eSchool News

eSchool News covers the intersection of technology and innovation in education.
Updated: 54 min 53 sec ago

Flexcat collaboration system gets big upgrade for ISTE

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 02:06

The classroom audio system now has expanded coverage, Whisper Coaching, and a new iOS app, making it a powerful tool for teachers and their mentors

At ISTE 2016, classroom audio provider Lightspeed Technologies will introduce three new features of its Flexcat system. The only classroom audio system designed for small-group learning, Flexcat consists of a wearable microphone for the teacher, a speaker for whole-group instruction, and a set of two-way audio pods that allow teachers to listen and speak to small groups from anywhere in the classroom so they can reinforce, respond, and challenge students in their moment of need.

Lightspeed’s new mobile app, launching in July, turns teachers’ iOS device into a Flexcat remote control. This allows them to switch among the two-way audio pods directly from their device, making the Flexcat an even simpler and more seamless tool for gathering critical learning insights. The new app unlocks some additional new features of the system.

With the app, the new Flexcat includes expanded coverage for up to 12 audio pods, making it a powerful tool for large classrooms, small-group instruction, team teaching, and professional development events.

Flexcat now also supports Whisper Coaching, a variation on informative assessment. Through a small earpiece worn by teachers and their mentors, mentors can listen in to ongoing conversations between teachers and student groups. Whisper Coaching also allows teachers and mentors to have private conversations between their earpieces for real-time coaching and highlighting teachable moments.

“The Flexcat has transformed my classroom,” said kindergarten teacher Susan Meyer. “Not only do I know that every student will always hear every word I say, but small-group learning is much more valuable for my students and more powerful when I can check in with each group individually to help them stay on track, clarify, and answer questions.”

“The latest updates give the Flexcat new capabilities for the classroom, but also make it an ideal solution for professional development,” said David Solomon, the executive vice president and general manager of Lightspeed Technologies. “Schools that want flexible technology can now use classroom tools for PD as well.”

Educators attending ISTE can experience live product demos of Flexcat and other audio systems, and can enter to win a Lightspeed audio system at booth #1931. Solomon will be available for interviews in the PR with Panache! Storytelling Suite at The Corner Office.

 

EXO U to launch visual creation, collaboration tool at ISTE

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 03:00

The device-agnostic, Google Classroom-integrated, collaborative tool allows teachers and students to build lessons, activities, and interactive games

At ISTE 2016, EXO U Inc., a software development company, will launch Ormiboard, a front-of-class visual creation and collaboration tool. Ormiboard gives teachers and students the freedom to build lessons, activities, and interactive games for use in any classroom that has displays and/or mobile devices.

The device-agnostic Ormiboard goes beyond presenting and testing by opening up whole-class creation and participation. With ping-pong sharing and group collaboration, Ormiboard users create sessions where everyone can watch and participate in the lessons. In a classroom setting, teachers can select a screen from a student device and share it on the font-of-class display.

In seconds, teachers can fully integrate Ormiboard with Google Classroom, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and other common resources. With browser-driven publishing, lessons are assigned links and can be sent to students using Google Classroom. Ormiboard users can also share their creations with anyone, anywhere in the world through an online marketplace.

Ormiboard comes preloaded with an expanding database of searchable lessons and activities including quick quizzes, click-and-drag assignments, games, and exams. Teachers can create their own games and lessons, or give students the power to design their own. For anyone interested in creating advanced animations and fully personalized lessons, games, and more, Ormiboard Academy offers a series of 30-45 minute basic Javascript lessons for teachers and students (grades 4–12).

“Ormiboard is the next generation of classroom technology integration,” said Kevin Pawsey, the CEO of EXO U. “The user-friendly interface and Google Classroom integration makes the application intuitive for users who aren’t tech-savvy. With Ormiboard, devices no longer run the classroom, but add to the experience keeping students more engaged with lessons on their 1:1 devices and the front-of-class display.”

