Dream Software for a Dream Computer Lab: Join in!

The power of a wiki
My eternal thanks and kudos to Jeff Cooper who has joined my technology plan wiki that I blogged about yesterday and given some great suggestions for the software for the “dream computer lab” that I'm working on.

This wiki is evolving into a great resource for anyone working on technology plans. If you want to join the wiki, just e-mail me and I'll invite you to join or you can request membership on the wiki. I'm trying to keep sales reps out and let this be reflective of educators opinions.

The power of the blogosphere

I do not have an unlimited budget but a pretty hefty one as computer labs go. I appreciate the feedback that I've gotten so far from Robert, Jeff, and some encouragement (as always) from my amazing Teacher Dude BBQ friend in Greece.

This is just one of the many examples of the power of blogging and networking with other edubloggers. I am getting feedback and suggestions from around the world. Not only am I a better person for blogging, but my school is a better school. Just one more reason for teachers to BLOG!

You know what they say, if you want to know what is good, don't ask the sales rep, ask another teacher who is using it.

Take a look at the software plans
I am going to post what Jeff has so generously shared on the Westwood technology plan wiki and look forward to your feedback either here, on the wiki, or via private e-mail.

I plan on forwarding my wiki to the sales reps I'm working with next week.

Here is the information on the software (copied from the wiki):

Software for Computer Lab (21 copies)

Operating System:

  • Current version of Windows (would like upgrade certficates if possible for Windows Vista)

Application Software

  • Microsoft Office (most recent version): We teach PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Access, would like Publisher and Front Page also.
  • Adobe Studio is $2800 for a site license (500 or fewer students) or $3700 for more. The Studio 8 K-12 Site License comes with Macromedia Studio 8 software. Studio 8 includes Dreamweaver 8, Flash Professional 8, Fireworks 8, Contribute 3 and FlashPaper 2. With the release of the Studio 8 K-12 Site License, you will also receive the Contribute Publishing Server. For details on these programs click here. Right… it ain't cheap, but you'll be getting the best… and we're talking about a dream lab, right?
  • Adobe PhotoShop –
  • Video Editing Software (not sure which?) Pinnacle?, Windows Movie Maker 2?
  • Will have to add additional Norton Corporate Licenses to the ones we have.

Software for the teacher computer:
NetOp School allows the teacher to monitor all the computers from one computer. Also allows for screen sharing, file sharing, etc. I don't have the prices on me (it's not cheap though). However, if I were building a dream lab, I'd definitely add this one.

Software that we are looking for:
Typing software for the server to automate typing and have fun centrally run games from the server.

Keyserving Software to run on the Server
Note from Jeff – I wouldn't recommend buying site licenses for everything, especially programs that perhaps only a few students might be using at any given time. Indeed, the way to go would be to figure out a way to *keyserve* using Sassafrass (I don't know the pricing, or if there is an open source equivalent) that would allow you to keep the number of licenses for seldom used programs to a minimum.

Software that we would like to price and consider.
Schoolkit integrates MS Office programs with constructivist K-12 lessons in all subject areas through EdClass. Yes… you'll need Windows to run this. The really cool thing is it teaches MS Office simultaneously and seamlessly with some really excellent lessons. Teachers and students alike will learn a lot through this program. Licenses are around $55 a computer but I believe a *district* license runs about $1800. Definitely worth the investment. PDPoint is their professional development program… also worth considering.

RealLives is a Social Studies program but can certainly be used in English class as well if you're interested in teaching across the curriculum. Students “create a life” anywhere in the world and make decisions one year at a time, growing the character from birth to death. One caveat: *anything* can happen. Characters might be robbed or even raped. However, it is possible to tweak the settings and remove anything that you wouldn't want the student to experience. This is a very good way to get the kids to see what people around the world live like.

Adobe Acrobat, InDesign are two Adobe products that are amazing and also amazingly expensive (although Acrobat is only $20 I believe). Click here to take a look at some of the possibilities.

Inspiration is a great organizational tool. If you plan on having young kids (or having your older kids work with young kids) then you might want to use Kidspiration. There are also online possibilities that allow for graphic organizing online (and free)… not as cool visually as Inspiration but consider having kids brainstorm with others online. I'll discuss this more when I get into websites later.

TechSmith has a number of very cool screen capturing programs. Camtasia (creates movies based on what you're doing onscreen, *excellent* for creating tutorials), Snagit (screen capture, a must have) and Dubit (audio overdubbing).

Free Software that will be Loaded:

Firefox is a superior browser to Internet Explorer. Tabbed browsing alone puts it heads and shoulders above IE, and there are many other advantages. Take a look at the way I have configured Firefox to facilitate browsing. One right click on a folder allows students to open multiple tabs. This could be invaluable for teachers looking to have their students visit several sites without getting lost (let alone having to type in any URL, a sure death knell for any computer assignment). Free and ad free

Internet Resources on Software

“Programs for Educators” by Jeff Cooper
Don't use Gator (there's spyware there) or Napster (we all know the story there, right?). Here are a few that I still do recommend:

Other Software that We are Investigating

Webwasher offers a complete portfolio of leading security solutions for all Web and e-mail borne threats and at the same time a fully integrated architecture that affords in-depth security and cost/time savings through interoperability. Filters ads, as well as other URL filtering solutions, etc.

