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The Key to Mobile Teaching

41VLUMs7ipLAsk any teacher and they’ll tell you that every moment taken from classroom attention to go to a desktop-bound keyboard or notebook is a moment they’re not teaching. That’s where having a wireless keyboard, like Rapoo’s E9180p, comes in.

Whether you have a desktop, notebook or tablet computer, having a real keyboard that connects without cables is a big step forward. You can roam around the room while staying connected to the big screen bring up Web sites and select a child’s work for projecting onto the big screen.  

At 5-ounces, the E9180p’s frameless design is not only function but sophisticated looking and easy to carry around. It has stainless steel edging and its pair of AA batteries raises the keys to a comfortable angle. There’s an on-off switch underneath and the keyboard goes into a low-power mode when not in. To wake it up you need to strike one of the keys and it ran for a couple of months on a set of batteries.

Its 82 black keys have white lettering and are full-size at 19.6 millimeters. There is everything from a Windows key and a full set of color coded Function keys to multimedia controls and a generously-sized space bar. They have just enough depth for a comfortable touch typing and are a big step up from a touch-screen’s display keypad.

Rapoo transmitterThe keys are complemented by the E9180p’s large touchpad that takes up the entire right side of the keyboard. At 3- by 4.3-inches, the pad’s surface is lightly textured, the pad responds to right- and left-taps and can accept a wide variety of finger gestures that range from zooming-in and -out to going to the Start Menu. While the keyboard worked well with several recent Windows and Mac systems, the gestures won’t work on Macs.

On the other hand, the keyboard lacks an embedded numeric keypad that could have helped in math and science classes and it does without the backlighting that graces Logitech’s similarly priced K800 keyboard that is a big help when teaching by the light of a projector.

Behind the scenes, the E9180p comes with a tiny USB transmitter that doesn’t require any software or installation. Rather than the crowded 2.4-GHz band that is shared with proprietary wireless devices and WiFi, the E9180p keyboard connects via a 5GHz link. It had a range of 32-feet, more than enough for moving around the typical classroom or small lecture hall while tapping away on the keys.

E9180pThe E9180p is well made and durable, but school equipment can take a beating day-in and day-out. The keyboard comes with a two year warranty, which is good, but falls short of the three years of coverage that comes with Logitech’s K800 keyboard.

At $60, it’s a great way to stay connected while keeping your eye on the class.  



Rapoo E9180p


+ Sophisticated design

+ Good range

+ Big touchpad

+ 5GHz wireless connection

+ Comfortable feel

+ Two-year warranty


- Keys not backlit

Security in Hand

SL300_Top_LGSometimes all you need to do to enhance a school’s security stance is to communicate better, and that’s exactly what Motorola’s MOTOTRBO SL300 radios are all about. The handheld radios combine digital and analog technologies so they can coexist with old and new communications systems. They comfortably fit into the hand, weigh less than 6-ounces and the screen shows which channel is being used. They are more than rugged enough for school use, can cover even the largest campus and cost less than $500 each.

Portable Power

EVO-40If your tablet carts charge but can’t synchronize their software, LocknCharge’s latest units can. The iQ 30 and Evo 40 can handle 30 or 40 units in the company’s five-unit Baskets. The system works with all recent iPads and makes sure they’re not only charged but ready for class with the latest software. They cost $3,000 and $3,500, respectively, and come with lifetime warranties.

USB for the Power Mad

USB powerSure, anybody can charge a phone or tablet using a USB power adapter, but what about plugging the device directly into a wall outlet? That’s where a USB wall outlet comes in. You can charge a phone or tablet directly without a separate adapter and save on space and clutter. Here’re five ways to power up a room full of tablets.

  Power2uNewer Technology’s Power2U is a direct replacement for the typical AC outlet, but it adds a pair of USB power plugs alongside the traditional 115-volt outlets. You’ll need an electrician install it, it’s available in three colors and you can get it in 15- or 20-amp versions. The USB outlets supply 5.2-volts at up to 2.5 amps for each plug. Unlike the others, it comes with a face plate that has slide-open doors, which cover the USB plugs and turn off the power when they’re closed. It costs about $23.

