Along with the New Year and ever-present danger of writing 2014, we have a slew of education shows upon us. At them, we’ll see and try-out the latest teaching products –from tablets and projectors to administrative software and computer carts – are debuted. This year, though, we get the double whammy of BETT and FETC at the same time. Although they are still on different continents, it’s a lot to absorb. Here’re my favorites from the current Ed Tech shows.
Notebooks and tablets need to be as mobile as students and teachers are these days with the ability to go from room to room as needed. Capable of holding up to 48 systems, that’s exactly what Lumen’s Rhino CT-S50 cart does. It can hold and charge notebooks, tablets and Chromebooks so they’re always ready for class. The lockable cart is mounted on stable casters, is ventilated and uses a smart charging system that reduces power demand. The bonus is that the S50 cart provides a large work surface on top with an articulated arm to hold a slate or monitor. FETC no. 323.
What’s better than wheeling notebooks and tablets around on a cart? Individual lockers like the LapSafe Diplomat PIN can safely hold and charge the systems when they’re not in use. Rather than a keyed lock, though, each Diplomat PIN locker has its own combination that gets typed into the locker’s keypad. The combinations can be set up with the company’s TANmode software, frequently changed and sent to users via an email or text message. The sturdy steel lockers come in stacks that can hold a dozen systems. Bett no. F186.
Acer’s new Chromebook C740 has the distinction of being just about indestructible at schools and should outlast its students. The system has an 11.6-inch screen that can show 1,366 by 768 resolution and a durable display hinge that can take being repeatedly twisted and turned. The screen cover is reinforced and the system can stand up to foot-and-a-half drop. Schools and districts buying more than one-hundred systems get Premier Care, which includes accident damage coverage. All told, it costs $260, weighs less than 3 pounds and should slide into and out of a backpack with ease. There will also be a C910 model that includes a 15.6-inch screen and 4GB of RAM for $300. BETT no. F188.
The itslearning app takes this student information service to new levels of mobility with iPad and Android apps. The software allows teachers, students and admin staff access to the school’s itsLearning info without logging onto the system. The apps can not only automatically facilitate communication between students and teachers but deliver assignments and grades as well. FETC no. 1041.
Google’s Classroom just got a lot more useful in, well, the classroom. The latest version of the software not only works with both Android and iOS systems, but lets you cache lessons and multimedia material offline so that you can now use it to teach in unconnected rooms. Teachers can add all sorts of images and Web pages as well as take a picture from the Classroom’s assignment page to document a project, what’s on the board or even take a snap shot of a homework assignment and turn it in digitally. BETT no. E240.
Aimed at K-through-2nd graders, Science4Us can be the first science lessons students are exposed to, so it has to count. Available online or via Science4Us’s free iPad app, there isn’t an app for Android tablets. The 28 two-week modules available cover everything from the physical and environmental sciences to life and earth science. Along the way, the lessons integrate literacy and math into the science lessons. The service costs between $5 and $12 a student. FETC no. 553.
The job of drilling down to the school or classroom level to get the data needed just got a lot easier with Skyward’s myDistrict360. It can not only show individual students grades, attendance and other details, but provide context for how each class and school is doing. The online program lets you enroll new students through a Web form and create your own reports for what’s important without the need for programming. FETC no. 840.
Create Education has a vision of the future of shop classes at schools that revolves around teaching kids to use 3-D printers. The company combines its Ultimaker 2 printer with its Cura software to allow kids to make all sorts of small plastic items. The key is that they model the items on-screen using the CAD design and imaging software and then watch it being made on the 3-D printer. BETT no. F54.
The old saying that reading begets reading couldn’t be more true, according to Scholastic’s “Kids & Family Reading Report."The corporate parent of Tech Tools, Scholastic surveyed 2,558 children and parents to compile its results. While it points out that girls continue to read more than boys, the big take-away is that those who read become better and more proficient readers. The biggest factor in building a strong reader is that their parents read to them aloud between five and seven days a week before the student entered kindergarten. FETC no. 201
Even with the ever expanding digital classroom, there’s still a place for printers at school. Take OKI’s MB562w printer, which can not only pump out up to 27 pages per minute of sharp 1,200 by 1,200-text and graphics, but works with OKI’s Remark scanning software to grade bubble tests and compile the results. FETC no. 1416
Smart’s Notebook software can bring everything needed for education together, from lesson plans and multimedia to collaboration and assessments. The latest version has a Lesson Builder for creating innovative classroom activities as well as Concept Mapping that can have a class turn ideas and concepts into deeper understanding. FETC no. M12.
Elmo’s L-12iD can put anything from a petri dish to a paper map onto the big screen and gives the teacher the choice of switching between sending the video stream through a computer via a USB cable or go directly to the classroom projector through an HDMI cable. The document camera-visualizer leads the way with a 12X optical zoom lens, full HD resolution and a built-in microphone. If you need a Web cam, the L-12iD’s lens can be flipped up to face the class. BETT no. C477.
Could the classroom projector have met its match? NEC’s 80-inch flat-screen display sure makes it look possible. The MultiSync E805’s HD screen can not only be controlled remotely over the school’s network, but it can work with Crestron and AMX control networks. It delivers a bright and clear image, has a 10W sound system and all the inputs you’re likely to need to connect, including both HDMI and DisplayPort plugs. The screen sells for $5,600 with a three-year warranty. FETC no. 1268.
One size does not fit all schools, but SunGard K-12’s Plus 360 Suite can put all the information that a teacher, principal or district supervisor needs in view. It can not only show the big picture but zoom in on individual students or classes and handle everything from student information, curriculum and assessments to financial, human resource and special education issues. It can even be set up so that a parent can view her child’s grades. FETC no. 1408.
Whether it’s copying a paragraph from Wikipedia or not properly attributing a source, plagiarism is front and center for teachers. In a few seconds, Unplag can cross check it against 16 million Web pages from Google and Bing, against any file on your computer or with respect to another student’s work. In fact, you can try it out by pasting a passage up to 275 words into the company’s Web site and look at the results. BETT no. E346.
Microsoft’s Mix is a great way to add multimedia and interactivity to lessons, but it just got a lot more versatile with the addition of an add-in for material in Moodle’s open-source Learning Management System. The Moodle plug-in works with all of Office 365, lets you work offline and log-in using a single Office 365 password. BETT no. D270.