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New Products at TCEA 2013

Despite my time being cut short at TCEA 2013, thanks to a huge winter storm slamming into the Northeast where I live, I was still able to learn about a variety of new products for the K12 world. Many products come together to form a modern, 21st century classroom: hardware, software, mobile applications, even furniture, which were all showcased at TCEA.

As it was my first large, K12-driven conference as District Administration’s products editor, it was exciting to actually see this new technology face-to-face, instead of reading through my flooded email inbox of press releases on a daily basis.

For example, prior to the conference I had read all about Epson’s new 3D projectors made for education. Not only was I able to see the PowerLite Dual Projection System in action, but Sara Kim, associate product manager for Epson, was able to tell me how classrooms could actually take advantage of 3D projections.

“Studies have shown 3D helps keeps students engaged,” Kim said. She added that many STEM field classes have used such projectors to better study and explain biology, architecture, and geometry.

Another way to maintain student engagement is with the latest whiteboards, like the line of StarBoard products from Hitachi. Depending on its needs, the right whiteboard can be integrated into a classroom and allow for simultaneous, multi-user interaction. Hitachi offers many different hardware packages, and recently, as I learned at the conference, its whiteboard software as a separate product.

Along with technology, younger students can be engaged through songs and games. At TCEA I was able to meet Grammaropolis creator Coert Voorhees, who explained how he blended the traditional concept of grammar to a modern, more creative outlet. Available online or via mobile app, Grammaropolis uses the parts of speech as animated characters starring in books, songs, videos, and interactive games and is designed to address students' varied learning styles.

A cool trend I’ve noticed since working in products is modern, technology-minded furniture for classrooms and other learning environments.

“Our products are very mobile-driven,” Antro Inside Sales Associate Sandy Jenkins said of their tablet carts. She added that security and adaptability are important to Anthro, as she showed me that one storage cart can hold almost any size tablet, eReader, and smartphone.

Bretford showcased a new line of furniture called Library 2.0, a full range of seating, tables, and desks for schools. Because BYOD and mobile technology are so prevalent, the couches and chairs feature charging stations. The new Teaming Table promotes team-building and group interaction, as it allows for connectivity and for a large digital display.

To switch gears from inside the classroom, there were many products at TCEA that administrators district-wide could use; two notable digital platforms being Planet HS and observe4success.

Planet HS can be tailored to any district’s needs to communicate to its entire community and schedule extracurricular activities. Chairman Scott Fogarty and CEO Joe Hawkins were able to give several examples of how their free tool can be used to mass e-mail or text students and parent securely, reserve and manage rooms and auditoriums, and record and archive all important messages, documents, and video.

observe4success makes classroom observation and walkthroughs mobile, customizable, and efficient. After creating a district’s own unique reports and evaluations and using them in the classroom, administrators can use the data to track teaching trends by grade, field, or individual school. It was interesting to learn that observe4success has done well in small to medium districts, and has taken off in Alaska, where a districts’ schools is often largely spread out.

Overall, TCEA was a great experience as someone very new to the K12 field and there were so many other companies there with innovative ideas and products.

Were you at TCEA? Share what you thought of the conference in the comments below or tweet to @ProductsEdu.

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