About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Connect Like No Other

Aukey hubGot a recent tablet or small notebook that only has a single USB port, but you need to connect to a room full of accessories, thumb drives and printers, not to mention a wired networking connection? AUKEY’s CB-H17 hub can inexpensively turn a single USB connection into six active data ports along with one for power and an RJ45 port for getting online with a wired LAN.

At 0.9- by 5.2- by 2.0-inches and weighing 3.4-ounces, the jet black CB-H17 is surprisingly small and can be carried around in a pocket or notebook bag pocket. It can just as easily be velcroed to the back of a notebook’s screen lid or the underside of a desk for convenience.

On the downside, like other USB hubs, it requires its own power source. It comes with a special male-to-male USB 3.0 cable as well as its surprisingly large 12-volt power adapter.

You can use the hub with a USB 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0 system and it provides six SuperSpeed USB data ports that top out at 5 Gigabits per second. There’s also a single USB charging port that delivers a maximum current of 2.4-amps for a phone or tablet. In addition to an on-off switch, power input and its USB connection, the CB-H17 includes an RJ-45 port with a gigabit LAN connection. It has an LED power indicator but nothing that shows activity on each port.

Aukey hub bThe hub works with PCs from Windows Vista forward, Macs (OSX 9 and newer), Linux (kernel 2.4.1 or newer) as well as most recent Chromebooks. The best part is that for most computers it won’t need any extra software, but the package includes a mini CD of software, just in case.

It extended the usefulness of a Surface Pro 3, Apple Macbook Air and Asus Flip Chromebook. The hub helped out with a variety of tasks, from connecting to external hard drives and DVD players to thumb drives and using a Brother laser printer. The Ethernet connection helped in rooms that WiFi didn’t reach and the power port was more than enough to charge an iPad Pro.

While most competitive hubs come with a 12-month warranty, WUKEY doubles that to 2 years. While it proved to be invaluable for making a modern tablet into connection central, the CB-H17 lacks one vital function that will increasingly be required: access to USB-C ports.


Aukey hub

AUKEY CB-H17 USB 3.0 Hub with Charging Port and RJ45 Port



+ 6 SuperSpeed USB data ports

+ 2.4-amp power port

+ No software needed

+ Works with PCs, Macs and Chromebooks

+ Gigabit LAN port


- No USB-C ports

- AC adapter

The Do-it-All Printer

HP LaserJet MFP 227dfwPrinters have evolved from paper processors into connected devices that do it all: scan, fax, copy and –- of course -– print assignments, reports and homework. HP’s LaserJet Pro MFP M227 fdw is all a classroom or even entire floor in a small school needs. Based on HP’s latest monochrome laser printing technology, it’s easy and mess-free to change toner cartridges and the M227 prints up to 28 pages per minute in super-sharp 1,200 by 1,200 dot per inch resolution. It can print directly from a USB or networked connection as well as an Android or iPad sources. You can even initiate a print by tapping a Near Field Communications (NFC) phone or tablet on the printer’s front. The printer’s JetAdmin software lets the IT staff see how many prints remain in the current toner cartridge, while monitoring and controlling who’s printing what. The MFP M227 fdw sets the pace in simplicity with an innovative window up front to see how much paper it has left. It costs $329.

Lamp Power

LampChampOlensMain1-580x630Out of AC outlets but need to power your phone? LampChamp can turn any incandescent lamp that uses standard bulbs into a USB charging station. Remove the bulb, screw LampChamp in and plug the phone into the USB outlet on its side. The device costs $20, can handle up to 2 amps of current and has a switch for turning the light on and off.

Lightning Two-For

Side.372Love the new iPhone 7 but hate the fact that it does without a traditional headphone jack and that you can’t charge it while listening to music or podcasts? Belkin’s Lightning Audio + Charge Rockstar is a Lightning two-for adapter that lets you plug in and listen to whatever you want while charging the phone. It can handle up to 12 watts of power, works with 48 kHz, 24-bit audio and lets you use the microphone and remote control on the Apple headphones. Even with the $40 adapter, you’ll still need either digital headphones or the Apple Lightning to headphone adapter as well.

Power Plus Data

Tripp lite switch ACThere’s never enough room or power outlets in a server room or closet, but Tripp-Lite has an amazing idea to make it happen. Its Managed Gigabit Ethernet Switch PDU Combo combines two rows of high-speed Ethernet ports along with a dozen AC outlets that have 3,680 joules of surge protection. The data can be managed, prioritized and monitored and the stream can carry POE power for downstream devices. The switch-power combo can be had in 16- or 24 switches and the best part is that together they fit into a 1U-sized space in your server rack.

Freebee Friday: Meet the New Scanner

Trend micro house call bIn case you hadn’t noticed, many free antivirus products are quickly disappearing as a way to get you to upgrade to premium -– and often quite expensive -- security packages. For instance, Trend Micro’s free antivirus scanning software has been replaced by what the company calls HouseCall. It’s quick and easy to use, and the program automatically updates itself after installation. It works with both PCs (Windows 7 through 10) as well as Macs (OSX 10.7 or newer). On the downside, HouseCall doesn’t leave anything behind. Instead, it does a fast online scan for the most prevalent attacks using Trend Micro’s Cloud-based Protection Network that lacks anything like real time scanning or behavioral monitoring for when you turn your attention to something else. It’s better than nothing for older systems, but every Windows 10 computer includes Microsoft’s Defender, which has its holes but can stop the worst things from getting onto a school’s worth of computers.

