Here are some highlights from the CUE conference exhibit hall

Plasq demonstrated a new version of its software for creating comics.

At the annual CUE conference in Palm Springs, Calif., earlier this month, dozens of ed-tech companies showed their latest products for educators—including a new interactive computer game for learning world history and a way to find apps and other classroom resources aligned with the Common Core standards.

Here are some of the highlights from the CUE conference exhibit hall.

Belkin announced three new ed-tech products at the CUE conference: protective cases and sleeves for Chromebooks; wired keyboards for iPads and Samsung tablets; and a system for securing and charging various mobile devices.

Belkin’s Air Protect Sleeve and Air Protect Case for Chromebooks help protect the devices from damage as they’re being used or carried. The $29 sleeve includes a separate bottom pocket that can store accessories and further insulates the screen from damage if a Chromebook is dropped. The $59 case zips open, allowing you to see the full Chromebook screen—and ventilation on all sides keeps the device from overheating.

Both the case and the sleeve are designed for 11.6-inch Chromebooks and can be used with other slim devices that size as well, such as a MacBook Air.

Belkin’s Secure Wired Keyboards are available in three different versions: a $29 model with a five-pin micro USB connector for Samsung tablets; a $49 version for 30-pin iPad models; and a $59 version for the new Lightning iPad connector. All three keyboard models are angled at five degrees for comfortable use and draw power from the tablet itself, so no battery is needed. They also work with mobile phones.

The Samsung version is available now, and the Apple versions—which are MFi (Made for iPad) certified—will be available in April.

Belkin’s Secure and Charge station is a lightweight but durable metal container for storing and charging any mobile device up to 11-inch Chromebooks. It holds up to 10 devices and is ventillated all around; up to three stations can be stacked on top of each other for full classroom coverage.

At 30 pounds, the Secure and Charge station is light enough to be carried from room to room, and it also can be bolted to an AV cart. It features a lockable door that can accommodate any type of school-issued lock, and its surge protector comes with a $15,000 warranty—meaning Belkin will replace up to $15,000 worth of equipment damaged from overheating or overcharging.

Belkin wasn’t the only company showing a product for storing and charging mobile devices at the CUE conference. Several other CUE exhibitors demonstrated similar types of products.

AVer, for instance, showed a new 40-device cart for storing and charging iPads, Android tablets, and Windows 8 devices, available in May for $1,499. And Black Box highlighted a wide variety of Universal Computing Carts ranging from 18-slot to 40-slot versions; all come with a laminated wooden top to provide a smooth working surface.

(Next page: Five new products for teaching with technology)

Last year, Common Sense Media introduced a free service—called Graphite—that reviews hundreds of digital apps, games, and websites for their usefulness as teaching tools. During this year’s CUE conference, the nonprofit organization announced a new feature within Graphite that helps users find resources for teaching to specific Common Core standards.

Called Common Core Explorer, the tool lets educators search for apps, games, and websites by standard. For each standard, you can view a drop-down list of resources related to that topic. The list includes the name of each item, a brief description, its Common Sense Media rating, and its average rating by teachers. When you click on an item, you get more information and a link to its full review.

As of press time, Graphite contained reviews of more than 1,100 apps, games, and websites, and all of these have been mapped to the Common Core standards for math and English language arts, where appropriate. Common Sense Media is working on mapping these resources to the Next-Generation Science Standards as well, and this task should be done by the end of the calendar year.

E-Line Media, a publisher of game-based learning products, previewed a new digital game for teaching world history to students in grades 5-9.

Called Historia, the game has students team up to lead a civilization. In playing the game, students research history, debate strategy, and take risks that will determine the future of their people. Aligned with most middle school social studies standards, the game will be available for interactive whiteboards, tablets, PCs, and Macs.

A beta-testing phase begins May 1, and educators who are interested in participating can sign up on the Historia website.

For more news from this year’s CUE conference, see:

Google Apps spur rise of new ed-tech market segment

Khan Academy now Common Core aligned

PASCO scientific previewed a new version of its SPARKvue platform for collecting, displaying, and analyzing data from field and lab experiments. With SPARKvue version 2.1, students will have one common user experience across all platforms, the company said—including iPads, Android or Windows tablets, Chromebooks, Windows or Mac computers, or interactive whiteboards.

The new version, which will be available before the next school year, also includes data sharing capabilities that will allow for real-time collaboration on lab activities.

Plasq demonstrated a new version of its Comic Life product at the CUE conference. Comic Life makes it easy for students to create comics, storyboards, and posters using digital photos—with no special artistic skills needed. Educators are using Comic Life to teach a wide range of subjects, Plasq said—and version 3 of the software introduces a script editor that lets users create stories right in the app.

Comic Life is available for Windows and Mac computers and iOS devices. The Windows and Mac versions cost $20 for a single-user license, with volume discounts available; if you buy 1,000 licenses or more, each one costs just $2.49. (These prices are one-time licensing fees, as opposed to yearly licenses.) The iOS version is $4.99 for a single user and $2.49 for volume purchases. A free 30-day trial version also is available.

During the CUE conference, SMART Technologies previewed new software that creates a cloud-based collaborative workspace. Called SMART amp, the software connects devices to a “shared workspace,” where students can collaborate with each other and teachers can upload lessons and conduct real-time assessment.

The software will be available in April, SMART said. It will be licensed per student, with site licenses also available.

Follow Editorial Director Dennis Pierce on Twitter: @eSN_Dennis.

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