Software Winners

Software Winners

Powerfully Connected
 

The age of the Internet and Web 2.0 is changing the way students think, speak and gather information. The trends involved are also changing how teachers and administrators access and implement computer software programs. While many of this year's top software products act as stand-alone packages, quite a few are more or entirely Web-based, blurring the line between software that you "put on" your computer and software that is "wired in" and integrated to a network of other users.

Regardless of their various forms of interconnectivity, what really brings the top software products of 2007-08 together is that, if used properly and to their potential, they can make your job more productive.

We received many votes for Pok?mon Learning League, the award-winning online suite of interactive, animated lessons in language arts, math, science, and life skills spawned by the hugely popular Nintendo Game Boy video games. With its lively characters and adventures, the suite's content has captured the attention not only of young students but also educators and parents.

Says Bill Burrall, the coordinator of instructional technology at Marshall County (W. Va.) Schools, "The present generation of learners expects this type of content delivery, and the Pok?mon Learning League has designed the lessons to meet expectations."

Other top software products, such as FileMaker Pro 9, perform more pragmatic functions geared toward staff members. As the number one selling database software program, educators say that its wide range of features and tools allows them to do a variety of things better.

"It's all very intuitive. The graph tools, the plug-ins, everything," says William Bircher, the principal at Head O'Meadow School in Newtown, Conn.

The beauty of the FileMaker software is that it allows you to connect directly with the information you need every time you launch the program. Bircher adds that the software, which is in place and districtwide, has been used to create a special report card system and student attendance surveys.

Many products are Web-based, blurring the line between software that is "put on" your computer and software that is "wired in."

And then there are top software products that cross over into hardware, such as Leapster Story Explorers from LeapFrog SchoolHouse, which at first glance might resemble a Game Boy more than an educational device. But Story Explorers is a powerful learning tool, with story narratives and engaging activities, and is the first curriculum for English Language Learners developed for an interactive handheld platform. "After spending 20 minutes a day with the program, my students' oral and phonics skills improved a great deal," claims Natalia Del Pozo, a teacher from Richmond, Calif., who participated in a six-week study on the effectiveness of the product.

DimensionM Math Software ratches up the excitement even more. The software takes all the elements of high-stakes action and suspense from first-person shooter games such as Halo and Doom and brings them to an immersive, interactive multiplayer world for learning algebra and pre-algebra, without any of the blood and guts. "The DimensionM games speak to our students in their language - captivating them digitally - and inspiring them to learn," says Kay Clark, principal at Ocoee Middle School in New York City.

The following 2007-08 DA Readers' Choice Awards for software products represent some of the best tools for improving connectivity and productivity. Educators looking for ways to enhance instruction and learning will also find the Top 100 list a valuable and informative resource.

 

ADOBE

CREATIVE SUITE 3, Design and Development Tools,School licensing from $3,999 to $11,499

Adobe offers six Creative Suite confi gurations, including Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Design Standard, Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and Web Standard, Creative Suite 3 Production Premium, and Creative Suite Master Collection, the new design and development tools into one box. K12 school licenses start at $3,999 for Creative Suite 3 Web Standard and $4,999 for Creative Suite 3 Design Standard. Creative Suite Premium site licenses are $7,499, and the CS3 Master Collection is $11,499. www.adobe.com

 

AMERICAN EDUCATION CORPORATION

A+nyWhere LEARNING SYSTEM, Supplemental Courseware + Electives, Pricing varies

The American Education Corporation A+nyWhere Learning System + Electives, is an e-learning courseware program that provides research-based curriculum content for grades K-12 and adult learners in reading, language arts, process writing, mathematics, science, social studies and Spanish. The system's objective-based, problem-solving courseware consists of over 5,200 lessons and over 200,000 pages of content. In addition, the courseware's curriculum, integrated assessment, and automated reporting tools are aligned, where applicable, to all national and state academic standards. www.amered.com

 

