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Freebee Friday: Office on the Cheap

Lync MeetingTired of licensing Office from Microsoft for every computer on the campus? There’s a different way to keep everyone on the same page, and it’s free. The Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite of programs can be used by schools for free. It’s all online so there’s no software to load and update and it includes everything from Word, Excel and PowerPoint to Lync and SharePoint online. The best part is that it includes Exchange Online and all the emails will be stored securely on Microsoft’s network. Several school districts use Office 365 and save tens of thousands of dollars a year.


Freebee Friday: The Summer of Learning

Ascd logoThis summer can be a time of hanging out at the beach, sleeping late and professional development, thanks to ASCD’s summer Boot Camp series of Webinars. They’re free and cover a wide assortment of topics, from getting the most out of the Web to teacher evaluations. All you need to do is register. Here’s the rundown for July:

July 20—

“Creating a Culture of Achievement,” with Nancy Frey and Dough Fisher will explore how to turn educational goals on paper into real progress in the classroom.

July 12—

“Reading for Meaning: How to Build Students’ Comprehension, Reasoning, and Problem-Solving Skills,” is an in-depth look at upping a classes comprehension by reading for meaning. It’ll feature Harvey Silver.

July 17—

“Learning Targets: Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today’s Lesson,” with Connie Moss takes a look at how learning targets help teachers create daily lessons and learning experiences.

July 24—

“Virtual Summer Camp: The Newest Tools on the Web to Explore for Instruction,” is a great way to brush up on your online skills and enliven the upcoming school year. It has Mike Fisher leading you on a Web journey of discovery.


ISTE 2012: A Cure for BYOD Headaches

EnterasysThere’s nothing that gets a school administrator more upset than the idea of kids and teachers bringing their own devices to connect to the school’s network, printers and other shared resources. Enterasys Networks has a better idea with the company’s Mobile Identity and Access Manager. Based on the company’s OneFabric technology, the software provides a common way to log on and get provisioned for access to the portions of the infrastructure that the person is approved for. The key is that it excels in the BYOD world where it needs to work just as well with desktops in the computer lab, notebooks in the math department as Android slates and iPads students bring in. The software costs roughly $8 per device. 


ISTE 2012: We’re Game

WowzerWhenever learning becomes fun, it goes down easier and has a better chance of sticking. With that in mind Wowsers has a series of online educational games for third through fifth graders. The games are story-driven with lots of lessons, activities, assessments and printable assignments. Each kid gets his or her own avatar to interact with online and kids can accumulate milestone coins. At the moment, it’s limited to math curriculum and the company will add science and English curriculum over the next couple of years. The program costs about $25 per student, up to $7,000 per school and there’s a free trial to try it out.


ISTE 2012: Tunes with a View

8201_lifestyle2_12Kids may be able to figure out how to use most MP3 players, but Califone’s 8201 has a bright info screen so that even the teacher can figure it out. The system costs $172 and has 4GB of flash memory and can be augmented with a 16GB micro-SD card. It’s all controlled with the system’s 3-inch touchscreen that lets you play .mpg, .mp3, mp4, .wmv, realvideo, quicktime files as well as view .jpg images. In addition to including a set of comfortable headphones, the 8201 can limit its output to 85dB to prevent hearing damage. The company is at booth no. 5201.


ISTE 2012: iPad Peace of Mind

M EdgeStay awake nights worrying about kids breaking or damaging the school’s iPads? M-Edge’s SuperShell edge protection can make them nearly invincible. The snap on protector works with the second and present generation of pads and use closed-cell foam materials to absorb the shock of being dropped and generally abused. Available in 4 colors, the $35 SuperShell case provides access to all buttons and has a textured finish, making it harder to drop. See how it protects iPads and other tablets at booth 2113.


ISTE 2012: Streamlined Access

Aerohive JAMFSchools that have a mix of district-owned computers and ones that students and staff bring from home can streamline the use of networked resources with AerohiveOS 5.1. The program now incorporates JAMF’s Casper Suite and will be out next month. The key is that it keeps a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile for each system in its database so that different users can be granted access privileges or have use restricted during different times of the day. It works best with Apple OSX computers and iOS tablets, but can handle PCs and Android systems as well. The best part is that it’s a free add-on to Aerohive’s networking software. The company will be booth 5326.


ISTE 2012: Making the Projector Connect

15322_Wireless_Short_Throw_PeerlessAfter getting the equipment to build a digital classroom around, the most expensive part of creating an interactive classroom is often the behind-the-scenes wiring that’s needed to bring video and audio to the projector. Peerless-AV has a new way to unwire your school with the HD Flow Wireless Multimedia Kit. It works with everything from online videos and DVDs to a teacher microphone, while streaming 1080p video. Its sound is impressive with a pair of 25 watt amplifiers, 5.25 inch woofers and 1-inch tweeters. You can see and hear it at booth #5705.


ISTE 2012: Enter the Agile Classroom

Scene14b_0090Most schools still use design elements that date from the 1920s and 30s at best, making the classroom a staid place that’s not exactly conducive to 21-st century learning. Bretford has a Discovery Guide that is meant to help schools reinvent education, or at least the furniture that students and teachers use every day. The guide uses the Edu2.0 furniture items to transform a school into a place flexible enough to be reconfigured to support a variety of educational techniques.

ISTE 2012: Taking Blackboard with You

Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate is a great way to get teachers and students together, even if they’re in different places, but, at the moment, it’s stuck in the school. That will change with Collaborate Mobile, a version for iPads and iPhones that can go where you (and your students) go. The company just started a beta program for the new software, which lets everyone see interactive content, take quizzes and even have secure one-on-one extra help meetings. It should be available later this year, but you can see it at booth 4301.



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