Apple profit jumps to $8.8 bn, but below forecasts

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Apple profit jumps to $8.8 bn, but below forecasts (via AFP)

Apple on Tuesday reported a rise in its quarterly profit to $8.8 billion on hot iPad sales but the results came up short of lofty Wall Street expectations, prompting its shares to dive. The profit in the fiscal quarter to June was up 20.5 percent from a year earlier and amounted to $9.32 dollars a…

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LabQuest 2 from Vernier- Connected Science System

It has been a couple of years since I last reviewed the Labquest from Vernier, so when I was able to get my hands on the LabQuest 2, I was really excited to find out about all the new enhancements in this new handheld connected science system. The LabQuest 2 is about the size of large cell phone with a high contrast screen that is powered by a high capacity rechargeable Lithium battery. The Labquest 2 has a great design and feels very solid in your hands as you use the device. The high resolution touch screen is great for viewing when you are using it outside in the field. Vernier did not skimp on the processing power in this device and you will find it very responsive when you are collecting or analyzing data on the device. The LabQuest 2 supports all of the Vernier sensors making it easy for schools who have invested in their devices and probes. The LabQuest 2 now includes both WiFi and Bluetooth which opens up all kinds of possibilities which I will discuss later in the post. Additionally, the LabQuest 2 has built-in accelerometers as well as GPS which can be utilized with other sensors for recording such data. I should mention that the LabQuest 2 is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers.

LabQuest 2 Screenshot
But no matter how good the hardware is-how does the LabQuest 2 hold up when in use? This is where this device really shines! Teachers will find that the LabQuest 2 is a dream to use-just plug in the sensor which will be automatically detected by the LabQuest 2 and press the Collect button to get started. Instantly students will be able to see their data being displayed on the screen. Once the data is collected students can spend their time using the analytic tools built in or transfer the data to a computer. Teachers can also have students email the data, graph, or screenshot directly from the LabQuest 2, that was captured, which makes it easy to include in a lab report. The LabQuest 2 supports analysis with linear and curve fits and allows students to record their notes on the device, with the on-screen keyboard. Teachers will enjoy the fact- knowing that the LabQuest 2 comes with over 100 experiments that are pre-loaded on the device which students can access. If teachers would like to customize the labs, Vernier has a handy Lab Creator Tool that is available to teachers that allows you to tweak the lab to your liking. 

Vernier Data Share on iPhone 4S
In this age of bring your own device (BYOD) Vernier has taken this model to heart and created the "connected science system," allowing anyone with a browser to view and interact with the collected data. This enables students with iPhones, Android Phones, iPod Touches, and iPads, to launch their browser and view the data live as it is being collected. All the students need to to do is go to their Settings and make sure that their device and the LabQuest 2 is on the same wireless network. Now simply launch the browser and enter in the IP address or name of Network and voila you are ready to view the data being collected in real time. I have tested various browsers, using my iPhone, iPad, and Kindle Fire with the LabQuest 2 and in each case the data was instantaneously available for me to preview in real time. For a richer set of tools, teachers can purchase the Graphical Analysis for iPad app from the App Store.

With the LabQuest 2, Vernier has transformed the way teachers need to think about teaching science in the classroom and provided them with an easy and powerful solution for capturing data in real time. Utilizing their "connected science system" with the LabQuest 2 it is now possible to extend their set of tools to students, so that they can collaborate in real time-by simply launching a browser. For teachers that want to create more interactive science lessons and give students the opportunity to collect data the LabQuest 2 is certainly an outstanding tool you should include in your classroom. Giving students the opportunity to both visualize and analyze data is at the heart of science and what better way to make it hands-on than with the LabQuest 2. For ore information about the LabQuest 2 you can click here.

If you are considering using the LabQuest 2 in your classroom Vernier will be offering free 4 hour workshop sessions in the Fall. For more information about the workshops click here.

Easi-Speak USB Microphone

Finding ways to engage students in the classroom with easy to use tools is always a challenge for teachers. But when you do find and easy to use tool that works well-its time to share. I recently had the opportunity to review the Easi-Speak digital microphone form Learning Resources and it name says it all. The Easi-Speak USB microphone has a built-in rechargeable battery that can last up to 4 hours on a charge, giving you and your students plenty of time to record. The Easi-Speak USB microphone can be charged via the USB port on your computer and there is no need to ever have to change or discard batteries. 

