August 23, 2016

Evolution of Education Technology

This is a guest post by educational technology consultant Janet Corder. She is an organizer for EdcampIT, one of the many Edcamps we sponsored throughout the year. Janet has witnessed the evolution of education technology through her 30+ years of experience as a classroom teacher and instructional technology coordinator in Texas public schools and as adjunct education professor at a local university.

Janet specializes in technology integration, BYOD implementations, interactive whiteboard technologies and mobile learning devices. Her passion for helping educators successfully integrate technology into their curriculum has provided her with many opportunities to present at national, state and local conferences, and in school districts throughout the United States.
Janet

The beginning of a new school year always brings mixed emotions for students as well as educators. For me, the start of a new year was my favorite time of the year. Even though I am no longer in the classroom, I still get excited to see the school supply sales and observe parents and students frantically searching for just the right binder and backpack. The beginning of the year also brings back a flood of memories as I reminisce about the technological advances that have occurred since the first computers made their way into my classroom.

As I reflect on where technology has evolved during my years as an educator, I am constantly amazed at what I have seen since I first taught middle school Computer Literacy in 1984. In fact, I actually taught the course for two years without a computer or a textbook! When a few Apple IIe computers were finally delivered to my classroom, the students and I could make those “For…Next loops” and “Goto statements” actually create something on the computer screen. We could even print out the program on our dot-matrix printer and save the file to a floppy diskette!

Just a few years later, my classes were introduced to the amazing World Wide Web. We could communicate with students from around the world and find out where the latest earthquake was located. The only problem was that the school had one Internet connection and it was in the small conference room located in the library. I couldn’t even fit an entire class in the room at one time. Oh, and don’t forget that it was a dial-up connection that took forever to actually work!

Those were exciting times, but I don’t believe that anything can compare to the enthusiasm and engagement students experience with technology in 2016. The looks on their faces when I take them on a virtual field trip to explore a coral reef or facilitate an online game that allows them to review their curriculum in a collaborative environment says it all.

I’ve seen the transformation of classrooms as schools have installed interactive whiteboards, purchased carts of laptops and mobile devices and allowed students to use their smartphones or other devices to enhance their learning experience. We live in an unbelievable time of transformation in our classrooms, and I believe that technology is the key to making our classrooms an exciting, engaging place to prepare our students to be successful.

If you are hosting your own Edcamp and are interested in a Squirrels sponsorship, fill out our Edcamp Sign Up Form. Sponsorship may include monetary or swag donations, discounts on our products and more!

August 19, 2016

Main Street Festival 2016

Just as summer is winding down and kids are getting ready to go back to school there is always one last hurrah for the North Canton community—the North Canton Main Street Festival! The Squirrels team is honored to be an anchor sponsor for the second year in a row!

In contrast to our presence at the 2015 North Canton Main Street Festival, this year the Squirrels team will have a fun, interactive and engaging play area for members of the community to spend time with their family. We’re hosting family-friendly games including corn hole, potato sack races and the popular summer game, Kanjam.

As an added bonus, anyone who participates in our games will receive a pair of custom Squirrels sunglasses. Cool, right? Plus, incase anyone forgets to bring a pair of shades for the event, we’ve got them covered!

If you’re in North Canton this weekend, stop by Bitzer Park from 10am-6pm Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday, say “Hi” and play a game or two with us! We play a mean game of corn hole.

We’re looking forward to meeting the members of the community we’re proud to be a part of. See you there!

August 17, 2016

Back-To-School Tech List: Grab The $15 EdTech Tool Used In More Than 100,000 Classrooms

RF School

If you are an educator looking for a cost-effective way to make mobile devices a more valuable part of the student learning experience, you’ve come to the right place.

You know how kids go shopping with their parents to pick up supplies before the school year begins? Teachers shop for supplies, too. Except, due to limited funding, they often end up spending their own money to purchase EdTech tools that improve the lives of our children. Oh, and these tools usually cost a lot more than notebooks, pencils and lunch boxes.

But not every popular EdTech tool breaks the bank.

Reflector 2 is a $15 software created by Squirrels LLC that runs on the teacher’s computer and allows students to wirelessly display their iPads, iPhones, Chromebooks and Android devices onto the teacher’s computer screen.

A one-time cost of $15 per classroom makes it a modern-day unicorn… a rare budget-friendly classroom tool in an education market filled with price tags that frequently reach hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. “Of course you think Reflector is the best thing since sliced bread. You are the company that made it, after all.”