ANGEL LEARNING

MANAGEMENT SUITE 7.2, Pricing varies by institution size and type

Angel Learning's Management Suite of enterprise learning management tools offers native podcasting, key industry standards, enterprise content management, assessment item analysis, and native support for learning outcomes. It also provides faculty with tools to map course content to specific standards. Reporting tools provide visibility into performance against standards or objectives in addition to the traditional reporting of grades for assignments. The software supports three key public standards for openness, interoperability and accessibility. www.angellearning.com

 

APEX LEARNING

APEX LEARNING SOLUTIONS, Online Course Programs, Pricing varies

Apex Learning Solutions provide comprehensive online courses for programs serving nontraditional students, including alternative schools, credit recovery, remediation, intervention and distance learning programs. Instructional management features such as mastery-based learning, randomized assessments, test question banks, and closedbook tests help to ensure students are mastering course material. Included are individualized pacing calendars, diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments, and personalized study plans. www.apexlearning.com

 

APPLE

OSX 10.5, Operating System, $129

Apple's Leopard (OSX 10.5) operating system offers significant advancements in how users access files and maintain their system. It boasts 300 new features. For example, Quick Look lets users preview documents visually without opening them-a huge time saver when multiple students submit a file name. Time Machine is an archiving feature that lets users go back to recover a previously saved file or setup. The Spaces feature reduces clutter with easily changed multiple desktops for users who work with different application sets. www.apple.com

 

AUTODESK

DESIGNKIDS,,Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Programs Starts at $1,500/10 lab seats plus 1 for instructor

DesignKids is an exploratory science, technology, engineering and mathematics program for middle school students. Its flexible approach offers them a choice of projects that are fun and personally relevant, increasing their achievement by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Students can make the connection between underlying concepts that link these topics and others in realworld applications. Each module comes with a "getting started" section that covers time allocation, prerequisites, technical overviews and glossary, beginning and advanced level projects, and a list of standards met by each module. www.autodesk.com/school

 

AUTOSKILL INTERNATIONAL

SpanishTutor, Academy of MATH From $2,000/unlimited license/single product

The SpanishTutor math module was created for native Spanish-speaking English Language Learners in grades K-12. It is an optional instructional component that enables students to jumpstart the development of fl uency in foundational math skills by providing tutorials, assistance and motivational elements in Spanish. The Spanish elements are offered in neutral enunciation with generic accents, and the scope includes 10 skill areas that align to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' standards. www.autoskill.com

 

COREL

PAINTER X, Painting System, Starts at $99/education edition

Corel's painting and illustration software the RealBristle Painting System replicate traditional art media with individual bristles that blend and splay. It offers a Match Palette that enables artists to match the color intensity between two images. The Workspace Manager can back up, share or switch workspaces. The software also has dodge and burn capabilities. Composition tools like Divine Proportion offer guidelines that follow the Golden Ratio, allowing artists to compose their images like the Masters. www.corel.com/painterx

 

CRICK SOFTWARE

CLICKER 5, Writing and Creativity Software, Starts at $199/single user

Clicker 5 is a K6 writing and creativity tool. It incorporates the latest technology, such as easily integrated digital photos, MP3 files and QuickTime movies. Users can create their own talking books and record their own sounds with help from a new speech engine that produces natural-sounding speech. Educators can also access free curriculum materials on the product's LearningGrids Web site. www.cricksoft.com/us

DIMENSIONM VIDEO GAME SOFTWARE

DimensionM,Math Software, Starts at $2,500/multiplayer package

Part of the DimensionM series of video games, Evolver Prealgebra and Dimenxian Algebra offer three-dimensional learning environments where students master algebra concepts based on standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Students face numerous mathematical obstacles, develop team-based strategies, and navigate through a series of mazes to score the most points. The highlight is the multiplayer capability, which enables students to compete individually or in teams with students from the same classroom or across the country. www.dimensionm.com

 

