February 19, 2018

Squirrels Strengthens OETC Partnership at APDX and IPDX

The ingredients for a successful EdTech conference:

  1. A relevant theme
  2. Top EdTech speakers
  3. Fun, like-minded educators

AcceleratED (APDX) and IntegratED (IPDX) meet all three.

APDX and IPDX are annual events hosted by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) in Portland, Oregon that focus on administrators and EdTech leaders.

Related: How Schools Save on ClassHub: OETC Edition

Relevant theme

Technology integration is a hot topic in schools around the country, so it’s no surprise that this year’s conferences focus on technology integration strategies. As educators look to understand the pedagogy of technology, integration can often be a challenge.

Here’s a thought from “10 Big Ideas for Technology Integration by Tony Vincent to get you started: Technology is integrated well when instruction is modified to meet the needs of the digital-age learner.

Top EdTech speakers

EdTech speakers offer insight, expertise, tools, tips and even a laugh or two to inspire attendees to reach their goals. Their powerful messages propel attendees forward and show them a different way of thinking that empowers and excites the idea of change.

One speaker we’d like to highlight in particular is our friend Leslie Fisher. Leslie is the director of Fisher Technologies, Inc., and the creator and operator of lesliefisher.com. She’s a former K–12 systems engineer for Apple who now consults, trains and presents with educators around the world.

We’re lucky enough to co-present with her to spread the word about Squirrels and our classroom device management and monitoring technology. Find our session information below. 

Wednesday, February 21 – APDX
Device Management for Administrators
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Cascade C

Thursday, February 22 – IPDX
How to Make Student Devices Teacher Friendly
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Cascade C

Like-minded educators

When you surround yourself with educators that inspire you, support you, challenge you and ultimately make you a better person/teacher, your conference experience becomes all the more rewarding.

APDX and IPDX are committed to offering a supportive community of educators who are all working together to improve education. Workshops are designed to be small, personalized environments where educators can teach and learn collaboratively.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re attending to see us co-present with Leslie, collaborate with your colleagues or hear industry leaders speak, we’d love to meet you! Although the Squirrels team won’t have a booth, we’ll be there to learn, connect and educate.

And remember…if you’re a member of OETC, you’re eligible for a discount on our classroom technology! Ask us more at one of our sessions or if you see us around!

February 9, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Creating Startup Culture in the Classroom

Ping pong tables in the lounge. Free sushi and Red Bull in the fridge. The latest toys and gadgets littering the office.

You’ve likely heard these nauseating clichés about tech startups more times than you can count.

While those amenities may appear in startup culture, it’s critical to understand that the success of your team, colleagues or students does not derive from pool tables and free snacks. A true startup culture embodies growth, innovation, openness, experimentation, positivity and most of all, collaboration.

The February #SquirrelsChat laid the groundwork for developing a startup culture. Participants brainstormed ways to apply that cultural framework to educational environments.

What elements of startup culture can be found in education?

Start by looking at the physical attributes of modern classrooms. You’ll notice the parallels between innovation and education. Teachers and schools are becoming more intentional about creating environments that are conducive to collaboration and creativity.

What does a people-first mentality look like in classrooms & schools?

Simply put: a people-first mentality is looking at people beyond data, requirements and to-do lists. Focus on building relationships with your colleagues, students, admins, parents, etc. because ultimately, people are the foundation of any organization or culture.

What are ways to encourage collaboration in your environment

When we place value on collaboration, we need to find a way to cultivate it and make it part of the active culture.  

What impact does a culture of innovation have on student learning & achievement?

The term “future-ready skills” can be found across education today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for students to acquire future-ready skills with an educational mindset stuck in the 20th century.

What can you do to shift towards a culture of innovation?

In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, change happens from the ground up. Movements do not occur because someone in charge says it should happen. We should all feel empowered to make change happen, regardless of where we are.

