On Friday the 27th of February, members of Coretek visited the 2017 Bett show. We reflected on what stood out for us and what we think will be the next big thing in educational IT.
The BETT Show was a very useful experience for any schools looking to find out what are the latest trends in educational technology.
We found that IFP’s are easily the biggest trend of 2017, following on from last year. The difference being that now there are a much wider range of options available. Smart and Promethean are still big players but other companies such as Clevertouch are now offering comparable, competitive products. In addition, vendors such as BenQ have also come into the market offering products for the more budget conscious schools. Although it’s not new news, it’s important to mention that the Smart Notebook software is now a paid annual subscription. Smart do provide one year free with a new board or IFP.
All of the IFP’s we saw at the show have Android build in, which means that teachers can do basic annotation and web browsing even without connecting their laptop. This also provides access to the apps available on the Google Play store for use on the board. Some, such as Clevertouch, have their own bespoke app stores with exclusive apps.
As many are predicting, it is likely that VR is going to the next big thing in IT. However, the number of units available for testing at this year’s BETT was quite limited. We had a play with the ClassVR headsets (which is a VR product designed for schools) but found the technology to be fairly limited. There are some fantastic VR products on the market such as the Vive and Oculus but these are going to be currently too expensive for most schools. It will be interesting to see if there will be more VR options next year.
Did you attend the BETT show and have any thoughts that you would like to share with us? Get in touch!
Our pick of this month’s best gadgets includes the latest from virtual reality, apps and fitness. Our team has taken a look at what new developments have taken their fancy throughout this past month, read on to find out more!
If you own a HTC Vive VR Headset, you will definitely want to know all about the TPCast. The TPCast is an upgrade kit for the HTC Vive VR headset. The aim of it is to make the headset wireless. There is usually a set of very long cables attached to the headset, so this new accessory is very helpful. HTC decided to partner with TPCast who created this upgrade kit. For it to work, there is a battery pack slotted into the back pocket of the headset which has a cord that runs to another part of the headset. There are two versions of pack, with two different battery life’s. One lasting for 5 hours, and one for 2 hours. The benefit of this wireless experience is that the user is able to freely move around however they wish. It even feels lighter with the wireless receiver, rather than connected to the cables. With a very easy set up, this is a great upgrade for your HTC Vive. So far this is only available on HTC China’s website. However, if you don’t mind paying the shipping then there is no problem! You will be looking at around £200 for the upgrade kit.
SwiftKey is an app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. It is a personalised keyboard software that adapts to the way you type, so this means you spend less time correcting your typos. SwiftKey has an estimated 10 trillion keystrokes across 100 different languages. This adds up to 100,000 years of reclaimed typing time! The predictive technology also gets smarter over time, by learning your personal writing style. You can customise your keyboard on your phone via this app with themes, which are free! You can type with a swipe if you are bored of typing! Simply swipe from one letter to the next. Get a faster and more accurate way for your autocorrects. SwiftKey can also predict which emojis you will be using next. A really innovative app, that is completely free!
I’m sure by now you have heard of Virtual Reality, well ICAROS are taking it to the next level. They have created a machine which is a gaming controller and a fitness device in one! You can train your muscles and test your reaction and balance. You control and determine the diving path or flight path in your game. All your movements are measured via the controller which is attached to the handle bar. This machine is primarily used with the Samsung Gear VR Headset, but it can also be used with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. This really is an incredible machine that represents modern technology. However, this machine can set you back about £6000! You need to contact ICAROS for more information on how to pre-order.
Are you a lover of Instagram? Well here is a great app that will really take your images to the next level. Snapseed is a photo editor which has been developed by Google. You have a choice of 24 filters and tools to edit your images with. Here are a few of the great tools and filters that Snapseed provide:
Healing – removing an uninvited neighbour from a picture
Selective – choose up to 8 points in an image to assign enhancements to
Lens Blur – create a softened background to enhance the foreground object
Drama – add a hint of doomsday, available in 6 styles
HDR Scape – create an effect of multiple exposures
Retrolux – go retro with light leaks, scratches and film styles
Take a look on their website to see the full list of exciting tools and filters. Snapseed 000000;”>is available for both Apple and Android devices. You can get this app completely free!
Google have recently released their new phone – Google Pixel. This phone has been said to be on par with the iPhone 7, with some users even preferring the Google Pixel. The Google Pixel comes with a multitude of new features and has been called ‘the best Android phone that has ever been made’. Lets take a look at some of the new features that Google has brought us.
