BugBusters deals with headlice
It’s enough to send shivers down the spine of any parent – a note from school, kinder or childcare warning of yet another outbreak of head lice. As any parent knows, they can strike any time and no one is immune (are you itching yet?).

It is the second most communicable condition in children after the common cold. This may explain why around 30% of primary school aged children in Victoria have head lice at any one time, and this figure increases in the warmer seasons and states of Australia.

Many myths surround these little pests. Head lice do not have knees, so they cannot jump. They don’t have wings so they cannot fly either. Like Tarzan, they swing from hair strand to hair strand or scurry along the scalp. They can only live on the human head, so you can’t blame the dog and not everyone itches when they have them; this is a sensitivity to their saliva when they feed. An adult louse can lay around 200 eggs in its lifetime. You must be itching by now.

Head lice love hair, clean hair, dirty hair, straight hair, curly hair, thick hair, thin hair, rich hair, poor hair, blonde hair, red hair… they just love hair.

There are three vital steps to beat head lice:
1    Check the whole family, the children give them to mum, mum gives them to dad and dad gives them back to the children. Sharing within the family isn’t always a good thing;
2    Remove all eggs, they will hatch and you are back at square one; and
3    Repeat the treatment in seven days, this will ensure any hatched eggs will be removed before they are mature enough to lay eggs.

Head lice need no longer be a nightmare for parents, now that the highly experienced team at BugBusters – headlice removal service – can help to quickly and safely remove this common pest.
BugBusters founder Robyn Symonds says: 'I founded BugBusters out of sheer frustration. One of my children was constantly catching them from one of her friends and I could see a real need for parents to learn the facts and become confident in getting rid of lice.

'We opened in May 2007 and have had calls from all around Australia. In August, we were finalists in the Australian Home Based Business Awards. I love answering the phone and having a parent say, ‘thank God you’re here’. It’s not glamorous work we do, but it is rewarding to help someone through a stressful and trying situation.

'BugBusters offers a variety of services including a range of organic, natural treatment and prevention products, head lice removal in client’s homes, school screenings and information sessions as well as fundraising options.
Contact www.bugbusters.net.au or tel 1300 657 594.

 New entry-level HDV shoulder mount camera
Sony is expanding its professional HDV line-up with an entry-level shoulder-mount camera, offering integrated HDV and DV formats – the HVR-HD1000P.

Sony will be taking orders from October and the camera will be available in Australia from December.
Presenting advanced functionality at a highly competitive cost, this shoulder-mount is a perfect starting point for anyone who wishes to experience a high-end professional camera.

‘What makes the HVR-HD1000P such a valuable camera are its dual recording and playback functions,’ said Surein Fernando, Product Marketing Manager for Professional Cameras at Sony Australia.

‘As with our existing range of HDV products, users can record in both HD (HDV1080i) and SD (DV) modes, offering the best of both worlds.’

The HDV format allows users to capture approximately 60 minutes of HD video onto an inexpensive HDV cassette.

Although well suited to secondary and tertiary institutions, the HVR-HD1000P caters to much broader markets, including videographers and event production.

Interwrite Cricket captures responses

Interwrite Cricket is the newest member of the Interwrite assessment family.

It is a powerful yet simple-to-use clicker for students of all ages. From kindergarten to higher education, Cricket ‘clickers’ combine robust RF technology with a friendly look and feel to make real time student assessment practical for any classroom setting.

Students can respond to questions, while the Response software captures their responses. From the smallest of classrooms to lecture halls with 2000 students, Interwrite Cricket is a fun, friendly and affordable student response system solution.

Cricket keeps it simple. From setting it up to uploading grades, every aspect has been designed to simplify assessment for both the teacher and students.

Cricket works with virtually any teaching resource in any format. It includes a PowerPoint plug-in that makes PowerPoint an ideal companion for the system. Existing slides can be ‘response-enabled’ in a few seconds per slide. Cricket is the only system to offer a mode whereby any material on the teacher's computer can become a Cricket compatible response question.

Contact tel 1300 766 997 or www.kookaburra.com.au and www.interwritelearning.com.au

GradeXpert aids judgement of students’ performance
GradeXpert is a new data collection and analysis tool that enables teachers, principals, curriculum coordinators and other staff members to make informed, consistent judgements on student, class, cohort and school performance using both latitudinal and longitudinal data.

Developed with the assistance of teachers and users, the software package is easy to use, flexible and easy to set up. Any number of assessment types can be set up, and any number of results for these assessments can be entered and analysed graphically.

Teachers can use GradeXpert at home to enter results and print reports and later synchronise their data with the school database. Easy entry of unlimited anecdotal comments either linked to an assessment result or added to a student’s profile assists in monitoring student progress.

Multiple report options, including a Combined Results by Range Report, Assessment Results Comparison Report and an Individual Student Report, enable the user to numerically or graphically track progress of a student, class or an entire school’s progress from term to term and year to year.

Result Attachments allow any type of external file, e.g. Word document, PDF, JPEG, MP3 to be added to any assessment result or note, making related documentation easily accessible.

GradeXpert allows an unlimited number of users, with centrally controlled, password-protected access to all program functions. By assigning teachers to classes and assessment groups, school administrators can ensure users can only access results for their classes or teaching areas.

Contact A fully-functioning demonstration version can be downloaded at www.gradexpert.com.au or call Clare Sacker on 0435 069 276.

Dancewear Direct cuts dance gear cost

Dance is huge right now, and the widespread introduction of dance programs into primary and secondary schools is, without a doubt, one of the reasons.

The nature of participation in dance training is changing as well. Recent studies highlight the fact that, although more children are undertaking dance as an activity than ever before, they are also taking, on average, fewer classes.