Join #SquirrelsChat for the best education tips, strategies and ideas
Join #SquirrelsChat every first and third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on February 15: Student Engagement with host Billy Spicer.

September 15, 2017

Classroom Collaboration Tools You Should Know About for the 2017-2018 School Year

Collaboration is an essential ingredient to education. We're here to tell you about a couple education technology tools you should definitely know about (with reasons why) if you want to boost collaboration in your classroom in the 2017-2018 school year.

Must have collaboration tools for the 2017 - 2018 school year

(Psst...Short on time? Jump to the bottom of this post to access a free webinar about guiding instruction and promoting collaboration with tech. Watch it now or later.

Imagine two classroom scenarios:

Scenario one
You want students to complete work on their iPads or Chromebooks and show the rest of the class how they came to their solution. But instead of the whole class being able to easily see their work, you all have to huddle around tiny iPad and Chromebook screens.

Everyone squints and strains to see the screen. Or, students have to shuttle their devices to the front of the room to manually plug in. Time is wasted. Students are distracted. 

Either way, the group collaboration effort falls flat.

Sound familiar?

Scenario two
While your students are working on classroom devices, a few of them venture onto Facebook, YouTube or any other distracting website or app.

Attention and focus is lost, and the most valuable finite resource in education -- learning time -- has been wasted. 

Does this one sound familiar, too?

Education tools for the 2017-2018 school year

Two must-have EdTech tools will turn these problems into nothing more than bad memories.

Reflector 2
Instead of straining your eyes toward the 9.7-inch iPad screen to see how students solved a problem, use the Reflector classroom screen-mirroring app to wirelessly share their work on the big screen with the entire class. Better yet, share (or record) any number of student devices with the class simultaneously, regardless of the device they are using.

How it works
Reflector is downloaded on a teacher’s Mac or Windows computer. iOS, Chromebook and Android devices can wirelessly display on the Reflector-enabled computer. Most teachers connect their computer to a projector or interactive whiteboard while running Reflector so the entire class can see what is happening on any wirelessly connected mobile device. Better yet, students don’t need any additional software downloaded onto their devices. They connect using native Cast or AirPlay technology that’s already built into the devices. Connecting is simple!

Reflector gives students a sense of pride in their work by showing it on the “big screen.” Teachers can actively connect the class, engage students and promote idea sharing by showing work side-by-side, letting students compete in activities and even doing a student/teacher demo. It’s a win-win situation.

If students are on Facebook or a distracting app instead of working on an assigned task - no biggie! ClassHub allows teachers to monitor what students are doing on their devices, gauge progress, identify problem-solving techniques and limit distractions.

The best part about ClassHub? There is so much more to this device management solution than just monitoring student devices. You might be surprised to know that ClassHub lets you:

  • Push content from your computer to one or all student devices in the classroom
  • Share student screens with the entire class
  • Lock students into applications
  • Install and remove applications on student devices
  • Open web URLs on student devices
  • Send alerts

All these features combined create a powerful, robust solution for teachers and administrators to make the most out of classroom technology.

Oh, and remember when we said that Reflector works with a wide variety of classroom devices? So does ClassHub! In fact, ClassHub works with 97% of common classroom devices including iOS, macOS, Windows and Chrome OS. And that's good because schools use many different devices in today's classrooms. 

Want to improve classroom collaboration in the 2017-2018 school year? Click on the image below to watch our 5 Fresh Ways To Use Reflector In The Classroom webinar. You'll get tips and tricks from the most innovative educators using Reflector. 

Reflector collaboration technology for education

Interested in ClassHub?
Contact us today. We'll personally give you a guided tour of the ClassHub device management solution. 

November 7, 2016

Reflector 2 Classroom Checklist

ChecklistAs education enters a new age of mobility, classrooms are starting to resemble modern-day coffee shops. Teachers aren’t limited to standing up at the front of the room doing most of the talking. Students can collaborate through technology and take charge of their own personalized learning no matter where they are seated in the classroom. Classrooms are transitioning to more of a comfortable and collaborative learning environment.

