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Sounds Good to Me

Video_iphoneB_iQ5BsIf the last school concert recording you made with your smartphone sounded like it took place in a shower, you need more than a new microphone. With three microphones at its disposal, Zoom’s iQ5 weighs just over an ounce and plugs right into an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and can deliver high quality audio. It not only has a volume adjustment as well as a way to vary the area the microphones cover, but the iQ5 comes with a recording app, complete with special effects. It’s available in white or black and costs about $100.

Freebee Friday: The New Report Card

Educlipper bEven the most detailed report card is only a small fraction of the student’s work and achievements, but a portfolio that includes disparate items like science labs, videos and essays can provide more of what a student has been up to at school. educlipper is a free iPad app that lets students and teachers compile a tangible record of someone’s academic growth.

 

 

Class Slate

375_Galaxy-Tab-for-Education_Front_Horz_1-27_2The next big thing for tablets in the classroom is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab for Education, a mix of hardware and software that can assist education. The slate uses Android’s latest 4.4 KitKat version of the software and has been designed to work directly with Google’s Play for Education store. The system has a 10.1-inch WXGA screen along with a slew of school software for management and configuration of a single system or an entire school’s worth of pads. It will go on sale in April.

 

 

Wired for Testing

Wired Keyboard B2B120_1With wireless tablet keyboards not making a lot of sense for standardized testing, Belkin’s Secure Wired Keyboard fits right in. Available for Samsung Android tablets as well as old and new iPads, the keyboard plugs directly into the slate, has full-size non-removable keys and doesn’t require batteries or additional software. The Samsung-based keyboard is available for $30 and the iPad versions with the older 30-pin plug or the Lightning plug are coming this spring for $60.

 

Cable-Free Connections

Wireless 5G aIt’s ironic and at times frustrating, but the cost of installing video cabling to project a teacher’s notebook can often dwarf the price of the AV equipment involved. No more, with Kinivo’s WHD 110 Wireless 5G HD AV Kit. At $139, it is a bargain compared to what an electrician can cost to do it with wires.

Based on the Wireless Home Digital Interface protocol, the kit can move more than enough AV data over thin air to support an HD audio and video stream. The box includes a transmitter (to plug into the notebook) and a receiver (to plug into the projector or large screen monitor). Together, they can bring the output of a notebook, DVD player, cable box or just about anything with an HDMI connector to the whole class.

Unlike using Google’s Chromcast, the good news is that there’s no software to install, making the 5G kit perfect for technophobic instructors and young students. In fact, the 5GHz transmitter-receiver duo replaces a physical HDMI cable by streaming audio and video between the boxes.

Other than opening the box, pulling out the devices, attaching their stands and plugging the two boxes in, there’s nothing to do. All told, it takes about 2 minutes to set it all up.

Wireless 5G dBoth the sender and receiver have HDMI ports and LEDs to show they’re connected. The receiver adds an IR window for use with the included remote control and comes with an IR Blaster extension that lets you put a remote control sensor within 6-feet of the box

Unfortunately, both the transmitter and receiver require their own power and the kit includes an AC adapter for each. But, the Wireless 5G set only comes with one HDMI cable; you’ll need two to use it.

Once it’s all set up, the system can move full video and sound from computer to screen. It works with 3-D material at full high definition resolution, but the kit only works with HDMI sources and destinations, ignoring VGA and DisplayPort equipment.

I used the Wireless 5G kit with several notebooks and tablets, including an Acer Aspire R7 and a Dell Venue Pro 8, on the sending side and an Epson BrightLink Pro 1410Wi projector and Sceptre 32-inch display on the receiving side. It was able to move everything from Web-based video to classroom software. It really came into its own with interactive material, like the University of Colorado’s PHET science and math simulations and a touch-screen tablet, which can inexpensively replace most of the elements of a more expensive interactive white board.

The system connected in a couple of seconds and had a useful range of about 42-feet, which should be plenty for the typical classroom or small auditorium. While the receiver can move between different sources and the transmitter automatically re-establishes a connection when it’s back in range, the devices work better when both are vertically oriented.

Its video output is only as good as the source material it has to work with, but at 12-feet, the video was crystal clear with good color, audio synchronization and an almost imperceptible delay. On the other hand, the transmitter and receiver tend to get hot while in use, hitting a peak of 124 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wireless 5G cWhile its size and weight restrict the Wireless 5G kit to stationary use, it outdoes Google’s Chromecast by working with anything that has an HDMI port, although for some newer computers a micro-HDMI converter will come in handy. Unlike Intel’s WiDi, it works with just about any source that has an HDMI port. Still, Kinivo’s Wireless 5G HD AV Kit is an inexpensive way to share video with the class without cables.

 A-

Wireless 5G b

Kinivo Wireless 5G HD AV Kit

$139 

+ Replaces HDMI cable

+ Less expensive than physical wiring

+ Video and audio

+ No software needed

+ Full HD resolution

+ Includes IR Blaster

 

- Transmitter and receiver require power

- No VGA or DisplayPort connectors

- Gets hot

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Projection Two-Fer

AF5D_20_FrontSometimes a powerful projector isn’t bright enough to fill a large auditorium’s screen and you need to double-, triple- or quadruple-up. Elite Screen’s Airflex AF5D-20 system has an 8-bit graphics scaler and a built-in QStack grid overlay to help align and aim stacked projectors to create a single cohesive image from several projectors. At $700, it is a bargain device that is capable of working with 1,920 by 1,080 HD projectors, incorporates audio and comes with a remote control for adjusting image placement from anywhere in the room.

Stage Set

Portable tablet stand PTS_2013-12-06_ipad-tiltedIf a document camera is too much to lug around between classes, Belkin’s Portable Tablet Stage can easily go from room to room as needed. At a little over 2-pounds, the aluminum Portable Tablet Stage is smaller and lighter than Belkin’s original Tablet Stage, but can turn just about any tablet into a doc cam. It easily folds open to and can be set up horizontally as a document camera, at an angle to view an object or vertically as a camera stand for shooting videos. It works well with the free Stage App for iPad as well as the recently updated $5 Pro version that allows video recording and importing of Acrobat files.

 

The Final Frontier

Space Curriculum Environment OneThe latest curriculum advance for Lego involves sending its Mindstorms robots into outer space. Well, not really, but the company worked closely with NASA engineers to build a set of class lessons around the EV3 Space Challenge Set & Activity Pack. The $330 kit includes 30 hours of classroom material as well as Lego bricks and printed landscape mats to work on. The lessons include everything from Learning and Challenge Missions to Gears and Research Projects and might just produce a future astronaut.

Freebee Friday: Doodle for Dollars

D4G '2012 US Winner - Dylan Hoffman (HR) (1)It’s that time of year again: the Doodle 4 Google contest is underway and every artistically-inclined child should enter. Have your kids draw pictures that might be used for Google’s home search page. If it’s chosen, the student not only gets bragging rights and a day with professional artists animating the illustration, but win a $30,000 scholarship and $50,000 grant for the school. The only restrictions are that the entry be received by March 20th and that it relate to the idea that “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place…”

Freebee Friday: Big Data on the Cheap

Predixion TreeViewCollab1.bmpAnalyzing big data and mining it for trends and opportunities is the future of business, but how to teach kids about it and how to go about prospecting for info? Predixion in the Classroom is an educational edition of its flagship Enterprise Insight software suite for schools to use to teach a generation of data miners. 

 

 

 

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