Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review of Brenthaven Tred Zip Folio 11

https://brenthaven.com/education/products/tred-zip-folio-11/
Keeping up with cases for all the new devices used in schools is never-ending. But Brenthaven is always on top of things and develops great protective backpacks, custom-fit cases, and sleeves for all types of technology devices used in schools.

They recently sent me their Tred Zip Folio 11 to review. The Tred Zip Folio is intended to be a full-time, protective case for 11" Chromebooks and laptops. The case allows use, charging, storing, and protection for the Chromebook or laptop.











I decided to try something different for this review and made an Adobe Spark Video with my overview of the Brenthaven Tred Zip Folio 11.





With the number of 11" Chromebooks and laptops in the schools needing protection, the Brenthaven Tred Zip Folio would be a great choice for student and faculty use. It is thin enough to fit nicely in a backpack, teacher tote bag, and many charging carts. The ability to add a shoulder strap is handy, but adding a storage pouch for the AC adaptor to the back (available from Brenthaven) would also help ensure users can always keep their devices charged.



The formal specifications and other info on the Brenthaven Tred Zip Folio 11 follow.

  • Size: 10.25" H x 14.13" W x 1.50" D
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs.
  • Ventilation bumpers to dissipate heat
  • Non-skid surface on the outside to keep case from sliding while in use
  • ID card window
  • Screen-clips hold the Chromebook or laptop in place
  • Shoulder strap or accessory pouch available
Take a look at the Tred Zip Folio 11 information page, request a free sample, ask about custom embroidery options, or request a quote. You can also write to education@brenthaven.com if you have more questions.


Wednesday, May 09, 2018

My new friend, Cue!

I have had the chance to use Wonder Workshop's Dot, Dash, and Cue robots at various conference sessions. But these sessions were always guided by the presenter, so I never really got a chance to explore how to code with the robots.





I was so excited when Wonder Workshop send me a Cue of my very own! I had the time to explore the many options, learn how to code with the block option and compare it to the Javascript code, and play some interactive games with my new friend!



The Cue has a fun personality which makes it feel like a true AI robot! Actually, there are four personalities to pick from, and each has its own special conversational style. The Cue is targeted for students in middle school. However, with the block programming, upper elementary students could easily control the robot, and, with the javascript programming, Cue would provide enhanced practice with an actual programming language for high schoolers.

The technical components of the Cue robot are outlined on the Wonder Workshop information page. Some of these include:

  • An accelerometer and gyroscope
  • 3 proximity sensors
  • Real-time Bluetooth
  • IR robot interaction
  • 3 processors and a sensor function
  • Dual motors and potentiometers
  • 3 microphones and a speaker
  • Programming LED and buttons
  • 2 powered wheels and encoders


All of those components make for a very powerful programmable robot, but the fun factor of my friend Cue is the part I like best! 

You can record words and sounds for Cue to emit (my son made it burp, of course) and and the ability to use easy block programming made it simple for me to control.

There are some options that are coming soon to Cue including Apple Swift™ programming, detection of the direction of a voice, and the ability to be aware of the proximity of other nearby Cue robots.




Sketch Kit

The actual reason Wonder Workshop sent me my new best robot friend was for me to check out their new Sketch Kit. The Sketch Kit is an accessory for Dash and Cue. It includes a harness for the robot to hold a marker, six colored markers, and six project cards to help students practice using the Sketch Kit to draw. The Sketch Kit allows students to code Dash or Cue to draw a picture!




In addition, there is a large Whiteboard Mat available which allows students the ability to iterate their design and erase the false starts. (The Sketch Kit and Whiteboard Mat can be purchased together in the Sketch Pack.) The markers include in the Sketch Kit are whiteboard markers, but I can see students completing their final drawing on a thick white piece of paper from a roll of plotter paper, for displaying of their artistic creations on the walls in the school hallway! 


Sketch Pack photo courtesy of Wonder Workshop


The Wonder Workshop site includes a great blog post explaining how to set-up the Sketch Kit with some tips and tricks included. Their site also includes lessons in their education curriculum such as, "Using Sketch Kit with Cue: The Geometry of Mandalas" and "Using Sketch Kit with Dash: Robot Code Breakers", based on Alan Turing and the codebreakers of WWII.

