While it’s hard to believe just how fast summer has flown by, the new school season is finally here and in full swing for students of all ages. With millions of teens, tweens, and school-aged kids returning or preparing to head back to classrooms nationwide, now’s the perfect time to consider giving your family’s learning experience a 21st century upgrade. Offering a more engaging and interactive approach to lectures, lessons and guided instruction, technology provides a great hands-on complement to traditional teaching methods, helping kids get more out of every learning exercise. Here, we’ve teamed up with some top tech companies to highlight a number of great gadgets that can enhance education both inside and out of the classroom.
Right off the bat, one tip to keep in mind when shopping for a new computer, laptop or tablet is to start by picking an operating system that offers students lots of learning tools. With Windows 8 devices, for example, you get support for programs like Office 365 University, multitasking tools like Snap, study apps like Flashcards Pro, and free online backup and sharing with SkyDrive. There’s a wide range of Windows 8 devices for every need and budget as well: The OS is available on desktop, portable and tablet PCs alike. Right now, Microsoft is currently running a “Chip-In” program where friends and family can contribute money towards the purchase of a Windows 8 PC as well: Microsoft will actually chip in a 10% discount with free shipping and no tax – a great deal, especially if you’re on a budget.
One of many great laptops that runs the operating system and comes highly recommended for college and high school students is the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Notebook, which is powered by the latest AMD A-series dual-core processor. In plain English, that means that students can enjoy a super-powerful, touchscreen laptop that’s well-suited to education or entertainment purposes. Lightweight and portable, the system also happens to be surprisingly affordable, clocking in at under $400. One feature you’ll especially enjoy about the HP TouchSmart notebook is that it can also resume from sleep mode in seconds for fast access to email, social media, music and more, given built-in AMD Start Now Technology. A fun and user-friendly study tool, it’s also an unexpectedly cost-conscious solution as well.
If your student is one of many who uses their iPhone to access educational apps and study, organize and learn, then you also know that battery life can be a concern as well. Thankfully, Duracell’s Powermat iPhone 5 solutions offer a way to more than double your iPhone 5’s battery life so you’re never caught without power. Its handy AccessCase protects your device, while snap-on, snap-off battery attachments let you pack as much power as you need and a portable TravelMat allows for easy to-go wireless charging. The company also just came out with its new wireless backup battery line called Go Power which works with both micro and regular USB port devices – i.e. many popular mobile gadgets. It offers three backup battery power options, so no matter how long students are away from power sources, they can keep their devices from dying.
If you’re looking for more awesome educational apps and gadgets, you might also check out the following solutions, just a few of many high-tech learning tools now available to students.
- Evernote – Clips and stores text, photos, web pages and more so you never lose track of your thoughts.
- PBS Parents Play and Learn – Offers fun games and activities that teach kids about math, reading and more.
- Graphing Calculator – Saves you from buying a standalone scientific calculator.
- Learn With Homer – Introduces children to the magic of reading.
- Studious – Helps with planning and organizing homework assignments.
- Kindle Paperwhite – The popular eBook reader offers on-demand access to thousands of textbooks, books, and periodicals.
- Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case – Protects your tablet PC while adding a travel-friendly physical keyboard, great for typing longer documents.
- Microsoft Surface Pro – Provides a powerful and versatile hands-on portable computing experience, marrying the best features of tablet PCs and traditional laptops.
- Parrot Zik Headphones – In addition to awesome audio quality, these critically-acclaimed cans also offer noise-canceling capabilities, handy when studying in shared spaces or during late-night cram sessions.
From massively online open courses to learning apps, it’s clear that technology is quickly reshaping the face of education. The good news for kids, parents and teachers alike: You can’t find a better tool to instantly grab and engage students.
Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
While technology may not have been an integral part of your childhood, it’s part of the very fabric of growing up these days. In fact, some gadgets are so ingrained in our lives that they’re now the de facto gifts for certain birthdays, holidays and bar mitzvahs. Here’s a look at the essential technology and gadgets every child should own.
