Despite the growth of electronic communications, Web based document solutions and digital data systems, paper documents remain a vital part of K12 administration. Bubble sheet exams, parent communications, student academic and disciplinary records, and a wide variety of other communications still relies on paper, but technology has revolutionized its use. Using paper forms, assessments and other documents once required multiple devices such as printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines, as well as third-party companies to scan exams. Today, however, a large number of manufacturers have not only designed all-in-one multifunction units that include all of these capabilities, but they have also designed applications and features specifically to meet the needs of K12 users. In particular, printer manufacturers have responded to the increased emphasis on standardized testing as a result of the No Child Left Behind act, with resources such as embedded programs to create and scan exam sheets, and to create detailed reports of the results. Other new capabilities relevant to K12 include network connections and applications to upload paper documents and records onto a local school server or directly into a student information system. Here are some of the many new options to consider using in your district.
$2,999 with discounts available
Lexmark's X656dte monochrome laser MFP platform utilizes a large touchscreen user interface, a high performance 514MHz processor and 256MB of RAM. In addition to printing, copying, scanning and faxing capabilities, options include Scan to Classroom and Forms on Demand applications, which work together to allow teachers to create and send documents from the unit to a network location for downloading from elsewhere in the district. In response to NCLB, Lexmark has also released a new Testing and Grading solution, which provides a variety of bubblesheet assessment templates for teachers to print out, distribute and scan through the machine to see results, and a program that enables the MFP to be connected directly to a district's student information system for uploading documents into student records. www.lexmark.com
Under $400, available through resellers
The DCP-8080DN is one of Brother's multifunction copiers commonly used in K12, and it includes printing, copying and scanning capabilities. Brother maintains close industry relationships with all of the major school-assessment software makers to ensure compatibility with their printers. This machine can be used to scan exams that are taken on standard size 8.5x11 paper instead of predesigned templates, and it includes tools to create individualized student reports and teacher answer keys. This model also prints at up to 32 pages per minute and at 1200x1200 dpi resolution, includes 64MB of onboard memory (upgradeable to 576MB), and has a direct USB interface that allows printing from or scanning to a USB flash drive. www.brother-usa.com
The CLX-3175FN is a compact and quiet unit that prints at 17 pages per minute in black-and-white and 4 pages per minute in color and at up to 2400x600 dpi resolution. A front USB port enables printing to or from a fl ash drive. Onboard storage of 128GB is included, and this model also comes with networking capability. In response to NCLB, Samsung has designed a Grading and Survey solution for use with its multifunction printers including the CLX-3175FN, which is a program that enables educators to easily design forms and tests, scan up to 50 at a time when completed, export the results data into any application, and generate detailed assessment reports. www.samsung.com
MC560 MFP, $999
The MC560 MFP is one of OKI Data's compact multifunction units, providing color printing as well as fax, scan and copy capabilities. This model prints at up to 32 pages per minute in black-and-white or 20 pages per minute in color, and at up to 1200x600 dpi resolution. The company offers several resources for K12 users, including a School Communications Pack DVD, which is a collection of over 100 education themed banners for use in the classroom, and a MagicTouch application that enables printing on transfer sheets for making T-shirts, plaques and other school media. OKI Data also offers a Managed Services for Education program, which provides a consulting assessment of a school or district's printing needs with an emphasis on finding ways of reducing costs. www.okidata.com