I did not read the blog post on the Wonder Workshop site first, but had no trouble setting up the Sketch Kit and Whiteboard Mat. The directions included in the Sketch Kit box were easy to follow! And, as I said at the beginning of this blog post, I wanted time to experiment on my own!

Now, remember, I am new to both block programming and the Sketch Kit when you watch the video below. I am sure I will get a lot more creative once I have some practice, but I felt good about my first drawing!




The Sketch Pack can be used in many curriculum areas to embed the STEAM skills in all the content areas. It is not just about the coding, but about the design thinking process where students plan, test, iterate, and reflect. Some ideas include:
  • In math, students could draw the three types of triangles. The pen can be programmed to go up and down, so Cue could be coded to move to a new space on the Whiteboard Mat to draw each triangle.
  • In social studies, it would be fun to draw a state outline, a rendition of a historic building, or the path of the Appalachian Trail.
  • In science, students could guesstimate the end of the path of a object when ramps are differing heights, since the mat is broken into centimeter areas. They could then roll the balls right onto their drawing on the Mat to test their hypotheses.
  • In ELA, students could illustrate the theme of a short story or a book.
  • And, of course, the Sketch Pack would be a natural fit in the art room!
Take a look at both the Dash and the Cue on the Wonder Workshop education site and consider getting a Sketch Pack to add another level of creativity to the coding process!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Airtame Wireless HDMI review







I was contacted by Airtame recently and asked to review their wireless HDMI device which allows mirroring from any mobile device or computer to a projector or monitor/TV.

Airtame was a successful Indiegogo project back in 2014, and has continued to improve and update the device as technology advances. It is available for purchase from many of the vendors we use in education.

Airtame is intended for enterprise situations like schools and businesses since it includes a cloud-based management tool to monitor multiple Airtames on a network and, more importantly, it works with WPA2 Enterprise and WPA Personal networks.






The Airtame would eliminate cables being run from the ceiling-mounted projectors to the teacher’s computer and the teacher could roam with any mobile device and share with the class via the projector. It is perfect for a BYOD environment because it works with any mainstream mobile device students might bring in. In addition, adding an Airtame to a projector on a mobile cart would allow mirroring anywhere in the school!

Here is a quick overview of how it works.



I can also see it being used at a faculty meeting, attached to the projector, and allowing teachers to share presentations and apps while in their seat using their mobile device running the Airtame app.

There is much more information on their site (airtame.comincluding pricing, information for your IT department dealing with the technical and security side of things, and some ideas for use in education.

Their site also contains a section comparing the Airtame to the other casting, mirroring, and streaming devices on the market which provides a sensible overview of the differences.

Airtame will be exhibiting at #ISTE18 in Chicago, so, if you are attending, stop in and see them! You can follow them on Twitter at @airtame for updated news on the product.




Review written on April 17, 2018
Kathy Schrock
kathy@kathyschrock.net
@kathyschrock
http://schrockguide.net

Monday, April 02, 2018

Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case for Apple iPad 9.7 Review

With the exciting announcements recently about Apple's renewed focus on the educational market, and the release of the new iPad 9.7" with Apple Pencil support, now is the time to start thinking about cases for your staff and student iPads!

I have long been a fan of Brenthaven bags and cases to protect my technology. Brenthaven has over 35 years of experience ensuring that your items are protected -- initially for hikers and now for the mobile devices of individuals, businesses, and schools!

I am the owner of a few of their bags, with my favorites for the 13" MacBook Pro being the an older Vertical Messenger Bag (now replaced by their Collins Vertical Messenger Bag) and the Medina Fold-over Messenger Bag.





For my current 10.5" iPad Pro, I use the Edge for 10.5" for iPad Pro because it protects the device as well as allows me to use the Smart Keyboard or Apple Smart Cover to protect the front of my iPad.




However, my choice of coverings and cases for my devices are based on the fact I am very careful with my devices. I never drop them, never scratch the screens, and carry them carefully when out of their carry bags.  Past experience has taught me that this is not usually how the students treat their technology.