Chromebook Now Projects

Iprojection chromebookAhead of Google’s merging of Android and Chromebook platforms, Epson helps those schools that use Chromebooks every day with some slick software. As is the case with the iProjection apps for iOS and Android are not only free but the new Chromebook version lets you pick what you want to show the class and it’s sent to the projector. On the downside, it only works with several Epson WiFi enabled projectors.


It’s About Time

Simplex clockFrom when the first bell rings to start the school day we all have too much to do, but there’s not much more you can do to squeeze 60 minutes of solid work into every hour. Or is there? The following programs take different approaches to making every minute in the classroom count by scheduling and prioritizing the day’s tasks and events.

None of the four programs that follow are made specifically for school use, but are flexible enough to be adapted. In fact, they are just as useful for students as for teachers and a school’s administration –- maybe more.

You can’t be in two places at once, but any of these programs can make you more efficient at school and hopefully a better prepared educator. Regardless of whether you use a iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Chromebook or Android, there’s something here to make every minute count.


30 30 gestureThe 30/30 app can efficiently plan your day down to the minute and stuff more into the day without ever leaving your phone’s screen. That's because it runs on an iPhone and lets you do more with gestures than any other program does.

For instance, rather than digging through nested menus, if you want to delete an item, just swipe to the right or shake the phone to undo something. A two-finger tap moves the current task to the top of the list.

The big difference with 30/30 is that the interface is like no other app. To set up an item, like a reading period, type in its name (like “independent reading”), how long it will last and what icon you want it to show when time is up. The main screen always shows what the current task is and how much time is left.

To get the most out of 30/30 you need to buy in to its philosophy of 30 minutes of uninterrupted work is about all anyone – teacher, student or staff – can efficiently put up with. It’s a little looser than that because events and activities can be set to any length up to an hour, so it’s perfect for setting up classroom periods.


2doGot a Mac, iPhone or Android, but are always late for classes, meetings and parent conferences? 2Do can help with a rigid schedule that tells you what you should be doing. Utterly conventional in its look and feel, the system is both local and online with the ability to synchronize your schedule and too-do lists with Dropbox, CalDAV and iCloud as well as Toodledo.

It’s quick and easy to add items and you can create a task directly from an email, like a parent meeting. The program’s lists are deep and you can organize them into groups as projects, perfect for long term tasks like curriculum development or field trips. The best part is that 2Do is part nosey parent with the ability to continue to nag you until a task is finished.

Mac users can always have the moment’s pressing business in their faces with the included Widget that places items in a right pull out list. If you can’t always have your computer by your side, 2Do can print its lists the way they look on-screen. Unlike some of the others here, 2Do is not free, with Mac programs costing $50 and those for Android or iOS devices, $10 and $15. There is a three-week trial, but nothing for PCs.

Google Suite Calendar

G suite calendarIt may not have the features and slick widgets of the others, but Google’s Calendar integrates well with email. For good or bad, Calendar is part of the Google ecosystem that bases everything off of a Gmail email account.

In addition to showing your daily schedule, Calendar can set up events from Hangouts and see if infrastructure items –- like projector carts or the computer lab -– are available. Best of all, Calendar lets you coordinate calendars of others and search for free time when you have a must-finish task. You can move your present calendar from iCal, Outlook or Exchange directly and publish your calendar online so your students know when they can contact you.

It works with anything that can run any of the most popular browsers and unlike some other Google products G Suite and the Calendar isn’t free and you can’t just buy the Calendar portion. The entire suite costs $5 a month with a business email account that has your school’s name or district as its domain. You also get unlimited video and voice calls as well as 25GB of storage space. If you move up it to the next level, $10 gets you a terabyte of storage space, advanced controls and a way to retain and archive every email ever written.


WunderlistFinally, as more schools switch to inexpensive and rugged Chromebooks, the software is catching up. Wunderlist can help squeeze in an entire day without you raising a sweat. It’s three pane interface has the most pressing items front and center with details of any item on the right and your main categories on the left.

Best of all, Wunderlist actually works on just about any platform out there because there are versions of PCs, Macs, iOS, Android, Chromebooks as well as Windows Phones and Apple’s Watch. There’s one more: an online version does everything through a browser window. The basic app is free, but the Pro version costs $5 a month and allows you unlimited file sizes, break down large items into sub tasks and have the ability to assign some of them to others.


A Job Well Done and Much to Still Do

Obama ed speechPreseident Obama gave teachers and administrators the best news they could ever hope to hear: the graduation rate has risen significantly. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, for the 2014-15 school year (the latest that we have data for), the graduation rate rose to 83.2 percent, up from the previous year’s 82.3 percent. It’s up an astounding 10 percentage points from the 2005-6 year’s 73 percent graduation rate. This means that thousands more kids will have degrees, better jobs and the ability to go to college.

Grad rateIt may be the highest graduation rate on record, but there’s also bad news below the surface. Here it’s the segments of the population that while improving are still lagging the crowd. For instance, White kids had an 87.6 percent graduation rate versus Black and Hispanic students’ 74.6 and 77.8 percent.



See and Say

Recap kid tabletSwivl’s Recap takes classroom video to a new level with the ability of the teacher to ask questions that students then respond to in clips that are uploaded, watched and evaluated. It leads to deeper responses that go beyond the simple yes and no with the ability to explain and elaborate. Meanwhile Recap’s teacher’s dashboard can show who’s responded, who hasn’t as well as categorize the videos for the class to see. It works on just about any connected platform, including Chromebooks, and the program has garnered more than 250,000 users.

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