When we think of new technology in the classroom, our minds tend automatically to go to tablets, which have been widely deployed throughout certain school districts. While that's creating the biggest buzz, the possibilities of technology in educational environments doesn't end there, especially not when you consider tech for teachers.
That's a whole different ballgame, and one that you can get much more imaginative with, since you're focused more on the needs of one professional, rather than a sea of students. We've compiled a list of the top 10 gadgets for teachers who are heading back to school this fall.
1. Trust Wireless Presenter 16661
In the past, teachers were stuck at the chalkboard or whiteboard while giving presentations, but thanks to wireless presenters, they're now free to roam the room while executing a spot-on (literally) presentation. This impressive laser pointer fits easily in one hand, with your index finger controlling the clicks. Your thumb rests on a trackball atop the device. Best of all, you don't need to buy any accompanying software as after pressing 'connect' on the USB receiver and then on the presenter you can interact wirelessly. It has 2.4 GHz wireless operation and range of up to 10 meters. Order one from Amazon (opens in new tab) for £57.25 (US $89; AUD $122).
2. iPad Air 2
Are you the teacher whose students have an iPad but you don't? Well, that's simply inexcusable, and as the commander-in-chief in an infamously hectic and stressful environment, you deserve some top-shelf tech. Apple has improved upon its already stellar tablet, iPad Air, by bringing faster performance, a better LCD screen, and an impossibly slim body. It costs not much more than what lesser tablet models go for, and as a teacher, you probably have far better excuses for needing it than most people. Snag your own iPad Air 2 16GB (opens in new tab) for $499 (£320; AUD $683).
3. Wacom Inkling
Taking notes is a key part of learning, but also of teaching. And in a digital age, pen and paper can only go so far. The Inkling is a digital sketching tool from Wacom that lets you create drawings on any type of papery surface and transfer them directly onto your Mac. This particular model is designed to for artistic renderings and features a ballpoint nib. The detail is incredibly precise such that it will work great not only for notes, but also for sketches, making it a wonderful gadget for art teachers in particular. Pick one up on Amazon (opens in new tab) for $80 (£51; AUD $109).
4. Numonics Intelliboard Interactive Whiteboard
This technology takes the concept of the dusty, dull projectors many of us grew up with and transforms it into a clean, high-res experience, delivering image quality of over 1,000 lines per inch. Compatible with both Mac and Windows, the projector projects the computer's desktop image onto the 77" inch board's hard laminate surface. Teachers can write or draw over the projected images, and use the stylus as a pen or a mouse. It comes with the RM Easiteach Software, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and clip art library. The system isn't cheap, but neither is its quality. It retails (opens in new tab) for around $1724 (£1107; AUD $2359).
5. Acer Pico C120
That interactive whiteboard is a pretty dynamite product, but if you want a much less expensive alternative, opt for a portable projector like the Acer Pico C120. Small enough to fit in your pocket, this device is powered by a laptop via USB and can reach 100 lumens of brightness, and is ideal for Powerpoint presentations. You probably won't need it, but it does sport a miniature kickstand. And while it doesn't project HD, it gets the job done and will cost you about $190 (opens in new tab) (£122; AUD$ 260). The major drawback with this guy is that it isn't compatible with Macs, so proceed only if you're a PC person.
6. PowerStick +
Many teachers — particularly college professors — aren't in one classroom all day, but are shuffling from space to space throughout the course of a school day. Having all your devices fully charges is essential. This portable charger can juice up phone and other mobile devices to get them back up to 100%. You can charge it by plugging it into your laptop via USB, and then unplug it and pop it in your pocket where it won't lose any of its charge. If you want it to double as a storage device, you can pay more for flash memory up to 16GB. Otherwise, buy a PowerStick (opens in new tab)+ for $65 (£42; AUD $89).
7. Brother High-Speed Label Printer QL-710
It's often the simplest tasks that are the most annoying, and many teachers and teacher's aides find themselves wasting precious time just creating labels for things. Pre-school teachers may need to label boxes of crayons and/or cubbies. A science teacher may spend hours labeling various specimens. The Brother High-Speed Label Printer QL-710 won't take all the work away, but it will make it a fluid, Wi-Fi connected process that yields clean, clear copy. Plus, it can print more than 90 labels per minute. It retails (opens in new tab) for $90 (£58; AUD $ 123).
8. Moto 360
People in all sorts of careers are embracing the smartwatch because looking at one's wrist is generally less distracting and/or rude than staring at your phone. Teachers definitely fit in that body of professionals. Moto 360 is by far the best looking smartwatch out there (it actually looks like a watch, which, in a watch, is a good thing), and backed by Google's intelligent software, it brings Android lovers some familiar functions. It features an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the LCD brightness, and Gorilla Glass 3 protection — in case the kids get rowdy.
Unlike the Apple Watch, this won't break the bank; it retails for $250 (£200, AU$275).
9. Cambridge Audio G2
Ready to start the party, 'teach? Just kidding. A solid audio system can actually be an important part of teaching, especially if you're a college professor delivering a lecture to a packed auditorium. This elegant little Bluetooth speaker boasts a full, balanced sound and can be charged over USB and the battery lasts up to 10 hours. The G2 can pick up a Wi-Fi connection from up to 25 feet away, and it's small enough to be easily transported in a briefcase, or the tote bag it comes with. The price varies by color, with the least expensive being the basic black for $96 (opens in new tab) (£62; AUD $131).
10. Citrix Go To Meeting
You may not count software as a gadget, but you could beg to differ when you, or a student, is working remotely and need to connect face to face and Skype won't cut it. A videoconferencing solution like Citrix Go To Meeting could be ideal for teachers in scenarios when they need to go over a particular document saved on one's computer. The software allows a desktop user to share his/her screen with other remote viewers. It's typically used by businesses, but it's open to anyone, and could be wonderful for teachers conducting an online class. It's free for up to three users, and from there costs $39/month (£30/AU$55) billed annually for up to 25 attendees, and $56/month (£40/AU$70) billed annually for up to 100 attendees.