March 2013, What’s New • Retail price: $99 for a personal license; significant discounts for district-wide licensing.

With not enough hours in the day to teach, let alone satisfy the Common Core requirements, it’s hard for teachers to keep up with two major demands on their time—taking on more professional development and learning emerging and existing technology. Enter Atomic Learning. With its 55,000 tutorials on 250 applications, teachers can quickly and easily stay current on both.

Quality and Effectiveness: Atomic Learning (AL)’s tutorials are designed to answer questions as briefly and concretely as possible. Running times range from 3 to 5 minutes, with many tutorials running under 2 minutes. If you miss something the first time, catching up is easy. The tutorials offer step-by-step instructions and a playlist of available clips that allows users to choose just the ones they want. For example, in iMovie, you can go from the basics of getting started to the technical details of trimming audio clips to creating video effects. Plus, if there’s something not covered, you can ask a member of the AL online support staff, and an answer will be emailed to you.

Ease of Use: With AL’s new interface, searching and customizing content is easy. Everything is accessible from the home page. Users can find answers to tech questions, browse available trainings and projects, learn and apply 21st-century skills, concepts, and themes to the classroom, and keep track of individual training. Need a quick brush-up? Just enter a specific question or keyword and choose your application. Results can be filtered by version and platform and saved for future searches. Teachers wishing to align their curriculum with the Common Core standards can also browse trainings by subject, state standards, or ISTE NETS-S.

Creative Use of Technology: Atomic Learning’s biggest asset is its ability to break down technical information into manageable, easily digested bites by using clear narration and simple, yet precise, animation to answer specific questions. While it’s important to understand the technology, AL shows teachers how to apply it with comprehensive, adaptable tech-integration projects and new, 21st-century, theme-specific projects. All tutorials are available in Flash or QuickTime and can be closed-captioned. Many are also available in Spanish. For PD on the go, AL is now on the iPad as a free download for members.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: AL is also a powerful tool for administrators, who can assign staff trainings, track results, and create reports. It also helps technology directors gauge professional development needs at both the site and the district level. While access to administrative tools is based on individual permission levels, teachers with access can also assign tutorials and projects to their classes, give due dates, and track students’ progress in e-portfolios. Teachers can also assign tutorials to themselves and mark the most useful as favorites. As a plus, teachers can earn grad credits by completing workshops and projects through Atomic Learning’s partnership with Learner’s Edge and Augustana College.


• 55,000 tutorials on 250 applications

• Short, step-by step tutorials tailored to specific how-to’s of applications

• Easily adaptable tech-integration projects for classroom instruction and student interaction

OVERALL RATING: Atomic Learning brings creativity and innovation into the 21st-century classroom by not only modeling the effective use of digital-age tools in developing authentic learning and assessment, but by demonstrating how these concepts look in practice. In today’s school environment, technology rules, and with its ongoing professional development in educational technology, AL is putting the power of learning where it belongs—in the hands of the teachers and students who use it. • Retail Price: TriCaster 40: $4,995; NewTek Control Surface for TriCaster 40 $1,995

TriCaster 40 is an all-in-one, live production and streaming system that lets you publish live media. It provides a solution for a physical studio by creating a virtual recording studio in a single box. It also delivers switching, streaming, and recording demand in one compact system. The addition of the Control Surface feature provides physical buttons and controls for running the digital system.

Quality and Effectiveness: Short of building an actual television studio, there is likely no better way to record and produce a high-end, live video broadcast than using technology like the TriCaster 40. For the price of a high-end computer, you can put your students in a virtual studio environment by using a camera and a green screen. By simply using basic consumer equipment, you can get a professional recording environment.

Ease of Use: The TriCaster 40 is easy to jump into for the basic functions, and it will allow more experienced users to get a depth of learning. Novices and professionals will find features that they need and can use for high-end video production. The TriCaster 40 is a plug and play system, with recording devices that are simple to get up and running. The software is intuitive, easy to work with, and feels like an appliance. Adding the control surface gives you the true feel of a live production studio. This is a device that students could start to use at any point while they are operating cameras or computers.

Creative Use of Technology: This device allows the user to build a virtual set out of individual virtual components. You can snap together your television studio—including set pieces, additional monitors, and backdrops, using the software and green screens. Students then immerse themselves in the virtual studio via a green screen and can broadcast live in their personalized environment. When using this system, students are learning to build professional quality broadcasts and developing real-life skills that are transferable to industry. There is even a certification program whereby students can demonstrate their proficiency in using this system and gain a long-term life skill.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: Regardless of how you use the TriCaster 40 system, whether it’s for a television studio or for broadcasting live sporting events, school board meetings, daily announcements, or fine arts, this is the device that will help you put a fine edge on any production. Students will learn production skills while creating work they can honestly be proud of. It is an engaging platform that will allow easy entry into producing and will continue to challenge students and teachers with advanced features well into the future. Literally a virtual studio in a box, this system will let schools create a studio anywhere one is needed, using preexisting equipment.


• Reasonable price point for what it delivers.

• Can replace a physical studio in any space you can fit a green screen.

• Makes the studio portable.

• Offers an opportunity to teach valuable, job-ready skills that are used in production studios.

• Helps students prepare for the future of production.

OVERALL RATING: For the price, it delivers far more than you would expect. At this basic level, its features are impressive and if you are looking for more features, there are higher-end NewTek TriCaster models available. However, most students, teachers, and parents will be delighted by what can be created using this tool. Taking a test drive of the TriCaster is worth your time and will leave you shocked by what can be done today in a virtual environment.

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