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Last Thing to Do

Call2recycle logoWhat’s the last thing you need to do before leaving on summer vacation? Go through the classroom and collect every burned out rechargeable battery and bag them up for recycling and proper disposal. While nobody will come and get them, Call2Recycle has a slew of drop box locations so the old, worn out cells will be turned into new ones and not end up in a landfill. There are collection points at Best Buy, RadioShack, Home Depot, Staples and other stores.

 

Get Your Classroom Game On

At&t gamedeskBy using the best as aspects of gaming, AT&T and the nonprofit GameDesk organization are teaming up to make the classroom more exciting, relevant  and visually-oriented. Forget about Aliens teaching about geography, but look for a learning lab that will seek to better way to teach and learn by showing schools what works and what doesn’t. After that, the venture will create a free portal for teachers to share their best lessons online.

 

iPad Protection Plan

I1075 aAny teacher contemplating bringing an iPad on a field trip, an overnight class trip or even a science class hike in the rain can be forgiven for trying the baby their tablet en route. Nothing protects a school tablet better or for less than Pelican’s iPad i1075 Hardback case.

Made of molded black ABS plastic, the fold-open case is rigid and has a solid feel as opposed to the padded vinyl that most tablet cases are made out of.  The case is filled with shock-absorbing foam to absorb the blow of a fall and has an O-ring seal that keeps dust and liquids out.

It may be a hard body but the case’s interior is soft enough to prevent the slate from getting scratched or abused. On the other hand, it’s overkill for most schools. The i1075 has been tested in 3-feet of water and it’s rated for use from -10- to 210-degrees Fahrenheit, conditions that are much harsher than the typical trip to the zoo or natural history museum.

The case has a single latch that seals the elements out and is easy to open and close with one hand. It measures 2.1- by 9.8- by 12.4-inches and weighs just over 2 pounds. Unfortunately, that’s more than double the tablet’s size and weight, but together, the pad and case are still barely the size of a netbook.

I1075 bInside, the case has room for not only the iPad but also its accoutrements, like power adapter, cords, ear plugs and other accessories. Apple’s Wireless Keyboard with its cylindrical battery fits perfectly into the case, although generic keyboards don’t fit as well.

There’s even a notched out area for holding the slate upright either horizontally or vertically, transforming the slate into a mini notebook computer. It can be the basis of a mini classroom, although there’s no place to hold a stylus.

A rare design misstep is that the case doesn’t come with a matching handle that would allow the i1075 to be easily carried around like a briefcase. The i1075 does have an adjustable strap that can set up for over the shoulder use. If you double up the material, it can be reasonably good handle. The case can be locked shut with a small padlock.

I1075 cAble to accommodate a first- or second-generation iPad, the tablet fits snugly, but there aren’t models for specific Android slates. There’s no way to charge it while the iPad is inside.

The next time you drop your iPad or take it out in the rain, rest assured that it’ll survive without skipping a beat, that is, if it’s in Pelican’s i1075 case. At $56, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

 

A

iPad Pelican i1075 Hardback

Price: $56

+ Inexpensive

+ Rugged and dust proof

+ Molded interior with tablet stand

+ Place for keyboard and accessories

+ Lifetime warranty

 

- Big and heavy

- Doesn’t work well with generic keyboards

 

Minimalist School PCs

TC180_front(down)1[1321612318976product]Forget about the battle between Windows and Macintosh computers, because the future of computing in schools could likely end up in the cloud. Not only are data and apps stored online where they are safe, secure and backed up, but maintenance and acquisitions costs are reduced. Samsung’s SyncMaster S-Series systems have TI’s system on a chip technology mounted in the monitor’s base along with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of solid state storage. It can use Citrix’s HDX high definition virtualization protocol and is available with a 19-, 22- or 24-inch display capable of showing 1,920 by 1,080 resolution built in.

 

 

Friday Freebee: Connect Anywhere

Link+3 UI_PhotoArcSoft’s Link+ 3 puts media in its place: your classroom’s projector, TV or large screen monitor. The software scans computers and the school’s network for all the available photos, audio and video and then plays what you want. The program converts low resolution items to near HD quality and works only with PCs, but an iPad version is on the way. There’s a two week trial to see if it fits into your teaching style; it costs $50.