IbcGetAttachmentCan you do without the AC outlets? Leviton Decora USB4P outlet replaces the 110-volt plugs with four USB ports. Capable of delivering up to 4.2-amps of current at 5-volts, it has a microprocessor to balance its load to that it can charge four high-current tablets at once; any single device can draw up to 2.1-amps. You’ll need to have an electrician install it and the Decora outlet set comes in white, ivory, light almond, gray and black for $40.

Rca WP2UWR_1If you don’t mind giving up one AC outlet, RCA’s Wall Plate Charger can do the trick for charging. It plugs right into the wall, so you don’t need an electrician. It sticks out slightly and yields a pair of 2.1-amp USB charging ports as well as a regular old 110-volt AC outlet. It sells for $15 and the company also makes one that has four USB charging slots.

Rnd 31SYNpGpj-LRND’s $20 3.4-amp Fast Charging Station takes this idea a step farther and is perfect for rooms with lots of tablets. It plugs right into a wall outlet and is bigger than the other two, but combines three 110-volt AC outlets with a pair of USB charging ports. The bonus is that, unlike the other two, the 3.4-amp Fast Charging station has a 540 Joule surge suppressor to protect delicate equipment from dangerous voltage spikes.

  51uwQbaA5YL._SL1500_By far, the easiest to install and use of the five is the Pro 4USB Port AC Wall Charger. It plugs right into a wall outlet, has four 5-volt USB power ports with blue LEDs to show they’re working and won’t hog both outlets. In fact, a traditional double AC outlet can accommodate two of the 4USB chargers for 8 USB outlets. On the downside, while a single device can take up to 2.1-amps of its output, with two devices the current draw drops to 1.05 amps each. With four items connected, they can only take 0.5-amps each, which can slow charging. It’s available at Amazon.com for $11, making it the bargain of the group.






Hands-Free Pad

IMG_3147Whether it’s for displaying sheet music or just to read with your hands free to take notes, the AirTurn Manos Universal Tablet Mount is a great way to suspend a slate. The $49 hardware works with everything from an iPad and Surface slate to a Samsung, Sony or LG tablet. In fact, the AirTurn will work with just about any tablet that has a 13-inch or smaller screen, even if it is in a case. Its spring-loaded fingers securely grab the sides of the tablet to allow the pad to rotate 360-degrees and be tilted to a comfortable position.


Teaching in the Z Dimension

Kidsengine_manz_boyWhile educational 3-D materials for projectors are few and far between, zSpace can get kids to learn about science, engineering and technology in all three dimensions with its zSpace 200 workstation. You can work and interact with virtual holograms of everything from a set of gears or levers to the dissection of a frog or how the heart works. Students manipulate, rotate and zoom-in and -out of models that appear to float in space in front of the screen with a tethered pen. The company’s Gallery has over 500 3-D models that pertain to architecture, engineering and zoology while the Studio modeling software is for students and teachers to build their own 3-D worlds along with tools for measuring what’s going on.

Accessories that Stand up to Spills

X1800-Black-3It’s never a good idea to mix electronics and liquids, unless they are Rapoo’s latest wireless keyboard and mouse combo. The X1800 set connects with a computer via a 2.4GHz link and is spill resistant. Available through Canada Computers, it costs $20 and its battery should be able to run for a year.

Never Lose Anything

Zrq425-phone-tag_0bn09t0bn09t000000The Protag Duet tag is so smart that it cannot only alert you that you’ve left your phone behind, but your bag as well. Inside the plastic tag is an RFID chip, speaker and just enough electronics to sound the alarm when it and your phone get separated. Plus, it can find your phone, either by pressing Duet to make the phone ring – even if the phone is set to silent – or by tracking its location. The $29 device works with Android and iPhones.

Color by Numbers

Fx-9860G2_PK_FCasio’s FX-9860G2 scientific calculator not only now has a backlit screen for better viewing, but can be had in a variety of colors, including pink, blue or white. Designed for grades six through graduation, the calculator has a built-in spreadsheet program that can help with science classroom lab work and business assignments. It can work with statistics, conversions, regressions as well as a variety of graphing tasks. The calculator costs about $80.

Volume without the Wires

Iloud_iklipstudio_gb_bThe name iLoud says it all. It’s the wireless speaker that puts the emphasis on high quality volume. The $300 sound system has a 40-watt amplifier and inputs for musical instruments as well as the ability to connect with tablets and phones via Bluetooth. No bigger than a dictionary, it delivers rich full sound and the ability to fill a room with audio.



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