Best Upgraded Software

My Big Campus: Wrapup

This school year, I have been using and reviewing My Big Campus from Lightspeed Systems, an online service that allows schools to create an engaging, collaborative, online environment. It was extremely easy to set up and use, and there are great help resources, a blog with tips for using it, and a user forum. Below are some highlights in my final review of this product:

* Resource Library: I include files and links and use the calendar feature to put in assignment due dates, test dates, and more. These are all filed under the “Your Stuff” section.

* Assignments: The assignments feature allows you to easily assign students work, manage assignments, and see who has completed what assignments. Students get notified about new assignments so they won’t forget.

* Apps: My Big Campus has apps for iOS and Android. The apps include most of the functions that the full Web site does.

* EduTalk: EduTalk is MBC’s “social network for educators.” It is made up of status updates from educators, not students, and allows educators to share resources, tips, ideas, and more.

* Calendar: The calendar feature allows you to add events, reminders, due dates, and more. Your students can subscribe to the class calendar to stay current and get reminders.

* Conversations: The conversations feature is a great place to hold virtual study and help sessions. It can be used in real time, or can be done as you and your students have time to connect.

* Schoolwork: Here you can assign work to your students and post assignments. It also keeps track of what is graded and what still needs to be graded.

My Big Campus is a very useful and powerful tool for educators and students. To give it a try, visit

This is one in a series of posts about our year-old pilot with the STEM Web site The site allows teachers to assign math, science, and technology lessons or units.

Formative and Summative Assessments: The feature that our students and teachers most enjoy is the ability for students to gather immediate feedback. This provides students with a real sense of motivation that their work—evening game playing—is being viewed as skill progress. Students feel comfortable going back and reviewing videos.

We, as a district, are working on making decisions based on formative assessments and have been experimenting with making quizzes using Google forms and the widget, Flubaroo, to grade the quizzes. This process gave us some minimal data to make decisions on. After we had the students take a quick math quiz using our Google form, we created an assessment using These questions are lengthy and can include diagrams. After we had the students take both assessments that covered the same standards, we discussed which was more challenging and reviewed their scores. The assessments in are problem-based questions that make students practice their skills in context. Although our students found these questions challenging, the assessment questions provided were allowing us to see if they could transfer the skill into a new, novel problem environment.

We will continue to use both of our formative assessment tools, but seeing the difference in skill that occurs when students are asked to transfer knowledge into new word and diagram problems is causing us to think about our assessment creation differently.

The video and assessment support that this program provides has been extremely engaging to our students and has allowed us to see them as independent learners who need feedback to continue growing.

Peg Keiner is an instructional technology coach for Oak Lawn- Hometown District 123. Retail Price: $29.95, educational pricing. Volume pricing available.

The latest release of Snagit from TechSmith (available for both Mac and Windows) offers digital “publishers” a very helpful tool for adding visual impact to electronic documents.

Quality and Effectiveness: Snagit does much more than simple screen capture. Version 2.0 for Mac and Version 11.0 for Windows add support for video, giving users tools to capture narrated clips of screen activity in addition to static screens. Teachers interested in showing students how to use a feature in a particular software program can create narrated step-by-step tutorials. Thanks to a powerful editor, users can still crop, resize, or select a portion of the screen for copying, cutting, adding callouts, and other image effects.

Ease of Use: Editor tools in Snagit toggle on or off. Each tool can be customized to suit user needs. On the PC side you can create profiles for capture tasks and download additional profiles from the Snagit Web site. Mac doesn’t have options for profiles, but you can customize the tools in the editing palette and save those customized tools for later reuse.


• Captures both static and moving screens with or without time delay.
• Comes with an editor to add special effects or markup the captured screen with annotations, stamps and filters.
• Sharing options allow users to send images to social media sites or copy images to the Clipboard for pasting in other programs. Retail Price: $645 single DVD or USB flash drive (Read&Write GOLD MOBILE); also available in unlimited site licenses, concurrent site licenses, and volume license discounts.

Texthelp Systems’ Read&Write 5 GOLD for Mac (R&W Gold 5) provides robust text-to-speech software designed to assist children and adults who struggle with reading and writing. More than just a text-to-speech reader, the floating toolbar in R&W Gold 5 works well with other popular Mac applications.

Quality and Effectiveness: When used together with the program’s Scan tool, the application can easily read aloud a scanned worksheet, teacher’s notes, or whatever is placed on the scanner bed. The R&W Gold Screenshot Reader can read Flash by using its OCR magic to convert a selection into readable text.

One important new tool is the Picture Dictionary, offering visual references to support comprehension and independent learning. R&W Gold’s Verb Checker, also new to version 5, supports literacy building, while helping users determine if they are using the correct tense of a chosen verb.

Ease of Use: R&W Gold 5 for Mac is a program with many features and optional settings. When using the floating toolbar, helpful textbased tooltips pop up. Given the program’s many built-in applets and settings, it will take time to learn how best to use all those features or personalize the settings for use with a particular student. Fortunately, Texthelp provides Video Tours for many program features.

Creative Use of Technology: R&W Gold gives you two ways to use the program. In Toolbar View you can continue working in your favorite application and call R&W Gold into play from the floating toolbar as needed. Application View, on the other hand, automatically displays text copied from a Web browser so that it can be read aloud, checked for spelling errors, and more.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: R&W Gold 5 for Mac is highly suitable for use both in and out of the classroom. Its versatile toolkit promotes student-centered, self-paced learning independence, because it reads aloud virtually any text that displays on screen.


• Floating Toolbar provides access to the application toolkit while users work in their everyday applications.
• Built-in tools read aloud text that is typically inaccessible (e.g., Flash).
• Flexible licensing options to accommodate a variety of installation needs. Retail Price: Inspiration Full Version—$14.99. Inspiration Lite—Free.

