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ISTE 2011: Three Timer

Boxlight As many projector companies come out with their first interactive projectors, Boxlight is about to start selling its third generation device. Called ProjectoWrite3, it features three LCD technology and the latest LightPen3 software. Each projector comes with a wand for electronically writing on the screen, puts out 2,500 lumens, but the WX25NU costs $2,199 and has 1,280 by 800 resolution while the X25NU can put 1,024 by 768 resolution on screen. 



ISTE 2011: New Ways to Respond

Self_Paced Why spend thousands of dollars to outfit a classroom with a student response system that is awkward to use? Promethean has a better idea. Why not use off-the-shelf tablets that can be used for other tasks or even student cell phones. That’s the idea behind the company’s Activengage. The teacher sets up questions on a big screen and the kids respond with a notebook, iPad or Android tablet. It’s not only something they’re familiar with but it’s easier to type in sentences. Promethean will introduce versions for Blackberry, Windows 7 Mobile and Nokia Symbian smart-phones. There’s a trial of the software available. 



ISTE 2011: Junior Scholastic on the Big Board

Junior scholastic There’s a new version of Junior Scholastic that has been adapted to be used in the classroom on an interactive white board. Aimed at 6-th through 8-th graders, the new social studies curriculum is free for teachers to use until the new school year starts at the end of August. On top of using it in the classroom, kids can access the variety of multimedia content at home. A big bonus is that each issue has a series of printable study sheets in Acrobat format. It’s just the start because other Scholastic publications – including Science WorldSuperScience and Scholastic Math -- will undergo similar revamping, and will be just as free until the end of August. It can be seen at booth 1914.



Next Gen Chalk Board

Boogie-Board-8-Black The small slate chalk board was once a mainstay of American education with piles of them in each classroom, and is the way many kids learned how to form their letters and numbers as well as mindlessly doodle during grammar lessons. The desk chalkboard goes digital with Improv Electronics’s Boogie Board, a monochrome LCD touch screen slate that is good for everything from practicing writing and drawing to leaving messages.

At its essence, the Boogie Board is a writing tablet that is simple, inexpensive and built to last. In fact, I think that all school technology should be like this.

At 4-ounces, the Boogie Board is rugged and just flexible enough to stand up to daily classroom abuse. The model I looked at has an 8.5-inch screen and was less than a quarter of an inch thick. It comes with a cleaning cloth and a soft fabric bag.

Boogie-Board-8-colors-fan Boogie Board is available in 7 colors and schools can have their name and logo printed on the board. There’s a minimum order of 100 boards for a custom board.

There are also ones with 10.5-inch screens as well as a cool board that has cutouts for snapping into a loose leaf ring binder. There’s even a Boogie Board that attaches to a wall or refrigerator to use as a message board.

It comes with a stylus to write on the surface, although a sharp fingernail works just as well. To keep from losing the stylus, there’s a snap on pen holder as well as a pocket in the board’s fabric case. 

Boogie board When you’re done or the surface is filled up, just press the erase button, the screen blinks and is wiped clean. It’s now ready for a new use. Over three weeks of daily use, it looked brand new after each erasure with no afterimage.

It works horizontally or vertically for a variety of uses from first-graders practicing their letters to high-schoolers trying out chemical formulas. All you have to do is think about it and more uses, like leaving messages for teachers, modeling plays for the basketball team or just jotting down homework assignments, will come to you.

Because its Reflex screen is pressure sensitive, you can write thick or thin lines. Unfortunately, its light green on black background is the only show in town and the only way to lock the image in place on the version I looked at is to slide the stylus holder over the erase button.

The image doesn’t fade over time and the board only uses power when it is being erased, so its 3-volt battery should last for years and years. It’s a good thing, because it can’t be replaced. The company estimates that it will last for 50,000 erase cycles or something like 25 years of ten erasures per school day.

The downside is that it can’t hold more than one page of material and there’s no way to transfer it to a projector or computer except with a document camera. I also doesn’t have a backlight so that the board is just about worthless in the dark, but I can think of no better way for kids to write and draw without using any paper. At $40 for black or $42 for the brightly colored slates, the Boogie Board is a bargain.


Boogie Board 8.5

$40 for Black/$42 for Pink, Green, Cyan, White, Silver or Gold


+ Simple and straightforward

+ Rugged

+ Inexpensive

+ Saves paper

+ Battery never needs to be replaced


- Can’t transfer image to a computer or projector

- Not good in darkened room




ISTE 2011: Small, But Powerful

HP Compaq 100B SFF Business PC_front view Desktop PCs come in all shapes and sizes these days, including small ones that are just as powerful as monster towers, but take up less space. HP’s Compaq 100B computer is bigger than its teeny-tiny t5565z thin client, which runs on a 1.6GHz AMD E-350 processor and has integrated HD graphics, 4GB of RAM, Super Multi DVD and up to a terabyte hard drive.  It’s got a slew of ports (including six USB ones) and can save money for a school because it uses less power than the typical tower PC. Booth no. 1532.


ISTE 2011: Making Slates Work for Schools

T smart Just about every school is looking at slate computers to replace notebooks and desktops, but few have thought about getting special software that can make this platform a better educator. That is, until SK Telecom, the South Korean telecom giant. The company introduced its T Smart Learning platform at the show and there was generally a crowd of teachers packed around to see it in action. The program is chock full of tools to teach, set educational goals, prioritize work, schedule assignments and involve parents. There’s even a digital library with tons of basic and supplemental material. In other words, T Smart can be the modern day equivalent to the loose leaf notebook. On top of monitoring and managing a child’s progress, the software lets parents look in and see how their little student is doing.  See it at booth 2331.


ISTE 2011: Teacher 360

Image4 We spend a lot of time talking about student assessments but what about tracking how teachers are doing and getting them help to do it better? That’s exactly what the performance management module of Global Scholar’s Pinnacle Aspire Suite is all about. With the ability to track each staff member, the software can help set up an assessment program, put together a mentoring program for assisting young teachers and provide a single place for all the record-keeping and evaluations for them. The program can be used on its own or as part of the Pinnacle Suite and is cloud based so it doesn’t take up precious server space.  The company will be at booth 1303.



ISTE 2011: Connection City

Classroom1 With computers, tablets, projectors and all sorts of digital teaching gear, it’s a wonder that we can walk around any classroom without tripping over power cords network connections and all the other cables that seem to grow every year. Bretford’s Edu 2.0 line of furniture has strategically located fold open places for connecting a slew of notebooks or desktops.  There will soon be tables that have the PowerMat electrical pad built in for charging digital equipment. Just put the device on the inductive pad and it gets charged. See it all at booth 2725.


ISTE 2011: Speaking of Speakers

Shlf-sb_alone_1 Having an array of speakers in the classroom is all well and good, but where do you put them? Premier Mounts has a good answer: a shelf that fits underneath a flat screen TV or monitor in the classroom. It works with the company’s P family of display mounting hardware and provides lots of hidden space to route cables out of view. It and a slew of other gear can be seen at booth 3136.

ISTE2011: WiFi that Sizzles

WiNG_products_GROUP4 The next generation of WiFi wireless gear just may let you say good bye to network congestion and LAN choke points that rob bandwidth from users. Optimized for moving voice, video and data throughout a school, Motorola’s WiNG 5 family of WiFi equipment includes members for use inside and outside. There are dual and tri-band models that take full advantage of the 802.11n spec. Plus, for large campuses or districts, Motorola’s NX9000 Integrated Services Controller can keep an eye on up to 10,000 individual access points from a single location. It’s all on view at booth 1160.

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