January 26, 2015 1 Comment
After what felt like a very quick year the BETT show has come (and gone) around once again.
This year a couple of things caught my eye so thought I’d summarise them below…
Never saw this one coming! I originally went to the SMART stand with my colleague to check out their E70 replacement interactive screen but saw the curiously-named Kapp mounted on the wall behind us. Intrigued we had a look and found a product that’s almost done a full 180-degree spin back to its low-tech roots yet looks rather useful!
The basic premise of the Kapp is the simplicity of a dry-wipe (yes, marker pen!) whiteboard but with the benefits of technology. Tutors can write on the board without worrying about a PC, screen orientation or specialist software but can still save notes at the end of their session to store on Moodle, Office 365, Google Apps etc.
The cost of the board is much lower than your average IWB setup (£849 for the 84″ model) and much less to go wrong as well, which could be ideal for less technology-friendly environments. SMART do catch you on software licensing if you want lots of students watching a “live” view of the notes but I think we can live with the free 5-user limit for now.
Check it out at http://smartkapp.com
Updated interactive flat panel screens
As mentioned above we’ve had some interactive panels installed in a couple of classrooms to compare them against the traditional IWB + projector setup. The new 6000 series did seem to have a smoother surface and better pen than the E70 although writing still had a bit of lag, which I was surprised about as it can be a bit off-putting at times.
Interestingly the best writing experience I’ve seen so far came from a smaller manufacturer’s board where there was no lag at all, plus they’ve even invented a telescopic pen for those hard-to-reach corners!
Office 365 Moodle plugin
I’ve been hoping for a complete integration for Moodle and Microsoft’s cloud services for nearly 5 years now (going all the way back to the Live@Edu days!) and it seems finally Microsoft have delivered with the help of Moodle partner Remote Learner. Single sign-on with Office 365 and the ability to upload assignments directly from OneDrive for Business will make the two platforms knit together much more closely, which can only benefit the end-user experience and help increase take-up of both services.
From skimming the documentation it looks as though we may need to do a bit of work to set it up so will spin up a test instance of both Moodle and Office 365 to try it out and hopefully report back 😉
Check it out at the Microsoft Open Technologies blog https://msopentech.com/blog/2015/01/19/moodle-office365/
Enhanced Planet eStream Moodle integration
A nice new addition from the eStream development team is a video assignment plugin for Moodle. This allows students to upload a video then have the tutor watch and grade it all within the Moodle interface, plus it means no more fiddling around with permissions and schemas in eStream, making life much easier!
Also looking forward to have the updated interface rolled out across the eStream product so it matches in with the lighter, clean look of the Boostrap-based theme we use on our site.
See more on the Planet eStream blog http://planetestream.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/moodle-gradebook-assessment-plugin.html
Intel Compute Stick
Makes for an ideal low-cost machine to use for low-power tasks such as kiosks, digital signage or even basic office tasks. The pricing looks very competitive too, might end up with one for home as well!
Stone hyper-converged server
The infrastructure part of the Stone Computers stand had some interesting items last year and this time round they brought along a hyper-converged storage \ compute system they’ve built.
Along with the rapidly-improving Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Replica \ Storage Replica it looks an interesting route to consider for future systems. Dependent on how slick the end-user side of a pure Microsoft solution would be perhaps it could also be a base for a more cost-effective VDI system?