Marc Aronson and Peg Sheehy - Tech Learning




SoftChalk, a developer of content-authoring software, has released SoftChalk V5. New features include a digital repository. Users can now perform keyword searches across several media repositories and embed widgets, so blogs, polls, surveys, widgets, wikis, and videos can easily be inserted to create dynamic lessons. The eCourseBuilder tool combines several lessons into larger eCourse modules with automatic calculation and tracking of score information between and within lessons.Price: $550 for single education license, volume discounts offered Category: content-authoring software

NETSUPPORT DNA HELPDESK Price: $1750 for 3 operatorsWhen teachers have a problem with a piece of equipment or software, they can use the NetSupport DNA Helpdesk online program to submit a trouble ticket to tech support. DNA Helpdesk notifies the tech via e-mail that he or she has a ticket. The tech can use the program to check the machine’s latest hardware and software configuration and to see a report of other tickets coming in, all of which can aid in troubleshooting, reduce downtime, and cut costs.PROS: Helpdesk gives an up-to-the minute inventory of the hardware and software installed on a machine reporting a trouble ticket. The program can set customizable rules so that specific kinds of tickets are delivered to specific techs. Helpdesk can be accessed from handheld devices; the pages on handhelds are easy to read, and the tech can add customizable fields. User data can be imported from third-party sources. Ticket escalation can be automated, and reports can be viewed online.CONS: None.OVERALL EVALUATION: While this is similar to other help-desk products on the market, three things make it unique and exceptional: the up-to-date hardware and software inventory, full handheld functionality, and a customizable knowledge base. 


Certiport has launched the latest version of the worldwide digital-literacy certification program. This version emphasizes communication and collaboration modes such as instant messaging, Web conferencing, social networking, wikis, and blogs. IC3 certification is achieved by passing three component exams: Computing Fundamentals, Key Applications, and Living Online. Price: exams retail for $33 apiece ($25 each for academic institutions) Category: training

Put to the Test : Discovery Software Principalm+

allows administrators to transfer student-information-system (SIS) data to a handheld device. Because data can be accessed from a handheld immediately, the information may be used for everyday discipline, student-conduct incidents and histories, emergency preparedness, and security. Each user is issued his or her own passkey, and data can be synchronized as often as needed.PROS: The Principalm+ transfers information without using a third-party server. The software transfers data to most handhelds, including smartphones, BlackBerry smartphones, and PDAs, and soon to Apple iPhones. Users can add customizable fields. The data-download sets can be customized, such as downloading just phone numbers and health information for a teacher going on a field trip.CONS: None.OVERALL EVALUATION: One of the biggest problems administrators have is that all the student data we collect are never where we need them when we need them. Principalm+ solves this problem. Administrators can use Principalm+ to check the discipline record of a student at the site of an incident rather than having to wait until they get back to the office. They can look up a locker combination on the spot, or even a parent’s phone number. This type of application is long overdue.www.discoverysoftware.comRetail price: Based on per-student, per-module model.

ViewSonic launched its new VG27

series of widescreen LCD monitors. The line includes the 24” VG2427wm, the VG2227wm, and the 20” VG2027wm widescreen monitors. The monitors are all Energy Star certified and can be set to ECO Mode, which saves up to 40 percent in energy consumption. Generous height and tilt adjustments, coupled with a 360-degree swivel base, provide adjustments for optimal head and neck positioning. The products also have built-in stereo speakers supported with the latest SRS Premium Sound technology.

ViewSonic Corp.

ViewSonic Corp. ( introduces the PJL3211, PJD5351, and PJD5111 projectors with enhanced network and multimedia capabilities. The PJL3211 is a bright, portable short-throw LCD projector. The product’s six picture modes allow it to display highquality images in the dark, in daylight, or onto a whiteboard or blackboard. The PJD5351 is ViewSonic’s new lightweight, portable shortthrow DLP projector. It enables digital zoom and manual focus, so it’s easy to place on a tabletop, mount on the ceiling, or pair with a short-throw-projector arm. The PJD5111 projector features eight picture modes for a clear, balanced image on many surfaces in various lighting conditions.


With the Navigation101 program, students, starting in ninth grade, are taught a series of outcomedriven online lessons in becoming college- and career-ready. Lessons include filling out a college application, applying for financial aid, choosing the right career, and simply defining personal assets and motivations. Navigation101 also offers a Web site customized to each individual student’s personal attributes and goals. Price: varies by school size/number of students Category: college prep


Casio announces the official launch of an English-language version of its high-precision calculation Web site, Keisan, which means “calculation” in Japanese. Keisan provides a free online service that allows users to perform a variety of calculations using Casio’s own arithmetic operation system with a variable number of digits. The Library page on the site includes operations necessary for serious math, such as Bessel functions and probability functions, as well as measurement-unit converters, loan calculators, and calendar-related tools.Price: free Category: math

The Mighty Scope handheld precision

magnifier with USB interface is like a mini camera that zooms, providing illuminated, enlarged views of crystals, insects, plants, dissected organs, field samples, and other items. Plug the Mighty Scope into any laptop to project the images or share them on a network. The focus range adjusts to any magnification, from 10 times to 200 times, unlike earlier handheld magnifiers, which had fixed settings or limited ranges. A brightness-control wheel allows fingertip adjustments of illumination from six white LEDs to suit varied interior or exterior environments.