Technology in the Classroom
Here are six new ed-tech innovations you should know about
Each week, I’ll highlight new ed-tech innovations that readers should be aware of. This week’s column includes a next-generation wireless infrastructure, more powerful voice recognition software, a blended learning curriculum to prepare students for college, and a device that could help prevent cell phone cheating on exams.
Control app use over your Wi-Fi network
On March 12, Aruba Networks unveiled a new Wi-Fi architecture that gives school leaders tremendous visibility and control of the apps their students are using on a wireless network.
Aruba’s latest Wi-Fi access points include what the company calls a Next-Generation Mobility Firewall that uses advanced deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to identify more than 1,500 applications being used on the network.
Using Aruba’s Wi-Fi network management software, school leaders can set very granular policies for which apps their students have access to, as well as where—and when—this access can occur. IT leaders can allow or deny access to certain apps for certain groups of students, or “throttle” service for certain types of apps in order to maximize their wireless bandwidth.
This ability could be extremely useful when schools roll out online Common Core testing next year, said Kezia Gollapudi, product marketing manager for Aruba’s K-12 business. For instance, if students are taking Common Core exams in one classroom, school leaders could set their wireless infrastructure to throttle video applications in adjacent classrooms during this time, to make sure the testing occurs uninterrupted.
IT leaders can control access to certain types of resources based on users’ roles—for instance, allowing access to social media sites for students in upper grades, while denying this for students in lower grades—or based on location (that is, by specific access points). What’s more, a feature called AirGroup allows teachers to control who has access to Apple TV devices without having to bother an IT administrator.
This degree of visibility and control over mobile apps has been available before in separate products, such as mobile device management software. But now, schools can enjoy these features directly within their wireless infrastructure from Aruba—making it a very cost-effective solution for schools, Gollapudi said.
(Next page: A low-cost entry into 802.11ac wireless access points; voice recognition software gets even more advanced; and a blended learning curriculum for college and career readiness)
Celebrate Brain Awareness Week by, well, using your brain and learning something new
When it comes to student learning, many stakeholders focus on important learning supports, such as classroom technology, reliable high-speed internet access in schools, and educators who use technology as a tool to increase student achievement. But there’s another important component that is sometimes overlooked–the human brain, and how learning impacts its structure and function.
During Brain Awareness Week (March 10-14), a number of organizations are shedding light on how brain research informs education theory and practice.
Following are important and intriguing facts about the brain to help you learn more about how brain research can fit into teaching and learning.
(Next page: Brain facts and tips)
The softer side of wearable technology hides LED lights, battery packs, electronic devices, and even actual computers like the Raspberry Pi, in the folds of clothing fabric, ReadWriteWeb reports. Designers stitch up their concepts—part computer, part craft—with conductive thread. This isn’t just wearable tech—it’s sewable tech. In a world where Google Glass and Pebble rule the day, it’s easy to overlook their softer cousins just over the horizon. It’s not their heyday yet, but they’re clearly on the way…
Adobe Presenter 9 makes it easy to capture and edit video for online and flipped learning
Adobe Systems has upgraded its Presenter software for creating presentations to use in eLearning, online training, flipped classrooms, and other video communications. The latest version, Adobe Presenter 9, includes new annotation and accessibility features that should appeal to educators.
Adobe Presenter 9 makes it easy to create professional-quality videos by capturing yourself and your screen with just a few clicks. You can edit your videos with a simple, four-button interface; embed quizzes and surveys into videos; and track student progress. You can also publish your videos to YouTube and elsewhere with a single click.
“Adobe Presenter is a great tool for eLearning, because it’s so simple to use,” said Richard Jenkins, Adobe solutions consultant, in a video about the new software. “One click [and] you’re creating quizzes, surveys, and fantastic eLearning video. … We’ve made it much, much easier to do very powerful eLearning through drag and drop.”
With Adobe Presenter software, you can take existing PowerPoint presentations and turn them into dynamic video content, adding animated photos or diagrams to capture students’ attention. New to Presenter 9 is an annotation feature that lets you call attention to information contained in a slide by highlighting or annotating it as you’re recording.
A feature called “Learner Interventions” lets you track student progress using a dashboard with data analytics. For instance, you can see the percentage of activities (such as videos or quizzes assigned) that have been completed or need attention for individual students or the class as a whole; with a glance, you can also see the percentage of students who answered each question correctly or incorrectly.
Another new feature in Adobe Presenter 9 is the ability to create closed captioning for videos automatically, by pasting your script into the video creation tool. The software also includes support for viewing presentations with mobile devices.
Adobe Presenter 9 works with Windows computers. It regularly sells for $499, but educators can buy the software for $150 per license—with volume discounts also available.