The Easi-Speak USB microphone is simple to use and is ideal for students in the kindergarten all the way up through the grades. Students can start recording by clicking the Red button on the microphone and when they are done they can simply press the Red button again to end the recording session. I had my graduate students use the Easi-Speak USB microphone and they were really excited and impressed with the quality of the audio recordings. Many of my students were looking forward to purchasing an Easi-Speak USB microphone to use in their classrooms for reading fluency, story telling, and for podcasting. The Easi-Speak USB microphone can save the audio files in the MP3 or WAV format making it easy to utilize with other computer applications. In fact when you plug in the Easi-Speak USB microphone into a USB port it mounts as a flash drive where you can find all of your recordings. The Easi-Speak USB microphone ships with a copy of Audacity giving you the ability to edit the sound files. With the Easi-Speak USB microphone, simple controls and quality recordings, this is one tool most teachers will definitely want to have in the classroom.

Here is short video about Easi-Speak USB microphone.

To be in the running for a free Easi-Speak USB microphone click here and share how you would use this tool in the classroom.

Screencast: Creating a Matching Activity in Clicker 6

In my previous post I spoke about just how easy it was to create a Matching Activity in Clicker 6 with it new Wizards and thought that I would show you how quickly this could be accomplished. Likewise, my other reason for creating the screencast was to work with the latest version of Camtasia Studio 8 which was recently released. If you are doing screencasting of any sort, then you will want to take a look at the latest release of Camtasia Studio 8. I was able to create this polished screencast with Camtasia Studio in minutes and share it with you using their on line storage component called, In the age of the "flipped classroom," Camtasia Studio 8 is an essential tool and one that will make your videos shine. Please look for a more in depth review of Camtasia Studio 8 in the coming weeks.

Clicker 6 - A Whole New Game!

I have been meaning to write about Clicker 6 for some time now, but it has been an incredibly busy spring and summer and I didn't get a chance to sit down and reflect on the latest release. Truth be told I have been a big fan of Clicker for a long time now and with the current release I am even more excited with the potential of this program with students with a wide range of abilities. Having worked with a lot of assistive technology over the years one of the key criteria for me is that it has got to be easy to use. If it takes me awhile to learn how to use a software program then I know that it is doomed in the classroom. The latest release of Clicker 6 now includes Activity Wizards which make using the program a real dream. Just this morning I had the chance to use Clicker 6 with a student I was working with who had underlying cognitive and language disabilities and within seconds of selecting a Talk About Wizard I had developed a picture based activity that he could use to tell a story about the pictures on the screen. It was incredible just how engaged the student was and how exciting it was to see the expression on his teacher's face as he told his story. Using the Activity Wizard the activity was created within 15 seconds. In today's, fast paced classroom having tools at your disposal that can create rich curriculum based materials is more important than ever.

After I created this Talk About activity, I decided to create a picture to word matching activity to see if the student could match the pictures to the word. To create this activity, I selected the Matching Wizard, followed the on-screen prompts and selected the pictures that I had downloaded to a folder on my desktop. Again within 10 seconds my matching activity was up and running and the student could give it a try. The teachers were very impressed and were able to see just how easy it was to create the activity. Clicker 6 provides students with high quality text to speech supports and with the integration of the webcam, audio and multimedia it is my go to program for students that have a wide range of learning challenges. If you have not looked at Clicker for awhile I would urge you to take a look at the current release which has a lot to offer. I am planning another post to talk about the other supports that are now integrated into Clicker 6 namely, word prediction, switch support, and drawing tools. So watch for another post about Clicker 6 to be coming soon!

Are You Thinking About a Mindmapping Conference?

It has been a number of years since I had initiated putting together a mind mapping conference here in New Jersey, and today I was talking to my good friend and visual mapper Wallace Tait about the possibility of setting up a mind mapping conference so that we convene and share ideas. With the economy in its current state we need to bring innovation and ideas to the work that we do whether it is in the public or private sectors. What better way to  kick-start this year then by planning to convene interested participants who want to explore how we can put mind mapping to use in the work that we do.

I have spoken to Wallace about the idea for an Unconference -whereby we pick a time and place and build the agenda the day of the conference based on your needs. This model has worked really well in the educational marketplace and is one that could work well for us. At the Unconference we could learn about new and innovative ways that people are using mind mapping in the work that they do, whether it is academic, personal, or business related. In this spirit, it would be great to have some corporate sponsorship that could take care of some of the expenses and be a host for the day. I for one think that a mind mapping conference is long overdue and hope that some of the leading companies in this arena will find value in this idea and step up to the plate to make this a reality. I know that Wallace and I are willing to put the time in to see that it happens. If you are interested in making this a reality please feel free to contact me.  All the best and Happy Mind Mapping!