (the approximate cost of 15 Nova5000s, for a total of up to 30 Nova5000s). The recipient will also receive a $500 voucher for selection of any probeware offered by Fourier System. The three runners-up will receive a $500 voucher for Fourier Systems probeware.

DETAILS: Entrants complete the award application. All submissions should demonstrate how and why the applicant would benefit from the Nova5000s and other science and math tools in the classroom or science lab. Open for submissions now through Jan. 1, 2009.

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