Quality and Effectiveness: Inspiration Maps for the iPad allows students and educators to easily create concept maps and graphic organizers. The beauty of the app is its intuitive capabilities. You can create a map with more than 26 built in templates.

Ease of Use: The organizers are pre-made for the student and teacher. There are templates for just about every subject. Thinking maps are extremely helpful for students who need a visual graph to comprehend cause and effect and compare and contrast.

Creative Use of Technology: Inspiration Maps allows you to import pictures, add notes, change colors, and add hyperlinks. You can easily convert diagrams into outlines. All diagrams are saved, or you can send your diagrams to Dropbox or iTunes. Diagrams can be saved in saved as images or sent via email.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: This app is perfect for the school environment, from administrative meetings to teaching students how to take notes. The graphic organizers make beautiful displays for presentations.


• Teaches students how to take notes.
• A great visual tool that uses color coding, images, and notes to clarify difficult material.
• Can be used in the one-iPad classroom.

OVERALL RATING: This is a must-have app for all classrooms. Taking notes and learning to extract the significant points in English, Social Studies, and Science is difficult for most students. Here is an app that gives you the template for you to fill in.

More Slideshows
  • November 2014, What’s New
  • October 2014, What’s New
  • September 2014, What’s New
  • Reviews, August 2014
  • ISTE 2014 What's New
  • ISTE 2014 Best of Show
  • July 2014, What’s New
  • May 2014, What’s New
  • June 2014, What’s New
  • April 2014, What’s New
  • Product Reviews, March 2014
  • March 2014, What’s New
  • Product Reviews, Feb 2014
  • February 2014, What’s New
  • January 2014, What’s New
  • Awards of Excellence
  • October 2013, What’s New
  • September 2013, What’s New
  • Special Supplement: ISTE 2013
  • March 2010
  • Portraits of Learning 2008 Winners
  • Reviews, October 2012
  • Reviews, September 2012
  • Best New Software
  • Best New Hardware
  • September 2012, What’s New
  • March 2013, What’s New
  • ISTE 2012 REDUX
  • Reviews, February 2013
  • November 2012, What’s New
  • Reviews, May 2012
  • November 2011 What's New
  • July 2013, What’s New
  • June 2013, What’s New
  • April 2013, What’s New
  • Reviews, March 2013
  • Best Upgraded Software
  • Best Upgraded Hardware
  • October 2012, What’s New
  • Reviews, August 2012
  • Reviews, July 2012
  • What’s New: New tools for schools.
  • Reviews, June 2012
  • June 2012, What’s New
  • May 2012, What’s New
  • Reviews, April 2012
  • April 2012, What’s New
  • Reviews
  • March 2012, What’s New
  • Reviews
  • February 2012, What’s New
  • October 2011 What’s New
  • Awards of Excellence
  • October 2011 Reviews
  • Responsive Solutions: Student-response Systems
  • April 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • Products : July 2009
  • Put to the Test : June 2009
  • WHATSNEW : MAY 2009
  • Get On with the Show : May 2009
  • Put to the Test : May 2009
  • Tech Forum
  • Products featured in April 2009 issue

TEKVOX Unveils Drop-In A/V Solution Enhancements

TEKVOX has announced enhancements to its 71000 Drop-In A/V™ prod...

MindPlay Receives 3rd Consecutive Endorsement from Council of Administrators of Special Education

MindPlay’s Virtual Reading Coach meets stringent requirements fo...

CodeMonkey Launches Game Builder Platform to Empower Students to Become Digital Creators

Expanded platform features advanced coding curriculum with three addit...

ClassTag Bridges the Technological Divide to Engage 100% of Parents

ClassTag supports personalized communications with all parents, whethe...

Growth in Industry-Backed Certifications Signals Future of CTE

LUBBOCK, Texas (June 27, 2017) – As educators seek to prepare st...

Skyward’s SIS & ERP Solutions Help Districts Improve Branding Efforts

As school choice becomes increasingly prevalent, many districts a...

Hoonuit Calls for Educators to Become a Learning Ambassador

Hoonuit (@Hoonuit), a comprehensive suite of data analytics and profes...

Vernier Announces Exclusive Distributorship of Pivot Interactives’ Real-World Science Online Video Platform

College and high school students learn physics through experiments tha...

Califone Unveils CD360 for Improved Classroom Listening Activities

Chatsworth, Calif. (June 26, 2017) – When teachers regularly inc...

Latest Posts

Examine Sports, Physics and More With Video Analysis App

Robust video analysis for sports, science, fine arts performances

Addictive App Makes Gravity & Velocity Fun

Explanations of physics principles are easy to understand and implement.

The Leverage in Your Hands: A Primer on Handshakes

Did you know you can communicate volumes of information in a simple handshake?

Students Design & Conduct Virtual Lab Experiments With Inq-ITS

Virtual labs epitomize the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

Try This Fun, Flexible Communication Tool

Communication, learning, and fun converge nicely in Google's slick platform

The History of Juneteenth

Learn more about June 19th, its history, and its celebration.

Bloxels: Build, Play, & Share Your Own Video Games

Making games using physical cubes is fun

Extensive Data Resource a Boon for Many Subjects

Elegant treasure trove of data could fuel lessons and projects

Your Commonwealth: Great Classroom Resource for Global Issues

Engage with passionate international perspectives from youth

T&L Partner Post
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

( The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

( Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...


( Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

( Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...


( The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

( Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

( Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

( HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

( Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...


( LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...


( myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

( Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...


( RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...


( Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

( OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

( Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

( The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...


( Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

( Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

( Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

( ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

( AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...


( AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

( The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

( The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

( The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

( Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

( The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...


( TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

( Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...