DISCOVERY EDUCATION

THINKLINK, Assessment Tools, $7-$10 per student

ThinkLink's formative assessments are offered up to three times a year, allowing teachers to periodically measure student progress. Started by Vanderbilt University, they are aligned to each state's curriculum and provide teachers with crucial information about a student's academic skill and knowledge so they can make data-based instructional decisions multiple times before the state's high stakes tests. Their color-coded reports provide educators with accurate student profi ciency and mastery predictions. www.thinklinklearning.com

 

DON JOHNSTON

INCITE!, History Learning Series, $149.99 per set/site

This history learning series helps students in grades 4-8 build background social studies critical thinking skills. The 13-set collection consists of five films with content that matches state standards in social studies and language arts and that features young actors in important historic events or eras ranging from the Roman Empire to the Age of Discovery. The DVDs include original short films about five to seven minutes in length and a comprehensive instructional model for teachers. A subscription license with renewal options is also available at $59.99 per set/site. www.donjohnston.com

 

FILEMAKER

FileMaker PRO 9, Database and Reporting Software, $299 new/$179 upgrade

FileMaker Pro 9 enables users to create and automate databases, as well as share and report from them. New features include a Quick Start screen, conditional formatting, and the ability to e-mail a link to other users of the software. Users can create links and integrate live MS SQL server, Oracle, and My SQL data as if it were FileMaker-based data. The product line also includes Pro 9 Advanced ($499), which offers enhanced database design report and file maintenance tools, improved script debugger and data viewer, and Server 9 ($999) and Server 9 Advanced ($2,499). www.filemaker.com

FOLLETT SOFTWARE COMPANY

DESTINY 8.0, Resource Management Solution, Pricing dependent upon district needs

Destiny 8.0 is a resource management system that features a number of significant improvements over previous versions, such as new Server Health Reports that give technical administrators a snapshot of the performance of all the software's modules. Administrators can access request-response times, browser reports, bandwidth reports and server uptime, enabling more accurate system monitoring and troubleshooting. Students, teachers and librarians can also write book reviews and post them in the bibliographic record for other patrons to read, encouraging students to respond to literature and share their written work. www.fsc.follett.com

 

GENEVALOGIC

On-Sight, Student Computer Monitoring Software, Starts at $3,495/single server

On-Sight helps monitor student computer activity across a school or an entire district and identifi es students who are participating in risky computer use, such as cyberbullying or hacking. Administrators can then intervene before a situation accelerates and becomes dangerous. The software is a reliable way to give students access to computers and the Internet with the assurance that the computers are being used safely and appropriately. www.genevalogic.com

 

HISTORY EDUCATION

MULTIMEDIA CLASSROOM GLOBAL HISTORY SERIES, Individual titles $49.95, Sets $139-$189, 21-box set $849

The 21 Multimedia Classroom Global History Series lessons cover history from Mayan temples to WWII trenches, and travels from the Nile to the Great Wall of China. The series uses video-based interactive lessons that bring history to life for students in grades 6 and higher. Short video segments are organized by topic and include, printable primary source documents, maps and historical images, review questions, critical thinking assignments, Internet-based student activities and links. www.history.com/education

 

HORIZON SOFTWARE INTERNATIONAL

FOOD SERVICE TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT Starting at $4,995

Food Service Technology Management tracks full-price meals, as well as free, reducedprice, adult, and other subsidized meals; displays messages, notes and dietetic information; and provides customized profit and loss statements. It interfaces with other systems, exports to GL (Graphic Library) and databases, and generates custom reports. It also supports unlimited eligibility categories and classes, federal and state reimbursement claim reporting, and multiple profit centers. www.horizon-boss.com

 

INSPIRATION SOFTWARE

InspireData 1.5, Student Data Analyzing Software, $79

InspireData allows students in grades 4-12 to build critical data literacy skills by actively exploring and analyzing data using Venn diagrams and bar, stack, pie and axis plots to interpret information. New capabilities include an e-survey function for online data collection, additional plot and expanded table options, over 100 content-rich databases, and expanded teacher tools and resources. A lesson plan book is provided to help integrate software into the curricula. www.inspiration.com

