Friday, November 26, 2010

Free Teaching videos from the UK

I just came across this from one of my linked in groups and I'd thought I would show you. It brings up a bit of nostalga for me, as this is a an all British production, and it looks like a lot of the classrooms I used to teach in.


O2 is a communtication company (Mobile phone, internet) and have set up a moderated "teachertube" like space for teacher to put up video lessons. The difference is the students rate the leesons and there is a 2000 pound prize at the end of November for the best lesson. Interesting proposition.

The videos are moderated and then put into learning areas, where students can browse the list looking for revision topics.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

eBeam Edge V's eBeam Classic

We just got our demo kit of Luidia eBeam Edge systems here at our office. You can probably guess were were a little excited to get our hands on this piece of technology.

So what's the difference between the new edge and the original eBeam? There are two answers - not much and quite a lot.

Not much: The software is the same for the ebeam classic - it has recently had an upgrade with more gallery content and a wide range of templates to use.
The essentials are still the same - the eBeam edge converts your standard whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard, it is even magnetic so it is a breeze to install onto a whiteboard already in your classroom.

Quite a lot.

As the above photos show there is a definite height difference and the pen is smaller for the edge (not interchangeable). This means that it "seems" more accurate (they are both rated at the same 1.1mm for accuracy).

The edge also has a cool "calibrate" button on the unit for quick calibration without heading back to the computer.

The edge also lives on the edge so therefore takes up less space on the board even though length wise they are pretty much the same. Because of its' height off the board the edge can comfortably sit under the hinge of a swing board - meaning it won't get crushed (unless you are using piano hinges).

Recommendation: At around $150 more than the classic eBeam (which will still be sold) the Edge is not that much more, but when you put into volume terms, by choosing the classic version for 10 classrooms you are saving a large chunk of change.

But I really like the new pen and the small form factor of the Edge and I would probably choose it over the classic on a 1:1 match up.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Epson DC11 review

We just got our demonstration Epson DC11 document camera at the office. I must say I wasn't sure about this one and I was definitely worried about the size of the beast.

First off its not as large as I thought - it's about twice the size of a dc06, about about 3 times as heavy. The box it comes in though is about 6 times the size of the DC06 simply because the unit does not fold up like its predecessor.

I'll get through some of the downsides of this unit. First it is not as portable, being heavier and bigger is one thing but it also requires a power brick to run it (unlike the DC06). So this is not something you can move easily from classroom to classroom. But keep in mind it is not a fixed camera and can be moved around a school - it's certainly not a installed piece of equipment.

The only other downside is the extra piece of software and driver you have to load onto your machine, but it's not too bad and is only an issue if you are working with locked down machines in a school or if you are moving it between computers.

The benefits of the dc11 far outweigh the lack of portability. The DC11 is a lot more connectible than the DC06, with USB, VGA and composite outputs so you can hook it up to just about any display device and/or computer. This means that you can bypass your computer and go straight to a TV or projector or even a VCR/DVD recorder. You can also do a pass through with your computer - this allows for a funky split screen or switch between your computer and the live camera. Epson also do a range of projectors that will take the usb input from the camera directly.

The DC11 also has 1 gigabyte of on board memory as well as a memory card slot to store images and video without hooking up to your computer. When you do hook it up via the USB interface and run the included Arcsoft software you have great control over your image output.

The thing that really caught my eye about this unit though is something that a couple of my customers have been waiting for out of an inexpensive visualiser - a microscope adapter. this allows you to project and capture what you would see through the microscope. This is so much better than the cheap usb microscope that really only enlarge pixels. Unfortunately if you have a microscope where the eyepeice moves rather than the stage you will have to focus the scope first and then attatch the camera. This is not easy or quick.

The new Arcsoft software that comes with the DC11 is fantastic and a great upgrade if you had the previous version that came with the DC06. Arcsoft have added two very cool features - Time lapse recording and annotation over live video. Both of these feature are great in the classroom, especially science classrooms. The times lapse can be adjusted and saved as a video or series of stills. The drawing over live video require a bit of oomph from your computer and graphics card but it does is quite well on my 3 year old machine. This works great on an interactive whiteboard.

The pricing on the DC11 is the same as what the DC06 was a couple of months ago ($599 ex), the DC06 has taken a huge price hit and dropped it's price by $200 (yeah that much).

So out of the two visualisers which one is right for you?
If you move from classroom to classroom, you work mainly with documents and books rather than objects and use your computer in almost every class then the DC06 is your best bet.

If you stay in the one classroom most of the time, you use a variety of display technologies or your are a science teacher then the DC11 would be your visualiser.

I hope this helps, feel free to leave comments or questions.