Schools are looking for an iPad case that is sturdy, protects the glass screen, can be tilted up for easy typing and drawing, and has a built-in carry handle. This week, Brenthaven sent me one of their new cases, specifically designed for the education market -- the Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case which fits the 9.7" iPad (5th gen 2017) and the newest 9.7" iPad (2018).



The features of this case meet all the needs of IT departments, students and teachers!

FOR IT

The IT department will be happy with the fact the Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case screws together easily with an included tiny Allen wrench, which keeps the students from removing the device from the case. A nice feature for the IT department is that the screws stay in the case when the case is unscrewed, so there is little chance one of the four screws will get lost. (Two extra screws are included just in case!)




In addition, the back of the case is clear, so any asset tags or barcodes on the iPad can easily be seen. There is a protective clear overlay screen on the front with a cut-out for the home button which should eliminate any accidental scratching of the screen.









The access to the Lightning port for charging and syncing the iPads is oversized and should fit any charging cart connection. The size of the Edge™ Carry Case is 10.8" H x "7.6" W x 1.25" D and it weights 8.3 ounces.




FOR THE STUDENT

The Edge™ Carry Case has a ton of features that make it perfect for any age student!

First, the clear overlay screen is very responsive to the touch, whether tapping with a finger or drawing with a stylus. (I don't have the newest iPad 9.7" with Apple Pencil support but I set the clear overlay from the Edge™ Carry Case on the screen of my 10.5" iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil worked great!)

Secondly, the case is very protective, with no buttons showing except the home button, but the built-in rubber buttons for volume and up/down and turning the device on/off are well-crafted and work great! The headphone port is easily accessible and the speaker cut-out at the bottom of the case lets the sound out well.




Thirdly, the kickstand feature on the back folds flat into a recessed area on the back of the case, and does not add any bulk. When folded in, it will not get caught on anything when being put in or taken out of a backpack.







Fourth, and a wonderful feature, is the built-in handle on the side of the Edge™ Carry Case. When carrying the iPad by the handle on the case, whether the student is in kindergarten or 12th grade, the iPad is secure and should avoid the drops that occur in schools. The Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case is also drop tested to protect the iPad against falls from up to six feet!

The handle serves another purpose, too. When students are using their iPad in the field, when in front of the class sharing a presentation, or are reading their textbook on the bus ride home, by putting one hand's fingers through the handle, it allows them to have a secure grip on their device.




FOR THE TEACHER

Using the handle on the Edge™ Carry Case to hold the iPad securely is a great feature for teachers and administrators, too, as they roam the classroom or hallways of the school. In addition, teachers can easily hold the iPad in the Edge™ Carry Case in one hand and use their finger or a stylus to teach over AirPlay or Reflector. In addition, with its light weight (8.3 ounces), the iPad in the case will be easy to hold for an extended period of time without the hand getting tired.

Having the asset tags or student names visible through the clear back of the device, to easily identify a student's iPad or the cart the device belongs on, is helpful for the teachers of the younger students for plugging-in the devices to the correct charging cart. The case is thin enough (1.25") that it should fit in any charging cart slot.

PRICING

The Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case for the 9'7" iPad (2017/2018) is available now on their site where you can request a quote for the number you require and receive a free sample of the Brenthaven Edge™ Carry Case.




Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Augmented reality (AR) in the classroom

This blog post originally appeared on the Discovery Education site in my blog,  Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month. It is reprinted here with permission.

I have much more information and updated AR apps on my Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything AR page.
________________________________________________________________



Last year, I wrote a blog post dealing with the use of virtual reality resources to support the instructional process. I started the article with an explanation of the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, which I feel is important to include again since, this time, the post will be about the use of augmented reality technology to support teaching and learning. The Augment site includes a well-stated overview of the two technologies.


Augmented reality is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements on top of an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.

Virtual reality is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or re-creation of a real life environment…It immerses the users by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.

WHY AUGMENTED REALITY?

Touchstone Research presents an infographic that showcases how various professions use AR to support learning, access important information in real-time, and for marketing purposes. With the wide-spread use of AR, our students should be provided with the opportunity to become familiar with the the technology and use it in the classroom.



HOW DOES AR WORK?