So lets begin with the overall look of the new Google phone. You get an all-metal body with an all-glass display. There is a fingerprint scanner, a headphone socket and easy to grip curved edges. You can purchase the Google Pixel in either Quite Black or Very Silver. The Google Pixel also comes in two sizes. You can get the original Google Pixel with a 5″ screen or the Google Pixel XL which has a 5.5″ screen. The display on the AMOLED screen is very clear and crisp, with vibrant colours and deep blacks.
What is probably is the most exciting new feature about the Google Pixel, is Google Assistant. The Google Assistant is sort of like iPhone’s Siri or Window’s Cortana. The Google Assistant is meant to be your very own Google. Google have described the assistant to be conversational – you can have a two-way dialogue between yourself and Google. So this means that you can ask Google Assistant one thing and then ask several follow-up questions. Google Assistant will be able to keep track of the conversation and will be able to audibly respond with the correct information. Along with this, the Google Assistant can do a multitude of tasks such as creating events, booking a table, setting reminders, sending texts to your friends, plan your travel and much more. Take a look at the video below to see more about what the Google Assistant can really do.
The Google Pixel camera has been said to be pretty outstanding. There is a 12.3MP Sony camera on the back of the phone which can shoot up to 4K videos, video stabilisation and supposedly a faster speed on the capture time. On the front you get an 8MP camera and with a shake of the hand you can switch your back camera to the front camera. Along with all this, you also have a lot of settings that you can apply to the camera e.g. Slow Motion, Panorama, Photosphere, Lens Blur, Lightning scenes and SmartBurst. You also get unlimited storage for photos and videos within the Google’s cloud, for free! Take a look at Google Pixel’s video stabilisation below.
The Google Pixel Battery life is said to be a whole lot better than the iPhone 7. Just 15 minutes of charging will give you 7 hours of battery life. Then if you charge the phone up to 100% which will take around an hour to an hour and a half, you will receive up to 24 hours of battery life. This is with fairly consistent use throughout the day.
Google Pixel is powered by QUALCOMM’s Snapgradon 821 processor. It has 4GB of RAM and you can choose between 32GB or 128GB of storage.
Google Pixel is the first phone that has been made with Virtual Reality in mind. This November the Google Daydream will be released, which is their new VR headset. The Google Pixel is the perfect partner for an exciting Virtual Reality experience.
It is very easy to switch your current iPhone or Android device over to the Google Pixel. Google have provided an easy to read step by guide on how to do this.
The Google Pixel is £599 for the 32GB version and £699 for the 128GB. For the Google Pixel XL it is £719 for the 32GB and £819 for the 128GB. Why not go ahead and treat yourself to an early Christmas present? Buy here!
Virtual Reality is the next big thing. With many brands making VR headsets that will take you into a whole new virtual world. Some of the biggest names within VR are HTC and Oculus and their headsets really are amazing. However, not all of us have about £600 pounds to spend on one, unfortunately. So Google have taken this into consideration and have a few alternatives for all of us who want in on the experience, without the hefty price tag.
So, Google began by creating a cardboard headset. Yes, cardboard! There is a section within the headset smartphone to be placed. You simply use the VR games from your smartphone along with the goggles within the headset and you have a VR experience. The whole point of the Google Cardboard is to use the intelligent kit within your smartphone. Once you have your headset, you will need to download the app called Cardboard by Google. This is where all of your VR games will be. Obviously you will not get a high resolution experience, but it is still pretty incredible.
So the price for one of these cardboard head sets currently stands at around £5-15 depending on what style you would like. However, still don’t want to spend that money as you aren’t really sure if you will like it? Well no worries, you can make your own! Marie Brewis, Managing Editor of PC Advisor and Macworld has created a step-by-step set of instructions on how to make your own cardboard headset for under $3! or check out this video below to see how you could create your own.
Following on from the cardboard phenomenon, Google received constructive comments on what their customers wanted next. Comfort was one of those key points. After a while the hard cardboard begins to create great discomfort due to the nature of the material used. So Google have taken this into consideration and have created Google Daydream. This headset has been made with lightweight, soft and breathable fabric which comes in 3 colours. Google have enhanced the comfort even more with a facepad that has been made to rest gently on the face. This facepad is removable and can be hand-washed whenever you would like. Unlike the Google Cardboard, the Google Daydream has a controller where smart sensors can provide smart tracking and movement. You can also change the volume level. Google Daydream will still be using a smartphone, similar to the Google Cardboard. The new Google Pixel is the perfect phone, fit for the Virtual Reality experience. Google will run apps and games downloaded from the Play Store.