Super Shooter

NX1000_FS3_B_1024x768As cameras for the classroom get smaller, they are ironically getting better and more sophisticated, as is the case with Samsung’s NX 1000. It can not only take super-detailed 20-megapixel photos and has a 3-inch screen on the back, but has a versatile 20-to-50mm zoom lens that can take in a school picnic or a close-up at graduation. It can create HD movies, panoramas and share it all over the school’s WiFi network. It’ll be available later this summer for $700 in white, black or pink.

 

 

The Teacher’s iPad Case

Mobi360-Case2There are almost as many covers for the iPad as there are uses for it in the classroom, but eInstruction’s $60 Mobi Case has been designed with teaching in mind. It comes with a stylus so that when your fingers get tired you can still write and draw on the iPad’s screen; rather than a tether, it can be magnetically held to the case. On top of having handy grips on the side so it’s harder to drop, if such an accident happens, the padding should protect the pad. It also works with eInstruction's Mobi360 iPad app.

 

 

Question of the Month: Tablets or Notebooks?

We see a lot of tech in the classroom come and go, but which will win out? In five years will we see tablets or notebooks dominate in the classroom -- or are reports of the death of the laptop a tad premature?

 

KeuterJay Keuter

Director – IT Client Services

Portland Public Schools

Portland, Oregon

 

No one could have anticipated the impact that a single device would have on the technology market, nor how it would influence teaching and learning – but you have only to look at the meteoric rise in the price of Apple stock to get a sense of what is trending in the mobile computing space. The iPad has truly caused a “revolution”, and one I believe will ultimately result in tablet-based platforms displacing notebooks as the dominant student computing tool in our schools.

While tablets position themselves as the preeminent personal computing device in our schools, notebooks or some semblance of them will continue to play a role in our K-through-12 environment. The demand for technology to support graphic design, engineering and computer programming still exists, a role notebooks can continue to fill though it is not unreasonable to assume tablets or a convergence of the two could eventually push into that space as well. 

This shift is not entirely hardware-driven though; the evolution and availability of cloud-based resources as well as custom apps have contributed to this shift. This diversity sets the stage for more customized student learning and will serve as a catalyst for innovation.

Textbook vendors who want to stay relevant and capitalize on this trend are feverishly playing catch-up, and we’re already seeing alliances developing and market leaders jockeying for position, which should translate into higher-quality dynamic content and more competitive tablet pricing. 

From a financial perspective, as we seek to connect more students and strategize 1:1 options, tablets are an obvious choice. Their relatively low cost will continue to erode the notebook market share, as will the maturation of the overall tablet platform. This competition should drive down the cost of tablets and, more importantly, spawn innovation whose rewards K-through-12 institutions will be able to reap.

 

John OrbaughJohn Orbaugh

Director of Technology Services

Tyler Independent School District

Tyler, TX

 

 

As a district we are actively testing numerous tablets for student, teacher and staff use. We have a lot of netbooks for students and all of our teachers and administrators have a laptop and docking station on their desk. Those laptops are getting rather old and we need to replace them, but personally I think the laptop is a dead-end technology. 

I’d like to replace them with tablets. We’ve put a lot of effort into virtual computing and tablets are a viable option for delivering a virtual desktop. I can currently provide our standard Windows desktop, with all the familiar productivity tools, via the virtual environment to a tablet and give our staff the lightweight, portable form factor of the tablet with all the cool tools available in the app world. 

Granted, for some of us old guys who still like a normal keyboard and aren’t keen on typing on the touch screen, there is still a place for a netbook. In fact, I use my old netbook everyday as a means to access my virtual desktop in meetings at work or when I’m at home or on the road. 