The basic use of AR requires a few things– a smartphone or tablet with a back facing camera, an augmented reality app, and a trigger image. An Internet connection is needed for real-time overlaying of information. The triggers can be something as simple as a QR code, which launches an AR event on the smartphone or tablet, or can be a special printout or photographic images that is viewed through a specialized app. The continued development of great new apps seems to indicate that the use of the app to view a specialized trigger image may be the way things are moving in the AR arena.

One fun app that is popular in schools is Quiver (formerly ColAR Mix) which uses a printed-out and colored-in page to present the student with an interactive experience when viewed through the app. The Quiver Education app (US iOS app store: $7.99 and available on the VPP), includes coloring pages specifically designed for the education market including those for cells, organs of the body, and a specialized set for celebrating “International Dot Day“.
Here is a video demonstrating how this app works.





The EON Experience VR app (iOS and Android), uses the target below to bring the hundreds of simulations included in the app to life. Many simulations can be viewed using both AR and VR. The users simply download the data for the simulation and, through the app, points their smartphone at the target. The great thing about this is the target can be used even from the computer screen!

The trigger image for the EON Experience VR app
 The trigger image for the EON Experience VR app



AR image of a synapse projected from the trigger image on the computer screen.


Marketing agencies have taken to AR to the next level to allow the user to layer furniture, paint, and much more over a live image of a room. IKEA, Houzz, and Home Depot are only some of the many companies using augmented reality to support consumers. Project Color, from Home Depot allows you pick a paint or stain color and virtually paint your home’s walls, as demonstrated in the video below.


[Commercial] The Home Depot – Project Color App ‘Virtual Test Drive’

AR is even used in real-time at this kiosk in a Lego store which shows the customer the completed Lego project by simply holding up the box of Legos to the mirror.




WHY USE AR IN THE CLASSOOM?

Adding interactivity to a classroom learning experience always enhances student engagement. To be able to view and manipulate a object being learned about can lead to deeper understanding and further exploration and questions. Drew Minock, in an Edutopia article, outlines some ways augmented reality can support instruction. Here are a few of them.
  • Book Reviews: Students record themselves giving a brief review of a novel that they just finished, and then attach that “aura” (assigned digital information) to a book. Afterward, anyone can scan the cover of the book and instantly access the review.
  • Word Walls: Students can record themselves providing the definitions to different vocabulary words on a word wall. Afterward, anyone can use the Aurasma app to make a peer pop up on screen, telling them the definition and using the word in a sentence.
  • Lab Safety: Put triggers…all around a science laboratory so, when students scan them, they can quickly learn the different safety procedures and protocols for the lab equipment.
There are some great educational AR apps to support teaching and learning available.
  • DAQRI Anatomy 4D showcases the human anatomy in augmented reality. (iOS | Android)
  • Science AR has the teacher printing out the trigger Science AR posters which come alive with animation as students use the app to view the posters.
  • Amazing Space Journey allows students to take a trip through the solar system. Available for iOS and Android.
  • Star Chart projects the night sky with all the constellations, planets, and other facts while viewing the sky through a smartphone or tablet. (iOS | Android | Windows)
In addition to students using an app to view material created by others, by using an app called Aurasma, students and teachers  are able to create their own “auras” with links to information for others. (iOS | Android)

Creators take a photo or create an image, which then serves as the AR trigger, which in Aurasma is called an “aura”. Using the Aurasma app, students or teachers link that aura to online content, which may be a video, an image or photograph, or a Web site. When viewers use the Aurasma app and scan over those auras, they are presented with the online content in a floating window.

If you have a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming, you can create auras that showcase video clips from the collection and items from the other multimedia collections including image and photos. Students can also create an aura to share their projects which utilize any of these same assets from Discovery Education Streaming.

There are also some fun AR apps that allow the creation of place-based AR pop-ups. Two that are easy to use for teachers and students are Metaverse and Traces. Users can create quests, descriptors for places, and much more. 

Imagine the incoming freshman walking around the school and learning all about the building, or a student creating an AR overview of the local businesses as a service learning project. If you are familiar with PokémonGo, you will realize how engaging these pop-ups would be for students to create and share! Below is a place-based locator I discovered at my local coffee shop!





