Tools for Schools
Steering a Clear Course to Learning
Clear Course, www.clearcourse.net,
Imagine a system that creates multimedia-rich courses and lessons that help students learn the way the mind is designed to learn. The ClearCourse Construction Kit for Educators is a set of course management software tools created to help schools reach that goal. The kit was designed to help teachers and students present, learn, recall and test better. Each user can view, compare and learn information in the most comfortable way for him or her.
The product's philosophy is based on Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky's "deep structures of the human mind." The human mind organizes knowledge with several simultaneous methods-for example, wholes and parts, problems and solutions or things and attributes. Based on the situation, the mind selects one method to access only the relevant memories. Each course, built using the software's structure, helps students access information as if it were already in their minds.
Nascent Index, one of four main parts to the kit, breaks down course content into general ideas (conceptual relations) and specific bits of information (conceptual nodes); the outline format allows users to quickly browse through vast amounts of information. Multimedia items can be attached to nodes for automatic display. For example, a geography course might have a main node named "United States," with 50 nodes, each a state, attached. The AutoTest feature is an assessment item generator that automatically generates 17 question formats, which teachers can modify to suit their needs. Depending on the computer's processing speed, five to nine questions are typically generated per second. Each question relates directly to the lesson content. Using the Score page, students get immediate feedback on incorrect answers and compare the content to determine what was misunderstood.
Also included in the kit is the ClearCourse Tutor, a utility that allows users to view a read-only version of a project for practice. The fourth component of the kit, the ClearCourse Builder, allows educators to link projects to create a full course with templates from this multimedia authoring tool.
The kit is available for single users as a download. Licensing for classroom use is also offered. CIRCLE #520 FOR MORE INFORMATION
SMART BOARDS SPORT NEW SOFTWARE,
PRICING Smart Board, www.smarttech.com,
Hardware/Software, $999 to $1,999 for hardware, software update free to users
SMART Recorder is an update to SMART Board software, which is used in conjunction with SMART interactive whiteboards, so lessons and seminars can be captured and played back or viewed online. The software makes it easy to capture and save synchronized data and audio. All annotations and information can be recorded to a single file for later play back in windows Media Player or online. Online demonstrations are available on the company's Web site.
Using the software, users control computer applications by pressing on the board's touch-sensitive surface. When a pen is selected from the SMART Pen Tray, users can write over any application using either a finger or a stylus. This software, which includes the SMART Board driver 7.0 and SMART Notebook 2.4, is for Windows. Current customers may download it free.
Smart Board has also announced new prices for its 560 and 580 models, $1,599 and $1,999, respectively. The 47" diagonal SMART Board 540 now sells for a suggested $999. Qualified educational institutions, museums and libraries may apply for a grant through the SMARTER Kids Foundation for 25 percent of the suggested list price of the above-mentioned SMART Boards. CIRCLE #521 FOR MORE INFORMATION
Prentice Hall Press, www.phdirect.com, Book, $24.
A group of Chicago's Mundelein High School students, tired of watching their classmates spew obnoxious behavior around the school, banded together and created the first studentinitiated character education program in the country.
The new book, A Cry for Character, tells this story. The student group developed an ongoing course that is now a national model for character education. CIRCLE #522 FOR MORE INFORMATION
CORE CURRICULUM SOFTWARE
Encore Software Inc., www.encoresoftware.com, Software,$40 each
Four new CD-ROMs are available for students in elementary through high school.
Elementary Advantage 2002 covers grammar, spelling, reading, social studies, geography, science, basic math functions and typing. A customized junior encyclopedia is also included. Middle School Advantage 2002 focuses on U.S. history, vocabulary, grammar, life and earth science, Spanish, typing, pre-algebra, algebra and geometry. Multimedia lessons, diagnostic tests, games, tutorials and an encyclopedia are added features. The software covers biology, chemistry, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, U.S. history, world history, geography and writing. The Math Advantage 2002 software program, Windows and Mac compatible, covers everything from prealgebra to AP statistics. CIRCLE #523 FOR MORE INFORMATION
PREMIO LAUNCHES NEW COMPUTER SYSTEMS
Premio, www.premiopc.com, Hardware, $879 and up
Scalability, cutting-edge technology and power are among the features of two new computers systems from premio computer. The Apollo 845S model features twoIDE channels, two serial ports, one parallel port, and two 12Mps USB ports, with the option of adding two more USB ports, a 52X CD-ROM. six 32 bit PCI slots, onboard audio, 10/100 ethernet, Windows Me operating system, floppy drive,keyboard and mouse. The Apollo 845Si model also comes with four standard USB ports and one serial port.
Both models include a 2 ghz processor and 256 MB SDRAM, expandable to 3GB; all systems are built-to-order. Premio offers tollfree technical support, three-year limited warranty and documentation on the company's Web site. CIRCLE #526 FOR MORE INFORMATION
CHOOSE DVD FRAMES BY BARCODE
Pioneer Electronics, www.pioneerelectronics.com, Software, $99.95
With DVD Bar'N'Coder software, users can creat and print custom DVD barcodes to acces specific audio and video segments on most DVD-Video disks. This new version runs on Microsoft Windows 95/98/NT or Macintosh OS 8.5-9x (The previous version ran only on Windows 95/98/NT). It can be usued with Pioneer's line of industrial DVD-Video Players and Pioneer barcode readers. When scanned, the custom bar codes quickly locate and play the chosen frames, audio, chapters or titles the creator selected from the DVD-Video disk. The barcodes also allow educators to change DVD attributes to customize the DVD with subtitles, audio tracks and camera angles. CIRCLE #527 FOR MORE INFORMATION
SPEED THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
Vantage Learning, www.vantage.com, Internet, $1 per student/week
MyAccess! is assessment and instructional technology that allows students online writing practice with immediate scoring and feedback to help them improve their writing skills. Students work at computers with Internet access, and teachers can monitor each student's writing process, whether that student is in the same classroom or in the computer lab. Feedback from the system's Vantage IntelliMetric engine is provided in three to five seconds and is based on the experience and knowledge of panels of human scorers who review sample essays and create a profile for assessing submissions. Writing strengths and weaknesses are noted for each student. CIRCLE #528 FOR MORE INFORMATION
TEMPTING APPLEWORKS 6.2
www.apple.com/appleworks, Software, $79
This software package includes word processing, spreadsheet, page layout, painting, databases and presentation software-using text, images, sounds, movies, spreadsheets, charts and tables. The latest version allows you to share documents more easily. It can read and write Microsoft Word and Excel files and convert your AppleWorks documents to PDF. Other new features include autosave, AppleScript for automating tasks, mail merge, clip art and more than 50 fonts. AppleWorks 6.2 comes with versions for Mac OS X and Mac 8.1 or later. System requirements are a Power-PC-equipped Mac, 24 MB of RAM CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and QuickTime. CIRCLE #529 FOR MORE INFORMATION
AMERICAN HISTORY ONLINE
ABC-CLIO Schools, www.abc-clio.com, Internet, $599 per year
The American History subscription Web site features 11,000 entries organized by topic and category, with biographies, maps, documentaries, video clips, weekly features, real-time updates and keyword searches. Designed to capture the interest of middle and high school students, the site includes multiple learning paths to guide inquiry. Teachers and librarians will get use out of the site's reference and standards and alignment tools. The site can be accessed from any school workstation or from home. CIRCLE #530 FOR MORE NFORMATION