 

KNOWLEDGE ADVENTURE

KIDS WORKS DELUXE, Publishing Tool, $30/license

Kids Works Deluxe is an all-in-one publishing tool that combines a word processor and paint program. Elementary school students can create media-rich stories and illustrate them in the painting module that includes 54 new textures. Students also have the ability to import JPEG fi les and photos as well as listen to their stories read aloud by the computer. Cross-curricular, ready-made projects covering math, science and social studies also help students begin the writing process. www.knowledgeadventure.com

 

LEAPFROG SCHOOLHOUSE

Leapster Story Explorers, Reading and Listening Kit with Handhelds, $1,050

The Story Explorers kit uses handhelds to help K3 students develop essential reading and listening skills. It offers instruction and skill practice in vocabulary, phonemic awareness, language structures comprehension English language profi ciency levels 1-2, builds upon English language content Spanish audio support, and features teacher reports that show student progress. Each kit includes five handhelds, five headphones for quiet practice, seven cartridges to serve 21 students, 21 practice books, a teacher's manual, 5 AC adapters and a power strip. www.leapfrogschoolhouse.com

 

LEARNING.COM

Aha!MATH, Supplemental Math Curriculum, $12 per student

Aha!Math is a K5 supplemental math curriculum that uses research-based instructional models and content to improve a student's foundational math skills and help develop problemsolving and reasoning skills. It is aligned with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' Focal Points and state math standards. It uses digital coaches and games for practice and refinement skills. www.learning.com

LEXIA LEARNING SYSTEMS

LEXIA READING, Building Essential Reading Skills, $5,000/25 simultaneous users

Lexia's reading software helps K12 students master reading by building essential skills with explicit practice in phonemic awareness and phonics while promoting gains in vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Features include new and expanded management tools, multiple reports, and a choice of the Internet, network, or CD-ROM delivery methods. It supports core-reading curricula in over 10,000 schools nationwide. www.lexialearning.com

 

MICROSOFT

ENCARTA PREMIUM 2008, Research and Math Software, $49.95

Using Encarta Premium, students can conduct multimedia research using the most current and credible information, as updates are automatically downloaded into existing articles. Other features include Math 2.0, a collection of tools, tutorials and instruction in basic math, pre-algebra, algebra and trigonometry; a graphing calculator; step-by-step equation solver; equation library; foreign language help; and Learning Essentials 2.0, which offers student-oriented applications with writing tips for creating papers, presentations and reports. www.microsoft.com/student

 

PARALLELS

PARALLELS DESKTOP 3.0, Computer Productivity Software, $79

Parallels Desktop enables users to run Windows and Linux on any Intel-powered Mac without rebooting. The software allows dragging and dropping of files between desktops. The 3.0 version has more than 50 new features, including Snapshots, 3D graphics, and SmartSelect, which allows you to open Windows files with Mac applications and Mac files with Windows applications. Other highlights are new coherence features, such as Expos? and transparent windows, mirrored desktops, documents, media and advance Parallels Explorer. www.parallels.com

 

PEARSON EDUCATIONAL MEASUREMENTS

PROSPER ASSESSMENT SYSTEM, Testing, Analyzing and Reporting Student Data, Starts at $1,695/single computer license

The Prosper Assessment System includes reports that allow teachers and school administrators to identify at-risk students as well as standards for instructional intervention. Educators can develop classroom tests and analyze results to tailor instruction to meet students' needs. Its new networking capabilities make the software easier to install, and data easier to manage and share. www.pearsonassessments.com

PEARSON

PowerTeacher, Educator's Productivity Software, Pricing varies based on need and configuration

Using PowerTeacher, educators can assess their students' progress, take attendance, enter grades, initiate student and parent communication, post assignments, and assess student alerts and demographic information. Other features include score inspector for quick marking, ability grouping, links to teaching utilities, and real-time interaction with a student and parent portal. www.pearsonschoolsystems.com

