ISTE Exhibit Hall Part 2
The exhibit hall is so big, and there are so many vendors to visit, I had to create a second blog post, or my other one would’ve been waayyy too long!
Have you seen this? This is like building an online posterboard. You can get your creative juices flowing and do some awesome stuff with kids. They have a special on right now – 1000 user licenses for $1,000 – Whoa! That’s an awesome price! I talked to Deena Kelly, and even though it had been a long day, she was still great to work with! Special pricing is only available until end of July!
205 Portland St.
Boston, MA 02114
Okay, I’ll admit it, I almost walked by this one. It looked like just another math game, but I was talking to Rachel, and she convinced me to take a quick look. Wow, was I glad I stopped! They make an online math game, basically for 3rd – 5th grade students, and it’s awesome! 100% cloud based, nothing to install on the computer, and they even have an iPad app! (Here’s a company that gets it – installing software on the local machine is no longer the best way to do things!) Alright, I had a lot of fun trying the math stuff, and it was very, very well done. The kids would easily get into it, and it would keep their attention. And the teachers have full tracking to see how the kids are doing, and manage how it works with them. For example, if the kids are having trouble, the software automatically adapts and makes the questions a little easier, or if they are racing through it, it will make it a little more challenging. Definitely worth a look!
Briefly talked to Sue Kung at this booth. Evisions makes software that will pull data from your disparate student information systems and combine them into a powerful reporting engine. This should enable you better visibility into your data to “improve decision-making district-wide.” It doesn’t really have an application for us, but it sure looked nice.
I was looking for someone at the show doing this, and here’s a good example. Spoke to the guys at this booth and sure enough, they make a completely online keyboarding software. And they make appropriate modules for all grades, including College & Adult. And, it’s one simple licensing method, not per type, just per student/school. The software is completely self-paced and individualized for each learner. I was hoping they would have a computer setup there so I could see it, but they didn’t. However they did give me a complete package, a 60 day trial, posters, and stickers. Looks like something I can try in July! Oh, and they do have district licensing available too!
Ellsworth Publishing Co.
Sat down with a small group of people to look at Lexia reading – software to help Elementary school students work on reading, spelling, and comprehension. It is individualized in that it will move at the pace of the student, giving them either easier or more challenging items depending on how they are doing. Unfortunately it seemed a little simplistic, and frankly a little boring. I’m not sure it would keep kids attention long enough to get through it. The graphics and animation were very elementary. On top of this, it is definitely a piece of software that has to be installed on the local workstation, making it a little cumbersome to deal with in today’s online-connected world.
Jim McClafferty is the president of Brain Parade. His company makes an iPad app that basically puts flashcards into the power of the iPad. I wasn’t sure at first, but after trying it, it’s pretty neat! You can get libraries of over 2,000 images, and you can create your own individualized assignments. Students can be prompted via audio, text, or other animation as they choose the appropriate pictures. Teachers can setup an abundance of assessments on their iPads, and use the appropriate one with each appropriate student. Jim says they are working on the next update that will allow teachers to share their pictures and assignments with anyone else using the same iPad app. This has some great potention!
Have you ever used those ScanTron scoring pages? You know, where you fill in the circles with a pencil, then scan the card in and have it scored? This is kind of like this, but much better. So their software will connect to their DataLink scanner and actually import all the student results into a spreadsheet. Additionally they setup their response forms so you can do short/long answer or show your work answers on the back. The teacher can mark that, and then put the mark on the front of the page, and it will all scan in together. In fact if they are teaching multiple classes they can scan all the classes in and run some reports on how everyone is doing overall. I’m not a big fan of these types of things, I think we can do better with some other software and doing online quizzes and testing, or stuff with our very fancy digital copiers. However, if you’re a fan of this type of scoring, this may be the one for you. It certainly worked very well in the demo, and the company was very good at answering my questions.
Are you looking for an ebook solution? This one is a new one on the block, and could be an interesting contender to incumbents like OverDrive. The premise of Brain Hive is a hosted, cloud-based solution, that you can give access to your students to sign out ebooks, just like regular books in the library. But a couple of things make them stand out. First, instead of prepaying for a lot of service and content, they go on a flat rate of charging $1 per checkout. Students have access to the entire collection, and the library is charged per checkout. Second, if you find that a particular book is being checked out lots, instead of $1 per checkout, you can buy the ebook, still hosted on Brain Hive, but now it can be checked out for free, without any cost. Very intriguing system. And in fact they are so excited about it, that they gave me a coupon for $10 Brain Hive bucks, so I can check out 10 books and try it out. Librarians have the ability to say which books show up in their collections and which ones are unavailable. Drawbacks? Well, it’s not yet available. Perhaps in August, but not yet. If they can deliver on what they are proposing, this could be a game changer.
So this August Promethean will be releasing the ActivTable. This is really, really cool. I got to try it out and it’s amazing. it’s a real LCD touch screen display, with a myriad of features. Easy to assemble, easy to play with, and is very dynamic. You can have four people sitting at it, all looking at different browser windows, playing together or separately. It’s a whole lot of fun, and like a friend of mine would say “what a hoot!” If you’re thinking of the other company’s table, look closer at the
ActivTable – it may change your mind!
One last one for today. Talked to Trevor Baker from Spoon.net. This is an application virtualization platform. Basically it serves out apps without being installed on the local machine. The apps “run” on the local machine, but they aren’t installed. They had a great bunch of examples, and the software looked very, very easy to use. You could even send the apps out mobile, so the user could use them disconnected. There are many others that do this, but this one made it look really, really simple.