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Software Winners: Helping Educators Manage It All

More K12 educators are relying on software to help run their districts, teach curricula, and protect vital information.

More than ever school district management is aided by software, and many administrators nominated programs that have helped them run their districts. Many have been able to implement large, district-level management software applications that have replaced the use of smaller programs from multiple companies, often reducing or eliminating large amounts of paperwork, as well as costs and procedural headaches. New management software has aided education administration at the classroom, school, district and even state levels, helping administrators both to streamline existing operations and accomplish new tasks. What was once spread out across an array of school divisions and functions is becoming increasingly centralized.

Destiny Resource Management Solution from Follett Software, for example, is a comprehensive suite of programs including Asset, Textbook and Media managers to help classrooms and the district as a whole keep track of resources and function more efficiently. Weidenhammer’s alio 8.3 software suite is designed to run all administrative tasks for a district, including payroll, human resources and finance management, allowing administrators to budget, monitor and control their finances. Such comprehensive software programs have helped many administrators manage their districts more efficiently and effectively. And at the classroom level, management software such as SynchronEyes from SMART Technologies and NetSupport’s School 9 have helped teachers to monitor every computer in a class, keeping their students focused on learning and commanding their attention if they get distracted.

Curriculum Programs

While management may be the “it” word of the day for software, readers also nominated a variety of classroom curriculum programs, which are still alive and well and helping to get students excited about learning and raising their achievement levels. Tom Snyder’s FASTT Math, PLATO Learning’s Achieve Now, Voyager’s VMath, and the new electives available from the American Education Corporation all emphasize themes of customized learning, interactivity, online platforms and collaboration.

One such district using FASTT Math and seeing outstanding results is Sandusky City (Ohio) Schools, which has been using the software for the past three years in its six elementary schools. “All of our students, no matter where they started, have made gains with FASTT Math,” says district math coach Ann Van Nort. “Teachers are noticing a big improvement in the number of facts known and the fast recall of those facts in the classroom.” Keith Pertusio, principal of Ganado (Ariz.) Intermediate School, agrees: “Our students’ basic math fact fluency has greatly improved with this fun and tailored computer program.”

Taking a “Virtual” Approach

Virtualization software such as VMware’s Fusion received a number of nominations. These products can reduce the number of servers for a district, simplify computer infrastructures, and make upgrades easier and less expensive. “Virtualizing servers has decreased our number of servers from 20 to three and allows for better management and data backup for disaster recovery,” says Nancy Toll, technology director at the Hudson (Wis.) School District. Interestingly, while many analysts believe these programs have the potential to revolutionize district computing, the technology is so new that software companies are still sorting out issues such as licensing agreements, since virtual desktop infrastructures can enable thousands of computers to use a single software product.

In addition, many administrators nominated security and virus protection programs such as Norton AntiVirus, which their districts continue to require to prevent virus attacks and block unauthorized entry, since the more district operations depend on software, the more important it is to protect their systems. And the 2006 federal mandates requiring e-mail availability in legal proceedings have made e-mail archiving programs like M+Archive from Messaging Architects vital to nearly every school and district, which need to access all past correspondence quickly when needed.

The winners are:


Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac

Photo Editing Program, $99

Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 6 offers complete photo-editing solutions for Apple computers. New features in this version include Photomerge technology, which lets users easily combine the best facial expressions and body language from a series of shots to create a single group shot, and the new Quick Selection Tool, which reduces the once time-consuming select-and-adjust task to a single click.

Agilix Labs

GoCourse Learning System

Course Management Program, Starting at $5,000

The GoCourse Learning System was developed specifically to deliver best practices in online learning and to overcome the potential pitfalls of delivering virtual courses. The program revolutionizes course management in the areas of authoring, presentation, distribution and measurement to better engage learners and improve learning outcomes. It integrates rigorous core curriculum and comprehensive assessment tools with GoCourse’s advanced electronic delivery system, ensuring high schools are able to meet all state and national standards.

American Education Corporation

Psychology, Career Essentials, and Personal Finance Electives

E-learning Courseware, $1,000 each

All three of these new elective programs meet the requirements of a one-semester high school course and are incorporated into the existing A+nyWhere Learning System, which includes the core subjects of language arts, math, science and social studies. Each focuses on providing a broad perspective of the subject through personal exploration, with an emphasis on essays, projects, journals and constructed responses.


NoteShare 1.7

Collaboration Program, $99.95 for an academic license

NoteShare is a powerful desktop collaboration application for creating, publishing and sharing media-rich, multipage notebooks. Users can instantly share their notebooks with other NoteShare users for presenting, viewing and editing information in the same room, same building or globally. NoteShare is an ideal collaboration tool for students, educators or administrators who work on team projects or have a need to share notebook information with one or more users in a small group or classroom.