Home Computer – Every house should have at least one computer, and most now have at least two. Teachers have come to expect computers and internet access at home for all children, assigning homework and class project for kids. Note though that kids don’t necessarily need their own computers. In fact, experts still recommend that kids’ computer usage be kept on systems that are housed in common areas of the house, even if they’re on laptops. There’s nothing kids should be doing on computers that needs to be kept private from the rest of the family.
Tablet PC or Touch Device – With computers now a given, the focus now turns to tablets and other touch devices as to whether they are “must-owns” or “nice-to-haves.” Most educational school computer programs work on tablets, and they’re extremely portable and convenient to take on family trips or outings, whether it’s vacation or a local restaurant.
At the very least, we think kids need access to their family’s tablet device, and it’s up to parents to decide whether they need one for themselves. Kids will want to use them to play games, so make sure that you’ve locked down the ability to purchase apps and regulate connections.
eBooks Readers – While there’s still something satisfying about physical books, kids can access literal libraries of information from their fingertips with eBook readers, and it’s the same content you remember from growing up. There are even library subscriptions which allow kids to check out books on their eReaders. Most parents would greatly prefer their kids read book instead of goof off playing games or chatting, so why not get them a device that lets them enjoy books the way they want.
Portable Hard Drive – With so much schoolwork being done on computers, it’s important to save it and back it up, so a portable hard drive will help kids keep all their files, even if they’re working on many different computers. It’s also a good way to make sure that data stays safe and secure even if a computer gets lost or stolen.
USB Drive – While portable hard drives are big and bulky, USB drives are simple and compact way for kids to share and transport information. Consider a keychain USB device so it’s always with them, and they can use it for important documents, personalized information or even sharing pictures. USB Flash drives make it simple to switch data from computer to computer.
Smart Phone – We saved the best and most controversial for last. Although kids around the age of 13 don’t necessarily need full function smart phones, as they get older and progress through high school, the functionality of the device will become extremely useful for them. Realistically, kids don’t need all the bells and whistles smartphones offer, parents who trust their kids to use these devices properly will rest easier knowing they have map functionality and Internet access at their fingertips. To be clear, we don’t recommend this for young teens, but as kids get ready for college, smart phones certainly make a lot of sense.
With the rising popularity of tablets and the increasing versatility of smartphones, you might wonder if there’s still any room for the desktop PC. Absolutely. Desktop computers are bulky compared to sleek tablets and laptops, but they’re still the powerhouses of the computing world—and many of them are surprisingly affordable. PCs are still the best option for parents that want to exercise full control over their younger kids’ computing habits, and most game enthusiasts swear by their desktop rigs.
Simply put, a day may come when the desktop PC is irrelevant, but that day is still a long way off. And if you’re looking to buy, there’s no shortage of great options. Here are 2013’s top 5 PCs.
Dell Inspiron 660’s – These lightweight and affordable computers are packed with features, but start at a sensible $349.99 USD (monitor not included). Each model is equipped with Windows 8 and has more than enough power to run games and social networks. Perfect for families.
Apple iMac 27 Inch – The all-in-one iMac is as sleek and professional as ever. The 27-inch model, released late 2012, is remarkably thin. It also features more processing muscle and storage than previous iterations.
Acer Predator G3 – It sounds intimidating, but this sleek black computer from Acer is perfect for a household. It comes installed with a wireless adapter, and it boasts plenty of RAM for getting tasks done. It has a DVD player rather than a Blu-ray player, but given the falling costs of Blu-ray players, remedying that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cyberpower Black Pearl – If you’re big into heavy-duty PC gaming, you need all the power you can get—but if money’s a problem, you may have to compromise a little. The CyberPower Black Pearl isn’t a top-of-the-line gaming PC, but it packs an impressive processing punch for the asking price.
MicroExpress MicroFLEX 37B – The MicroFLEX 37B is another affordable desktop PC that’s engineered for hardcore gaming. Its liquid cooling system and hot-swap drive bay keeps things cool while its innards heat up, keeping you in the game.