Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Tech Armor has you covered!

Because I am a "gadget geek", and purchase new tech as soon as it is released, I am always very careful with my current devices so I can sell them when new models come out. I am never without screen protection for any device, and, when Tech Armor asked me to review the screen protection products they offered for the devices I currently owned, I jumped at the chance!

Tech Armor has been selling screen protectors, cases, and various accessories since June of 2012. Their co-founder, Joseph Jaconi, talks about wanting to bring big-brand value to the consumer at a much-better cost, which they have done. However, Tech Armor's commitment to customer service and support (including a lifetime product replacement warranty) is what makes them stand out from the competitors!



All of the protectors I received were made from ballistic glass, which excels at protecting the devices from scratches, has the best clarity, touchscreen accuracy, and leaves minimal smudging and fingerprints on the screen!


TECH ARMOR GLASS SCREEN PROTECTORS FOR IPAD PROS



I have both the iPad Pro 9.7" and the 12.9" and was very impressed with Tech Armor's solution to help apply screen protectors to these larger devices. The inclusion of two small suction cups to support the installation process is a great idea and made the screen protector very easy to install! This ballistic glass screen protector is available for $19.95 for either the 9.7" or 12.9" iPad Pro.




TECH ARMOR SCREEN PROTECTOR FOR APPLE WATCH

I have the 38mm stainless steel Apple Watch with the more scratch-proof glass, but I still worry about scratching the face of the watch.

The Tech Armor Ballistic Glass Screen protector ($9.95+) comes with one or two protectors, great instructions, dust removing strips, a cleaning cloth, and a squeegee for removing any bubbles. In addition, there is an online tutorial for those that want to watch the process before applying the protector.




TECH ARMOR IPHONE 6+/6S+ 3D CURVED GLASS PROTECTOR


The 3D curved glass iPhone screen protector ($24.95) provides protection for the phone from edge-to-edge and even curves, oh-so-slightly, over the edges of the phone. The kit includes all the instructions and materials to apply the full-face protector, and comes in black or white.




TECH ARMOR IPHONE 6+/6S+ GLASS SCREEN PROTECTOR


This clear ballistic glass screen protector for the iPhone 6+/6s+ ($8.95) provides complete, clear, coverage for the phone with scratch protection, impact resistance, and minimal fingerprints! This screen protector does not cover the curved edges of the phone, and makes it easy to add a back case for protection, too.




TECH ARMOR ACTIVE SERIES CASE FOR IPHONE 6+/6S+



This iPhone case ($19.95) is a flexible case that adds minimal bulk to the phone, and provides both drop protection and screen protection when your phone is face-down because of the raised edges.

The ports are all easily accessible and the headphone jack port even accommodates a headphone with a bit larger plug size than the Apple headphones.

I have not used this case for too long, but I was concerned that dirt might make its way in through the cut-out square on the back. I have had no problem with this yet, though.



Tech Armor offers protection and cases for many technology products, as you can see below! If you want a low-cost, high-quality product to protect your mobile technology, give them a try!



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Unique Tablet Cases for Educators

I received a note from Cooper Cases recently asking me to review some of their products. After looking through their Web site, I picked items to review I felt were unique and would be useful for educators and administrators.

I requested items that would fit my iPad Pro 9.7" (which is the same size as the iPad Air 2), but many of these products are available in sizes to fit other tablets, too.


Cooper K2000 Universal Bluetooth Keyboard Dock for Tablets and Phones




Having a keyboard that will work with any device with Bluetooth is a great addition to an educator's technology bag! The Cooper K2000 Universal Bluetooth Keyboard will work with any tablet from 5" to 12". For those of us with multiple  phones and tablets, this sturdy full-size keyboard includes a metal support for sturdiness and the ability to place the device in landscape or portrait mode at two angles. It charges via a micro-USB port and weighs only 8.2 oz.


