Walking the Floor
Syllabus2004 showcased up to 40 technology firms, in one of the largest vendor
hall in the history of the Syllabus conferences.
Unicon in Full Force
Exhibiting the second year in a row, portal provider and servicer Unicon
a positive and engaging experience with Syllabus2004 in the “friendly
and upbeat vendor [exhibit] area,” according to a Unicon spokesperson.
“We were able to showcase both the portal technology and groupware solutions,”
he adds, noting that administrators, IT professionals, and faculty visiting
the booth expressed surprise at how quickly and affordably an institution or
a group within an institution could create an online community to aggregate
all the tools required to collaborate online. Unicon’s Academus Portal
and Collaborative Groupware solutions were well received by the audience, booth
staffers report, and the products generated conversations around fostering effective
online communities, say Unicon reps.
Attendees also told booth staffers that Unicon’s affiliation with Sakai
was a draw for them. Unicon is one of four companies affiliated with the official
Sakai Commercial Affiliate (SCA) and is a member of the Sakai Education Partner
Program, which means the company is on the ground floor of planning, developing,
and rolling out one of the most-watched open source projects in higher ed. Unicon
is currently evaluating the possibility of providing software products similar
to those it offers around the open source uPortal (www.uPortal.org)
campus portal solution.
Presentation Draws Collaboration
Also in its second year exhibiting at Syllabus2004, Xerox
its Web-based enterprise content management software DocuShare. With over one
million user seats worldwide, say Xerox spokespeople, at least 11 percent of
the company’s DocuShare customers are in education. The DocuShare team
reported good traffic and leads, and added that Syllabus2004 was a “valuable
opportunity to meet and speak with higher education technology customers.”
“The show gave our sales team a chance to speak firsthand with people
in this market and gain a fresh perspective on what they need today, and what
they’ll need into the future,” says Dave Ferretti, DocuShare worldwide
And interestingly, the Xerox team said that exhibiting allowed them to view
and try other hot Internet technologies for higher education such as spam filters,
live presentation tools, and even software designed to discourage cheating on
exams. In attendance with Xerox was WaterWare, Inc. (www.waterware.com)
a Silicon Valley-based integrator and developer of custom Internet hosting services.
Another highlight of Xerox’s involvement was a case study presentation
on Internet collaboration by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
a Xerox DocuShare customer. CCTC is a state agency dedicated to establishing
preparation program standards and credentials for teachers across the state.
Phyllis Jacobson and Helen Hawley, consultants for the CCTC, described how they
have pioneered an entirely Web-based process for year-round panel reviews by
teachers and administrators. They were able to demonstrate the DocuShare Interact
applications live, and trade ideas with audience members about other uses of
collaboration software in higher ed and in the educational administration realm.
Ready, Set, Sprint!
First-time exhibitor Sprint (www.sprint.com)
is recognized for developing, engineering, and deploying network technologies,
including the first nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network in the United
States. Booth representatives offered attendees a firsthand look at the various
cell phone devices from their product line—always a draw for exhibition-floor
attendees looking to “play” with new devices.
Presentation Security Feature
best known in higher ed for its projectors, displayed an array of projectors
and related presentation products for attendees. The discussions around the
various products focused on security, and highlighted protected menus and alarms.
The Mitsubishi reps displayed DLP and LCD installable products and mobile “travel”
projectors that sound an alarm when the equipment is moved. Mitsubishi reps
reported positive and valuable feedback from attendees regarding product offerings
Always a good draw, the Syllabus2004 Prize Hunt was in good form on the exhibit
floor, exhibitors and attendees alike reported. Attendees received a stamp on
their Prize Hunt form from each vendor booth visited. After the form was filled,
conference g'ers were eligible to enter a drawing for prizes donated by companies
such as Anker Publishing (www.ankerpub.com),
O’Reilly & Associates (www.oreilly.com),
Sonic Foundry (www.sonicfoundry.com),
Spectrum Industries (www.spectrumfurniture.com),
and Thomson Learning (www.webtutor.thomsonlearning.com).
Prizes ranged from educational books and DVD players to Palm Pilots.
Mobile Platforms in the Classroom
Wireless technology is transforming the learning experience at universities
and classrooms around the globe. However, traditional laptops can cause distractions
and create barriers in the classroom, say
representatives. A Gold sponsor, the mobile computing and wireless communications
provider offered a hands-on experience with its Centrino-based tablet PCs in
the company’s Technology Suite and at the Motion Computing booth. In general,
reps report, attendees seemed impressed by the simplicity and functionality
of the tablet PCs.