Place-based locator


INTERESTING  IDEAS

There are many other ways teachers and students are using augmented reality in schools. Here are two creative examples that I discovered.

Northwest High School has made  the use of Aurasma an integral part of their school culture.





This educator provides a unique way to use Aurasma and Powerpoint to create interactive experiences.





There is also a new type of reality called “Mixed Reality” or simply MR, which combines some of the aspects of both VR and AR. Dr. Simon Taylor, the Co-founder of Zappar which has created ZapBox, an MR solution, states “in MR, virtual  objects or environments are anchored to things in the real world providing a new and intuitive way for users to interact with virtual content”. This started as a Kickstarter project and is now available for a very low cost.  Watch the video below to get a feel for the exciting new projects that are coming to schools soon!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unplugged!



With cable television and Internet at two homes, I was paying a total of $378 per month to the cable providers. I knew there had to be a way to trim that cost. 

I spent the last week investigating some options that would meet my needs. I wanted to share what I found out, in case you are considering doing something similar. One caveat: all of the options are updated quite frequently and some options are locale-specific, so your experience may differ! 


I did not have a list of questions I wanted answers to before I started the process, but now that I have settled on a option, I realize the questions to ask may help you out!



  1. Can the service be cancelled at any time?
  2. Can the service be used in more than one location?
  3. What networks does the service offer?
  4. Are local network channels (ABC, CBS, and NBC) available through the service?
  5. Do I need any hardware to use the service?
  6. Can I share the service with another family member outside of the house?
  7. Is there a DVR option available with the service?
  8. Are there add-on packages for specific wants?
  9. What is the cost of the service?
  10. What is the cost of the add-ons?
  11. Is there a free trial of the service?
  12. What devices can be used to access the service?
  13. How many family members can use the service at one time?

My goal was to no longer use Comcast (in MA) and Charter Spectrum (in CT) for my television providers. There were many channels I never used, and I felt the cost was too high.




LATEST UPDATES FROM 1/12/18, 1/19/18, 1/22/18, AND 2/218 ARE IN RED


SlingTV

I have used a Slingbox for many years to watch my home TV while I was traveling, so I had trust in Sling. Their service is interesting. There are two choices, Orange ($20) and Blue ($25). There are some channels that are in both choices, but the main difference is that Blue allows three streams of channels at once (for example, for a house that has three TV's or mobile devices) and the Orange option only allows a single stream. You can use a mobile device while on the road to use the service, and, Airplay with a TV-connected Apple TV. Some smart TV's also have the SlingTV app included.

The channel lineup, when purchasing both Orange and Blue ($40) and the DVR ($5) met most of my needs, but there were no local versions of the big three network channels (at least in my area). Matter of fact, there was no ABC or CBS at all, and NBC was only "on demand". 

There is a cloud DVR available for $5 more per month. I tried the service for a few days of the free trial, and I liked the interface, which includes a grid as well as a search and a browse function.

There are also add-on packs that are available for SlingTV for specific wants such as sports, news, comedy and kids. However, because I really wanted to be able to watch local news, and did not want to keep the basic channel package from the cable company, I looked for another option.






Hulu Live TV

Hulu has been an established provider of archived TV shows and movies for a few years. A Hulu Live TV subscription ($40) includes all of that archived streaming service (with limited commercials) as well as live TV on many of the same channels offered by the Blue and Orange package from SlingTV. (The only channel I wanted that was missing from Hulu Live TV was ESPN3. However, I have found out I can authenticate the WatchESPN iOS app with a Hulu login.


There is a DVR included, but there is an extra cost for a larger one with the ability to fast forward, pause, and rewind a recorded programs. ($15)


I decided to go with Hulu Live TV because it did include all the major networks and the local versions of these channels when I was in either house -- Boston channels and Hartford Channels. I was able to cancel both the Comcast cable service and the Charter Spectrum cable service. 


After a week with Hulu TV, I cannot ignore my loathing of the interface. Maybe because I like a grid, but I find the Hulu apps really hard to both navigate and find things. There are WAY too many clicks. However, it still is the service that best meets my needs.