Cooper Foldertab Executive Portfolio





The Cooper Foldertab Portfolio Case is available for various manufacturers' 7-10" tablets. I received the Cooper Foldertab Portfolio Case for the iPad Air 2 to use with my iPad Pro 9.7. I love how professional I feel when I waltz into a meeting carrying this portfolio. It houses the iPad in a sturdy tablet tray, and includes room for paper, business cards or credit cards, a slip pocket inside the front and back covers, and has a loop for a pen, stylus, or the Apple Pencil. The iPad holder can be easily removed from the notebook to use on its own, too. The magnetic closure tab keeps your device safe. The Portfolio material is "pleather".

Cooper Magic Carry II Pro Universal Travel Portfolio Case










For the times when paper is not needed, the Cooper Magic Carry II Universal Travel Portfolio Case is another great choice. It is available in two sizes to fit 7-8" or 9-10.1" tablets. The tablet is held in place by four sturdy corner holders. The Cooper Magic Carry II Portfolio also allows the tablet to be set at three different angles for viewing. The best features of this case include a shoulder strap that allows the device to be carried in portrait or landscape mode and the inclusion of an elastic hand strap when the cover is folder back to hold your tablet securely while using it. There is even a strap on the back of the case to hold it on the back of a car headrest for viewing. This truly is a "magic" universal case-- it has a shoulder strap for easy carrying, a hand strap for secure usage, the ability to view the tablet at three separate angles, and can attach to a car headrest for movie-watching in the back seat!

Cooper Voda Universal Waterproof Tablet Sleeve





The Cooper Voda Universal Waterproof Tablet Sleeve fits the iPad and other 9-10.1" tablets. This unique sleeve has an innovative sealing method with rotating dial locks at the top. It can keep your tablet dry in up to 10 meters of water! The touchscreen on the tablet is usable through the clear front, and, for the iPad, the camera is usable on the back. The rear also includes a carabiner connection and an adjustable shoulder/waist strap for carrying the tablet in the waterproof sleeve.


Cooper Envelope Universal Business Sleeve





The Cooper Envelope Universal Business Sleeve is available for the iPad Mini, the iPad, the iPad Air/2, the iPad Pro 9.7"/12.9", and any other 7-13" tablets. What drew me to this item was the gold color that was available in addition to the black version. It matches my iPad Pro perfectly! The soft interior keeps my tablet safe, and the availability of two pockets on the front and a zipper pocket on the back, allows me to carry slim items such as cables, papers, and small headphones. The magnetic closing flap also doubles as a stylus holder. This minimalist sleeve is great for protecting your tablet in your business bag or backpack.

If you are looking for some unique cases to house your tablet, take a look at these offerings by
Cooper Cases and follow them on Twitter (@coopercases) to find out about new cases they are offering!
 


Friday, April 08, 2016

Financial Literacy for All

April is Financial Literacy Month. Financial literacy is one of the literacies our students need to succeed. Financial and economic literacy are about understanding the importance of making appropriate economic choices on a personal level, as well as understanding the connection that personal, business, and governmental decisions have on individuals, society, and the economy. How can you ensure students master the financial literacy skill-set?



The PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Charitable Foundation offers a online comprehensive financial literacy program designed for students in grades 3-12. The content of the program is aligned with the Council for Economic Educators standards.

Students engage with financial literacy concepts through innovative self-paced modules featuring custom videos, animations, and interactive activities. The curriculum is called Earn Your Future Digital Lab




The modules are broken up into three levels-- Beginner, Intermediate, and Advance. Each set of modules include items of interest to students at their level. (The beginner level for grades 3-5 will not be launched until fall of 2016.)

Here is a screenshot of the modules for the Intermediate Level.


Intermediate level financial literacy modules

I logged in as a student and picked intermediate module three, "Can I Afford a Phone?" The module can be completed all in one sitting, or students can go back to a section later to finish it.

I completed the module using a laptop computer, but then went back and tested it with an iPad. Everything seemed to function perfectly on the tablet. Of course, since the site is Web-based, it should work fine with Chromebook and the Surface, too.

