Slideshows

July 2013, What’s New

www.studyblue.com • Retail Price: Free

Students can use the StudyBlue app to search, create, and study flashcards and notes with their iPads. Students can make and edit flashcards on their iPads using text, audio, and images. The StudyBlue iPad app also enables students to re-study concepts they’ve not yet mastered, using Study Filters to personalize the process.

Quality and Effectiveness: StudyBlue is the perfect app to teach and learn vocabulary for any subject and any grade, including graduate school. Students simply sync their information to the StudyBlue Web site from their iPad or iPhone.

Ease of Use: The best part of StudyBlue is its ease of use. Users can enter their own vocabulary words, using audio, images, or text. The app also has a supplementary Web site.

Creative Use of Technology: StudyBlue is unique because of its cloud-syncing capabilities. This makes it convenient to access the student’s profile from any device. The ability to use audio or images to help understand a word helps to differentiate instruction. Students can also increase their vocabulary using the search key. By entering a term, students can access vocabulary lists created by other students and teachers. Students can also study their words using a built-in review sheet, which lets students “flip” a card over to check if they got the word correct. After completing the review list, students see their scores and can review the words they got wrong.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Throw away those vocabulary workbooks and use StudyBlue to enter your words either on your iOS device or right on the Web. Teachers can make weekly vocabulary lists on the Web for their classes, and they can cross the curriculum to build words that include math, science, and social studies vocabulary. As schools prepare for the Common Core Standards, which require vocabulary acquisition for all grades, StudyBlue is the perfect app to meet these standards.

TOP FEATURES

• Ease of use.
• Ability to differentiate learning skills.
• Meets the Vocabulary Acquisition standards for the Common Core Standards.

studypadinc.com • Retail Price: Each app is $9.99; free app available for all grades (the free app gives you two chapters to try the app).

The Splash Math series is a complete grade-by-grade curriculum. Each grade can be set up based on the students’ levels, allowing for differentiated instruction. The apps include a homework component for students who have iPads.

Quality and Effectiveness: Splash Math apps are comprehensive math apps that align to the Common Core standards. The app includes a report button, which gives a full report card stating the date and the math topic the child worked on. It also includes an activity log with the student’s attempts, number of correct answers, and accuracy. All five apps have the Common Core standards aligned to each topic and chapter content on their website, which makes it easy for teachers to document the standard they are addressing. Teachers are also given a visual graph that helps them see where students’ strengths and weaknesses are.

Ease of Use: The app does not have a lot of directions to read, which makes it extremely user-friendly. Each app allows up to five students to be tracked on one device. Study Pad’s website provides teachers with each chapter and the Common Core standard for each concept. The app includes email reporting, the ability to back up data for cloud storage, and sound effects. Teachers can also set chapter concepts, level of difficulty, and number of questions.

Creative Use of Technology: Grades 1-3 are set up identically using an aquarium theme and a visual countdown prior to starting the app. Grades 4-5 use a space game theme. Students choose their avatar when they first begin and then choose from three buttons. The control room collects the students’ data from class work and homework. The “Select a mission” function sets the math level for each student and allows teachers to assign homework for the concept. Another nice addition for grades 4 and 5 is the performance summaries. The data show the grade level the student is working on, questions answered, worksheets completed, points earned, and chapters completed.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: These apps would be a perfect addition to grades 1-5. The app can be used for support, Common Core standards, and homework. If a school wants to use the program as a tool for Response to Intervention, the apps can be used in practice mode.

TOP FEATURES

• Aligns to the Common Core standards
• Tracks student data
• Provides one inclusive app for each grade

OVERALL RATING: This is an excellent app to add to any elementary school math program. It is also wonderful for special needs classes that have students who are on low levels but need the visuals to assist them with learning more difficult concepts.

www.apple.com • Retail Price: $19.99, Educational Price: $9.99 (each, for 20+ copies)

Since 2007, iOS features, apps, and signature manipulations through multi-touch gestures have increasingly appeared in OS X. Nowhere is that paradigm shift more evident than with Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8), Apple’s latest Macintosh operating system.

Quality and Effectiveness: Mountain Lion (updated to OS X 10.8.1 on August 23, 2012) takes many of its new features from Apple’s mobile operating system. With Mountain Lion, there are now even more similarities to iOS 5.1 because the familiar Notes, Reminders, and iMessage apps are fully integrated stand-alone utilities that work seamlessly with Apple’s popular Mail, Contacts, and Calendar applications.

Ease of Use: The hardest part of upgrading to Mountain Lion could be that your older Apple computer may be unable to make the transition. Once installed, you’ll quickly notice that Mountain Lion doesn’t look significantly different from Lion. There is, however, much to explore and “enable” in the new OS X, as Mountain Lion boasts nearly 250 additions or improvements.

Creative Use of Technology: While Mountain Lion offers several impressive new features, many of them are quite subtle. These include the Privacy tab of the Security and Privacy pane (System Preferences), the Dictation capability available through the Dictation & Speech System Preference, and the Notification icon that appears in the upper right corner of the Finder’s Menu Bar. Three other new Mountain Lion features, however, provide significant benefits to educators and students: “AirPlay Mirroring,” which allows Mac to broadcast data from the desktop or laptop to an Apple TV; “Dictation,” which lets users “type” text by speaking it into the microphone; and the “Accessibility Pane,” which offers improved support for VoiceOver.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Some Mountain Lion improvements may be problematic for schools. For example, many schools prevent students from engaging in “chat.” Yet Mountain Lion features Messages, the application that replaces iChat. Additionally, if a user with an Apple ID stores documents, photos, media files and other resources in the “cloud” using the iCloud service, those resources will be available to all users with the same ID. Management of Macintosh desktops, laptops, and iOS devices by a district or school IT department will require careful planning according to the school or district’s acceptable use policy.