Today’s classroom arrangement bears little resemblance to the classroom we experienced as kids. Chalkboards are now interactive whiteboards, students are turning in their textbooks and notebooks for iPads and ordinary pencils are being tossed aside for stylus pens. Who would have pictured a classroom like this 10 years ago?

We pose the question: with all of these devices and technology competing for attention in the classroom, is it possible for students to actually be collaborative with one another? How about with teachers?

The answer is yes. The Reflector 2 screen-mirroring software allows students to take a hands-on approach to their education and facilitates collaboration while they apply key concepts in the classroom. Students can share their work side-by-side, present group projects and have competitions when working with apps such as Kahoot or Quizlet. Teachers can even be collaborative with their students by showing instructions next to student results.

So, what do you need to make this collaborative, mobile classroom a reality? Here’s your Reflector 2 classroom checklist:

  1. Mac or Windows computer to run the Reflector 2 software
  2. iOS, Android, Chromebook or Surface Pro* devices that students can share content from
  3. Projector or interactive whiteboard if you want to display student content to the whole class
  4. Reflector Director (optional) for teachers to access the Reflector 2 controls from their iPad or iPhone instead of from their computer
  5. Reflector Student (optional) to show students the same Reflector 2 display on their iOS device that the teacher sees on the computer, as well as provide connectivity alternatives for schools with restrictive networks

Pro tip: You can wirelessly connect as many mobile devices to Reflector 2 as your school network allows (sweet spot is usually between four to five devices).

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

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.

*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. 

October 31, 2016

Moving Around the Classroom with Reflector Director

If there’s one thing educators know about Reflector 2, it’s that it allows students to truly be “mobile” with their iOS, Chromebook or Android devices. If students can be mobile, why do educators seem so restricted with their devices?

We wondered the same thing. That’s why we created Reflector Director – an iOS companion app that allows teachers to move about the classroom and interact with students all while still accessing the controls of Reflector 2 from their iPad or iPhone. Goodbye to the days of teachers being chained to their desk, and hello to the new era of teacher mobility.

Reflector Director gives educators the ability to:

  • Show and hide student devices without disconnecting or reconnecting
  • Highlight one student device to spotlight important content
  • Eliminate distractions with full-screen mode
  • Change frames for optimum screen compatibility
  • Observe screen previews of each connected student device before displaying to a larger screen

Reflector Director

Let’s take a step back for a moment and ask ourselves, “why is it important for teachers to have mobility in the classroom?" All of these features mentioned above are useful, but what does that really do for the efficiency of a classroom?

Here are seven reasons why teacher mobility is important for efficiency in the classroom:

  1. Teacher mobility saves time by keeping teachers from running back and forth to their desks to control Reflector 2
  2. It’s easier to walk around and give students more one-on-one attention
  3. Teachers are able to guide and educate students on the usage of technology to prepare them for real-world environments
  4. The teacher becomes the encourager, advisor and coach of classroom technology
  5. The overall efficiency and flow of the classroom improves
  6. Teachers stay engaged with students throughout the lesson plan
  7. Technology barriers between teachers and students are removed

Reflector Director In Use

With educators being called upon to find beneficial ways to incorporate technology into their classroom, they need to find solutions that empower them and give them confidence. Keeping up with the change in EdTech can leave a teacher overwhelmed and discouraged, therefore leaving the teacher unable to influence students in the best ways. Reflector Director was designed to allow teachers to feel confident using their classroom technology by making collaborative learning via mobile devices easy.

Teachers play an essential role in every student’s education, behavior and development. In the EdTech world, it can be difficult to manage a mobile classroom by concentrating on every student. With the help of powerful remote-display-management apps, like Reflector Director, this is made easy, and each student gets the attention they need.

Check out Reflector Director for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be impressed, and want to make it part of your everyday classroom routine.

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!