Magazine article Technology & Learning

KidDesk - School Version

Magazine article Technology & Learning

KidDesk - School Version

Article excerpt

Hardware: Macintosh* (1 Mb for B/W, 2 Mb for color, 4 Mb for System 7) with System 6.0.7 or better and hard drive. MS-DOS computer (640K) with hard drive, EGA or better display. Both versions support sound input.

Emphasis: Interactive desktop and file management.

Grade level: Pre-K-5.

Publisher: Edmark, 6727 185th Ave. N.E., Redmond, WA 98052; (800) 362-2890.

Package includes: Floppy disks (3.5-inch and 5.25-inch disks with MS-DOS version), user's manual, teacher's guide.

Price: $54.95; lab packs, site licenses available.

Children and computers go together easily, but sometimes it's difficult for youngsters to find "their" programs among all those loaded onto the computer. To complicate matters further, when children have access to everything on the hard drive, data sometimes get accidentally moved around or lost.

Now there is an easy-to-use, attractive solution to these problems-- Edmark's KidDesk--School Version. KidDesk allows teachers to create individually tailored desktops on a computer for each of their kids, giving children easy access to the applications they need and teachers easy protection for the applications and files they need.

Teachers set up KidDesk for their classes from the program' s "adult" section, where they enter the names of their students and choose an icon to represent each. These icons appear on the students' KidDesk opening menu, giving students access to their own desktops. For each student, teachers can select the particular applications on the hard drive that they want available. Teachers can also set up icons to represent groupings of students, or separate classes, which reveal individual students' icons when clicked on.

Other setup features enable teachers to remove students, turn on student passwords, and set a time reminder for students. They can record a welcome message that plays when a student opens his or her desktop (given appropriate sound input equipment). Within a group, teachers can tailor the available set of applications to hide inappropriate or unneeded ones from individual students.

Once initial setup is complete and KidDesk is up and running, a student simply finds his particular icon on screen and clicks on it. His own desktop appears, complete with pop-up electronic accessories--a calculator, a calendar, a talking clock that displays in digital or analog format, and a phone with an answering machine that he can record messages on. Most important, of course, are the icons for the software applications the teacher has selected for him during setup. The student launches the appropriate application with a click, and starts to work.

When the student closes that application, KidDesk returns him to his desktop, where he can quit to the KidDesk main menu. But unless the teacher "permits" it during setup, students cannot quit KidDesk itself or access other programs or files.

Students using KidDesk have some fun options. They can choose among six colorful desktop models, from the oak-paneled desk with its green banker's light to the dinosaur-motif desktop or the gadget desk that sports a helicopter telephone. Functionally, all models are equivalent in that they contain the same accessories, and all applications selected for a particular student stay with her as she changes desktop designs. …

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