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Freebee Friday: A Lesson on Spending $100 Million

Apple connect ed aerohiveThe first tangible results of President Obama’s ConenctEd program are starting to be seen with Apple announcing the first 114 schools that will share its $100 million in donated iPads, Macs and Apple TV devices as well as Aerohive 802.11ac wireless access points, switches and networking gear. It’s meant to enhance their educational technologies and is part of a $750 million White House private-public partnership to boost the technological and communications prowess of deserving schools. The gear should be put to good use because most of the schools that Apple has chosen are financially challenged and located in underserved urban areas.




A Smaller Radius

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 #6If Toshiba’s Radius P55W is too much of a convertible notebook, try its smaller cousin, the Radius 11. Like the P55W, the Radius 11 can be a notebook with a mechanical keyboard, a tablet or a presentation machine, but with an 11.6-inch HD touch-screen, it can fit more easily into a backpack. At less than 3-pounds, the Radius 11 can be outfitted with a Pentium or Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM and either 32GB of solid state storage or a 500GB hard drive. It starts at $379, perfect for a stressed school budget.


Top Speed WiFi

Linksys E8350 AC2400 Router 2If your school’s wireless LAN is bogging down, the Linksys E8350 can help with dual-band 4X4 operations that tops out at a theoretical 2.4GHz of bandwidth. The 802.11ac router can also run as an access point or wireless bridge, has four removable stubby antennas and can connect to clients on both 2.4- and 5GHz data channels. In addition to using beamforming techniques, the E8350 can be set up horizontally or vertically and provides access to both USB and eSATA ports. It costs $250.

The Key to Mobile Teaching

41VLUMs7ipLAsk any teacher and they’ll tell you that every moment taken from classroom attention to go to a desktop-bound keyboard or notebook is a moment they’re not teaching. That’s where having a wireless keyboard, like Rapoo’s E9180p, comes in.

Whether you have a desktop, notebook or tablet computer, having a real keyboard that connects without cables is a big step forward. You can roam around the room while staying connected to the big screen bring up Web sites and select a child’s work for projecting onto the big screen.  

At 5-ounces, the E9180p’s frameless design is not only function but sophisticated looking and easy to carry around. It has stainless steel edging and its pair of AA batteries raises the keys to a comfortable angle. There’s an on-off switch underneath and the keyboard goes into a low-power mode when not in. To wake it up you need to strike one of the keys and it ran for a couple of months on a set of batteries.

Its 82 black keys have white lettering and are full-size at 19.6 millimeters. There is everything from a Windows key and a full set of color coded Function keys to multimedia controls and a generously-sized space bar. They have just enough depth for a comfortable touch typing and are a big step up from a touch-screen’s display keypad.

Rapoo transmitterThe keys are complemented by the E9180p’s large touchpad that takes up the entire right side of the keyboard. At 3- by 4.3-inches, the pad’s surface is lightly textured, the pad responds to right- and left-taps and can accept a wide variety of finger gestures that range from zooming-in and -out to going to the Start Menu. While the keyboard worked well with several recent Windows and Mac systems, the gestures won’t work on Macs.

On the other hand, the keyboard lacks an embedded numeric keypad that could have helped in math and science classes and it does without the backlighting that graces Logitech’s similarly priced K800 keyboard that is a big help when teaching by the light of a projector.

Behind the scenes, the E9180p comes with a tiny USB transmitter that doesn’t require any software or installation. Rather than the crowded 2.4-GHz band that is shared with proprietary wireless devices and WiFi, the E9180p keyboard connects via a 5GHz link. It had a range of 32-feet, more than enough for moving around the typical classroom or small lecture hall while tapping away on the keys.

E9180pThe E9180p is well made and durable, but school equipment can take a beating day-in and day-out. The keyboard comes with a two year warranty, which is good, but falls short of the three years of coverage that comes with Logitech’s K800 keyboard.

At $60, it’s a great way to stay connected while keeping your eye on the class.  



Rapoo E9180p


+ Sophisticated design

+ Good range

+ Big touchpad

+ 5GHz wireless connection

+ Comfortable feel

+ Two-year warranty


- Keys not backlit

Network Extension

Gal-02The problem with network extenders is that it’s hard to tell what their up to without a connected computer to look over the status screens. With a touch-screen of its own, Amped Wireless’s TAP-EX can make pushing WiFi to all the nooks and crannies of a school simple because all of its set up and configuration can be done with its 3.5-inch color touch-screen. Inside is a powerful 800-milliwatt transmitter that receives and retransmits 2.4GHz WiFi data for compatibility with 802.11b, g and n devices; it doesn't work with newer 802.11ac’s 5GHz signals, though. The device even has a pair of Ethernet ports for wired devices and a USB slot for a printer or hard drive. It costs $120 and when it’s sitting idle, the TAP-EX’s display shows the day and time.

See the Heat

Seek thermal camThere’s nothing like a lab to show how infrared energy is really heat and a thermal camera is a great demonstration tool. On the other hand, these devices have been prohibitively expensive and hard to use, but Seek has a different approach to showing what’s hot and what’s not. Available for Android and iOS devices, the $200 Seek Thermal Camera plugs right into the device via a Lightning (for the iPad or iPhone) or micro-USB (for Androids) plug and displays true thermal images on the screen. The sensor has more than 32,000 heat-measuring elements that respond to infrared radiation in the 7.2- to 13-micron range with a temperature range of -40- to 330-degrees centigrade. It all shows up in a beautiful color plot on the tablet’s or phone's screen.


Roll a Screen

WBSU_New_StandSometimes class needs to take place in rooms never intended for instruction and teachers need to be flexible. Elite Screens has you covered with its WB4X10W screen/whiteboard can with its ZWBMS Pro wheeled stand can be rolled around to wherever it’s needed. The screen provides a 4- by 10-foot wide VersaWhite surface to project, mark-up material or both; it comes with a set of markers and eraser. A bigger one is on the way.


Security in Hand

SL300_Top_LGSometimes all you need to do to enhance a school’s security stance is to communicate better, and that’s exactly what Motorola’s MOTOTRBO SL300 radios are all about. The handheld radios combine digital and analog technologies so they can coexist with old and new communications systems. They comfortably fit into the hand, weigh less than 6-ounces and the screen shows which channel is being used. They are more than rugged enough for school use, can cover even the largest campus and cost less than $500 each.

Freebee Friday: Content City

Net textsInstead of concentrating on creating classroom software for PCs and Macs, Net Texts is focusing on individual apps for iPads and iPhones, Androids and the Chrome browser. The system provides a good variety of classroom content that’s absolutely free with over 1,000 K-12 courses that are ready and waiting. The service has everything from a look at Greek sculpture from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to a Big History survey.


Go to Guides

OneNote-ViewForget about handwriting and distributing study guides for tests because Microsoft’s OneNote has a new ClassNotebook Creator. It's all free and lets teachers clip digital and online items and assemble them into a comprehensive study guide that they can use, update and reuse. In fact, Chegg online curriculum service has made doing this a lot easier with a preset icon for grabbing the content for a section.







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