The cost of participation – including the cost of clothing and equipment – has always been a concern to

many families, and is becoming more and more so.
Dance coordinators are increasingly being called upon to source economical class and performance wear for their students. This can be frustrating and difficult, as the majority of manufacturers will only sell through retail intermediaries.

Dancewear Direct, in contrast, distributes directly to teachers and dancers, and is therefore able to offer a wide range of high quality class basics at considerably reduced prices.
Contact www.danceweardirect.com.au

Using Web 2.0 tools to enhance learning outcomes

ProvidEd Productions is a digital media production company that provides services for corporate and educational purposes.

The company was formed in 2007 by Tim Waugh, a highly-experienced educator (former classroom teacher / curriculum coordinator, REC and assistant principal) who is acutely aware of how effective and necessary ICT is as an enabler of good pedagogy. He also recognises that the children we teach bring a great deal of technological and multimodal literacy with them into the classroom, yet in schools it is not always easy to harness this to full effect.

Podcasting is an example of an evolving Web 2.0 technology that offers teachers an opportunity to enhance their teaching practices by engaging students in a meaningful way.

Put simply, Podcasting is a way to share audio or video files on the internet. The files are coded in a special way so that if one subscribes to a podcast, every time it changes the new file is downloaded to the subscriber’s computer and can be later transferred to a handheld portable device for listening / viewing.

ProvidEd Productions has developed best practice programs for classroom use to assist students and their teachers to develop their own high quality podcasts. These programs are designed to enhance current classroom practice by complementing the learning that is already taking place. The programs fully integrate with all key learning areas.

ProvidEd Productions will work with teachers and students to plan, create, record and publish the podcast using the very latest software, hardware and recording equipment – all supplied by the company. The process is non-obtrusive and is designed to blend in with all learning environments.

ProvidEd has undertaken recent classroom based-action research into the efficacy of Podcasting as an enabler of sound pedagogy, and Tim Waugh has presented at recent ICT conferences and continues to investigate applications for Web 2.0 Technologies and their impact upon classroom practice.

ProvidEd Productions is also available to provide:
•    Information/inservice at whole school staff level at staff meetings or professional development forums
•    School website design
•    Movie making – scripting, filming, editing and DVD creation
•     IT programs to support boys’ education initiatives
•     IT programs to support initiatives in G&T education.
Contact Tim Waugh ProvidEd Productions tel (02) 9804 0090, mob 0419 696 642.

SmackB!z fills the video storage black hole

ZacWare, an Australian software developer, has created an elegant solution to the problem of archiving the ever-growing number of videos created day-by-day in schools.

In September, after 12 months of development and testing SmackB!z and its video compression component !Smack! were launched. Together, the two are used to identify the contents of a video; compress the video; upload it to an intra- or an internet site so it can be played whenever it is needed.

Damian Hickey, CEO of ZacWare, says that the original goal was to develop an on-line video library, but it was soon realised that a flexible and easily implemented system for identifying a video so that it could be archived and retrieved would be central to the success of the on-line library concept.

SmackB!z does away with the manual task of cataloguing, labelling and shelving videos – tasks that are time consuming and often left to be done another day. In effect, it’s the digital age’s Dewey Decimal System but without the complexities.

For parents worried about the risk to their children should they upload videos to YouTube or other popular sites, it offers the assurance of knowing that the child’s creative efforts can be displayed on the safe environment of the school’s intranet.

For teaching staff, the system opens up the prospect of creating a video on any topic or event and re-playing it on demand; no more hunting through shelves, boxes or filing cabinets to find the only copy of a CD that was last used ‘sometime last year’.

Because the file is prepared for archiving before it leaves the user’s PC, low-, medium- and high-resolution versions can be stored. This unique feature is particularly valuable for teachers who need to make videos available to remote locations. It is enhanced by the system’s recognition of the internet link speed when a video is played and automatic selection of the optimum transmission speed to overcome jerky playback or ‘stutter’.

The identifying metadata is captured in a template when a video is prepared for archiving. Typically, the data would be the name of the school; date; topic; event; description. Thus: North Sydney Prep; 30.9.07; Concerts; Christmas 2007; Junior choir; solos. By adding fields to the template, the description becomes tightly focused, enabling staff to use the systems’ industrial strength search capability to drill down and retrieve a specific video from among perhaps thousands in the archive.

The school can set its own upload approval hierarchy. This might limit uploads to the school’s systems manager; selected teachers; or staff and students – the potential for abuse being integration with the school's existing computer security system.

Using ZacWare’s compression algorithm, video file sizes can be reduced to 1% of the original file size, though 70:1 compression would best suit display on a classroom screen. Instead of uploads taking hours, files compressed by !Smack! will upload in minutes.

Installing and managing SmackB!z requires little staff training. When purchased, the software is downloaded to the school’s server. Easy-to-use screens guide the new user step-by-step through the installation and set-up process. Technical support from ZacWare’s resellers (visit www.smackbiz.biz for the resellers’ list) will help first time users to establish their metadata templates for efficient search retrieval and to tailor school-specific requirements.

The purchase price is modest when compared to the potential savings in staff time and the improvement in the quality of the school’s archive management. The entry-level package costs $500 and will manage up to 500 videos. There’s a generous sliding scale for sites with more material to archive.

Damian Hickey says: ‘When you consider how quickly recording school events has evolved, SmackB!z makes perfect sense. Written reports gave way to photos and captions, digital cameras killed off film, video has replaced the static video image… all of this in a few short years.

‘By editing and archiving video, the school is not only enhancing the creativity of the children, but saving a history of its achievements.’

Contact A free trial non-timed version of the software that will archive up to 10 videos can be downloaded at www.zac-ware.com