The latest and greatest in education technology
At the end of this month, ed techies will be heading south to San Antonio, Texas, for the 29th annual National Educational Computing Conference (June 29 to July 2). The event kicks off with keynote speaker James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds. Not going? Administr@tor has a preview of some of the hot new tech tools debuting on the conference show floor. Here’s a glimpse of things to come.
Little Big Book
HP will be showcasing its new HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, the first notebook designed especially for K–12 schools. This inexpensive, compact machine has all the basics, yet it weighs less than 3 pounds and easily slides into a backpack. It’s also tough enough to stand up to the daily abuse of students and teachers.
Specs: The $750 fully loaded system comes with a 1.6GHz VIA C7-M processor, 2GB of system memory, a 120GB hard drive, and Windows Vista. The $500 base model is less ambitious, with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of flash memory, and Linux.
Bottom line: The first notebook created for the K–12 crowd, the Mini-Note is a bargain. Find classroom tech tips at the Teacher Experience,
SRS Gets Smart-er
The Senteo student response system gets SMARTer. Version 2.0 adds a gradebook that can search, sort, and monitor grades.
Specs: The new system includes a receiver, 24 remotes, and software.
Bottom line: Clickers will keepupping their game as more teachers discover their power as formative assessment tools.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that loud headphones are damaging the hearing of too many children. Califone’s SoundAlert headphones keep kids from cranking the volume too high. If the sound exceeds 85 decibels, a red light comes on, alerting the teacher to potential danger. A 20-milliwatt amplifier reproduces frequencies from 40 to 18,000Hz for full-sounding audio.
Specs: 3.5mm audio plug, 40mm Mylar speaker, red LED lights up above 85 decibels
Bottom line: These SoundAlert headphones can prevent hearing damage.
Twin Document Cameras
Look for AverMedia to unveil two new document cameras that can create super-sharp 5-megapixel images. Both can put 1,920 by 1,080 images on a classroom projector or large monitor, have built-in networking, and can rotate images. While the SPB350 has a 4-by-5-inch base light, the SPB370 has an 8-by-10-inch light, microphone, and wired networking. Each holds up to 80 images, and AverMedia sells optional microscope adapters.
Specs: 1,920 by 1,080 resolution; 30 frames per second video; 20× zoom lens
Bottom line: These document cameras set the pace for adding teacher-friendly features.
Tablet Cuts the Cord
Educators love the freedom of wireless tablets, which let them make notes on their whiteboards or presentations as they walk around the classroom. Qwizdom enters this market with a new wireless tablet that combines RF technology, presenter controls, and response system interactivity.
Specs: Rechargeable tablet and pen with right and left mouse-click options; overall dimensions 7.7 by 10.6 by 1 inches; weighs less than 1.5 pounds
Bottom line: As with similar products, teachers can use this wireless tablet to draw, notate, and control computer applications —all without being hardwired to a computer.
Image Editing on the Cheap
Give art students the look and feel of Adobe’s PhotoShop image editing software without spending a fortune by using Adobe’s online PhotoShop Express service. Although it’s a beta program that’s still smoothing out its rough edges, the service is nevertheless a great way to fill an art room’s worth of computers with image editing software at no cost.
Bottom line: Students can try Photoshop for free.
Planning Virtual Classes
Part of the challenge of virtual classes is preparing all content ahead of time. Elluminate Plan! lets schools package virtual classes so that every delivery is consistent. Elluminate plans can be stored in portals, blogs, local or network hard drives, and on CD-ROMs.
Bottom line: As Web 2.0 tools continue to explode, so will virtual learning options. Anyone care to Twitter Calculus?
Taking Clickers on the Road
Need a classroom survey but don’t have a projector or computer? It’s no problem with the new ResponseCard AnyWhere, an LCD screen-equipped handheld receiver for presenters that’s about the size of a deck of cards.
Specs: Range of up to 400 feet; can store up to 5,000 votes; can run for 80 hours on two
Bottom line: Shrinking school budgets mean ed tech vendors need to offer more of these standalone solutions.
Christine Weiser is a writer and editor who has reported on K-12 education technology for more than 15 years.