TOP FEATURES

• Enhanced accessibility.
• Support for multi-touch gestures for trackpad users.
• AirPlay Mirroring enables Apple TV users to broadcast the Mac desktop.

OVERALL RATING: Mountain Lion scores high points for ease of use, new features to support teaching and learning, and improved accessibility. If your school uses older special purpose software incompatible with Mountain Lion, you’ll want to hold back on upgrading all machines to the new OS X.

www.lgsolutions.com • Retail Price: $475

The LG Cloud Monitor is an innovative product that combines a Teradici PCoIP Chipset with a monitor. This feature allows it to fill a small footprint that natively runs VMware software for a powerful virtual desktop experience. It will remind most users of a thin client; however, it distinguishes itself in a new class of “zeroclient” devices as it has no processor or moving parts. The screen itself is an LED model that provides vivid color and a quick response rate with HD quality.

Quality and Effectiveness: This is a product that will require some investment in virtualization within your organization. Anywhere there is power and a network, you can have a client with almost no footprint. It comes with an adjustable stand that easily raises, lowers, swivels, tilts, and rotates. The monitor also has dual output options, four USB ports, microphone in, audio out, and built-in speakers that gives the user the full desktop experience in a single form factor body.

Ease of Use: For those that are already using VMware to virtualize desktops, this is a plug-and-play device. Connecting it to VMware is as simple as entering in the IP address to the server. All that is needed for a full virtualized computing experience is access to a network and power. It is also UPoE ready, which means that with an optional adapter (available for approximately $50) the unit can run from “power over ethernet,” which eliminates the need for the electrical outlet. This would allow the device to be placed anywhere a network cable could be run. The cost is comparable to other thin clients with a monitor added alongside; however, this is a single device, thus reducing the footprint.

Creative Use of Technology: As cloud technology continues to have an effect on how people interact with technology, devices like this will become the norm. As schools start to build their own cloud computing and storage systems that run virtualized desktops or applications, “zero-client” monitors will fill a need. There are many places in a school setting where space is a premium and this LG monitor can provide virtualized computing power in almost no space.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: The LG Cloud Monitor is the perfect device for a classroom, lab, library, or any public area of a school. Once it is placed or mounted, there are no parts to worry about replacing or fixing. It would be convenient to place the monitor behind glass or plastic to ensure security and allow for easy use. With no hard drive or other moving parts running, there is no noise emitted from the device. The lack of moving parts and use of an LED screen will result in a longer life for the equipment and using very little power.

TOP FEATURES

• The integrated chipset and features leverage a zero-footprint virtual desktop experience.
• The picture quality is superb and responsive.
• There are no moving parts, which leads to a silent and efficient workspace.

OVERALL RATING: If you are already working in a VMware environment or are moving that way, this is a device you must consider. The cost might be on the upper end of comparable thin-client servers, but with everything needed for a computing experience built into a single small-form factor, the total cost of ownership should come out ahead.

www.espressoeducation.com • Retail Price: A one-building subscription to Espresso costs $1,595, including access from home. Multi-building and multi-year pricing discounts also apply.

Espresso Elementary for Pre-K to grade 5 is a crosscurricular learning site with a huge library of videos that can be integrated with interactive activities, games, quizzes, and a weekly news service, all which can be blended to create rich lessons based on the Core Curriculum standards.

Quality and Effectiveness: Espresso Elementary provides a variety of interactive, video-rich, classroom resources. The resources include more than 1,400 multimedia activities and quizzes, 5,600 video clips, interactive games, and simulations, 4,100 printable worksheets, a weekly news service, and modules that collect the resources into subject-specific units. All of the resources are aligned to state Common Core standards and can be searched by topic or standard. Lessons can be used independently, combined with other Espresso resources, or utilized with additional materials to create units that can be saved, edited, and reused.

Ease of Use: In addition to introductory videos and an ever-present help button, Espresso offers teacher support in every section. There are tabs at the top of the page that lead teachers to planning tools, and the program also offers tables that show modules on specific subjects and topics. Teachers can drill down by subject area, search for specific topics, or browse by standards from each page. It’s hard to get lost because there is a breadcrumb trail that allows teachers to backtrack easily. New features to Espresso include Module Guides, which help teachers choose appropriate materials quickly and ensure that they will reach the depth of learning required by state Common Core standards.

Creative Use of Technology: By using the Lesson Planner function, teachers can set up a variety of classrooms, add students, and assign them to groups. Students are given an access code, which allows them to work outside of the classroom and strengthen their home-school connections.

The lesson planner also helps teachers to collect Espresso pages, bringing together videos, images, activities, and quizzes to create lessons. Teachers can then assign those lessons to students and track each pupil’s progress. They can differentiate the lessons to meet each student’s abilities, edit units by changing the sequence of the pages, and add open-ended, multiple-choice, or true-false questions.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Espresso is designed to be used in classrooms and libraries from Pre-K to grade 5, although there are more resources for students in K through grade 3. The materials are so versatile that they can be used with an interactive whiteboard for a whole class, in small groups, or by individuals. They can also be accessed from home for review or homework activities.

TOP FEATURES

• Espresso helps teachers easily create engaging lessons, integrate technology in a meaningful way, and apply real-world context through videos, news articles, and other multimedia elements.
• All elements and resources are tied to state standards, including Common Core standards.
• Students can learn with Espresso at their own pace, inside or outside of school, in large groups, or individually. This program also allows teachers to track students’ progress. The ease and freedom of Espresso is ideal for flipped classrooms and differentiated instruction.

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


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