|REPORT CARD |
|Overall Rating:||4 Stars|
|Ease of Use:||B|
Sagebrush, Inc., 3601 Minnesota Drive, Suite 550, Minneapolis, MN 55435; Phone: 800/328-2923; Fax: 952/656-2993; Internet: http://www.sagebrushcorp.com/
Access Fee: Pricing covers all students in a building; students in 3rd grade and up are included in the purchase price. License costs begin at $1.65 per student the first year and 33 cents per student each following year. Annual subscription pricing starts at 66 cents per student per year.
The minimum cost is $1,320. Discounts of 10 percent are available for district purchases. Volume pricing is also available.
Audience: Elementary through high school.
Format: Web site; browser-based.
Minimum System Requirements:
Computer with an 800 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, Internet access, and Internet Explorer 6.0 (Windows systems) or Netscape 7 (Win and Mac systems). Pinpoint connections to Novell require a TCP/IP connection (NetWare 5 or NetWare 6).
For Windows systems, the Pinpoint Citation plug-in is only accessible with Internet Explorer 6 or later. Variations regarding library automation
systems and certain user functions affect system requirements. Contact Sagebrush at 800/533-5430 to discuss specific hardware needs.
Description: Pinpoint is a Web-based research utility tool for K-12 schools and libraries. The product allows users to simultaneously research school library resources, subscriptions, and Internet sites and harvest age-appropriate annotated resource lists.
Installation/Access: I reviewed Pinpoint using a 90 MHz PC with a Pentium processor, 12 MB RAM, 10 MB free hard disk space, running Windows, and using a T-1 line. I also used a Gateway 450 MHz computer with a Pentium III processor, 96 MB RAM, 9 GB hard drive, Windows 98, 6x DVD-ROM drive, 17-inch color monitor, Sound Blaster audio, Gateway mouse, and Epson Stylus 440 color printer with a cable modem.
The Pinpoint Citation plug-in is needed to save images and text to a permanent folder; the download is a simple point-and-click operation.
A user name and password is required to begin using Pinpoint.
Installation/Access Rating: A
Content/Features: Sagebrush Pinpoint assists librarians, teachers, and students in conducting online searches in a productive manner. Too often students search broad topics and get lost in a host of inappropriate returns. Pinpoint allows the user to designate the type of material, the age level of the resources, and the number of returns allowed for a search. Pinpoint leads students away from general resources and helps them to refine their search.
Before students use Pinpoint, a school-based administrator makes decisions relative to the appropriateness of each resource and type of information and establishes priorities for each grade level. The librarian or teacher can limit student searches to a single school library or any combination of library, subscription, or Internet resources. This enhances the quality of research results, although it is a labor-intensive task.
When conducting a search, students must first select the type of information they will investigate. The choices include items cataloged in the school library or libraries within the school district, online reference sites and encyclopedias, Web pages, online magazine and journal articles, biographies, or a variety of information sources. Users may also choose to search all of these materials simultaneously.
Annotated search results are ranked by relevance to pre-set criteria. Students browse the annotated results for the most useful information. Once they have identified the best sources of information for their purposes, they can click on a "hot picks" link to access additional resources of a similar topic and grade level. This significantly increases the quality of material students use and allows them to hone in on a topic.
Students can browse the school card catalog by author, title, subject, or keyword as part of a large search, or to identify interesting books. One important factor limiting this function, however, is that a library must be using Sagebrush Athena or Spectrum, or must be running a Z39.50 server.
Pinpoint allows students to copy or save text and images with the appropriate citation information. These "clippings" can be imported into word processing documents, presentation applications, or saved into a permanent folder.
One nice feature of the Pinpoint program is the bibliography function. I searched for information on the economy of Colonial America and received an impressive array of annotated resources. This helped me to add additional information to a bibliography that I planned to print and distribute to other teachers. I learned the hard way, however, that Pinpoint empties the bibliography when you log out of the session. The program does not save bibliographic information in the same way that it saves the student clippings.
In addition, teachers can identify lesson plans as a search type and can use Pinpoint to search for grade-specific activities for classroom use.
Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: I accessed Pinpoint through a special demonstration site preloaded with resources to simulate a school library. I was able to locate a wide array of resources.
On the opening search pages, the user selects a location, type of information to search, and grade level. High school students should be able to begin using Pinpoint with limited instruction. Elementary students will need several modeling sessions and guided practice before they are ready for independent use.
Also, before students and teachers can use Pinpoint, a school-level Pinpoint administrator must invest a significant amount of time setting up the program. Ease of Use Rating: B
Product Support: Pinpoint offers users an online help function from any screen within the program. By clicking the question mark icon, users receive detailed instructions for each task and screen. Sagebrush provides technical support for all of its products via toll-free telephone numbers. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: Pinpoint is an excellent tool for student research. The ability to narrow searches to age-appropriate resources and the guidance that Pinpoint provides to students once they get results are impressive.
For school districts using Sagebrush library automation systems, the ability to seamlessly search subscription sites, school resources, and the I
Internet ensures that students will make good use of all available resources. For these districts, I would consider Pinpoint a must-have addition to the library.
Schools using other library systems will lose some of the functionality of the program, but will still find Pinpoint very useful to their students. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Agnes Dunn,
Social Studies Coordinator, Stafford County Public Schools, Stafford, VA; Phone: 540/658-6674; Fax: 540/658-6061; E-mail: email@example.com