Update 1/22/18: Hulu announced at CES that they WILL be putting in a grid screen in spring of 2008! Yay!

However, Hulu Live TV is tied to your zip code as your "home". The company gives you the ability to change your "home" location four times per year. This is for great for people who move, but can also be useful for those that spend extended time in another locale.

The home location means you can use Hulu Live TV on the app of one smart TV or via the Hulu app on an Apple TV. You can use any device in your home to watch TV, but only one one person can stream Hulu content at a time.

When I am away from my "home" base for Hulu Live TV, I can stream from a single mobile device through a Google Chromecast attached to a television, or simply just watch content on the mobile device (while a person at home can still use the "home" stream). Apparently Hulu is working on the ability to use an Apple TV and Airplay from a mobile device, but it is not available yet. 


There is also a beta version  of Hulu Live TV service which allows you to watch live television and the DVR recordings within the Web browser on a computer. Once it is in the Web browser, you can Airplay it to the television screen via the Apple TV.






PlayStation VUE

I did not investigate PlayStation VUE last week since I read online that, unless you were using the VUE service on a PS3 or PS4 gaming machine, the interface was not very good. One of my friends wrote to tell me the interface had been updated, so I thought I would give it a try.

The Playstation VUE service does include, at least here in Boston, the local news affiliates. (You can get a 5-day trial to test it out in your area.) In addition, in the Boston area, we also get NESN, the New England Sports Network. 

PlayStation VUE has four different plans to pick from-- 

  • Access: popular live tv ($39.99)
  • Core: sports and popular live TV ($44.99)
  • Elite: movies, sports, and popular live TV ($54.99)
  • Ultra: movies, sports, popular TV and premium channels ($74.99)

I signed up for the trial of the Core service, since I already have Netflix and Amazon Prime for movie-watching. (It had all the channels that I wanted except the CW, and I probably should not waste any more time watching Riverdale, anyway, so it was no loss.)

I can log into WatchESPN with my credentials, so I would be fine getting the games I want to watch on ESPN3. And PlayStation VUE allows you to authenticate with your credentials in many mobile TV apps.

There are a few weird things about PlayStation VUE. If you want to use a mobile device to use PS VUE while you are away from home, you first have to open the app while on your home network and it will authenticate with a PS3, PS4, Roku, or FireTV. So you would have to have one of these set-top boxes/sticks  in your home. There is a Playstation VUE app you can use on Apple TV, but the Apple TV cannot be used for authenticating a mobile device.

Differing from Hulu, if you log-on to the app when you are away from home, you cannot get CBS, NBS, ABC, or FOX in the PS VUE app. You can authenticate to the network mobile apps with your PS VUE login,, but cannot watch live TV. For my purposes of watching live TV while I am at the condo in CT, this does not work.

The Playstation VUE service allows 5 local streams. However, if you need to have more streams while at home, you have to log-out of a set-top box and wait 3 hours to use the other device. Sounds like a "first world problem", and re-authenticating is not hard, but waiting three hours could be a problem if you want to watch a specific television set in your home. There are three mobile streams available and I am unsure if they count as part of the 5 when in the home. I am a little weary of testing at this time!





YouTube TV is another cutting-the-cord option. (Initial channels here. There is an app for Roku, Apple TV, newer Samsung TVs, and other devices. You can also use your Chromecast to cast from your phone or computer. It is $35/month with unlimited DVR storage (programs available for 9 months) and includes local news channels in some geographic areas. 

The service can be shared with six family members, who have to authenticate their device once every three months, and can streamed by three members at a time. Some channels are not included, such as HGTV, CNN, TBS, TNT, History, AMC, A&E, and Comedy Central.

Thoughts

When eliminating the cable box on both Comcast and Charter Spectrum, each company charged more for the "Internet alone" option since the Internet was no longer a part of a bundle. However, on Comcast, my costs dropped from $277 to $102 per month. On Charter Spectrum, the costs went from $101 to $65 per month. So, the savings from cutting the cable company "cord" was $211 per month. Not too shabby!

The cost for the Hulu Live TV service with the expanded size cloud DVR is $55 per month. So, my net yearly savings from all of these changes is $1872 per year!

