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Friday, July 11, 2014

My Hardware Picks from ISTE 2014

I'm still trying to not sound like a tourist who came back from a European vacation and now speaks with an accent, but I want to share some more things that I discovered in Atlanta. I recently wrote a post about the wonderful personal connections that will help my kids and I learn, so here are some hardware products that hold the same promise.

The Padcaster (on Twitter)
This seemingly simple iPad frame is at the top of my must-have list for the Fall. The ingeniously designed and well thought out features turn both the iPad and iPad Mini into a mobile film studio. Josh Apter (I believe the inventor) showed me some of the features on the exhibit floor the day before his Ignite Session in the Ed Tech Start-up Pavilion.

The Padcaster is rugged. So much so, that I am even planning on letting the kids use my personal iPad to tackle their digital storytelling projects this year. The aluminum frame and thick rubber insert has a great solid feel and has multiple threaded holes that will accommodate several accessories, such as mics, lights, additional lenses, and mono/tripods. The ability to improve the lens, wide-angle/telephoto is terrific and made possible through an included step down ring. The accessory holes allow for flexibility to match the personal preferences of the photographer. Films can be shot, edited and published all while the iPad is installed. From the Padcaster's website "The Padcaster® Kit – NOW IN STOCK! Includes: Padcaster®, Lenscaster, instructions, 72mm-58mm step-down ring, two 1/4-20 screws, two 3/8-16 screws, one custom camera mount screw and one cold shoe adapter.", sells for $149. While the mini version is just $99." When paired with the FilMiC Pro app and a movie editing program like iMovie or Pinnacle, your students will have everything they need to make great looking digital stories in their classroom.

Top of my list.

Equil Smartpen

A real pen that writes on real paper while it produces digital images and drawings. Read that again. The elegant and simple little device has tremendous potential for student use in our classroom. Using bluetooth and compatible Sketch and Note Apps (Android and iOs), the Equil Smartpen draws on real paper and captures the image digitally. The image can then be cut, pasted, scalable, shared, etc.
The Equil Smartpen (I was a teenage hand model)

The tool will allow students to create, annotate,  and edit their notes/illustrations and enhance them. There is a natural collaboration element that the tool facilitates. I see students using the Equil Smartpen in Science, Math, ELA, and probably every other subject. Intuitve, easy to use, and packaged very nicely. Visit their site to see it in action. The Equil Smartpen normally sells for $149, but is on sale for 25% until July 31st. Visit this link for the special ISTE pricing.


I'm picky, but I need a versatile, sturdy, and relatively inexpensive iPad stand solution for my classroom. It has to portable, can be used in different locations, and allows for multiple positions. I've been looking for a while and I think I've found my solution. I stumbled into the snake clamp booth when I was looking for my iPad that I apparently had left laying in booth two rows over as I was filling out some raffle forms. (I found it BTW) Their stuff was extremely rugged and well constructed. The bases and clamps were especially impressive. The thing that I like about Snakeclamp is the multiple options and the ability to customize a solution for your needs. I can choose a base, neck, and clamps to get just what I need. The additional benefit is that I can choose one combination and use some of those pieces and combine it with other accessories to satisfy another need. I won't have to make sacrifices or buy a stand that doesn't match exactly what I want.

Snake clamp has lots of options for mounts, clamps, arms, and relative affordability to boot. Just what I wanted. A great solution for my class.

I was very excited about the Lumos all in one classroom solution for managing multiple devices, while providing a sound solution for all. While it was slightly disappointing that Lumos didn't have a working model at the show, the unit has some great features that would make device management a non-issue in the classroom. The unit can be hard wired into your schools network and becomes an access point for your classroom. Remotely controlled by by either Android or iOs devices switching between connected devices should be easier that my current cord-swapping dance, and would save trim and minimize disruptions while instructing.

While those two main features aren't new to me, the Lumos has some additional functionality that creates a "I gotta have that" feeling.

The unit:
  • Will mirror or stream video content from any device, Android or iOS, tablet or computer, wirelessly.
  • Sends high-definition audio to up to four ceiling mounted speakers.
  • Has cross platform compatibility, and will work with PC, Mac, Android, or iOs devices. Which is an especially nice feature for teachers who piece together their own technology solutions to serve their students and haven't been married to a single platform.
All of these great features in a single hub doesn't come cheap, but Lumos has made it easy to set up a crowd funding campaign to help teachers fully or partially fund their purchases. Find out more at their site.

My next post will be on websites, digital tools, and apps that I discovered at this years ISTE Conference. Find ISTE's list of Best in Show here from Tech and Learning.

Thanks for reading. (and sorry for all the mixed formatting going on in this post, Blogger was not cooperating very well)

Follow me on Twitter @YourKidsteacher

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