Google Daydream is not yet out, it is to be released in November 2016. For one of these headsets with a controller included, you will be paying £69. Compared to the £500 Oculus Rift or the £700 HTC Vive, this is a bargain! Reviews are even saying that the Virtual Reality experience on the Daydream does not differ very much from these headsets! Check out the below video to find out more about the Google Daydream.
Thankfully, Google have given us some budgets ways so that we can all experience the VR world.
Minecraft is a video game that essentially is a virtual land and the users can create their own worlds. These are made through the construction of blocks, done by mining for building resources. This game really stretch’s the user’s creativity. As you may have already heard, Minecraft has taken a key role within classrooms throughout the world. Minecraft: Education Edition is an ‘open world game’ that can lend itself to the education curriculum. It contains many features that enable it to lend itself to the classroom.
Students can use their Office 365 Education accounts which enables them to have a simple sign-in. These accounts are secure and already have their information embedded. Minecraft lends itself so well to collaboration as up to 30 students can be actively working within one world, at one time. Teachers are even able to create an ‘non-player’ character. This character acts as a guide for the students, it will give instructions and provide information. A Chalkboard can be used within the games, they are there so that teachers can post learning goals and tasks. Links can even be added through the ‘non-player’ character as a point of reference. To document their development throughout the game, there is a camera option which will take screenshots.
There is a range of lessons for the educators which cater for age and lesson. You get objectives, questions, activities and learning criteria is each of these lessons. Here is an example of the lessons plans for each age groups.
|Creating a Virtual Community||Preventing Urban Sprawl||City Planning|
|Factors & Multiples||Loss of Biodiversity||Sustainable Living|
|Landmarks in The Community||Ignoring Climate Change||Solar Planning|
|Story Setting||Fraction Stories||Rube Goldberg MAchines|
|State History||Deforestation||Animal Farm|
|Area & Perimeter||Storytelling|
To start using Minecraft: education Edition you need to be signed up to Office 365 using the school or district email. You will then need your operating system to be either Windows 10 or OS X EI Capitan. Then lastly, you just need to download and enjoy!
There is an early version which is available for free, however the full version will cost you between $1 and $5 per user, per year. The price will vary depending on the size of the school and qualification for volume licensing. If you want to find out more visit the official Minecraft: Education Edition website, or watch this video to see how pupils enjoy using Minecraft in the classroom.
As I am sure you are already aware of, there is a app out called Pokémon Go and it has quickly become a great success.
The app allows you to travel between the real world and virtual reality whilst catching colourful critters with any iPhone or Android device. Within days, this app has become a massive success all over America, Australia and Germany but it has now become officially available in the UK today. Available from the App Store or Google Play.
Virtual Reality products have recently been rolled out more than ever before. Products such as VR headsets that have been made by well-known brands, PlayStation, Microsoft and HTC to name a few. Virtual Reality has been around since the 90s but its only been recently we are beginning to see how developers really are revolutionising VR and making these mind-blowing experiences. We are beginning to see it rolled out into gaming and entertainment, which is where Pokémon Go has become a hit.
Pokémon Go has got people up and active by sending them outside to certain locations to find and catch ‘wild Pokémon’. This app will make you explore cities and towns. The phone will vibrate when it is near a Pokémon. You then hold up your phone with the app loaded which will show you a camera, then the camera will show the real world setting with an animated Pokémon sat on it. You have to throw a ball to catch these Pokémon’s. These Pokémon’s could appear anywhere; art gallery’s, shops, parks and more.
Some people are even saying that Pokémon Go is helping to treat their mental health as it is getting them up and out of the house, interacting with others. As well as mental health, this game is even improving physical fitness with a user saying they had walked an extra 12 miles in 3 days.
It has been heard that is has quickly become the biggest mobile game in the United States when it is counting on the daily active users.
This game has added billions to the value of Nintendo, who part-owns the franchise.
Quickly becoming a phenomenon, and we are sure that it wont stop there. What do you think? Have you tried out the newest and hottest app? Let us know in the comments below.