While we’re obviously a little biased, we’re not alone! We hear from teachers every day who tell us how much they love Reflector and appreciate what it has done to increase collaboration and sharing in their classroom.

Educators On Reflector 2
Here are a few of the sentiments educators have shared with us via our Reflector Twitter account.

Reflector 2 is perfect for any classroom with mobile devices. Educators in 1:1, BYOD and flipped/blended learning environments use it to wirelessly share both teacher and student device screens. Most teachers open Reflector on their computer, then connect their computer to a projector so the entire class can see what is happening on any mobile device that is wirelessly connected to Reflector.

Better yet, Reflector allows multiple mobile devices to connect to the teacher’s computer simultaneously. A mix of student and teacher iOS, Android, Chromebook and Surface Pro* devices can all be mirrored to Reflector at the same time.

AND EVEN BETTER YET… Every Reflector session can be recorded. That’s right. Teachers can record connected student mobile device screens directly from their computer. This is ideal when a student is giving a presentation from a mobile device, or when a teacher would like to pre-record a lesson ahead of time to play for the class later.

Tech Tips For Teachers
Reflector 2 was recently featured in a Tech Tips For Teachers article. Author Becky Shiring said that Reflector is a tool she desperately wishes she discovered while she was still in the classroom. The following is an excerpt from the article:

“While in the classroom, when I found an app I wanted my students to be aware of, I can remember painfully trying to walk students through finding the app in the app store, downloading it, opening it, signing in and then using it, all while circulating the room demonstrating from my tiny cell phone screen. It was exhausting. Not to mention that some students used Android and others iOS. This frustration could have been eased with Reflector 2.”  

If you would like to learn more about Reflector 2, you can watch our “How To” videos including How to Connect to Reflector 2 and How to Record Mirrored Devices on our YouTube channel. Or, you can visit our website to learn more about Reflector in the classroom.

As always, feel free to leave any questions or feedback in the comments section below.

*Microsoft Surface Pros require our sister app, AirParrot 2, to wirelessly connect to the teacher’s computer because Surface Pros do not come equipped with a native screen-sharing functionality such as Apple’s AirPlay or the Chromebook/Android Cast technology. 

August 15, 2016

Alpha Squirrel EdTech Experts Attend Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin

Five of our Alpha Squirrel EdTech experts recently attended the Worldwide Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) Institute in Berlin to collaborate, share and learn with educators from around the globe.

Alpha Squirrels ADE Global 2016 Berlin

Alpha Squirrels Kelly Croy (@wirededucator), Kyle Pearce (@mathletepearce), John Shoemaker (@shoewee), Marc Faulder (@marcwithersey) and Monica Burns (@classtechtips) were among 400 educators at the invitation-only event.

Croy was featured as an ADE Global presenter. He showed fellow educators how he uses Reflector and AirParrot to promote a more engaged student learning environment in his classroom. His recent contribution to the Global Education Institute blog explained how his students use these EdTech tools to share and record mobile device screens.

“Berlin was fantastic,” Croy said. “I couldn’t have made it there without the support of Squirrels.”

The Worldwide ADE Institute is just one of the many education technology conferences and speaking engagements Alpha Squirrels attend throughout the year.

Check out some of the social conversation around the Alpha Squirrels program during the event!

Thanks to all Alpha Squirrels for their relentless efforts to positively represent, endorse and validate our place in the education technology world.

Are you a teacher or EdTech professional interested in becoming a certified Alpha Squirrel? Contact Emily Carle Hafer at alpha@airsquirrels.com for information about our next class of Alpha Squirrels.

Alpha Squirrels Logo

August 8, 2016

Reflector 2.5.2 for Mac and Windows Adds iOS 10 Support

iOS-10-logo

The latest Reflector 2 update adds support for iOS 10 and fixes a few minor bugs.

You can update Reflector 2 by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Reflector 2 preferences menu. Additionally, you can download the new version from the Reflector 2 download page.

Check out the complete release notes below.

Reflector 2.5.2 update notes for Mac:

  • Added initial iOS 10 Support
  • Resolved a potential crash when using the “launch at login” preference
  • Resolved a potential crash that could occur when a large number of Reflector Student instances connected
  • Improved reliability when using Cast connections from Ditto
  • Resolved an issue Casting from Chrome “Canary” dev branch

Reflector 2.5.2 update notes for Windows:

  • Added initial iOS 10 Support
  • Resolved a potential crash that could occur when a large number of Reflector Student instances connected
  • Improved discoverability from iOS and Chrome OS devices
  • Resolved an issue Casting from Chrome “Canary” dev branch