What is holding me back from doing more with tablets? Two things: the number and types of interfaces available and the type of integrated WiFi radio. In our classrooms we have a variety of USB connected devices, interactive whiteboards and projectors that I need to connect for our teachers. I need a tablet that has a dock for charging that will let me connect powered USB, VGA or HDMI video, keyboard and mouse. 

iPads are great devices, but they don’t offer the interfaces I need and neither do most Android devices. For example, the Android based tablets that have the right interfaces seem to only offer 802.11 b, g, n WiFi. This is fine until you get a classroom full of them and then the 2.4Ghz wireless spectrum is saturated and the devices lose connectivity or the data flow slows to a crawl. Apple did a great job putting in an 802.11a radio option that will broadcast on the 5.0GHz spectrum, but again, not the right interfaces. I have an Android tablet with the radio I need, but it lacks the docking options I want.

While I wait for the right product to become available we will continue to deploy small numbers of iPads around our district and continue to watch the market for the tablet that will meet all my needs. 

 

BrennemanThomas Brenneman

Executive Director for Technology

Kansas City Public Schools

Kansas City, MO

 

 

Neither will dominate...  It will be personally owned devices. Some of these bring-your-own-devices will be tablets (like the iPad) and others will be very thin laptops. Most systems in this BYOT (bring your own technology) world will not have applications on the device but we will host them in the cloud.

So, no matter what device you use, you will have access to all the documents and applications to run a digital classroom. 

 

Mark weedyMark Weedy

Retired Superintendent

Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools

Groveport, Ohio

 

 

The future of technology in schools is exciting! I believe access to the latest technology devices will be widespread and relatively inexpensive. While I believe this will be true, I also believe the classrooms of the future will look very different from those we have today. 

I believe the classroom of the future will be one without walls. Students will help develop individual programs centered on their unique interests and abilities.  Technology will play a very important role in this new “classroom” because students will be saving their work to a cloud-based system so their instructors and peers can view the work and offer suggestions for improvement. Students and instructors will not be on a schedule where there are a certain number of hours of seat time required by the state or national government. This type of schedule will be phased in gradually as students age and demonstrate the capacity to handle it. 

Students will meet periodically with their instructors to determine progress toward the established goals. Some of these meetings will occur face-to-face, but others will occur virtually by means of the technology devices. Students will progress to the next level of learning when they have demonstrated the level of knowledge that is required. This demonstration of knowledge by students will include presentations to the community in which they live so everyone is involved in the education of the children. The presentations will be designed differently based on the age of the student.

The devices for such a classroom will be as diverse as the students. Some students will have handheld devices while others will have laptop-like devices, such as an iPad or typical laptop computer. In some cases, the school will provide the device just like textbooks are issued. In other cases, students may own and use their own device. Students will use these devices to capture experiences and facts while they are out and about during the course of planned educational experiences. These experiences will occur at different times for different students. Some may occur during what we now call a typical school day while others will occur on weekend or evenings. Students will be aware of what they are expected to know and be able to do, and their goal will be to help plan their experiences so they meet the goals established for them.

Gaining knowledge must not be limited to a six or seven hour day, Monday through Friday with no knowledge gained during holidays or snow days. Instead of devoting millions of dollars to new buildings that sometimes are obsolete once they open, bus transportation, and other expenses related to the typical way of “doing school,” educational and community leaders, parents, and students need to embrace the classroom of the future.  Technology can make that happen.

 

 

Instant Interactive Class Board

Prod4500_4_lgThe truth of the matter is that you don’t need a bulky interactive classroom board anymore because now!Board can turn any screen, or wall for that matter, into a digital learning tool. The $500 device has a camera and a wand for highlighting or writing directly onto a projected image and controlling the computer. It works with either a PC or Mac and just about any projector or TV that can use XGA resolution.

 

 

Solar Type Cast

Solar KB Folio_Noir_TOPThe worst part of getting a classroom full of keyboard cases that go with iPads is that every so often they need to have their batteries changed or recharged. With Logitech’s Solar Keyboard Folio, a small solar cell on its surface charges the device. The black case weighs a little over a pound, works with current and previous generation iPads and flips over to create a stand for desk work. It has a 64-key keyboard, the system connects via Bluetooth and includes a 2-year warranty.

 

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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.