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

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Find your ed tech passion

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in April 2018 and is re-posted here with permission.

I feel technology should always support teaching and learning in a meaningful way. And I know you do, too. As educators, we try new ideas, hardware, and software as they become available. But how do you decide on your real passion in the area of educational technology?
I challenge you to step back from your experimentation with the “cool new thing”, whatever that might be, and go deep into a topic you are interested in and passionate about. It’s time to find your ed tech passion!
Once you do that, I want you to share that passion with others. One way to do that is to sign up to give an Ignite session at a regional conference. (My blog post from 2/1/17 includes ideas from the Discovery Educator Network on developing an Ignite session.) I promise you will have no problem talking about your passion!
Here’s an “Ignite-like” talk I gave on my passion for the origin of words.


My favorite definition of passion comes from my Alexa device- “An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action”.  What makes us passionate about one top and (yawn) feel ho-hum about another topic? What are some questions you can ask yourself and some things you can do to help identify your passion?
Here are some questions, adapted from the online article, “Find your passion with these 8 thought-provoking questions“.
  • What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on?
  • Who have you been, when you have been at your best?
  • What are your superpowers? 
  • What did you enjoy doing at age 10 that still resonates with you today?
  • How do you continue to develop new passions?
  • What is your sentence? 
  • What are some methods you use to embed your passion in to your teaching?
  • Do you have some strategies to help fuel your creative juices?
And, this article on The Muse site suggests some methods to help you escape the frantic pace of everyday life and make the search and exploration of your passion your priority.
  • Slow down.
    • Get away from the “noise” of your daily life.
    • Nurturing your mind and body can lead to more creativity and energy.
  • Be your own life detective.
    • Notice the things that make you the most happy.
    • Use a journal to jot these things down for a week and see what strands emerge.
  • Give yourself permission to explore.
    • Use your journal notes to look for more activities you love.
    • If something does may you feel as interested as you thought, drop it!
  • Reach out to people.
    • Find others, online or in person, who are already “experts” in the topics you decide to nurture.
    • Ask them questions and have them guide you to other related topics, too.
  • Stay open and flexible.
    • Remember to “go with the flow” because you may wind up on another passion path than the one you thought you were going to develop.
One really neat way to give yourself the permission to develop your passion is to participate in the 30 Day Challenge. Matt Cutts’ short TED talk on this topic is brilliant and includes some great tips for completing a 30 Day Challenge!


I have developed some very powerful ed tech passions over the years. I would study a topic I was passionate about for  year and then present about it.  Some of my favorite passions over the years include:
However, my challenge to you is for you to investigate, research, and experiment to find a single passion and share that with others, as well as encouraging them to find their own passion!


Students should be able to research, investigate, experiment, and use their experiences to develop their passion. One popular model for allowing them the time while at school is called “20% Time” or “Genius Hour”.
The 20% Time model comes from the early days of Google. “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Page and Brin, the Google founders wrote, “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”
This 20% Time model gave employees the time and latitude to pursue a passion. There were a lot of neat tools that came out of this passion-based model, and, with the Google Labs initiative, the rest of us were always given access to the beta versions of these creations. However, I personally have benefited from the 20% Time model at Google (as many of you may have, too) since the Google Certified Teacher program was the brainchild of  Cristin Frodella, who was in the marketing department back then (and still is as the Head of Marketing for Google Education). Her 20% Time project was to develop a program to help teachers use the Google tools in a way to impact instruction, and the GCT program was launched!
Genius Hour is another popular model for giving students a more unstructured time period to explore their passions. Some educators have a Genius Hour once per week at the same time and others split up the time over a number of days of the school week.
Here are some links to articles of successful classroom practices with Genius Hour.


Back in 2013, Paula Naugle (a DEN Star) created a 10 Day Passion Challenge project. The questions she created for students to investigate their passions work just a well for educators. Pick one or more of these questions to answer and leave a comment or an idea.
  • What is your passion?
  • When did you realize this was your passion?
  • Do you know anyone else who shares your passion? Tell us about them.
  • How much time do you spend a day, a week, or a month pursuing your passion?
  • What or who helps you pursue your passion?
  • What things do you own or would like to own to pursue your passion?
  • What interferes with you pursuing your passion and why?
  • If you could interview an expert about your passion, who would you choose? Why?
  • “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel) How do you feel about this quote?
  • What do you think might cause your passion to change as your career advances?