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ISTE 2011: Ready for My Close Up

Dc300_300dpi Optoma’s first document camera, the D300, was worth the wait. Selling for $250, it has an adjustable neck, LED light and a 9X optical zoom lens so only what you want shows up onscreen. It creates a 1,280 by 1,024 resolution video stream, works with both PCs and Macs and connects via either a VGA or USB cable. It comes with a remote control and a school-friendly 5-year warranty. It’s at booth125.

 

ISTE 2011: Bright and Cheap

BenQ_MX850UST The latest BenQ projector hits a bull’s eye for schools because it is not only inexpensive, but can also cut expenses over the long run by using roughly half the power of other projectors. Based on the latest Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology, the MX850UST can put an XGA image on screen with up to 2,500 lumens of brightness. It can save on power bills as well with the MX850UST’s Eco mode. It’ll be on view at booth 961.

ISTE 2011: The Book on TI’s Color Calculator

324b4d57737936623932575773454a71346551-149x149-0-0 Despite having roots in the venerable TI-80 series, The TI-NSpire CX calculator means a whole new routine to learn and new opportunities because of its vibrant color screen. The $22 TI-Nspire for Dummies book is a must read for math teachers who want to use the new calculator in the classroom to its utmost.  Regardless of whether it’s for novices or an AP Stats class, the 392-page book show how to do a variety of basic calculations, graph functions, use the 3-D screen and create a statistical analysis. There’s even a great cheat sheet filled with great shortcuts. You can try to win a copy by going to TI’s booth, 1717 during the show, but there’s a great cheat sheet available for free.

 

ISTE 2011: Rage for Art

ArtRage%20for%20iPad%20Screen%20Shot%206-11%20-%20photo%205 The latest version of Art Rage makes a good thing better with several big changes that make it a better way to teach and create art in schools. On top of faster operations, the iPad app can now create a canvas that’s 2,048 by 2,048 pixels and you can pan around within it. It supports an unlimited number of layers, there is now better and more controllable blending of colors and the new program is easier to make incremental copies so that nothing will ever be lost. It costs $3, which is amazing considering what it does.

 

www.artrage.com

 

ISTE 2011: School Computer Goes Home

Grow with myi School computers are school computers and home computers are home computers with little or no overlap between them. That is until grow with myi, a program that melds the two by attempting to allow them to share data and collaborate. Parents can use myi’s application settings and recommendations from teachers and friends to connect with key educational Websites as well as steer kids away from the worst that the Web has to offer. In other words, it can open a new channel for teachers and parents to communicate and cooperate on education.  The company is at booth 3050.

ISTE 2011: Classroom Panic Button

Wx-lt350-250 Covering a school with video cameras and alarms is old hat when it comes to enhancing classroom security. A big step forward is Panasonic’s Security Alert System, which has a pendant that during normal operations works as a microphone so that every student hears the lesson. In an emergency, the pendant has a button that delivers a silent network-wide alarm in the event of a discipline problem or a disaster, like a fire or explosion. It may not win any fashion awards, but it looks great with a bolo tie. It and other school tech can be seen at booth 2330.

 

 

ISTE 2011: The View from the Trenches

Comptia report What do teachers think of tech and its role in the classroom? The Computing Technology Industry Association recently surveyed 350 elementary, middle and high school teachers and staff as well as 147 people who work in higher education about what they see as the role of technology in education today. It paints a generally positive picture of instructional technology with nearly two-thirds agreeing that students today are more productive than their counterparts were three years ago due to the use of computers, projectors and the Internet. Plus, 78 percent think that technology has had a positive impact on education and a little less than half want to use technology to help students master their material. The report is only available to CompTIA members.

 

 

Freebee Friday: Math, the Microsoft Way

MS Math It’s hard to do anything with a computer without touching Microsoft programs, but they also have a slew of free applications, lesson plans and curriculum for math classes. Mathematics 4.0 has a great classroom guide that has a PC-based (sorry, Mac fans) graphic calculator, units conversion app and a fairly compete equations and formula library; it’s good for 1st through 12th graders. There’re also add-in programs for Word and One Note as well as posters and videos to help push the leaning process.

 

 

Loop de Loop

Handyshell_standing.117There are dozens of iPad cases out there, but few are as innovative and useful as Speck’s HandyShell Case, which has a versatile solid loop in the back. On top of a flip-open handle, it can be a stand or even a way to hold the iPad with one hand while you work the screen with the other. It’s made of plastic and costs $55, but only works with the iPad2.

 

 

 

Instant Desktop

Ipad-keyboard-dock There was a time when tablets were tablets and desktop PCs were desktop PCs, with no middle ground between them. Today, there’re a slew of accessories that can help a slate tablet do a pretty good imitation of a desktop computer, complete with a keyboard. Small and well-designed, Apple’s $69 iPad Keyboard Dock can turn any iPad into a desktop typing machine.

 Overall, the silver and white keyboard is as beautifully designed and functional as the iPad itself and looks great with it. The dock works with both generations of hardware. It has a rubberized base and a Dock connector pointing straight up, but the keyboard is integrated that it can’t be moved away from the dock.

The dock points the camera of the iPad2 at the user, although there’s no way to adjust the height or angle of the screen; it sits at a comfortable 65-degrees. In the back is a line-out port for driving a set of speakers as well as another Dock connector for powering the system, connecting a digital camera or linking it with a projector.

There’s no extra software to load and the keyboard installs instantly. Just slide the iPad into place and that’s it, you’re ready to start working with the keyboard. When you’re done, grab the slate and go.

Apple-iPad-Keyboard-Dock With the iPad docked, both the keyboard and touch screen are active. The system’s 19.5mm keys have a depth of 1.5mm, which is a little skimpy, but typing feels much more natural than using the on-screen keyboard. On the downside, when typing gets intense, the base wobbles as you hit the keys, particularly when striking those in the upper corners.

The keyboard has 76 keys white keys with black lettering, including specialty ones for multimedia, adjusting the iPad’s brightness, search, replicating the pad’s Home button, starting a slide show of images and locking the system’s screen. I really like the inclusion of volume up, down and a mute button, which should be required in any school setting. Oddly, there’s a blank key in the center of the top row that’s ready for some future use.

While the integration between the pad and keyboard is generally excellent, there are a few missed opportunities. First, the right and left arrow keys don’t move you through the pages of the iPad’s application icons. Plus, the up and down arrows don’t let you zip through a Web page.

The whole thing takes up only 7.5- by 11inches of precious desktop space, a small fraction of that eaten up by a full desktop PC. Unfortunately, the keyboard dock has neither a touch pad nor provision to connect a mouse. You have to touch the screen to manipulate its icons and software.

Plus, because of the placement of the docking connector, the iPad only fits into the dock vertically. In other words, you have a tall narrow screen to work with, the opposite of what just about every other computer offers. It works well for going through Web pages and most writing tasks, but is second best when you want the horizontal orientation, such as for viewing videos, creating or displaying presentations or working with images. For instance, you’re limited to a 6.75-inch diagonal image when watching YouTube videos rather than 9.25-inches in horizontal mode.

A must-have accessory for a school full of iPads, the $69 Keyboard Dock is a bargain that can turn any iPad into the equivalent of a desktop computer, ready for teaching and learning.

 

A-

Apple iPad Keyboard Dock

$69

 

+ Beautiful, small design

+ Good integration with iPad

+ Line-out audio plug

+ Touch screen remains active with keyboard

 

- Wobbles

- No touchpad or mouse

- Only works in portrait mode

 

 

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