Tapped In is a global educator's collaborative with over 20,000 members and 700+ university and K-12 classes. Split interface allows for real time text chat (java) on in the bottom frame and File sharing, threaded Discussion, Whiteboard, text and Image Notes, etc. in the top frame. I'm JeffC there and volunteer on Helpdesk. Once a teacher creates an account they may create a K-12 classroom (safe and secure). Free and ad free.

Thinkfree is an online scaled down MS Office suite that allows users to view Office documents online as well as *collaborate and create shared Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents*. Free and ad free

Snipurl allows users to create redirects for long sites. For example, this site is http://westwoodtechplan.wikispaces.com/page/edit/curriculumsoftware which is way too long to type. However, using snipurl the site becomes http://snipurl.com/rag4 and by logging into snipurl first I am able to edit the name of the redirect to http://snipurl.com/wikilab (or http://snurl.com/wikilab). You can easily see the advantages for this in the K-12 class. If you have long links (that for some reason you're not putting on the machines in advance), you could simply create a quick redirect, edit the name and put it on the board. Free and ad free

Trackstar allows teachers to easily create up to 15 annotated links in frames without any knowledge of html. Trackstar is also searchable so that users may find lessons created by other teachers. For an example please take a look at the site I created entitled “Collaborative Internet Sites”. The redirect for that site is http://snurl.com/collaboration Free and ad free

Other ALTEC tools such as Rubistar, Quizstar, CasaNotes and others may be found at the ALTEC homepage. These tools are incredibly useful for educators. Free and ad free.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Alfred Thompson June 4, 2006 - 2:43 am

All of the things the Wiki talks about in Firefox are available in Internet Explorer if you add the MSN Toolbar. Now personally I like the way it works in IE but you’ll at least want to try both to make up your own mind. And IE 7 will have all of those things plus build in RSS support. The beta is available now.

Willem Karssenberg June 4, 2006 - 1:47 pm

I made a posting on my (Dutch) weblog of your great initiative, so may be you’l get even feedback from there:

Vicki A. Davis June 4, 2006 - 12:32 pm

We currently use IE and I would want to make sure that students knew how to use both IE and Firefox. I have found that Firefox is less likely to get malware and viruses from the INternet. I ran it on 2 computers this year and the rest had IE. Those two had no trouble after I began using Firefox and were my worst offenders before.

I will try MSN toolbar. Thank you!

Karl Fisch June 8, 2006 - 3:40 am

Definitly consider a Mac lab, but if you do go with Windows (we’re an all Dell district so I don’t have a choice) . . .
We just purchased a site license of Vision as opposed to NetOps, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it much yet. In limited testing, it seemed to work well and it was much cheaper than NetOps. You can download a full-functioning demo from the website and try for 30 days. Again, I haven’t played with it much yet.

Instead of Camtasia (pricey), consider Wink (free). Again, I haven’t played with it much either, but it appears to do most of what Camtasia does.

For PDF’s, consider Cute PDF Writer or PDF creator. They are not as full-featured as Acrobat, but they’re free.

Other free software to consider (sorry, too tired to do all the links, but let me know if you can’t find them): Nvu (web page creator), Google Earth, Celestia (Astronomy), Audacity (audio editing/podcasting), CMap (concept map, a poor man’s Inspiration), Gimp (photo editing), Picasa (photo organization and some editing), Photostory 3 (easier and better than Movie Maker for still images – rumor has it that Movie Maker will be much improved in Vista), the Advanced Calculator from Microsoft, Skype.

Also consider creating a default links (IE) or Bookmarks Toolbar (Firefox) in the default profile that will automatically load for all students with relevant links. I’m creating new images for most of the machines in my building this summer (hence the list of free software above), and am working on building those toolbars now. I’m going to create folders on the toolbars to organize stuff including the following:
AHS (links to various pages on our school site)
Blogs: Blogger, Blog This Bookmarklet (or classblogmeister for you)
RSS: Bloglines My Blogs, Sub with Bloglines, Top Blogs, SuprGlu
Del.icio.us (I think you have to be logged in to add the various delicious bookmarks, so the default will just have a link to Delicious and then to the bookmarklets page – then students can login and add the bookmarklets)
Search: (various search engines or more specific search page within them like images)
Other: Flickr, PBwiki, wikispaces, dictionary.com, writely, etc.
Site Info: Easy WhoIs, Blummy
Email: gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail, aol, comcast, qwest, yousendit, etc.

Just some ideas – probably a lot more you could think about and possibly some better choices out there.

used computers April 13, 2010 - 4:24 am

This wiki is evolving into a great resource for anyone working on technology plans.

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