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Best of ISTE: itslearning Gets Smart

Its learningAs if the itslearning platform wasn’t good enough, the designers have gone back to the drawing board and revamped it with a new look that makes learning easier and more fluid. The interface has a sharper look that resembles an actual classroom and getting around it is simpler. Plus, so that nobody’s left out, it now includes an internal instant messaging portal for sending updates and questions back and forth. The service now works with just about any mobile device that a teacher, student or school can provide.


Best of ISTE: Instant Lessons

PivotedIn addition to Capstone’s extensive library of K-12 ebooks and digital curriculum, the company’s pivotEd now has 500 lessons for grades three-through-six. It doesn’t matter if your school uses PCs, iPads or Androids because the Capstone lessons and content can be delivered across the board. The first batch emphasizes collaborative learning with lessons like Classifying Mammals and Oceans Under Threat. Booth 1728.

Best of ISTE: Suite Pricing

Learning suiteRather than licensing Smart’s Notebook, Lab, Response and Amp separately, the Learning Suite combines these programs into a unified whole. There’s a common entrance link to all four apps and annual pricing starts at $129 per teacher, but drops quickly with school- or district-wide volume licensing. You can see it in action at Booth 2106.


Best of ISTE: The New Education Marketplace

InspireAttempting to do for education what it did for retail sales, Amazon is starting what it calls Inspire. The online K-12 educational marketplace is still undergoing beta testing but the idea is to provide a single place for free classroom resources, from lesson plans to software and ebooks. There’s an effective search engine that can be parsed by grade, subject as well as type of resource and, just like buying a toaster, there will be teacher and student ratings and reviews. It’ll start with a slew of lesson plans, but you’ll need to register to use it. See it in action at Booth 1941.

Best of ISTE: Cut the Cord

2794fa32c6ff7057ab319331b27bf216_InFocus-IN5148HDLC-HeroInfocus’s IN5148HDLC projector not only shows full HD material but has the company’s LightCast receiver built in so it can connect with anything from a Chromebook or Android to PCs, Macs and iOS systems. It can deliver 5,000 lumens and its focus, zoom and lens shift are controllable through its remote control. Booth 3833.


Best of ISTE: Google Free For All

New Cardboard 1There’s no doubt that Google’s Education Apps has changed the dynamic with free software that used to cost, well, real money. There are three extensions coming that push this paradigm to new heights that range from educational virtual reality to automatically-graded quizzes.

To start, Google’s Expeditions now has an app for taking the kids on virtual fieldtrips. It works with smartphones and the Cardboard carriers, but at the moment is only for Android; engineers are working on an iOS version for iPhones. In addition to the use of educational materials from Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Expeditions takes a big step forward with a version for use with tablets that might not be as visually stunning as the 3D Cardboard headsets, but is much more practical. 

CastMeanwhile, the ChromeCast hardware gets new software, just for the classroom that lets the teacher have any child show his or her screen to the class over WiFi. It integrates well with Google Classroom by providing a class list to choose from, but it can’t do split screen imaging.

Quizzes_06Finally, Forms Quizzes lets teachers quickly create and automatically grade assessments without ever taking out a red pencil. The quizzes can have images, photos and videos and if the student gets the wrong answer, you can embed hints, encouragement or links to resources.

Best of ISTE: No More Burned-Out Projector Lamps

Boxlight P12Because you never have to replace a burned out lamp and they use a lot less power than conventional projectors, laser projectors, like Boxlight Mimio’s P12 LTU device can be a lot cheaper to operate. Able to show an extra-wide 1,920 by 720 resolution, the ultra-short throw P12 projector has a six-segment DLP color wheel and can put 3,100 lumens onto a screen. It comes with MimioStudio Classroom software and you can order the P12 with touch and interactive technology. Booth 3311.


Best of ISTE: School Tablet Lock-Down

Mbank274636_560_560Kensington is being much too modest in its appraisal of its latest charging cabinet, the AC12 Security Charging Cabinet for Chromebooks & Tablets. In addition to Chromebooks and tablets, it can fit most small portable computers that are 14-inches or shorter. The AC12 cabinet can securely hold up to a dozen systems in pull out drawers, but can be locked down and charged at once, so they’re ready for the next class. The cabinet has lockable wheels, plenty of ventilation and costs $700.  Booth 2848.

Best of ISTE 2016

IsteWith reporters both on the show floor and making the rounds of the vendor’s suites, Tech Tools has put together our choices for the most interesting, important and intriguing educational products of this year’s show. With more than 500 educational firms exhibiting this year at the Colorado Convention Center, finding what your school needs can seem like searching for that elusive needle in the haystack.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Over the next few days, we'll have stories on a little bit of everything having to do with education. There'll be a selection that runs the gamut from charging cabinets and projectors to grading software and programming. In fact, there’s something here for every school.

Freebee Friday: Mightier than the Thumb

AnotableIf tooling around an iPad Pro with your thumb is awkward and not quite precise enough, the $99 Apple Pencil is a big help with accurate placement and pressure sensitivity. Annotable, a powerful iPad app, works just as well with a finger as with the Pencil and takes the pro pad to a new level. In addition to adding the ability to annotate and draw circles and squares, you can add arrow heads to any screen, even while it’s connected to a projector. My favorite is Anotable’s pixelate function that blurs anything you select. Other items, like colors and a cool spotlight tool cost a few dollars, but you can get everything for $8.

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