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Stop Teaching from the Shadows

BoardshadowTeaching in the shadows at the whiteboard is equivalent to teaching in front of a dusty chalkboard. It’s what drove the overhead projectors out of the bowling alleys and into the classrooms more than 20 years ago. If your teachers have only the interactive technology to block the board and cast a shadow on a lesson, it's time to stand back to get a better view. And if you're an administrator just looking for interactive choices, and not sure if teachers will use them, there's a few helpful thoughts here for you, too.

Getting teachers away from the from the front of the classroom, and into the mix, with students won’t quite look like individual instruction, but it will get more actors to participate on the learning stage. And that stage can be the entire classroom.

In my day, the only way to teach interactively (with tech) was by using a projector and whiteboard with a cheap, wireless mouse. If you walked around the room, but not too far, you could control the teacher-station computer with the wireless mouse, and if you had a wireless keyboard, you could let students around the room type in answers and sentences. Having said all that, I’m certain there are teachers out there still doing it, or thinking about trying it. In the old days, I did more, I actually bought a wireless keyboard and mouse for each of my staff members. Oh, I bought a lot of batteries, too! That was then and this is now...

There is no reason you should go the wireless mouse/keyboard direction today. Almost every whiteboard, document camera, response system, or projector company makes or supplies a far better tablet/slate classroom teaching/presentation device. And many interactive device companies will, or are offering software solutions that will work with iPads and other computer tablets. That software will allow teachers the same classroom instruction opportunities, and most likely more, and the options for getting teachers out of the shadows continues to expand.

If you still question whether teachers will use the equipment, maybe this answer from a recent interview will help. After observing many teachers in a school using tablet/slate/pad controllers easil, I asked, “You seem to handle teaching from anywhere in the classroom, and operating software on your whiteboard easily with that device. What would you say to teachers, who may be a bit leery of walking away from the stylus at the board?” The teacher looked at me, smiled, and said, “I pretend it’s a mouse.” Now, that was simple to understand, and it reminded me of my wireless mouse and keyboard years ago. It was easy to do, because she thought of it as familiar.

Because there's a choice when it comes to these devices, my advice is to try them out to see which is best for your needs. Choosing one that fits into your existing tech mix may be best, but testing outside possibilities is always a good call, too. You may find a gem that teachers find easier to use. Remember, this may be a purchase you'll live with for a long time. Check ease of use, set-up, battery, wireless distance and compatability, as well as support and upkeep. Unlike my cheap wireless mouse and keyboard, running these products through actual teaching lessons, before deciding, makes a lot of price/common sense.

Here are some companies (random order) that provide interactive ways (Pads, Slates, Tablets) and software to interactively launch a teacher out of the whiteboard shadows and into the classroom light with their students:

eInstruction

ELMO

Promethean

Dymo/Mimio

Qwizdom

QOMO HiteVision

SMART Technologies

Luidia

Califone

Apple (iPad)

Kensington: There's A Lock For That!

Brian Baltezore, Senior Product Manager at Kensington tells Ken Royal that there is a lock for that iPad, too. The Royal Treatment covers pioneer device lock company Kensington as it keeps up with tablets in the changing school and work environment.

Listen to the interview:

MP3 Listening: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/323/show_2323443.mp3

iTunes Listening: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Illinicloud CDW-G at ISTE: D'Orio Cloud Search

Scholastic Administrator Executive Editor Wayne D'Orio collects cloud-tech stories at ISTE. CDW-G's VP, K12 Education Bob Kirby, and Director of Sales, K12, John Pellettiere led a round table discussion of Cloud-using administrators at ISTE. IlliniCloud is one of many success stories. IlliniCloud worked with CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions, to supply affordable access to virtual servers, online storage and high-speed network connectivity across the state of Illinois - technology that, until recently, was out of reach for most K-12 schools there. Sharing data center resources and costs among schools across the state helps each school district to focus more on advancing the use of technology in the classroom for the direct benefit of students.
Watch the Interview:

Tech-Lite Educator Apps & Tech

Pad3 Ok, I broke down and bought an iPad 2. Yeah, like I was the only one! For me, the purpose went beyond watching movies, FaceTime, eBooks, or listening to music or audible literature. My main goal was to go light, and I know that educators may want to try it, too. Here’s how the iPad 2 with a couple of Apps, can take the computer off your desk, or the laptop off your lap—in a light sort of way—that is.