Score One for the College Board
According to spokespeople for The College Board (www.collegeboard.com/splash),
the organization’s Accuplacer program delivers comprehensive assessment,
placement, and guidance tool-over the Internet. Attendees had plenty of opportunity
to learn about Accuplacer’s computer-adaptive tests and computer-scored
writing samples, at Syllabus2004. The tests cover the areas of reading, writing,
ESL, and mathematics. Accuplacer also provides the option of delivering tests
in other subject areas.
Get Smart with rSmart
Those rSmart people really “r” smart: On the heels of the ‘hot’
open source CMS movement, rSmart (www.rsmart.com)—a
full-service provider of open source solutions and co-founder of the Open Source
Portfolio Initiative (OSPI)—facilitates and participates in the implementation
of open source projects.
“We were able to connect with the attendees and demonstrate what open
source is all about,” says Kari Clark, director of Marketing Communications
for the company. Sales Assistant Nichole Rushton, and Shelley Smith, ePortfolio
consultant, gave a demonstration of the OSPI electronic portfolio.
Attendees are still talking about Turning Technologies’
TurningPoint software, not just demonstrated at the vendor (and conference sponsor’s)
booth, but also employed off-site at an interactive panel discussion at UC-Berkeley.
With the TurningPoint software, panel attendees were able to vote instantly
on topics raised by panel moderator Victor Edmonds, who reported that the technology
had “a powerful effect on his ability to stay in touch with the audience.”
TurningPoint allows users to transform lectures and presentations into powerful,
two-way experiences, says Tony V. DeAscentis, the company’s VP of Marketing
Attendees Glimpse Life without Spam
Adam Symes is marketing manager for Roaring Penguin (www.roaringpenguin.com),
a provider of intelligent computing infrastructure for enterprise technology
deployment. He reports: “We were pleased with the conversations we had at the
booth as [the attendees] gave us further insight into the challenges faced by
campuses, when it comes to keeping junk mail off of their mail servers.” Symes
says attendees who stopped at the Roaring Penguin booth showed real interest
in learning about how the company’s CanIt-Pro software allows campuses to create
custom e-mail filtering solutions to match the requirements of their campus.
Roaring Penguin reps report that attendees also talked about the challenges
of upholding digital information and privacy issues at their colleges.
Educational advisors Adam Martingano and Martin Igano from Matchware
software provider of Web and multimedia authoring tools, demonstrated
easy ways for attendees to create comprehensive Flash Web sites in a matter
of minutes with interactive navigation and object animation. No surprise,
then, that this vendor’s Technology Classroom had an impressive turnout—a
full house with no chairs to spare. Participants were able to brainstorm
and expand on frameworks for written documents, presentations, and class
Maintaining E-Mail Security
E-mail users are constantly bombarded with endless spam mail, forcing them
to spend an inordinate amount of time deleting unnecessary junk. CommTouch
an anti-spam software provider (also presenting in the Technology Classroom),
talked about solutions to this growing e-mail epidemic. Needless to say, over-spammed
Syllabus attendees sat up and took notice.
Learning on Demand
Those attendees who sat in on TechSmith’s (www.techsmith.com)
interactive Technology Classroom experienced solutions to create software-training
tutorials, and enhance PowerPoint presentations, whiteboard applications, and
much more! The educational software provider’s reps were happy to work
with the enthusiastic Exhibit-Hall cruisers.
Ideal for the Classroom
As they do at so many technology exhibitions, the Epson (www.epson.com)
reps presented a wide range of products applicable to classroom instruction
and presentations, and were happy to demonstrate the latest features to Syllabus
attendees. Conference g'ers looking for the latest in “smart classroom”
and academic computing technology were not disappointed.
Remember the days of paper-based teacher evaluations and performance feedback?
Well, those days are over. Representatives from Perseus (www.perseus.com),
a provider of Web survey and enterprise feedback management solutions, spoke
with attendees about ways to implement Web-based surveys at their organizations
and institutions, in order to gauge employee/student satisfaction, performance,
and course feedback. According to a Perseus spokesperson, “As students
graduate and move into their careers, we see many of them coming back to us
and introducing our technologies into their respective companies.” What
better evidence of a technology that is “working” for higher ed?