I don't often get excited by classroom projectors and interactive whiteboards (IWB's), with new health and safety guidance that means they must be short-throw, the problems of height adjustment (especially with boom types) etc. they often seem to generate problems. There does however appear to be light (.. no, not a projector bulb) at the end of the tunnel with the new Epson interactive projectors in that they appear to be designed specifically for classrooms.
With interesting synchronicity, I was invited to Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne for a demonstration (Twitter @ictcoverlessons) of the use of Nintendo Wii controllers as a low-cost IWB. Basically, the Wii controllers have bluetooth, and with a little ingenuity and an infra-red LED marker pen, you can create a great little IWB.Indeed @ictcoverlessons demonstrated at the BETT teachmeet on Friday as well. It seems that the Epson projector uses similar technology built in.
So, what you have is an Epson interactive projector that can be used on any light flat surface. Add to this the simple installation, superb colour, wireless, network connectivity, HD, wide-screen, built in sound system etc. It is pretty amazing and sets a new benchmark as a classroom projector, and with the bundled free IWB software (which can be downloaded and used on your other IWB's). This now means that you can install a traditional dry-wipe board that can be used for your multimedia as well ... or just set aside a piece of wall, and away you go!
NComputing showed an interesting product that uses virtual desktop technology to provide very low-cost workgroup computing. basically they take a pretty standard computer and install their software. This connects to their dedicated wall box, either via standard network cables, or USB, into which you plug a keyboard, mouse and monitor ... job done! Keyboards are cheap, monitors readily available etc. NComputing sell the complete set-up, or you can buy your own keyboards and monitors and just get the software and end-points from them.
The Content Grid brings the benefits of 3D worlds (Second Life etc.) safely to schools. Using OpenSIM as the core engine, schools can create 3D interactive worlds, complete with an underlying economy!.Schools are social centres for children and young people, and The Content Grid has amazing potential for extending education beyond physical constraints. A couple of uses immediately sprung to mind such as creating immersive worlds with pre-created 'sets' for those with physical disabilities to interact with, or even 14-19 education where students can keeop in touch with peers from other schools who external courses. The Content Grid have come up with a gem that addresses privacy issues and enables 3D worlds to be used in education.
For me, RM takes the prize for the best part of BETT with their Learning Spaces showcase. I had far too much fun and spent far too long 'playing' and learning; so much so that I had to go to BETT again on Saturday to catch up! Highlights for me (and there were many!) were the interactive underwater (immersive?) experience which is a projection cave. What is more amazing is the potential for this technology to be used to create settings for real-life artefacts, or for backdrops for performing arts. The Graffiti wall was great fun, especially since you can email your graffiti to your friends from the same wall! More practical was the ISIS 'mains-less' laptop power unit for use in open learning spaces. You just trundle it where you need it and charge it at the end of the day. It even fits with their ISIS furntiure! We had great fun treading on the musical stepping stones. saw green screen technology, robots, and most amazing ... MyTobii eye controlled computer!
BROMCOM seem to have grudgingly accepted the dominance of Capita Childrens Services with the creation of an excellent front-end to SIMS. Teacher's WebFolder brings SIMS, including registration, assessment etc. to a wide choice of devices! They have created a user-freindly and intuitive interfacefor SIMS, that can be used on iTouch, iPhone, and other devices (e.g smartphones) with a browser. It's SIMS how it should be, and excellent value. It's also secure, and is integrated with SIMS. This approach of abstracting SIMS data to a new presentation layer is a good one!Imagine being able to give your staff an iTouch each as their mainregister ... and because its consumer technology its comparatively cheap!