What you’ll need:

1. iPad or iPad 2 for $499: The 16 MB WiFi version is pretty much what most everyone needs.

2. Pages for $9.99: My heart is that of an educator, and I understand the importance of free, as well as inexpensive, but Pages is worth the cash. For me, it allows me to write, word process, and even e-mail my work/documents. There are some fancy-prepared templates, but I use the blank page to do my work. There are other options for iWork and iDisk, and even one for sending to iTunes. I don’t really get the iTunes option. So, I’m thinking that administrators and educators who like to travel light, and pack a bit of writing power would really find using Pages with an iPad extremely productive for more than class notes, meetings, workshops, notes to parents, and lesson plans. Oh, don’t forget sharing to that great education blog you’ve started. Pages is not perfect, but I think it is the best thing out there for the purposes I’ve mentioned. You might be traveling lighter, and leaving the laptop home.

3. Penultimate for $1.99: There are a lot of note taking possibilities. I’ve discovered the only gadget Pad1 that does both notes and audio is Livescribe, but we’re talking iPads and note taking here, so Penultimate is my choice. At first writing with your finger may seem a bit like finger painting, but using the pen, eraser, and undo tools is a snap on lines, graphs, or blank note pages. Changing the pen color and sizes is easy. I like that I can reorder, organize, or delete note pages quickly. I’m old fashioned, so you’ll still see me with a small traditional paper pad, but I’m really close to ditching that, too. If only I had more hands! Wonder if there’s an Ap for that?

4. Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard for $69. This may be optional for some, but not for me. Yep, I broke down and bought a super wireless keyboard for my clunky old hands. While I’m a thumb-typing star on my Blackberry, I’m all stumbling-fingers on the iPad’s touch keyboard. Without the Bluetooth keyboard, I’d never get beyond a first line. The keyboard is really for times when I’m not on the move, so I see it as more of a desktop device. I know my limitations. While roaming, my finger pointing technique is just fine, but if I need to write something like this post, for me, that’s a job for a real keyboard.

5. Optional: Stand of some sort for about $29.99 or less.  I got one called Loop at Target by Griffin. It’s simple and heavy enough. It works on a table, or pretty much wherever you can stand it. The iPad fits in beautifully vertically or horizontally.
Pad2

Teaching Discussion and Classroom Controller: WT1

Wt1a I think that most teachers are naturals at making things work, and figuring out how to do things in less than optimum conditions, with equipment creatively modified to meet a need. Well, I think most teachers are hard-wired that way. For instance, in my school visits, I see teachers using a wireless mouse in conjunction with a wireless keyboard to make a classroom somewhat interactive.

Hooking up a wireless mouse and keyboard is simple, might require a battery or two, but for most it likely requires no help from the tech department. It’s usually easy plug and play. And it simply gives a teacher the ability to pass the mouse and keyboard to students around the classroom. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the most inexpensive ways to get a class interactive—fast.

Wt1c Now, if you’re looking for a more refined way to do it, Califone has an option called the WT1 for Wireless Tablet. I’ve just checked it out myself, and I prefer to call it a classroom controller, classroom lesson leader, or teacher discussion tool. That way you won’t confuse it with other tablets that are really computers.

The WT1 tablet comes with a stylus, which can be tucked into the device when not Wt1d in use, a USB computer connector cable for charging, an RF USB thumb-style projection/connection device, and a software disc. The entire setup from start to finish takes under 5 minutes, and can be easily done without any tech help, although Califone offers that at its site, too. The WT1 is for Window use only—at this time.

Here’s what you can do using the WT1 with its stylus:

The WT-1 is a controller that acts like a mouse, and offers, with the keys on the left desktop functionality when connected to your teacher station laptop or computer. Functions include desktop; up / down / left / right / OK arrows; mouse left / right keys; page up / down keys; alt and tab; clear / close / esc keys; and red pen / screen mode

The right side tablet choices offer software functions such as red and blue whiteboard/desktop drawing pen; multi-color pen; eraser; magnify; focus and resize the window; blank screen; hide upper and lower parts of the screen; clock/timer; record whiteboard session; snapshot of the current screen; and dialog box to adjust settings. Here's the WT1 video.

