Activity 10.3 – OPTION 2 – Vendor Demonstration Reflection
On Thursday I got the opportunity to view educational products from four vendors at the vendor demonstration put on by Ed Tech services. The first vendor I spoke with was Smart and their representative Amy Lynch. Smart is most well known for their Smart Board technology and much of their other tech revolves around interactions with the Smart Board. Smart provides multiple options to interface with the Smart boards through iPad interfaces, handheld formative assessment controllers, and the learning at a distance interface Bridgit. Since Smart is already in 40% of classrooms it is unlikely that I will be able to avoid interacting with Smart technology in the near future. However, having used Smart Boards extensively in my IPT, I have already found them to be a useful and intuitive technology. Smart Boards make bringing digital content into the classroom easy and can be used to record interactions that students have made in-class and then distribute them digitally.
The second vendor I spoke to is Adobe and their representative Janet Gregory. Adobe, on top of their already impressive array of creation-based software, offers the education-exchange that provides K-12 teacher resources designed by teachers. Adobe has also signed an agreement with the Education Ministry to make their products available in 37 districts in Alberta. Adobe is a prolific software maker and so, even if I don’t consciously choose to use their products, I will be using their technology. That said, I would be pleased to use Adobe products in my classroom as I feel they are of a premium quality. That Adobe products are already available through an agreement is excellent news.
The third vendor I spoke to was a representative for Microsoft, Marilyn Steier. This vendor was specifically showcasing the Surface tablet product and it’s interaction with the new Windows 8 interface. I found this product to be rather lackluster and I don’t consider it a real competitor to Apple’s iPad, at least not yet. I probably will not end up using this particular product. However, Microsoft is a rather ubiquitous vendor and their products are numerous. It is very likely that I will at least use Microsoft Word in my day-to-day work as well as Excel and PowerPoint. It is also likely that the computers in my school will be running in a Microsoft Windows environment.
The final vendor I spoke to was Frontrow and their representative Leanne Duncan. Frontrow is a company that specializes in classroom FM systems and many of their products are already installed in classrooms throughout Edmonton. At this event Leanne was showcasing the pedestal amplifier with IR interface and lesson recording. I’m actually very excited about this product as FM systems help all the student in the class, not just those that are hard of hearing, and the pedestal form allows for a much cheaper installation. In addition, the IR interface means that the product is now line of sight and so it doesn’t suffer from the awkward side-effects of FM based systems – such as students overhearing conversations through the FM. I will definitely be using this, or a similar product, in my classroom as FM systems are an important aspect for inclusion of all the students in the room. I also find the lesson-recording feature to be very useful for personal reflection. Lesson recording could also give students additional access through posting audio of the lessons online.