For a family, I would probably recommend the SlingTV Blue and Orange services and the shared DVR, which would allow several family members to watch television at a time. However, most families may want to keep the "basic cable" package to have access to their local big three networks and PBS.

Some of my friends have suggested other options, too, like DirectTV Now, and the use of an HD over-the-air antenna for the local channels (if that is available in your area) and adding on a streaming service. 

It is like comparing apples and oranges since it depends on where you live, if you have decent Internet bandwidth, and the type of networks you are interested in. 

One other thing to be aware of. Some cable providers have a monthly cap on streaming usage. Xfinity does in some states. You can find out more about the 1 TB cap from Xfinity here. If you want to see your current data usage on Xfinity, log-in to your account, pick the SERVICES tab, the INTERNET choice, and you will see VIEW DATA usage on the right.






Monday, October 16, 2017

Gamifying financial literacy education with Star Banks Adventure

In the past, I have had the occasion to write blog posts about various aspects of financial literacy. There are many well-done Web sites created by experts in the field of personal finance that can be helpful to ensure students master the financial literacy skillset.


STAR BANKS ADVENTURE GAME

There is now a no-cost, engaging and informational online game from T. Rowe Price titled Star Banks Adventure available for teachers and students to instruct and learn about financial concepts within a gamified environment. Star Banks Adventure is also available as an iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire app. Just go to the Star Banks Adventure game site for links to them all.



The Star Banks Adventure game targets students in grades 5-8 and it includes puzzles and quick quizzes dealing with financial and personal finance concepts and is set in a sci-fi environment. I am not an experienced gamer, but the Star Banks Adventure game provides live demos right within the game, so I was able to catch on quickly how to maneuver and move through the levels. Each level builds upon the concepts in the previous level, so students get a deep-dive into each concept.

TEACHER SUPPORT

The Star Banks Adventure game was intended to help teachers introduce real world money concepts to students in middle school. There is a great curriculum matrix included within the teacher section of the Classroom Edition. The concepts taught in the game are mapped to national standards in personal finance, national standards in economics, and the Common Core State Standards. Below is a section of the curriculum matrix for levels one and two of the Star Banks Adventure game.



T. Rowe Price offers many additional financial resources for educators on their Money Confident Kids site. This site provides background information on financial concepts and includes downloadable magazines for students, print resources, videos, activators, and more. I suggest starting at the Teaching Tools and Activities page of the site, which includes PDF guides for both middle school and high school teachers. The Money Confident Kids site also includes a parent section to help parents reinforce some of these personal finance concepts at home.



CLASSROOM EDITION

The Classroom Edition of the Star Banks Adventure game includes an administrative dashboard for the teacher. Teachers create their own account on this page. In addition to including how-to tutorials for the Dashboard itself, the Dashboard allows the teacher to create online classroom groups, manage these  groups, monitor their students' progress, and compare their students' data with other classrooms in the United States. In the Teacher Dashboard area there are also tutorials introducing each of the six financial concepts included in the game -- setting a financial goal, prioritizing spending, rate of return, asset allocation, inflation and time horizon, and diversification.

Teachers can create as many classrooms as they need in the Dashboard and also view each student's progress and well as the aggregated classroom progress. Students have both a Classroom ID and User ID, neither of which include the real name of the student. Fun pseudonyms for the student names are generated as the teacher creates the User IDs.

Starting at the beginning of the game and moving through the levels helps reinforce the skills as they are learned. However teachers can have students work on a specific subject if they wish and jump to a specific topic.

HARDWARE

I tried out the online version of the game on both Mac and Windows laptops and and on iOS, Android, and Google Fire devices. It worked flawlessly on all of these. It does not seem to run on the Chromebook nor with the Google Play Store install on my Asus Flip Chromebook. 

The Star Banks Adventure game provides a fun, engaging, educational, and informative way for students to learn about personal finance and becoming financially literate. Give it a try with your students!

______________________________________________________________________________________________
This is a sponsored post on behalf of We Are Teachers and T. Rowe Price.
I received compensation for this post, however all opinions stated are my own.
STAR BANKS ADVENTURE and MONEY CONFIDENT KIDS are registered trademarks of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.