Cool tech tools to check out online or at local office supply store (also – consider crowdsourced funding).
Have you been considering some fun tech tools for the classroom? With summer break on the horizon for many teachers, it’s a good time to think about heading to your local office or education supply store and trying out some of the technology devices they have there. Of course, you can also click around on line to peruse the possibilities as well!
When you find something you like, if budget is a challenge (when isn’t it?), maybe you’d be willing to consider your crowdsourcing campaign using DonorsChoose.org or a similar site (more on that below).
Today's teachers (and students, too) have access to an unprecedented array of technology tools. According to one Pew Research Center survey, a majority of teachers feel that access to technology in the classroom and outside of it has made students better, more independent researchers. Though there will likely always be some debate as to the best way to integrated existing and new technologies into the classroom, there's no denying that tech in the classroom is here to stay. What kind of tech? The modern classroom is increasingly a connected place, and here are a few of the next gen technologies you might encounter there.
Portable projectors: Replacing the clunky classic projectors you may or may not remember are tiny digital projectors that will light up your entire classroom with charts, websites, videos, lectures, virtual field trips and more. Bring it from classroom to classroom or across departments, and to administrative meetings – no rolling cart necessary. Check out this cute little AAXA P2 Jr Pico Projector (only $200!).
Digital pens: Transcribing handwritten notes is… well, old school. These pens let students take notes in any notebook and then send those notes to any computer or tablet where they become editable text. In online mode notes are captured in real time, and sharing is easy with the instant Bluetooth connection. A digital pen also makes taking notes more fun. If educators are interested in learning more about digital pens, IRIS Notes boasts a lot of great options.
Tablets: Of course, the iPad remains huge in education, but alternatives are becoming increasingly popular. For example, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is one budget-friendly option for schools that are exploring pilot programs that involve loaner technology to level the playing field among students from diverse backgrounds. Providers like T-Mobile are making it easy to outfit whole classrooms with network-enabled tech – and T-mobile is even providing the network in some cases, with free 4G LTE deals and bundle programs for schools (click here for more information).
Digital microscopes: The compound microscope has changed plenty since its invention in 1590 but now it's evolving. Updated versions use built-in cameras (with help from optics and illumination) to capture images that are instantly displayed on screen. You're no longer tethered to a desk – create real-time 4D scans that students can save, share and study later. School Outfitters is a great resource for digital microscopes and other science needs.
Fitness Bands: These types of tech tools can have a functional role in PE, health education courses, and Biology class too! The Vivofit from Garmin monitors students' activity levels in gym class and outside of it, encouraging an integrated approach to fitness that goes beyond the track. There are many more wearable technologies like these coming along (learn more about how these may impact education here).
Portable Speakers: Good sound is a requirement for video or audio presentations and today's portable speakers keep getting better. If you want to be able to hook your tablet or smartphone to a good quality speaker, you have a lot of good, affordable options. Check out the Logitech Tablet Speaker for this $17.99 or the Photive SOUNDSCAPE 8 Bluetooth speaker for $49.95
Crowdsourcing Your Budget for Instructional Technology Tools
Of course, all of it costs money, and for many districts integrating technology into the classroom seems like little more than a pipe dream. That's where DonorsChoose.org and other “crowdfunding” sites come in. Low-income schools and individual teachers who want to augment their classrooms are using crowdfunding to raise funds not only for technology but also for art programs, playground equipment, community gardens and solar panels. And why not? Fundraising has always been a part of the public and charter school experience. Sites like DonorsChoose, Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others have given teachers and schools another way to pay for programs and projects that fall outside of the district budget.
So get out there and have some fun checking out these new age tools and considering instructional uses. Then get creative with funding them. Have a great summer (it’s coming soon …)!
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
8 Great Free Digital Presentation Tools For Teachers To Try This Summer
6 Free Online Collaborative Interactive White Boards – 2012 Update