Steelcase ‘active learning’ solutions

At ISTE, furniture designer Steelcase demonstrated a range of innovative products designed to make learning more active and engaging.

For instance, the company’s Node chair is mobile and flexible, with casters that allow for quick, easy transitions from one teaching mode to the next. With Node, a classroom can transition from lecture mode to team mode and back again, without interruption; its swivel seat keeps open sight lines between students and their instructor, and a personal work surface swivels in tandem with the seat and is adjustable for users of all sizes. The chair accommodates left- and right-handed students and is large enough to support students’ laptops, tablets, or books.

Steelcase’s Verb line is a collection of classroom furniture designed to support a full range of teaching and learning styles on demand. The tables can be assembled into a collaborative workspace and include personal-size whiteboards that serve as space dividers during test time to ensure privacy. The Verb instructor station includes an integrated lectern that can hold notes, a laptop, or other materials. The lectern is perched on an arm that rotates 360 degrees, so it can be pushed out of the way when an instructor seated at the table.

The company’s eno interactive whiteboard supports both digital ink and dry-erase markers for ultimate versatility. Steelcase calls it “the greenest and lowest total cost of ownership interactive whiteboard on the market.” Environmentally certified, eno offers a “Forever Warranty” on its virtually indestructible ceramic-steel surface. The board requires no power and no software to be installed on a user’s computer.

Swivl

Swivl is a clever robotic product that turns any iOS device into a lecture capture system in seconds, for just $199. Its goal is to make the process of capturing and uploading video easier and more natural, says company co-founder Brian Lamb.

The product consists of a base station with a slot that you can set an iPhone, iPad mini, or camera-enabled iPod touch into, and a remote transmitter that you wear. As you walk around the room, the base station automatically swivels to follow the transmitter, so the camera on your iPhone or iPod continues to focus on you. The transmitter doubles as a remote-control device for operating the base station manually as well.

Swivl’s second-generation product, which will launch this fall, will feature a sturdier base station designed to support a 10-inch iPad, in addition to smaller iOS devices. It also will include software for combining a video clip with a slide presentation, without having to edit it first—reducing the process of “flipping” your classroom down to an iPad and the Swivl, Lamb says.

The company also is working on software that includes analytics to show who has watched a video, as well as a version of the product that will support Android devices.

Technomad PowerChiton weatherproof amplifiers

Technomad’s new PowerChiton weatherproof amplifiers are an easy way to extend audio to athletic fields or other outdoor locations through a permanent sound system installation.

Each PowerChiton unit is capable of powering up to three 8-ohm loudspeakers. The units can be wall-mounted with the included mounting feet, or you can buy pole-mount adapters separately. An optional BreakOutBox interface gives you access to audio inputs and level controls in a secure, weatherproof box that also can store a microphone or MP3 player.

Viewsonic PJD7820HD high-definition projector

Viewsonic is bringing full 1080p high-definition video to schools and other mass markets with its PJD7820HD projector, which features 1080p resolution, an HDMI port, 3,000 lumens of brightness, a 15,000-to-1 contrast ratio, and a filterless design—all for around $700.

Native 1080p resolution uses 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, which is 2.6 times more than XGA resolution and two times more than WXGA resolution. The result is crisp detail and enhanced image quality without distortion or scaling of the original format, Viewsonic says. Other features of this 4.6-pound DLP projector include a 6-segment color wheel for more accurate colors, a lamp life reportedly lasting up to 6,000 hours, and an energy-saving Eco mode.