AutoSkill International

Academy of READING RtI

Intervention, Pricing varies

AutoSkill’s Response to Intervention package for its Academy of READING program delivers oral fluency assessments over the Web and combines an RtI management tool with an intervention program and professional development. When used with the Academy of READING intervention solution, the RtI Package gives schools a single, Web-based environment for fully supporting the RtI model. The Academy of READING uses a patented methodology to deliver individualized, computer-based instruction with an adaptive intervention engine focused on attaining skill mastery.


InterWrite Workspace ExamView Edition

Instructional Delivery Program, $249

Workspace ExamView Edition marks the first new product of the merger between eInstruction and InterWrite Learning. This program is designed to coordinate existing ExamView content—currently used by 500,000 educators nationwide—with student response hardware, including Interwrite’s Classroom Performance System clickers, and interactive whiteboards. Workspace ExamView Edition is available individually for purchase or for free with the purchase of InterWrite’s Boards and Pads.


Deep Freeze

Security Program, $35

Administrators can use Deep Freeze to protect a workstation’s operating system and software without restricting user access. Once Deep Freeze is installed on a workstation, any changes made to the computer are never permanent, regardless of whether they are accidental or malicious. The available Enterprise Edition protects multiple computers across a distributed LAN, WAN or over the Internet.

Follett Software Company

Destiny Resource Management Solution 9.0

Administrative Program, Pricing dependent upon district needs

The latest version of Follett’s district administration software features a number of significant improvements, such as new Server Health Reports that give technical administrators a snapshot of the performance of all the software’s modules. The flexibility of Destiny gives administrators the ability to choose the installation, hosting and training options that will work best for their district’s unique needs. Destiny is available as an entire system, or in select modules, which include Library, Textbook, Media or Asset Managers.

Key Curriculum Press

Geometer’s Sketchpad

Math Supplement, $129.95 for single user package

The Geometer’s Sketchpad enables teachers and their students to build and investigate mathematical models, objects, figures, diagrams and graphs on their computers. The program provides a dynamic and engaging way to demonstrate mathematical concepts and works easily with projectors, classroom computers, and interactive whiteboards. Teachers can use the subject-specific, ready-to-use activity books and sample activities, or create their own activities and demonstrations to differentiate learning for all students.

Messaging Architects


E-mail Archiving Program, Pricing varies

M+Archive is a policy-based e-mail archiving and e-discovery solution. It preserves e-mail as federally mandated and empowers districts to defend themselves during litigation, while driving down the cost of e-discovery and data storage. The solution automates the archiving of e-mail messages and their end-oflife destruction, and it also enables districts to quickly search and retrieve archived e-mails on demand.


Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

Office Suite, $149.95-$499.95

This latest edition of Microsoft Office for Mac emphasizes compatibility with PCs and adds new features like the Elements Gallery user interface, a revamped Toolbox, and a My Day application to help users schedule daily activities and appointments. The suite is available in three editions with a variety of features, including a specially priced Home and Student edition, with basic productivity programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for $149.95.


NetSupport School 10

Classroom Management Program, Starting at $49.35 each, or $1,233 for a lab of 25

NetSupport School 10 allows teachers to monitor what appears on student screens, as well as what students are printing. The system enables teachers to make sure students are on task and using the right application, and enhanced security features can prevent students from accessing or copying data to or from USB or CD/DVD devices. Teachers can also configure “safe search” settings, as well as enable or disable audio output for an entire class. All teachers using NetSupport School get free access to an online resource exchange where they can share curriculum content, questions and exams.


Teaming and Teaming + Conferencing

Collaboration Programs, $45-$55 for Teaming, $75-$90 for Teaming + Conferencing

With either the Teaming or Teaming + Conferencing solutions, users can create online workspaces to openly collaborate, efficiently manage projects, leverage Web 2.0 and social software, deploy and support blogs and wikis, store and manage documents with built-in version control, and tag and locate content and experts via search. Teaming + Conferencing adds the ability to collaborate via live VoIP, Web conferencing or instant messaging.

Performance Pathways

Performance Tracker

Assessment Management, Pricing varies

Performance Tracker is an assessment management solution that tracks and analyzes student achievement and provides a single point of contact for educators to easily access state and local assessment data along with essential student information. Teachers or administrators can easily view student, school and district performance history in three clicks of a mouse, allowing them to quickly identify problem areas and implement solutions. Additional features include interactive charts and graphs; data filtering by school, teacher, class, student or demographic; custom-created student groups; easy alignment to state standards; and seamless integration with Performance Pathways’ Assessment Builder product.

PLATO Learning

Achieve Now with Sony PlayStation Portable

Edugaming System, Starting at $725, quantity pricing available

PLATO’s education gaming software is now being offered for Sony’s handheld PlayStation Portable and is available in a package together with the system. Achieve Now delivers research-based educational content as a series of fun, interactive games, which have been proven to help elementary and middle school students meet high academic standards and improve academic performance. Its 2,000 hours of standards-aligned content for all 50 states challenge K7 students to practice, advance and excel through 57 games that target key language, reading and math skills.