The module started off with a video of a clever texting session between a teenager and their parent. During the texting session, the parent gives the responsibility to their teenager to do the research for the best phone and also to figure out the costs of affording a new phone.





The module continues with sound advice on how the student might proceed and offers a commonsense plan on how the teenager might approach the problem. 





This is followed up with a quiz about spending and budgets to gauge what the student already knows. After answering each question, the student is provided with additional information if they answer incorrectly but also with clarifying information if they answer correctly.




The next component of the module is very engaging. Students pick an avatar to "become" the teenager who wants the cell phone. This is followed up with a checklist of tasks to research the phone purchase (with a pop-up for each item) and time is left for reflection by the student and a short two-question quiz.



The module then moves into teaching the budgeting process so students can apply the process to the teenager's research. The students can utilize the included calculator tool to determine if the teenager can successfully create a budget that allows him to purchase the new smartphone. There is a computation piece included with some simple math problems and a review of income vs. fixed expenses vs. variable expenses. 

There is a fun final activity that allows the students to build a balanced budget for the teenager. The interesting part is, as the student eliminates unnecessary expenses, there are pop-ups with unexpected expenses or income, like a library fine or income from babysitting. This component truly simulates what this is like in real-life and teaches the students the difference between wanting something and being able to afford it.



There is a wrap-up of the module with a nice overview of the processes taught and including some extension tips for dealing with budgeting throughout their lives for purchasing a home, saving for retirement, etc.


The final component of the module is the post-test, which includes several types of summative assessments. The post test should only take about ten minutes, and, at the completion, the student earns a badge to show the module is completed.





The Advanced modules, intended for high school students, also include real-life videos starring teenagers. This makes the modules even more engaging for the students.



After the student has completed the modules, the site also provides additional resources to build-upon the skills practiced in the program including planning for college, home buying, risk management and insurance, planning and money management, and more.



SET-UP PROCESS


To give students access to the site, the teacher or home school parent creates a teacher account on the site.

Once logged-in, the teacher creates a default password for all of the student accounts. When a default password is set, students will be asked to create a personal password on their first login.

Student names can be entered manually or uploaded via a CSV file.


The teacher then creates a class and picks students to add to the class.



Teachers then provides students with the the URL to the PwC Charitable Foundation Earn Your Future Digital Lab site, their username and the default password. Students can log-in to the site and work on the modules.

One suggestion, to make sure students stay on task and complete the modules they pick to complete is to have the student print out their "badges" page which will show the completed modules.

SUMMARY

The PwC Charitable Foundation Earn Your Future program is brand new and additional features are planned for the near future. These include handbooks and module planning tools for the teacher and the ability to provide feedback to students via embedded assessment tools.

If you want to engage your students in learning more about personal finances, whether in April or throughout the year, the PwC Charitable Foundation curriculum, Earn Your Future, is a wonderful way to engage students and help them practice and learn useful, life-long skills!



This is a sponsored post on behalf of We Are Teachers and the PwC Charitable Foundation
I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Higher Ground Technology Cases

Way back in 2000, I purchased a very cool computer case that was perfect for traveling. It was called "The Lapdog", and it held my laptop, computer cables, chargers, and PalmPilot. The neatest thing about it was you could unfold it and use it on your lap while in an airport. It was well-made and sturdy, and all the business people in the airport asked me about it! It was made by Shaun Jackson Designs.



The Lapdog, Shaun Jackson Designs



Fast forward a few years, and Shaun Jackson designs launches Higher Ground to bring cases to the education market. I have been a fan of Higher Ground technology cases since they first launched. They were one of the first companies that understood how important it was to offer cases that would protect student laptops as one-to-one programs were rolled out in schools.

I purchased a few Higher Ground cases over the years, as they expanded their line of products to include tablet cases and sleeves. However, from day one to today, the common component throughout their product lines has been a hard-sided protection model that is both light-weight and functional.

I remember, at ISTE 2011, everyone received either a Higher Ground iPad 2 sleeve or a 15" Higher Ground laptop sleeve in their registration bag. There was all kind of trading going on! I still have my laptop case and it now houses my Dell XPS15 laptop.

