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Sound Off

IK5_FL_small_loToo many podcasts and audio lessons are stuck on iPods, iPhones and iPads, but Kicker’s Amphitheater audio dock can fill a classroom with high-quality audio.  In addition to a subwoofer, the system has a 5-inch midrange and ¾-inch silk dome tweeter. A digital signal processing amplifier in the $300 Amphitheater can make it loud enough and an 8-band equalizer can tune it for the classroom’s acoustics. 

USB 12-Pack

ST-UH12P-2Need to connect or just charge a slew of USB devices at school? Satechi’s 12-Port USB hub can work with everything from iPads and phones to cameras and hard drives. In fact, if it uses USB 2.0, the long and narrow hub work with one of the dozen ports and doesn’t require any special software. It costs $28.

Computing at your Fingertips

Series 5 bWhile the typical desktop computer is clunky and, well, deskbound, compared to even the biggest notebook, Samsung’s latest all-in-one PCs are sleek and beautifully designed. With chrome bases that make the displays seem to float in space, these computers may be stationary, but the screens can respond to multi-finger gestures as if they were tablets.

Both the Series 5 and 7 systems come well equipped with Web cams, wired and wireless networking as well as a good variety of ports and connections. The pay-off is that these systems use less power than the typical PC, saving on school expenses. Look for them at the end of October when Microsoft officially introduces Windows 8, but the surprise is that they are inexpensive enough to be used in many parts of the school.

Series 7 aThe Series 5 all-in-one starts at $750, has a 21.5-inch full HD screen that uses Intel’s HD 4000 integrated graphics and can work with up to 10-finger gestures. On top of Windows 8, it is powered by an Intel Core i3 3220T Ivy Bridge processor, comes with 4GB of system memory and can hold up to 8GB. The system is stocked with 500GB of hard drive space and includes a DVD Super Multi drive. On top of 802.11n wireless networking and a wired LAN port, it has a 14-watt stereo sound system, which should be more than enough to fill the classroom with audio. On top of a Web cam, the system has the bonus of a wireless keyboard and mouse, which are almost never included with systems in this price range.

By contrast, the Series 7 all-in-ones can be had with either a 23.6- or 27-inch screen that can show full HD programming and handle up to ten finger inputs. These systems are high-performance through and through with a Core i7 processor along with either 6- or 8GB of system memory and a 1TB hard drive to store everything from classroom lesson plans and tests to field trip videos. Rather than the integrated Intel graphics that’s on the Series 5 and the smaller Series 7 system, the 27-inch Series 7 comes with more powerful AMD HD7850M graphics engine. These all-in-ones sell for between $1,100 and 1,700, depending on the screen size chosen. 

Data Safe

N2_FrontAs many schools in the south and Midwest found out during flooding at the end of the summer vacation, it only takes a little water to do a lot of damage. The ioSafe’s N2 drive enclosure is capable of housing a pair of SATA hard drives with up to 8 terabytes of school data and use RAID techniques to minimize the chances of losing a byte of data. Drives can be hot swapped and the case has been designed to survive a disaster and come back for more. It has a water-proof steel case, special FloSafe vents that keep heat out during a fire and a layer of insulation that allows the N2 to protect its drives up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. It will cost $600 without a drive and will include data recovery services in the event of a failure.

Move-On, School Style

Moveband (2)The cure for an increasingly obese student body is movement, all kinds of movement. Movable’s MOVband is a $30 wrist activity monitor that tracks and records each kid’s movements to see who is active and who isn’t. If a school orders 10 or more bands, they get a kit to participate in the MOVchallenge to get kids to meet the goal of moving around 100 miles in three weeks.

Tech Savvy: Teachers vs. Students

Dell infographicA recent survey commissioned by Dell shows that there’s a big disconnect between teachers and students when it comes to teaching tech. For example, everyone (students, teachers and parents) agree that using technology can make learning more interesting, accessible and personalized. But, 60 percent say that the tech needs of students aren’t being met in today’s schools. The problem? It often comes down to students actually knowing more than the teachers do about using tech, particularly social media. More than 7 in 10 respondents say they have more advanced tech at home than at school.

The poll surveyed 1,600 people in China, Germany and the U.S. about their views regarding schools and technology.

A Pair of Acers

Acer Veriton VN2620G_verticalToo many districts stock their schools with expensive PCs when a client server arrangement with minimalist thin clients would work better and save piles of cash. Acer’s Veriton N family can fit into any school’s IT landscape with thin systems that run Linux or Windows 7. All have Devon IT Echo management software to set up new clients and make instant changes throughout the district. The systems themselves are tiny, have processors ranging from TI’s DM8148 to Intel’s Celeron 887 and pricing starts at $239.

For conventional computing, few systems can match Acer’s Veriton 6620G family of desktops for performance and flexibility. In fact, you can order it any way you VM6620G_RightFacing_wSlotswant, with basic configurations starting at $300 all the way up to high-performance Core i7 processors. You can get a small form factor case or a mini tower and order it with a wide variety of Intel processors. The common element is that they all come with 4GB of RAM, Windows 7 Professional and have a pair of DisplayPort and a single DVI output for a monitor or projector. The systems come with Acer’s ProShield Security software so that what goes into the Veriton stays there. All come with a three-year warranty.


Reform, The Next Generation

Mcgraw hillEducational reform is everywhere, but what it means at the classroom level depends on who you talk to. McGraw-Hill is sponsoring a panel to discuss what reform means and what the next two and a half decades might look like for schools. The panel for “Education: The Next 25 Years, The Next 25 Minutesconsists of several McGraw Hill prize winners, including Khan Academy’s Sal Khan, this year’s recipient. The panel discussion will be Webcast on Facebook starting at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, Spetember 19th.

Freebee Friday: Student Choice Awards

Parchment collegesJust as the school year gets underway, Parchment’s annual Student Choice College Rankings shows that it’s never too early for students to set educational goals. The study reveals that while you may have an excellent state college nearby, Harvard University comes out on top, once again. Stanford, Yale, MIT and Princeton follow closely. You can see the complete listing and get the class studying those SAT vocabulary lists.

Freebee Friday: Lingua Digita

MangoA library card is good for more than taking out books these days because you can use Mango’s unique and innovative online language learning course via many local libraries. The program includes lesson for 40 foreign languages – from French to Urdu – as well as English and is served to the student via the Web at school, at home or wherever they can get online. All you do is enter your library card number and have updated Java as well as Flash software on the computer and you’re off to a whole new linguistic world. 

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