Hugh John waves his magic wand over the latest ICT solutions
Looking for new technologies to embed ICT into teaching practice? You'll be spoilt for choice at the Education Show. But before hunting out those cutting-edge software and hardware tools, why not take time to drop in at the ICT Zone? That is where Becta award winners and schools recognised for exemplary practice using ICT will be demonstrating the way in which technologies can be used to enhance learning and teaching.
Whiteboard development moves on apace and all the major players will be represented at the NEC in Birmingham. Check out the Smart Board 600 series at USL Audio Visual. The new range is more powerful, versatile and stable than ever with Smart Board software now including more than 5,000 images and templates. And Smart's new AirLiner wireless slate (pound;199, excluding VAT) allows teachers and students to control what is happening on the screen from anywhere in the classroom - without wires.
Star billing on the Promethean stand goes to the ActivBoard series, which uses the highly configurable Activprimary and Activstudio software.
Designed by teachers, Activ gives instant access to the Internet and includes a huge range of measuring tools, images, activities and flipcharts including the recently introduced Just Phonics - Speed Sounds multimedia software.
Hitachi Software Engineering will unveil what the firm calls "the fastest, most accurate interactive whiteboard available". The Cambridge Board incorporates the latest operating software, is extremely robust and provides the highest resolution presently available. Hitachi will also be promoting a new 17-inch interactive tablet, the Starboard t17SXL, as well as showcasing its new Chameleon StarBoard software, which has been specifically designed to run on whiteboards from all the major manufacturers.
Keyboard skills are unquestionably an aid to good performance in the classroom. Visit EPAR Software for a demonstration of its new product, Keyboard Wizard. A collection of 20 games for children from 4 to 10, this programme is designed to help children understand and familiarise themselves with the layout of a computer keyboard. Designed to be dyslexia-friendly, the games reinforce concepts such as upper and lower case alphabet, noun, verb and adjective recognition. EPAR will also be showing its IEP Wizard at stand IT-P50. For teachers required to write regular reports, decent software that allows them to monitor progress on each target is essential, and IEP Wizard does just that. Reports can be produced in graphical or tabular format for individuals, classes or year groups.
Data Harvest will be showing the double-award winner Graphical Logger Pack, which incorporates a Pocket PC configured for use in the science laboratory. The new top-of-the-range Easy Sense Q Advanced datalogger will also be on display.
Sherston will premiere two new data-logging and problem-solving CD-Roms.
Look out for Gomez Returns and Professor Roberts' Problem Solving Kit, which introduce KS2 students to sensors, data logging and interpretation of data that includes light, sound and weather conditions.
Given their classroom-led approach, it is hardly surprising that Softease and 2Simple enjoy such popularity and esteem within the education community. Textease Studio CT is an integrated set of tools that cover virtually the whole QCA scheme of work for ICT and is designed to facilitate the embedding of ICT into the primary curriculum. Also on show will be Textease IdeasMap and Tizzy's First Tools. In addition to established favourites such as 2Connect, 2Investigate, and 2Draw, 2Simple will be introducing a new product for use at foundation stage and Year 1.
SimpleCity includes a range of virtual activities - Visit the Vet, Drive a Car, Build a House, Go to the Cafe - that encourage children to develop language, listening and creative play skills.
* USL Audio Visual Stand IT-M94
* Promethean Stand F20
* Hitachi Interactive Solutions Stand P3-H32
* EPAR Software Stand SW-P50
* Data Harvest Stand SW-P33
* Sherston Stand M50
* Softease Stand SW-M24
* 2Simple Stand IT-N80