PolyVision Corporation

Thunder Express

Collaboration Program, Pricing varies

Thunder Express enables educators to collaborate anywhere, at any time, and to develop ideas, communicate concepts, and exchange real-time information. The program uses a multiscreen projected display system and data from any source, such as computer files or video images, to display virtual flipchart pages on the wall of any room. Information can be edited by remote participants connected from any computer and can be saved or distributed automatically by e-mail.

Rosetta Stone

Classroom Version 3

Language Program, Pricing varies

The new features of Rosetta Stone Classroom Version 3 include advanced speech recognition technology, speech analysis tools to aid pronunciation, and grammar and spelling components to help build comprehensive language skills. The program is designed for easy integration into a teacher’s overall language curriculum and includes the Rosetta Stone Manager administrative and reporting tool. Version 3 is available in 14 of the most in-demand classroom languages, with an additional 17 languages available in Version 2.

SMART Technologies

SynchronEyes 7.0

Classroom Management Program, $1,198 per room license

SMART’s classroom management program allows teachers to observe all student screens as thumbnail images on their screen, zoom in on any student’s screen, and interact with that student right from their PC. Version 7 can be used with any combination of desktop computers, wireless laptops or mobile devices to instruct, monitor and assess students in networked classrooms. Teachers can keep students focused by monitoring applications and Internet usage and can quickly survey their students and view instant results.

Spectrum K12 School Solutions


Response to Intervention Program, Pricing varies

EXCEED/RTI provides a seamless way to manage and measure the day-to-day activities, meetings, research-based interventions and outcomes in a district. Highly configurable and flexible, it allows districts to utilize their unique processes, forms and intervention strategies, providing complete intervention management and minimizing the paperwork normally used in the intervention process. Collaboration tools also allow teachers, parents, support team members and administrators to discuss student performance, plan interventions, set goals, track progress and analyze outcomes.


Norton 360 2.0

Virus Protection, $79.99

The Norton 360 antivirus program protects against a wide array of threats, with features including automatic backup and restore, PC tuneup and network monitoring. This newest version now includes Symantec’s Browser Protection technology, which defends against drive-by downloads and other new or unknown threats that exploit vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. With advanced antivirus, antispyware, firewall, intrusion protection, and powerful SONAR behavioral detection technology, Norton 360 users are protected on multiple fronts from online threats.

Tom Snyder Productions

FASTT Math 1.7

Math Intervention, Starting at $60

This math fact fluency program now offers enhanced reporting capabilities for teachers and administrators, including districtwide reporting and data export through the Scholastic Achievement Manager. The system’s dashboard supports data-driven instruction and AYP accountability requirements. For students in second grade or higher, the program provides an improved experience with more games and downloadable worksheets for personalized practice. It also automatically differentiates instruction and practice based on each student’s individual fluency gaps in customized 10-minute daily sessions.


VMware Fusion

Virtualization Program, $79.99

VMware’s Fusion virtualization program enables Mac users to run PC applications seamlessly side-by-side with Mac applications. Users can easily find, launch and run PC applications with Fusion’s Unity and Expose functions, and minimize each program to the Mac OS X Dock when not in use. Fusion also enables the creation of Windows-based virtual machines that complement Apple’s Boot Camp partition, of which the Snapshots function can store copies as a backup in the event of a system crash.

Voyager Expanded Learning


Math Intervention, $30 per student pack

Voyager’s math intervention program provides struggling students in grades 3-8 with 30-40 minutes of targeted, systematic, daily instruction to bring them to grade-level proficiency and improve their outcomes on standardized tests. After identifying where students are struggling, it intervenes with explicit, scaffolded instruction and monitors progress until intervention is no longer needed. Teachers and administrators can also track student progress using VPORT, the company’s online data management system.


alio 8.3

Administrative Program, $10,000 and up

Weidenhammer’s alio is a scalable, complete software suite designed to run all district administrative tasks including payroll, human resources and finance management. Version 8.3 includes the same functionalities of previous versions that allow administrators to budget, monitor and control their finances, but this version is now fully Web-based, allowing 24/7 access via a secure browser. Weidenhammer’s ongoing training and support ensure that users’ needs and skills can evolve with future upgrades, and the annual Weidenhammer National Users Conference and local user group meetings ensure client knowledge is up-to-date.

Wireless Generation


Assessment, Starting at $14 per student

Wireless Generation’s mCLASS:DIBELS is the handheld-to-Web version of DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). Teachers use mCLASS:DIBELS benchmarks to quickly identify at-risk students and to set individualized goals. After syncing the handheld device, teachers can view Web-based analysis of their students’ data online and receive tools for planning differentiated instruction, while administrators can track progress, review program effectiveness, and determine which resources and strategies will improve student performance.