15" laptop sleeve from ISTE 2011

Last week, Higher Ground sent me several cases that fit my current technology gadgets to review. It has been so much fun to explore their capabilities!

Higher Ground currently has cases that fit in computer and tablet carts, cases that students can put in their backpack or carry separately, cases that allow students to use their devices while they are in the case, and traditional protective sleeves for devices.

I will showcase what device(s) I will be using with the cases I received and provide a quick overview of the Higher Ground cases. 


IPAD PRO, MACBOOK, AND CHROMEBOOK

I am always on the look-out for cases for my iPad Pro 12.9" tablet. The tablet is an odd size, but several cases from Higher Ground work perfectly for protecting it!

The Flak Jacket Slim is both a sleeve and a carry case that works with the iPad Pro 12.9" and also the 11" Chromebooks. (Dimensions of laptop compartment: 12.25" x 8.75" x 1.25")

This slim case will hold the device and, on the back, it has a handgrip at the bottom that students can use when carrying the case sideways. I also has a small pocket that can hold a small power supply or a cell phone.


Front view of the Flak Jacket Slim

Back view of Flak Jacket Slim with handgrip and pocket

Another case Higher Ground sent me that works with the iPad Pro, my Macbook 12", and a Chromebook (it comes in 12" and 13" sizes), is the Flak Jacket Plus. This carry case has a sizable front pocket for carrying the adapters and accessories.

Flak Jacket Plus 12"

A third item that will protect the iPad Pro 12", a Macbook, or a Chromebook is the new Higher Ground DropIn. The DropIn protects the mobile device when it is traveling in a backpack. It has a open top with a velcro strap, and allows easy access to the device. In addition, if students are carrying their books by hand, it simply feels like another book! The 11" DropIn fits a device up to 12" x 8.5" x 1.25".


Higher Ground DropIn protective sleeve

Higher Ground DropIn: top view



CHROMEBOOK, MACBOOK, AND HP STREAM

The DataKeeper is a case that allows the student to keep the 12" x 8.75" x 1.25" laptop in the case while they are using it. The laptop is held in place by slide-in front corners and elastic on the edges which help keep the case open and the laptop in the case while using the device. The outside has a pocket for pens, pencils, styli, and a cellphone. 


Higher Ground Datakeeper with computer inside

Front of DataKeeper with pocket for phone and pens and ID slot




LAPTOP AND CHROMEBOOK


 The Shuttle has been a staple in the Higher Ground line of products for a long time. This version, the Shuttle 2.1, comes in 11", 13" 14" and 15" sizes. The case allows students to keep their laptop or Chromebook in the case while using it. It "floats" on sticky feet in the case, which also allows for air flow, and is held nicely in place with straps while traveling with the laptop.

The back of the Shuttle 2.1 has a large slip pocket and the front has a zippered accessory pocket that can hold power adapters, flash drives, dongles, and more. The shoulder stray attaches so the case is in portrait orientation when being carried which makes it easier for students to keep from bumping others and their device.


Shuttle 2.1 front view

Inside view of Shuttle 2.1


A laptop being used inside the Shuttle 2.1



CHROMEBOOK

I own the 2014 version of the Dell 11" Chromebook. The Guardian is a new product that is a hard-sided shell with protective corners. It stays on the Chromebook, and can both fit in a cart of Chromebooks as well as protect the Chromebook if it is in a student backpack. To find out which Chromebooks this is available for, take a look the Guardian page on the Higher Ground site.

Top view of Guardian for Chromebook

Bottom view of Guardian for Chromebook

Closed view of Guardian for Chromebook

Open view of Guardian for Chromebook


Higher Ground also has a tech backpack, cases for iPads, the Nexus 7, and additional cases and sleeves to provide protection for teacher and student mobile devices and laptops. So, if you are planning a roll-out of a 1:1 program, want to protect the devices you have in rolling carts, or simply want a great case for your own device, take a look at the Higher Ground products!