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Budget in Name only

B50The latest notebooks for classrooms not only have the latest features but sport sub-$400 price tags. In many respects, they actually are more along the lines of mainstream systems than budget ones.

Take Lenovo’s B50, which at $399 starts with a 1,366 by 768 15-inch display, but has an optional 1,920 by 1,080 full HD screen.  The B50 can be set up with an AMD or Intel processor and has surprising creature comforts, like Dolby Advanced Audio v2. It includes Windows 7 software and should be available sometime in July, just in time for the new school year.

13852432055_fdb143aacc_oMeanwhile, the Satellite C family budget notebook from Toshiba starts at an enviable $320 price tag with a Celeron processor. At less than an inch thick, it should fit into any backpack and it comes with either a 15.6- or 17.3-inch screen and your choice of an Intel or AMD processor. There are touch-screen models available and all come with at least 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and Windows 8.1.

Thin is In

Asus zero client monitorFor those schools where less is more, Asus has a new CP240 Zero Client Monitor that can easily fit into a thin client landscape. The CP240 is built around a 23.8-inch wide-screen HD LCD monitor and inside is a capable Teradici TERA2321 processor with 512MB of system memory. It can handle any VMware task you throw at it and the system has gigabit Ethernet built in. It costs $529.


Lock and Charge

Charge & Sync cThe days of charging a classroom’s tablets one at a time with a pile of separate power adapters are over. With Kensington’s Charge & Sync Cabinet, a teacher can get 10 slates ready for tomorrow’s lessons in a locked cabinet. You can even stack three of the cabinets for a full classroom set of slates. The slate safe has adjustable shelves, cooling fan and costs $700. The company has optional short power cables for everything from the old iPad cord to a micro-USB cable that range from $25 to $80 for a five-pack.   

Making the Grade

Gradeable cEvery assignment requires grading, but Gradeable can make quick work of a stack of homework, quizzes or tests. The online service’s iPad app can grade multiple choice and True-False assignments that have been shot with the pad’s camera and instantly enter the grades. The service lets you import your class list and can produce a variety of charts and reports. The service costs $65 a year per teacher, there’s a free 30-day trial.

Connected Report Card

Mastery connect report cardIf paper or limited online report cards are frustrating your school’s effort to provide appropriate feedback to students and parents, Mastery Connect can help with its new Report Card. Aimed at K-12 schools, the system is set up around mastery-based assessments that show a percentage of completion along with indicators for important sub topics.

Three-Way iPad case

BPADi5-GRY16Why settle for a case that just covers and protects a tablet when the BooqPad for iPad Air can also act like a stand and hold a pad of 50 sheets of paper. Made of  Nubuck vinyl, the case includes a screen protector and costs $60; extra pads are three for $10.

Curriculum Reviews

Learning list bThere are so many sources and formats for getting curriculum materials that it’s impossible for one person to make sense of, much less rate, all of them on their merits. Learninglist.com is a site that gathers reviews of all the major services with an emphasis on content and alignment with state and Common Core standards. The site is continually adding new reviews and the service allows you to request new reviews. It costs about $245 per year for a school with 250 students.

Freebee Friday: Computer Field Trip

Apple field tripWith the number and variety of computers at schools proliferating, Apple has a novel approach, let kids try out the machines en masse before the district buys pallettes of them. You can schedule an hour and a half  field trip to a nearby Apple store to see what they offer education and let the kids and their teachers play with the machines, from MacBooks to iPads. While there, they can do typical school tasks, like editing videos and arrange photos with specialists and trainers. Everyone leaves with an Apple T shirt.



Freebee Friday: Projector Upgrade

Fb-logo-1Need a new high-end projector for an auditorium or lecture hall? BenQ might just give your school a projector make-over worth up to $5,000 with the company’s Colorific program. Just enter by explaining why your present projector isn’t cutting it. The contest ends on April 25.

CC Gradebook

Eschoolplus sisWhen it comes to understanding and implementing the Common Core standards, most of the talk has been about how curriculum will change. Well, there’s another aspect that will have to adapt to the new standards: the humble old gradebook. For instance, the gradebook section of SunGuard’s eSchoolPlus Student Information System has changed with the times to include a new main interface that can show a variety of items at a glance and streamline some tasks as well as a more personalized approach to education. The new software can better share the student’s activities and progress with parents and administrators. A big step forward, the software is a free upgrade for current users, and includes the ability for teachers to look at how the class is doing on certain sub topics, or do it for just a small group. 




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