Ormiboard comes in two editions: Go and Pro.

The Go edition is designed for teachers and is accessed via web browser; enabling students to easily connect and collaborate online. Go is offered at a subscription rate of $89 per year and seamlessly integrates with resources like Dropbox, Evernote, Google Classroom, Drive and other cloud services.

The Pro edition is designed for schools and districts and is primarily offered through distribution channels. Pro is an installed software with a perpetual license and enables complete device integration and collaborative sharing over existing networks via local WIFI (no internet access required). Pro is optimized for blazing-fast speed and split-view capabilities for multi-touch panels and tables, and gives administrators dashboard control over buidling, classroom, teacher, user and content grouping.

A limited evaluation trial is available at Ormiboard.com. Users signing up for the Go edition before September 15th get a discounted price of $30 a year. ISTE participants can see Ormiboard in person by visiting EXO U’s partner booths 3928 or¬ 204, or by requesting a demonstration at EXOU.com.

 

Virtual reality helping Calif. students overcome learning barriers

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 03:00

English Language Learners gain deep understanding of science concepts with zSpace

zSpace announced that at Culverdale Elementary, a virtual reality technology is helping students break down language and learning barriers. In their first few months of learning with zSpace STEM Labs, a screen-based virtual reality solution, students are gaining a deeper understanding of science concepts.

The principal at the school reported that this was no small feat. Culverdale is a member of the Irvine Unified School District in Orange County, Calif. and is one of the top school districts in the country. According to the Orange County Register, Culverdale Elementary is the most diverse school in Orange County. Approximately 37 percent of students at Culverdale receive economic assistance, and 62 percent of students speak one of 39 different languages.

“Humans naturally learn best by doing, and I’ve seen the way using zSpace engages my students in learning,” said Culverdale principal Aaron Jetzer. “When students are building objects, looking inside things like microorganisms or anatomy systems and taking them apart in 3D, they’re having these ‘ah-hah!’ moments that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Students in grades four, five and six work with a science specialist for two hours a week in the school’s science lab, which includes a set of zSpace virtual reality stations plus a teacher station. While half of the class works on one activity, the other half explores the same subject with zSpace.

During lessons, two to three students share a zSpace station. While one student lifts, turns or takes apart holographic objects using an interactive stylus, other students make observations and record data. Students wear custom 3D glasses so they can all see the virtual reality images and collaborate on the assignment.

For students of varying abilities, backgrounds

Jetzer described how zSpace is opening up the world for one student with special needs.

“After he worked with the science teacher to see a paramecium (a one-celled organism) under the microscope, his group went to the zSpace stations to virtually dissect a paramecium,” said Jetzer. “He looked at me and said, ‘So what you’re saying is that this thing I can’t see with my naked eye has all these parts in it?’ and he made a motion like his head was exploding. It was one of those moments that you’ll always remember.”

For students who speak English as a second language, zSpace provides an opportunity to engage in science more deeply than ever before. Because working with zSpace is hands-on and intuitive, language is often not necessary, and students are able to learn on their own. Life sciences educational software using modeling, simulation, and visualization technologies powered by zSpace partner, Cyber Science 3D, includes labels in 10 languages for more than 30 biology modules allowing students to progress even further.

Higher scores, more research needed

Although the school has not compared test scores of students working with zSpace and with those not, Jetzer and science specialist Stacie Grooters reported that initial science test scores reflect the benefits of the technology, with 110 out of 120 students scoring 100 percent on the most recent science test, demonstrating a mastery of the content that she has not seen in the past. The school is considering performing some baseline testing to examine the effects of zSpace on learning.

In the meantime, Jetzer and Grooters know that zSpace is now an essential tool in the science lab.

We’ve had an amazing hands-on science lab for years” said Jetzer. “zSpace is an enhancement that quickly became many of the kids’ favorite part of science. The experience the kids get is phenomenal, but they’re also learning. You can’t put a price on that.”