If you’ve never seen a group of kids cluster around an interactive table, you owe it to yourself to see it. It is truly inspiring for a parent or teacher because they instantly get it and use the technology for interesting things. The Smart Table 422i does the trick with a 42-inch touch sensitive zone of interactivity that is mounted on a pedestal rather than the bulky base that the original table was built around. Images appear in 1,920 by 1,080 resolution and full color and a group of 6 or 8 kids can work on a project together, digitally finger paint or use Smart’s lesson plans. It has a connected computer built-in and sells for a hefty $7,750.
Tired of finding disgusting headphones that seem to be covered with more gunk and germs than an antiseptic wipe can remove. Califone’s Titanium HPK-15900n headphones can be fully immersed in soapy water to give it a good cleaning. Its Sentinel technology limits output to an ear-safe 85dBA and the headphone’s USB cord is guaranteed for life. It costs $91.
If your school’s old cable TV network doesn’t cut it in a digital world, think about using its wired Ethernet cabling for distributing video throughout the building with Belkin’s HDBaseT HDMI audio/video extender. The device converts the video signal into one that can travel long distances over regular old Cat 5 cables and can plug into a projector or large screen monitor in the classroom. Booth 1356.
Mitsubishi breaks out a new category for schools with its WD390U-EST extreme short throw projector that connects to a repository of online materials, so no computer is even needed. With a built-in thin client, the cloud projector can grab and display a variety of multimedia file types stored on local or Internet servers. The projector uses a DLP imaging technology, will be available in March and puts 3,000 lumens of light onto the classroom’s screen. It comes with a three-year warranty and can be seen at booth 1113.
Samsung’s Series 5 ChromeBook may look like a notebook and act like a notebook, but it can do much more in the classroom. Rather than Mac, Windows or Linux, it uses Google’s ChromeBook software, which starts up faster and reduces maintenance expenses compared to the typical classroom computer. It weighs 3-pounds, carries a 12.1-inch WXGA screen and uses Intel’s 1.3GHz Celeron 867 processor. Because it stores most of its programs and data in the cloud, the ChromeBook 5 only needs 16GB of on-board solid-state storage space and costs $450. Booth 1215.
Like the idea of interactive projectors but can’t afford one for every room? Epson’s BrightLink 436Wi is small and portable enough to go where it’s needed. The short throw projector puts out 3,000 lumens for a lights-on lesson in wide-XGA resolution with a screen up to about 10-feet. Along with dual-pen interactivity, the projector can connect with an Android device, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device. It costs $1,250 and can be seen in booth 709.
A lot of the action at FETC this year concerned tablets and how to get them to work best in the classroom. Sometimes all you need is a small stand to hold a tablet so that kids and teachers can have a free hand while doing desk work. Felix has a pair of products to do just that. Both work with a variety of tablets and are made of durable materials that can stand up to classroom abuse, but are not as advanced as tablet docks that can charge the tablet while working.
The $25 Two Hands model looks like a large hair clip with a spring loaded lever at the center that opens a pair of long red hands. A set of flat silver fingers with small nubs on the back hold the slate in place. Just press it open and let the hands grab around the slate’s sides. It can open up to 10.5-inches, which makes it perfect for holding an iPad or 10.1-inch Android tablet. It works in horizontal or vertical orientation and can sturdily set the slate at a variety of different angles. Two Hands is made of aluminum, plastic and silicone, folds up flat when not in use and is available in a variety of colors.
Like Two Hands, the $20 MonkeyDo stand can open up to hold a variety of tablets horizontally or vertically. Made of plastic and rubber, Monkey Do doesn’t have a spring because it acts like a torsion bar to hold the slate in place. It can’t be folded up but can easily be stored in a drawer when it’s not being used. The slate rests on a small base made by the monkey’s feet that holds it securely in place, but you run the risk of tipping the whole thing over if you press too hard on the top of the screen. The big payoff is for smaller kids, because the smiling monkey face can make a tablet seem inviting and less intimidating.
Teaching reading, writing and arithmetic isn’t enough in today’s tough job market and including the soft skills of collaboration and team-building are a must. That’s where Win Learning’s Soft Skills comes in. The personalized, activities-based program is distributed over the Web so it works on a variety of computing platforms. After an initial review of the student’s strengths and weaknesses, Soft Skills goes through a sequence of four instructional modules that cover everything from effective communications and conveying professionalism to promoting teamwork and critical thinking and problem-solving.
Lego’s StoryStarter kits are now available. A great way to get the creative juices flowing, StoryStarter comes with Lego building blocks so that kids can develop their story by making a model of the scene and then turn it into an essay or comic book with included StoryVisualizer software. The StoryStarter kits range from $115 to $800 and can be seena t booth 1323.