POK?MON USA

POK?MON LEARNING LEAGUE, Interactive, Supplemental Curriculum, $145 per classroom

The Pok?mon Learning League suite of animated, interactive lessons helps teachers reinforce core curriculum topics in language arts, math, science and life skills for grades 3-6. The lessons use the watch-try-apply method of instruction to move students from understanding a concept to applying it in interactive challenges that require problemsolving skills. It also covers life skills development, featuring topics ranging from sportsmanship to conflict resolution. Themes include teamwork, improving skills, hard work and being a good student. www.pokemonlearningleague.com

PUBLIC CONSULTING GROUP (PCG)

SKoVision, School Improvement Planning, Starts from $2 to $5 per student

SkoVision is a Web-based software solution that automates the school improvement planning process. Through its "principal friendly" interface, schools can define their objectives, set targets, and monitor performance indicators. SkoVision also efficiently tracks projects and resources associated with each improvement initiative to quickly assess status and react. www.pcgus.com

RENAISSANCE LEARNING

ACCELERATED MATH ENTERPRISE, Supplemental Math Program, Pricing dependent upon district needs

Accelerated Math is a Web-based supplemental math solution for both struggling and advanced students. It provides essential practice for core math programs. Its math libraries include grades 1-7, basic math, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, and calculus. Students receive individualized math instruction delivered in a fun way, and educators receive continuous feedback and unlimited access to Renaissance Online University for help. The program runs on the Renaissance Place platform, allowing all Renaissance Learning Software data to be stored in a central management location. www.renlearn.com

 

RM EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE

EASITEACH TV, Professional Development for Easiteach Tools, Free

Easiteach TV offers online training segments for free viewing on the company's Web site that share how to use various Easiteach Tools. A few listings on its TV guide include a starter pack of free lessons on how to write, draw, animate and record sound, as well as how to use the multimedia bank, glass mode and student response systems. The key objective is to make professional development available 24/7. www.rmeducation.com

SOLUTION TREE

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITIES AT WORK, Site License for Professional Development, $23,450/7-seat license

Users can bring the Professional Learning Communities at Work model to their school or district with the Essential PLC Collection. Access is provided to all the PLC video resources on four DVDs available in MPEG-1 or Windows Media formats, which come in a 6" x 9" clamshell. Four complete e-books and four digital movie files are included in the site license. Other features include an introduction overview of the PLC model and an implementation guide in an easy-to-navigate printer-friendly screens. www.solution-tree.com

VITALSOURCE TECHNOLOGIES

BOOKSHELF 4.5, E-book Annotation and Social Network, Free

Bookshelf's software allows readers to highlight and annotate e-books, as well as create a social network around them. Users can highlight digital titles using virtual markers, then share highlights and notes with other individuals who can subscribe to that content, similar to a blog's RSS feed. They can also link concepts, passages and chapters to other content, such as movie clips, audio files, diagrams, illustrations and Web sites. The e-books can be downloaded for free from the company's Web site. www.vitalsource.com

VOYAGER

Vmath, Math Intervention Program, $79 per student (includes VmathLive) $30/stand-alone

Voyager's math intervention program provides struggling students in grades 3-8 with targeted daily instruction to bring them to gradelevel proficiency and improve their outcomes on standardized tests. After identifying such students, it intervenes with explicit, scaffolded instruction andmonitors progress until intervention is no longer needed. Each grade level contains 10 modules. Each module includes seven to 15 lessons that fall into three categories-concept development, skill development and problem solving. www.vmathlive.com

WIRELESS GENERATION

mCLASS:RTI-RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION PROGRAM, Starts at $1,700 per building

With Wireless Generation's Response to Intervention (RtI) program, school personnel can administer research-based reading and math assessments, access Web-based reports to group students by learning needs, and track intervention activities. It offers real-time reporting and professional services designed to include the critical elements of RtI identified by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs. The program helps makes early intervention efforts with at-risk students successful, improving achievement and ensuring accurate identification of students who need special education. www.wirelessgeneration.com


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