Small Keys for a Big Class
Even if you have a notebook tethered to a projector, you’re not exactly mobile and free to move around the classroom to help a kid here, check on homework there and make sure the class clown is actually working. With a small wireless keyboard, like Rii’s Mini Bluetooth Keyboard, you can control the action from anywhere in the typical classroom, putting you in every student’s face.
I used Scholastic Admin@trator’s TechLAB facility to measure, evaluate and use the Mini Bluetooth Keyboard (MBK) in a school setting. I found that it is a small device that can have a big impact on education.
The mini-keyboard can not only be put into a shirt pocket when not in use, but it has bunch of hidden secrets to help in the classroom. At 3.4-ounces, the keyboard is tiny and light enough to take anywhere, yet it has a nearly complete array of keys. Its 8.7mm, the keys are the bare minimum size. They’re less than half the size of the typical notebook or desktop keyboard, but bigger than those on the typical Blackberry smart-phone and easier to use than the on-screen keyboards on phones and tablets.
While there are multimedia control keys and a single key that sends the Control-Alternate-Delete signal to the computer, the keyboard makes a lot of compromises. To get to its slim profile, it skimps with a tiny space bar, only 8 function keys – not the usual 12 – and a Delete key that is shared with the Backspace. The Tab, Caps and Shift keys are all on one side. On the other side of the keys is a mini touchpad that’s a little cramped but can put the cursor anywhere on the screen.
The MBK keyboard found, paired and connected with an iPad, Android tablet, HP Slate 2 and an EliteBook 2560p notebook that was hooked up to a Mitsubishi projector. After that, whenever the keyboard was in range, the two connected. Once it’s connected, the Mini Bluetooth keyboard fits into any lesson. There’s virtually no delay between hitting a key and having it show up on the computer’s (and projector’s) screen.
A bonus is that the keyboard comes with a small USB Bluetooth transmitter that can help it connect with a desktop PC or older notebook that lacks Bluetooth. When not in use the transmitter can be snapped into the base of the keyboard.
After using MBK with a projector, there’re a few aces up its teaching sleeve. For one, there’s a laser pointer that’s perfect for highlighting something on a screen with a red dot. For another, the entire keyboard is backlit, making it a must-have in a darkened classroom, such as when teaching behind a projector.
Inside the MBK is a rechargeable battery pack that the manufacturer says will last a month of typical use. It doesn’t include an AC adapter, but has a mini-USB cable for recharging with a computer.
While it will never replace a full-size keyboard for typing lesson plans, creating tests or writing reports to parents, the Rii Mini Bluetooth Keyboard is perfect for teaching while walking around the room. It costs $47, but the freedom it provides is priceless.
+ Small, but usable keys
+ Tiny Bluetooth transmitter
+ Sensitive touchpad
+ Laser pointer
+ Backlit keys
- Small keys
- Doesn’t include some keys