SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, February 28, 2007

News & Product Updates

D2L Debuts Desire2Learn Essentials

By David Nagel

Software developer Desire2Learn is lowering the ante for campus-wide CMS/LMS adoption. The company today debuted a new version of its course and learning management system designed for small-size universities and colleges (those with fewer than 5,000 users), as well as e-learning programs.

The new tool, called Desire2Learn Essentials, offers functionality similar to that of D2L's large-scale Desire2Learn Learning Environment , along with customization features designed to enhance experiences for students and faculty alike.

"Desire2Learn Essentials addresses the core issues smaller institutions face.  By offering a competitive edge to access a powerful enterprise-scale application, with all the required tools and functionality enabling rapid development, delivery, all learners can benefit from a quality online experience. Desire2Learn Essentials empowers smaller institutions to maximize their resources and enables them to have the same e-learning opportunities as larger institutions," said Patricia Fellows, instructional technology and training coordinator at University of Wisconsin Colleges, in a prepared statement.

Essentials is a Web-based suite hosted by Desire2Learn that provides a widget-based interface for customization of elements, such as news, user guides, events, and various other types of optional content. Some of the specific features include:

  • Customization throughout the interface, down to the course level;
  • A variety of question types for quizzes and tests;
  • Self-assessment features for students;
  • Tracking of student involvement in the system, including materials read and tests taken;
  • Gradebook features;
  • Discussions and blogs;
  • Support for RSS; and
  • Dropoffs for assignments.

D2L told us that implementation of Essentials, including conversion of courses, can be accomplished in five business days. Essentials is available now for institutions with fewer than 5,000 users. Pricing is determined on a case by case basis.

Please visit the Campus Technology Web site Thursday, March 1, for an in depth "first look" at Desire2Learn Essentials.

More info

Canon Intros 3 LCD Projectors

2/22/2007—Canon has introduced three new models in its LV series of LCD multimedia projectors. The new models are targeted toward the presentation market and range in price from $999 to $1,499.

The three new LV models--LV-7265, LV-7260, and LV-X7--all offer XGA-native resolution (1,024 x 768) and support UXGA and SXGA through compression. All of them are designed for short throw distances and include a 1.6x Canon wide-angle zoom lens.

The high-end LV-7265 (6.8 lbs.) delivers 2,500 ANSI lumens of brightness with a 600:1 contrast ratio; the LV-7260 (6.6 lbs.) offers 2,000 ANSI lumens with a 600:1 contrast ratio; and the LV-X7 (6.4 lbs.) offers 1,500 ANSI lumens with a 500:1 contrast ratio.

Features that all three projectors share in common include:

  • A seven-group, 1.6x wide-angle projection lens;
  • Support for direct connection to Canon digital camcorders;
  • Five automatic image modes (Presentation, Video, Cinema, Standard, sRGB) and manual settings for each mode;
  • Enhanced Wall Color Correction for projecting on blackboards, walls, or partition;
  • An improved control panel;
  • Automatic power off timer;
  • Vertical keystone correction (automatic on the LV-7265);
  • 3,000-hour lamp life (4,000 for the LV-X7)
  • Wireless mouse control; and
  • S-video, composite, component (through the VGA terminal via an optional cable), VGA input, and audio inputs (as well as DVI-I on the LV-7265).

All three models are available now. The LV-7265 sells for $1,499; the LV-7260 runs $1,199; ad the LV-X7 sells for $999. All three include a three-year parts and labor warranty and a 120-day lamp-life limited warranty.

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RPI Prof Develops Culture-Based Web Teaching Tools

An associate professor of science and technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created a suite of culturally-attuned Web-based applets to help students from different cultures more easily absorb computing and math teaching.

Called "culturally situated design tools" (CSDTs), the programs help educate students about the mathematic principles used to design cornrow hairstyles, Mangbetu art, Navajo rugs, Yupik parka patterns, pre-Columbian pyramids, and Latin music. The National Science Foundation awarded the researcher, Prof. Ron Eglash, a $300,000 grant to extend his work to help underrepresented minority students in the subject of computing.

Eglash is now working with Mukkai Krishnamoorthy, associate professor of computer science at Rensselaer, and Hilmi Yildirim, a doctoral student in computer science, to create a new interface for the tools. By the end of the three-year grant, the researchers hope to offer a new collection of "programmable" CSDTs that will allow students anywhere in the world to invent new design tools of their own creation.

"Over the last six years we have received requests for design tools from places all over the world, including New Guinea, Argentina, and South Africa," said Eglash, principal investigator on the research. "At the end of this research project we'll be able to offer Web-based resources to allow anyone, anywhere to design their own culturally situated design tools."

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