Co:Writer 6 enables students who struggle with writing and spelling to work at their own pace. The latest version teams with a companion application, like a word processor or Web browser, to help users build and write correct sentences.PROS: Flexibility and support for guided independent work are key features of this latest version. The word window is always active and displays on top of the companion program’s window, so it’s easy to see recommended words as you compose an email or blog or write a document in your word processor. Students having difficulty with written words can receive audio feedback, because the program optionally reads word choices and completed sentences. Co:Writer will also read aloud menus and dialogbox contents. In addition to three main dictionary options, there are dozens of topic dictionaries from which to choose. Several video tutorials introduce new users to the product.CONS: Unfortunately, most districts will find the application too expensive to install on every school computer. Instead, they will reserve access to students with special needs or IEP/504 plans, thus reinforcing the divide between students receiving mainstream education and children who have trouble accessing the general curriculum. This outcome, it should be noted, is not a fault of the program per se.OVERALL EVALUATION: Co:Writer 6’s strength lies in its ability to create a writing environment tailored to individual users’ needs. Struggling readers and writers both young and old and individuals with poor or illegible handwriting, developmental delays, physical disabilities, and learning challenges can use its word-prediction power to become better writers. While it falls into the category of assistive technology, it’s flexible enough to meet the needs of all students.www.donjohnston.comRetail price: Single licenses start at $325; network unlimited site licenses, $1900/volume discounts.—Carol Holzberg
This computer life-cycle management offering allows users to manage the PC and Mac devices in their deployment from a single interface. Track installed applications and licenses on all the devices in your deployment. Collect data from each machine so you can intelligently manage application licenses to prevent over-install penalties. Monitor and enforce your configuration policies, and use the data you collect to remotely monitor and control the devices in your deployment. Use the Security Content Automation Protocol reports to manage corporate and government regulations, including FDCC compliance. Price: Contact company for pricing. Category: asset management
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
Learning.com’s Digital Learning Environment is an online curriculum management tool that coordinates lesson plans to national and some state curriculum guides. Teachers have the ability to share their best lesson plans with other educators, and can interact with students via online journal lessons (interactive web pages). Users can import media for outside resources such as teacher tube, and the program encourages teachers to relate lesson plans to curriculum guidelines as they are being written. Lessons are stored on companies’ servers, eliminating the need for local installations.PROS: The software is an excellent value, since anyone who currently uses a Learning.com product can access it free of charge. This is one of the easiest to use curriculum management tools available. It includes a comprehensive feature set that is robust enough to get the job done, especially for elementary schools. With a crisp and clean user interface, anyone who can use a word processing program can use the Digital Learning Environment. Sharing lesson plans among teachers makes it easy to collaborate with co-workers. CONS: To reach a larger audience, the product needs to be coordinated to more state curriculum guidelines.OVERALL EVALUATION: Schools will benefit from a software tool like Digital Learning Environment, a product that boosts collaboration between teachers and allows for easy student-teacher interaction via interactive web pages.www.learning.comRetail price: Free to current Learning.com customers.—Joe Huber
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.
Through The Idea of America, a new interactive, fully digital, Web-based curriculum, students will learn lessons from history and the principles of U.S. citizenship by exploring 65 individual case studies of the nation’s most important historical events, debating issues that changed the United States, listening to the perspectives of contemporary historians, and accessing primary-source documents of enduring significance. Price: The Idea of America: Survey, 6-year online license, $73.97; The Idea of America: Survey, 1-year online license, $36.97; The Idea of America: Modern, 6 years, $71.97; The Idea of America: Modern, 1 year, $34.97 Category: history
This image-recognition software, paired with an inexpensive Web or document camera, delivers a low-cost software alternative to expensive OMR scanning machines. GradeCam instantly grades multiple-choice tests and automatically records the scores in a teacher’s existing electronic grade book. GradeCam allows teachers to enter scores for all student work—graded tests, quizzes, and credit/no credit assignments, for example—by swiping papers under a camera instead of entering the data by hand. GradeCam forms can be printed from the software and reproduced, and may be filled in with any pen or pencil. Price: $3/student for school license; $2/student for district license Category: assessment
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