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Turning Technologies

announced the newest addition to its ResponseCard keypad product line, ResponseCard RF LCD. The new “clicker” device provides students with additional feedback during interactive polling via a small LCD screen. The LCD screen offers visual confirmation of selected response, channel setting, and battery life.www.turningtech nologies.com

Put to the Test: PRODUCT: THINKHELPDESK.COM

ThinkHelpDesk.com is an online ASP help desk that can be used to track service requests. The service sends an email to the appropriate tech when the client files the request and sends the client emails whenever the tech updates or closes the service ticket. PROS: The solution is simple to use; it requires little if any training. Messages can be posted to the staff. A mass-email wizard allows users to send out mass emails about problems or outages. Many useful hard-wire reports are included, such as the ability to print open and closed service tickets. The program also tracks assets if they are entered into the program. Because this is an ASP-type program, it requires no local server space, and backup and program maintenance are performed by ThinkHelpDesk.com. All the data from the help desk can be exported to Excel.CONS: If the district Internet connection is down, users do not have access to the program. However, because it is an ASP solution, the school can still access the help desk from any functioning alternate Internet connection.OVERALL EVALUATION: The program’s price structure makes it fair to both large and small districts: You are charged by the number of buildings you use it in. Most districts use a help-desk program of some type; some are more expensive than ThinkHelpDesk.com, and not many are less. This simple-to-use help desk flows the way educators think, reducing the need for training and maximizing the effect this program will have on a school’s efficiency.www.thinkhelpdesk.comRetail price: $59 a month for the first location (school in a district) and $7.99 for each additional location (school in a district)—Joe Huber

NEC Display Solutions of America

released a standard- aspect desktop display. The energyefficient 17-inch MultiSync LCD175M monitor features an EPEAT Gold rating, as well as ENERGY STAR 5.0 and TCO 5.0 compliance. Its eco-mode technology allows users to maneuver between two energy-saving modes and enables the calculation of power-consumption savings for the monitor’s carbon-footprint meter. Additionally, the monitor boasts a new power-circuit design that achieves 0.4W power in power-savings mode and in power off.www.necdisplay.com

Calypso Systems

has unveiled the newest version of its popular soundfield-reinforcement technology, the WCMRF Voice Amplification System. The new WCM-RF features functional enhancements designed to improve sound and increase intelligibility in the classroom. The new WCM-RF system, Calypso’s first voice-amplification product with a 20-band digital equalizer as a standard feature, provides customized sound quality for a variety of environments.(www.calypsocontrol.com)

Promethean ACTIVBoard in NY

District: ODESSAMONTOUR CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT Odessa, NY; an 851-student districtType Of Whiteboard: Promethean ACTIVBoard (the 78-inch ACTIVboard is $1,795), www.prometheanworld.comWhy whiteboards?The district wanted to build 21st-century classrooms that included projectors and sound. Technology director Myron Rumsey says, “Whiteboards speak to every learning style.”We chose these whiteboards because ...“Promethean’s integrated solution was what we were looking for,” says Rumsey. “The company is focused on educators and listens to teachers.” Rumsey liked that regional consultants work with teachers free. “For a small district, that’s fantastic.”What do you like about the whiteboards?“With whiteboards, teachers have all the tools they need,” says Rumsey. “The whiteboards can adapt to it—even if they change their lessons on the fly.”What don’t you like about the whiteboards?“Like any technology, some teachers have a steeper learning curve and can get frustrated.”Have teachers integrated the whiteboards successfully?“Some teachers use them all day long. Our most seasoned teacher, who has been here 35 years, told me that last year was the most exciting year she’d ever had.”Any advice for schools that are considering whiteboards?“We asked teachers to tell us why they wanted one and how they’d use it. A year later, they showed the rest of the teachers what they were doing. That’s the culture you have to create.”

PolyVision eno in TX

District: ROBSTOWN INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT Robstown, TX; a 3,500-student districtType Of Whiteboard: PolyVision (the 78-inch eno is $1,595. Pricing decreases for multiple quantities), www.polyvision.comWhy whiteboards?The goal was to enhance education through technology, says Fred Zamora, the former technology coordinator. “We wanted to gain the attention of the learner, and with a board, all eyes are on the instructor.”We chose these whiteboards because ...“PolyVision proved itself,” says Zamora. “They listened to our needs and promised to deliver as much staff development as we needed—for no charge. We didn’t have to make the product fit into our plan; PolyVision made a product that let us do what we needed to do.”What do you like about the whiteboards?“The boards are very well made, and the construction has been designed for longevity, which helps with technology budgets. The new eno board is supereasy to use and is practically indestructible.”What don’t you like about the whiteboards?“The board response was being confused by our teachers resting their hands on the board as they wrote, but the eno resolved that.”Have teachers integrated the whiteboards successfully?“The teachers recorded a 30 percent jump in test scores. I believe that was at least partly due to teachers using boards, as they amplify teacher instruction.”Any advice for schools that are considering whiteboards?Ask yourself: Will the product enhance education? Will the company provide free tech support? Is staff development provided free or at a nominal cost? How long is the warranty? What are the installation costs? Do teachers want the product?