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The Education Desktop

By Susan W. Hixson - Posted May 1, 2006
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Company: LearningStation, Inc., 8008 Corporate Center Dr., Suite 210, Charlotte, NC 28226. Phone: (888) 679-7058; Fax: (704) 927-5401; Internet: http://www.learningstation.com/.

Price: The Education Desktop can be customized to deliver a variety of tools starting at a basic price of $1,500 per site. School, district, and statewide licenses are available.

Audience: Elementary-High School teachers and students.

Format: Online access with user name and password.

Minimum System Requirements: Computer with Internet access and browser; some additional software may be required to take advantage of linked programs.

Description: The Education Desktop is a customized Internet portal for teachers and students that provides access to education-appropriate applications and tools.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Installation is easy; users access LearningStation.com on the Internet and log in with a password.

Teachers or administrators can log in and set up a page that links to selected bookmarked sites and programs. The customized page will become the home page; students will find this page when they open their browser and log in. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: The Education Desktop provides the home page that all teachers want to have to guide students to safe Internet sites and user-friendly programs.

The desktop provides a portal with icons that link to the home page, system messages, support files and options, live online help, preferences, and the log out feature. Administrative tools, bookmark functions, and a School News message box are included. Also offered is access to a Web search tool (schools may choose to link a subscription tool here) and Education Backpack, an online file management system with Internet-based personal storage.

Educators can customize their home pages to cover curriculum topics and state standards. Individual teachers maintain control of their students' links, even when the program is adopted by an entire state, district, or school.

With the bookmark feature, teachers can add bookmarks to guide students directly to specific Web sites. The bookmarks can be added for specific lessons and deleted and replaced as other sites are needed during the school year.

The Education Desktop can be linked to a variety of programs purchased from LearningStation as well as programs provided by other sources. LearningStation offerings cover subject areas such as language arts, mathematics, and typing and include online resources such as netTrekker and Questia. The Education Backpack feature can be expanded at an additional cost to provide more file storage space.

The desktop examined for this review included AdventureOnline.com, providing activities at many levels for math, reading, language, science, and social studies work; NetTrekker, the student-friendly search engine with subjects listed by learner levels and curriculum topic; and Education Online, with grade-specific activities for vocabulary development and comprehension presented in a variety of reading levels.

Educator resources available at an additional cost include the P.E.T. Learning Styles Solution, a Web-based assessment program that evaluates teaching and learning styles for teachers and students.

State-specific platforms can be created with resources keyed to state learning. At the time of this review, the Education Desktop for the state of Kansas included links to online software tutorials, the Kansas Education Resource Center, the Kansas Historical Archives, videoconferencing and Webcast tools, state-specific assessment tools, and more. The School News message box directed attention to the LearningStation online test builder that had recently been added to the desktop. Content/Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: This product is very easy to use. Since the Education Desktop portal appears as the home page on student computers, the only introduction needed would be some direction in proper Internet use and a daily direction toward the appropriate programs to use at specific times. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: A variety of product support options are available. Live help is available through a live online chat during office hours. The Live Help icon appears on screen when the live chat is offered.

E-mail is recommended for the best support (lscsupport@learningstation.com). Toll-free telephone support is also available. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: The Education Desktop is a straightforward way to personalize the desktop of each computer in a school, district, or state.

The ease of customizing the home page and the many options to reinforce and teach curriculum required by state standards are a definite plus.

This program is an answer to the safe and productive use of the Internet in the classroom. It is a helpful time-saving tool for teachers, providing access to an easily-customized home page and an array of standards-based programs. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, Educational Consultant, swhixson[at]yahoo.com


 
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