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Peer Review-Dukane Conva

Peer Review-Dukane Conva; Price: $399 MSRP per room (Presenter edition); $999 MSRP for a 50-seat license (Administrator edition)

My Pick: Dukane ConVA Media Control System software, $399 MSRP per room (Presenter edition); $999 MSRP for a 50-seat license (Administrator edition)

What I Like About It: ConVA simplifies the control of multiple AV devices in the classroom for our teachers. This software system enables control and monitoring of these devices by converting the RS232 control codes into an IP stream sent over the computer network connection. All of the controls are then presented to the user via ConVA's GUI computer interface. The functions on each device's remote control are also represented on the computer screen. This lowers the learning curve for this equipment, which makes it easier to use and leads to greater acceptance. Using a wireless mouse allows teachers to move about the room while controlling the equipment, and also increases their interaction with the students.

Because the software is run over our LANs and corporate intranet, remote control of classroom technology means less running around for our technicians. Now we can be sure that devices — especially the video projectors —aren't left on all night or on weekends, which reduces required maintenance and saves hours on expensive bulbs. Actions can also be scheduled so that all devices can be turned off at 10:00 p.m., while local overrides are possible for those burning the midnight oil.

Utilization data from each piece of equipment (video projector, DVD/VCR combo, audio mixer, digital camera, etc.) is stored on a centralized SQL database. Triggers can be programmed so technicians are alerted when filters or bulbs need to be changed — even before the teacher notices any difference in performance. This allows us to be proactive in managing hundreds of classrooms with existing staff.

Our plans are to import this utilization data into our student data warehouse, which will allow us to accurately determine correlations between student performance and use of AV equipment. This is something that has never been feasible in large-scale installations before. This will help us focus teacher training and lead to improved student instruction.

Dukane has also provided us with fantastic support. Any issue we've run into was quickly rectified, and a long-term solution was provided. The flexibility of the user interface environment has allowed for some nice customization, allowing us to make the system “ours.”

I Would Change: I would change the reporting package to provide more detailed reports. The information is stored in the system, but the canned reports don't show the detailed information, such as what channel was watched and at what time. While using a separate reporting package like Crystal Reports is possible, it would be great to include a simple report writer.

Where I Used It: The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis (Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center, Ben Davis 9th Grade Center, and Garden City Elementary School).

My Results: Teachers can use their projector, DVD, VCR, house video, digital cameras, and distance learning equipment without being tech wizards. Our staff can now focus on using these tools to provide an improved instructional experience for our students. In combination with curriculum courseware, we can now differentiate or personalize education.

This software goes to the next level by providing a common look and feel interface to control all classroom equipment. ConVA is now part of our standard classroom technology for new and renovated schools.

In a time when schools are being held to a high level of accountability, this system will allow us to determine the most effective use of classroom technologies. This is critical in determining what works in our educational technology program.

Peer Reviewer: Paul Kreitl, director of technology, Metropolitan School District (MSD) Wayne Township, Indianapolis. MSD Wayne Township is an urban K-12 public school district located on the west side of Indianapolis.



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