 To check the WT1 and other Califone products, check the site at http://www.califone.com/.

Wt1b

 

Thunderbolt: Crazy-Fast Intel I/O!

What’s an I/O, and what’s Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt Simply, an I/O means input and output. So, what’s that have to do with Thunderbolt? Well, Intel’s 10 Gbps (Gigabits per second) wonder—for input and output transfer—will allow crazy-fast transfer of data. For instance, a full-length HD movie in 30 seconds. That’s 20 times faster than USB 2.0, and 12 times faster than the latest Firewire. And it’s bi-directional—input and output!—through just one port!

So, if you’re a person that transfers a lot of video, images, or audio, a device that has Thunderbolt is for you. And, most of us are in that ballpark these days—everyone is doing  a lot of video, audio, images, and media. Now, while most of us would be satisfied with a new computer without it, and probably not know the difference, having one with it, might be worth waiting for—if you can. Right now, Apple’s MacBook Pro has it. While there may not be many peripheral devices to hook up with it yet, having a computer with Thunderbolt now, will have you ready when that does happen.

Believe me, I try to avoid being geeky at The Royal Treatment, but sometimes tech information needs to skirt the geek a bit. And I wouldn’t be here now—if my going-on-six-year-old, black beauty, 13-inch MacBook hadn’t begun to show its age, by continually beach-balling applications, and just plain quiting on me. I love that machine, and, it has as many air miles on it as I do. Time and tide….

My initial thought was to put my old 13-inch out to pasture—sort of—and buy a new one just like it—white this time. I know everyone is going after those new iPad 2s, but I do a lot of video and audio these days, so an iPad 2 wouldn’t cut it, and now that I know about Thunderbolt, I’ve begun to look at MacBook Pros, for a few more bucks. While I use Window’s machines as well for what I do, Mac with Thunderbolt makes sense for me. It may not be for you, but Thunderbolt on a Window’s Product may be.

Fujitsu Convertible Tablet Gets Royal Treatment

Fujitsu's Slate and Convertible Tablets get The Royal Treatment. Ken Royal interviews Fujitsu's Paul Moore.
Watch the interview.


Most Wonderful Time

EI If you’d like to have the most wonderful time, check out the eInstruction entries to their Win an Interactive Classroom contest. There are a few there that will have your feet tapping and body rockin’. I’d like to give outstanding recommendations, but because I was asked to do a bit of judging, that’s probably inappropriate, so you’ll have to look for them yourself. I liked that eInstruction has separated video entries into K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 categories.

So, I spent some great Sunday time viewing and listening to kids singing, rapping, and creatively seeking more technology for their classrooms. It was the most wonderful time. Hope you enjoy them, too.
http://2010classroommakeover.shycast.com/p/1

ViewSonic Education: More Than Finches

Viewschool2 ViewSonic products, with their colorful Australian Gouldian finch logo, was something I was very used to seeing in large department store chains and warehouse stores like Costco, but my thinking began to change after a booth stop at the recent InFoComm show in Las Vegas. There I saw an education set up that could rival any whiteboard solution. It wasn’t a case of where had ViewSonic been, but rather that I hadn’t been looking in that K 12 direction.

ViewSonic is more than pretty finches and displays.

Today I found out more about ViewSonic by interviewing Adam Hanin, vice president of marketing, and Melinda Beecher, senior manager of national channel marketing for ViewSonic Americas. “We have always played a role in education, but now we’re looking to do it in a bigger way,” says Hanin, a lifelong K 12 marketplace expert. Beecher, who thinks of her own children using technology, wants educators to know—ViewSonic has ways to “outfit classrooms for the needs of tomorrow.”

Back2School

A short look at the ViewSonic online site will give you a broader understanding of their products. ViewSonic’s ViewBook computers, with Back2School pricing http://www.viewsonic.com/back2school/ ,and their eReaders are two K-12 options that need more sharing. If you’re like me, you might not have looked beyond their displays to other products.

Look into ViewSchool

Check out ViewSchool at http://www.viewsonic.com/viewschool/ where education tech and district leaders can go to learn about tech ideas and solutions, and get the best discounts for purchasing them. If you don’t know what you need, ViewSonic can match needs with designed programs and partners to make an interactive classroom happen. Check out the options at http://www.viewsonic.com/.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.