The Latest and Greatest Education-Friendly Tech Tools
Solar-powered tablet keyboards, ingenious whiteboard carts, swiveling wide screens, and art and photo software.
Think of the $329 Acer B243PWL monitor as a classroom screen that adapts to the kids, not vice versa. The 24-inch display shows 1,920 by 1,200 resolution and has an ultrawide viewing angle of nearly 180 degrees. Not only that, it can rotate between portrait and landscape as well as tilt and swivel.
Amped Wireless R20000G.
Every school's wireless network has dead zones, but the Amped Wireless Wi-Fi router has the power to enliven them. The $180 router works with the latest 802.11n systems and combines a pair of high-output 600-milliwatt amplifiers with 5dBi antennae to deliver the strongest signal possible.
Lenovo ThinkStation E31.
Small computers just got a lot more powerful thanks to Lenovo's ThinkStation E31. Barely the size of a classroom dictionary, the small-form factor E31 is perfect for video editing or producing digital art. Pricing starts at $630.
Plus C-20 CaptureBoard.
While interactive boards all look pretty much the same, the Plus C-20 CaptureBoard family of boards gives the teacher the ability to save a lesson in a variety of places in a format that can be played back on an iPad or Android tablet. The C-20 comes in a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio for $2,300 or wide-screen for $2,500.
Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio.
With Logitech's Solar Keyboard Folio, you've changed your last iPad keyboard battery: The $130 black case has a solar cell to keep the keyboard charged. It works with all iPads and can be folded into a stand for desk work.
HP t410 All-in-One Smart Zero Client.
With thin clients becoming increasingly popular in schools, HP's Smart Zero stands out for being so efficient that it doesn't need an AC adapter. It can run all three of the most popular software formats and has an 18.5-inch screen, but uses only 13 watts of power, getting its data and electricity over an Ethernet cable.
Promethean ActiView 522.
The ActiView 522 document camera from Promethean ups the ante with HD imaging, a 6X optical zoom, and a pair of LED lights on flexible gooseneck arms. It has enough storage space for 240 high-quality images and can automatically erase any new items when the system is turned off.
Hitachi's novel approach to classroom interactivity, its TB-1 Wireless USB Tablet, weighs 1.5 pounds and connects with a projector over a 2.4 GHz link. The good news: It costs $300 and has a 50-foot range. The bad news: It only works with Hitachi's BZ-1 and CP projectors.
Copernicus Royal iRover iS600.
Copernicus's Royal iRover iS600 makes interactive whiteboards more mobile. The $892 cart has stable 3-inch casters, bins that can hold a lesson plan's worth of gear, and the ability to securely carry a SMART Board 640 or 660 along with a Hitachi or Epson projector.
Classroom projectors that required traditional power-hungry bulbs are a thing of the past. Optoma's LED-based EcoBright engine can put up to 500 lumens on the screen while cutting school power bills. The company's $549 TL30w and $649 TL50w projectors have 300 and 500 LED elements, respectively, and create WXGA images.
While the traditional version of Snapseed works with Macs and PCs, there's now mobile software for iPads. In addition to adding filters for black-and-white conversion and a center-focus distortion, Snapseed includes lots of tutorials and technique assistance as well as the ability to share finished works.
ArcSoft Link+ 3.
ArcSoft's Link+ 3 puts media in its place-your classroom's projector, TV, or large-screen monitor. The software scans nearby computers and the school's network for images, audio, and video files and then plays what you want. The program even converts low-resolution items to near-HD quality. There's a $50 PC version, and an iPad app is on the way.
Ambient Design ArtRage.
The latest ArtRage from Ambient Design not only boasts a bunch of new features, it also uses every bit of the new iPad's Retina high-resolution display-and it costs just $6.99 a copy. The drawing app can work with a 2,048 by 2,048 digital canvas, import images from cameras, and save images as .ptg files.
Need a lesson on just about anything or have an idea you want to share with other teachers? Nearpod's rapidly growing library includes classroom materials from Khan Academy and TED Education. There's software for teachers and students, and when the class is over, teachers can use Nearpod to check on each student's progress.
Blackboard Analytics for Learn.
Face it, schools no longer run on paper and file folders, and Blackboard Analytics for Learn can make the best use of a school's gigabytes of data. The software can help identify those at risk and even provide hints on how to improve the school's operations.