The latest releases, services, and new product versions
WITH ITS Nova5000, a low-cost computing solution that combines Windows CE 5.0 tablet computing with scientific probeware functionality, Fourier Systems is attempting to bridge the gap between handhelds and laptops in the classroom, while making 1-to-1 computing more affordable for schools. The 1.8 lb. Nova5000 features a rugged 7.5-inch color touchscreen, a low-power Intel XScale processor for instant-on functionality and a longer battery life, as well as a 7.2-volt battery. In addition, the computing solution’s operating system gives students access to all the important tools they need in the classroom, such as Internet access, word processing, and e-mail; even math and science classes can take advantage of the built-in Fourier MultiLogPRO data logger support.Price starts at $399. http://www.fourier-sys.com.
FILEMAKER PRO 8 from FileMaker is loaded with an array of new features that make it easy to manage and share information. The program’s new PDF Maker allows users to save, share, and passwordprotect their documents as PDFs for easy viewing by colleagues outside of their workgroups. The latest release of the desktop database solution also lets users turn any document created in the FileMaker environment into an Excel spreadsheet, e-mail the content of any field instantly using the Fast Send feature, and create cleaner-looking database layouts with new alignment tools. In addition, FileMaker Pro 8 enables users to send personalized e-mail messages to many customers in just a few steps without scripting, and includes new tools such as auto-complete, visual spell check, and field list filters designed to help users save time and be more productive. Price: $179 to upgrade from a previous version; sitelicenses and educational pricing is available. http://www.filemaker.com.
THE NEW Hallpass component of the Mastermind Student Information System from Digital Connect Communications (DCC) uses an embedded “smart” computer chip that holds a cash value so schools can allow their students to purchase lunch in a completely cashless environment. Hallpass stores student information in a secure database where parents can view detailed account information online, such as balance, account credits, and all lunch purchases. It also generates revenue by charging parents a flat fee for each automatic payment made online or via telephone to the card. Since DCC handles all data transactions and storage, the Hallpass software and portal are offered to school districts at no cost; however, it is necessary to purchase the point-of-sale equipment, which, according to the company, generally costs the sameas a high-end PC. For pricing, visit http://www.hallpasscard.com.
FEATURING AN ALLOY hinge anchored in magnesium that securely swivels the display, and dual magnetically activated display latches to keep it safely locked in place, Gateway’s M280 convertible notebook gives customers all the benefits of a notebook computer with the added functionality of a tablet PC. The M280 is also the industry’s first convertible to feature a 14-inch WXGA widescreen display. Designed with the education market in mind, this highly configurable notebook features the latest in PC technology, including Intel 915 chipsets with PCI Express architecture and dual-channel DDR2 memory support, and a modular hot-swappable bay that lets users customize their systems with multiple choices of optical drives or a modular battery for longer life. In addition, the M280 features integrated wireless LAN and the optional Computrace tracking software, which can find lost or stolen PCs within 60 days. Pricing startsat $1,299. http://www.gateway.com.
THE NEWEST RELEASE of Kurzweil 1000 from Kurzweil Educational Systems offers blind and visually impaired readers a broader choice of reading materials by giving them the ability to create audio files of documents that can be accessed in portable DAISY (http://www.daisy.org) players or from a computer with DAISY software. Version 10 has also incorporated ScanSoft OCR 12.6 to improve its scanning and recognition capabilities, making it easier for users to create and modify tables using simple editing operations that include the ability to convert tables to text, and vice versa. In addition, the program has added a new noise-filtering option that eliminates confusion for the reader at the end of a page, expanded its online and retrieval capabilities, and updated its version of the NeoSpeech text-to-speech program.Price: a single license is $995. http://www.kurzweiledu.com.
AUTOSKILL INTERNATIONAL’S Literacy Intervention Suite offers K-12 students a consistent, personalized approach to building foundational reading and math literacy skills by combining the latest versions of Academy of Reading and Academy of Math educational software solutions into a single package. Both research-based programs provide students with the skills needed to realize their full potential through individualized training that gradually builds fundamentals and complements other intervention approaches, such as tutors or teacher-led instruction. The Literacy Intervention Suite can also easily be managed and scaled across an entire district while working within existing network environments, which gives teachers and administratorsaccess to all management tools from any workstation on the network. Pricing varies. http://www.autoskill.com.
SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGY INC. (STI) has released InformationNOW, a personalized, browser-based platform that can search data sets from any of STI’s suites of data management solutions, and transform the information into easy-to-understand reports that are available to authorized personnel directly from their home pages. Users can also take advantage of InformationNOW’s query tools to create customized reports from other school programs to track trends and become more efficient in their decision-making process. In addition, users can set parameters around a possible event, such as low attendance or poor test scores, and receive e-mail alerts when those parametershave been reached. Pricing varies. http://www.sti-k12.com.
ULTRAKEY VERSION 5 from Bytes of Learning Inc. systematically teaches children touch-typing and safe keyboarding through voice accompaniment, 3-D animation, video, and virtual reality. It also gives teachers the ability to customize themes and content to match their current curriculum, and provides extensive class reports to aid student assessment. In addition, the optional UltraKey 5.0 Data Server tracks student progress data to a central server in real time through any Internet or network connection, whether students are working from home or at school. And it allows administrators to store records, options, and content for all schools, classes, and students districtwide. Price: Site licenses for UltraKey 5.0 start at $695; the UltraKey Data Server software costs $500; and district pricingplans are available. http://www.bytesoflearning.com.
AVAILABLE WITH an 8KB or 64KB memory capacity, Onset Computer Corp.’s wearable HOBO Pendant is a value-priced temperature and light-intensity data logger that can be used for a variety of hands-on science projects both in and outside of the classroom. Roughly half the size of an iPod shuffle, the up-to-100-foot waterproof Pendant can link to PCs through an Optic USB Base Station and Pendant Coupler, which allows users to print and share colorful graphs and analyses of their collected data with classmates and teachers by using the HOBOware software package. Teachers and students can download more than 300 classroom labs to use with the Pendant from the company’s iScienceProject Web site (http://www.iScienceProject.com). Price: HOBO Pendant kits are available for $139, and include twoPendant temperature/light loggers, the HOBOware software package, and the direct-USB interface.
TO HELP INCREASE user productivity, Lenovo’s new 17-inch ThinkVision L171p LCD flat-panel monitor offers the option of viewing work in either the traditional landscape or vertically oriented portrait mode. The ultraslim classroom- and computer lab-friendly L171p also features a tilt/swivel height-adjustable stand that moves 45 degrees left or right for optimum viewing angles, a sharp 700:1 contrast ratio, and an eight-millisecond typical response time that makes it possible to enjoy fluid, full-motion viewing with reduced blurring or ghosting. In addition, the L171p includes convenient direct-access buttons for brightness, automatic image setup for quick display configuration, as well as digital or analog connectors for increased attachmentflexibility. Price: $319. http://www.lenovo.com.
CHANCERY SOFTWARE has added two new components to the latest release of its Web-based Chancery SMS 6.0 student information system solution. The first, Program Management, enables schools and districts to advise on students’ academic and social activity options, and dynamically assess performance and requirements to help each student achieve success. This new component gives SMS users the flexibility to tailor their systems to district and state policies, and to continue to use their best practices to manage student data. The second new component is cTools, which enables districts to modify standard or custom SMS pages to fit their information-tracking requirements, and to create entirely new Web pages within the SMS system. Users can also transfer system modifications between districts and schools that remain intact with each new release of theproduct. Pricing varies. http://www.chancery.com.
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.