VIEWS: 29 PAGES: 7 CATEGORY: Emerging Technologies POSTED ON: 3/16/2010
The EZ Teach System from Just Add Power makes any PC lab more productive for teaching and training.
School Vision Inc
Authorized Consultant for Just Add Power
The EZ Teach System from Just Add Power makes any PC lab more productive for teaching and training. Bill McIntosh School Vision Inc Authorized Consultant for Just Add Power Phone:843-442-8888 Email :WKMcIntosh@Comcast.net
The EZ Teach System from Just Add Power Education and technology have always been an integral part of my life and my career. During my days as a student at the University of South Carolina, computers were still big machines that could only be communicated with via a stack of punch cards. As soon as it became affordable, I purchased one of the first “personal computers” , a Commodore Vic 20 and began to teach myself to program in BASIC . During my ten-year career as a teacher, I immediately saw the power of computers to involve and excite students when I got my first computer in my social studies class in Lake City in 1983. Finding ways to integrate technology into teaching became one of my passions. I got a chance to work with computers and students on a full-time basis when I was hired to start a computer class at Middle School in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina in 1986. That also led to an offer to go to work for a local technology company, which I did on a part time basis until I was offered a full time job. I left teaching on a date easy to remember, 8/8/88, to start a new career, marketing educational technology to schools. During the last 20 years, I have helped schools to acquire whiteboards, projectors. Voting pad systems, and various other technology products, I have seen these products, when put to thoughtful use by a dedicated teacher make a great impact on teaching and learning. However, I have not seen any product the kind of potential for immediate and effective change in the integration of existing technology into teacher-centered instruction as has the EZ teach system from Just Add Power Inc. I met Ed Qualls the president of Just Add Power three years ago. I have shared info about his products with those I thought might be interested. One of my clients, Starbase Florida, when they heard about EZ Teach purchase a system based on my recommendation. Here is the story about how EZ Teach impacted teaching and learning at that site. http://www.scribd.com/doc/4459877/StarBaseEZTeach This is the story of a Science Education program in Jacksonville Florida that serves elementary students from some of the toughest neighborhoods of inner city Jacksonville. A second Starbase site in Sacramento California also has EZ teach. I was a little concerned when I didn‟t hear from the instructor who had ordered the system. It turns out she was deployed overseas. When I talked to the director of Starbase California, about the system he had only three words to share: “We love it”. I had seen CPS in use at Starbase Florida, but the questions remained: Would other educators also realize the value of this product? Seeing EZ teach in action with a large group of educators was something that was really eye-opening. I was invited by Ed Qualls to join him at NECC in San Antonio in July of 2008 to assist the folks from Adobe who asked that his product, the EZ teach system, be made available to use in the Adobe training workshops that are conducted every year during NECC. One thing I learned from this experience is how easy it is to set up EZ Teach. Ed and I added the EZ teach system to two 30-computer labs in two hours each. Most of that time was spent taping down the cables, since this was a temporary set-up and we didn‟t want anyone to “trip”. It was fascinating to see EZ Teach in use by new participants. The Adobe instructors were immediately able to grasp the use of the simple EZ Touch Console that allows an instructor to broadcast, darken or release screens. In just a few minutes, instructors that had never seen the system before were able to master it. Someone once said “the most powerful product is one that people actually USE,” and the fact the Adobe instructors were up and running right away was clear evidence that there is a very short learning curve with EZ Teach. Several of the Adobe instructors asked specifically if they would get to use EZ Teach again at the training sessions Adobe will be hosting at the ILC conference in San Jose in October, 2008. We were happy to respond that EZ Teach will be featured at the ILC conference. We have found that those who have used EZ Teach quickly become its biggest advocates. Not only are the Adobe instructors from NECC anxious to use EZ Teach the next time they are asked to demonstrate Adobe products, all of them are active school teachers. Several have gathered the info they need and will be making a case for purchasing an EZ Teach system for their computer lab at home. One person could not wait until he got home. An elementary principal went out during a break, got a PO number and arranged to have the demo system in use in the lab where he was learning about Adobe software shipped back to his school in the Chicago area. Seeing is believing when it comes to EZ Teach Is there really a need for such a system? Here is a quote from USA Today In 50 poor, rural South Carolina schools, I recently counted more than 10,000 computers in 2,000 classrooms. Only twice did I see an elementary student in a classroom using a computer. I did see students using them in computer labs but almost invariably to learn low level keyboarding skills. Students seldom used modern interactive instructional software. Source: James Guthrie. &al " Computers idle in public schools" USA Today, 18 March 2003 This quote is now 7 years old. This article did not list the schools involved. To apply this to all schools in South Carolina, or all schools anywhere, is neither entirely true, kind, nor fair. A one-time visit is not a true picture, merely a snapshot. But such a quote is thought-provoking. A system that allows teachers to control and make effective use of the PC labs by giving teachers control and make it “easier for them to teach” would go a long way towards alleviating this kind of situation where it does, in fact, exist. EZ Teach, because it is hardware based, is very fast and efficient. We didn‟t have a single “technical glitch” during 5 days of continuous training sessions. And, in one case where the projector lamp failed, the training class would have come to screeching halt if EZ Teach were not in use: EZ teach gave each participant a “front row seat” because they saw a mirror image of the presentation, what was also being shown on the projector. It was also interesting to note that even when the 8x8 screen WAS back in use when the lamp was replaced , the participants in the back row of the computer lab had a “front row seat” because EZ Teach made it possible for them to see clearly on their PC screen what the instructor was doing. I was especially interested to notice that even the people in the front two or three rows were also looking at the instructor screen on their PC monitor, rather than the projector screen, since the color fidelity and clarity on the monitor will always be clearer than a projector image, no matter how large or bright. Do I need to point out that schools are finding replacing expensive data- projector lamps to be a costly burden? In many computer labs, EZ teach would obviate the need for a projector, in many cases, with a one-time investment. Also, because EZ Teach is hardware, not software, district PC support staff don‟t have to go from school to school installing updates or patches. In the last few years alone, Windows has gone from Win NT to WinXP, to Vista to Windows 7. Each of those updates required reconfiguration of not only the PC OS, but the software that works with it. There are schools that have been using EZ teach since Win 95 with no updates. That is 15 years! This system is also “unhackable” by students, because it is hardware. . I found, being a gamer, quite by accident, the hacks to defeat one commonly used software system for PC control among the “ tips” on an Xbox gamer‟s site. A system that kids can easily defeat is not much better than no system. It is important to note that this EZ Teach does not compete with, interfere with, or in any way hamper the use of some of the other innovative interactive technologies coming into classroom use. In fact, EZ teach is a “force multiplier” for these kinds of technologies. An instructor with an Interactive Whiteboard will find that not only can students see the projected image onto the whiteboard, but now, when a whiteboard is used in a PC lab setting, students are also seeing a “mirror image” on their PC screen. Likewise with student response pads, or “clickers” , the clicker questions can be put on each PC screen , where the students can respond. With the advent of software that turns a PC into a „virtual clicker” this system will give teachers an added level of control on how that kind of assessment is used in the class. Here is where you can find some information on the products for computer labs offered by Just Add Power : http://www.justaddpower.com/Training-Labs/View-all-products.html This is also a good time to point out that EZ Teach works only with computers that have a separate external monitor. EZ teach does not work with student laptops, or all-in-one computers, as some of the iMacs and PCs that have the CPU and monitor built into a single unit. EZ Teach works by attaching a small hardware box to each monitor and that is not possible with a laptop or self-contained unit EZ Teach does support laptops and most all-in-one PCs as the teacher station. We would also need to know if you wish Just Add Power to provide the needed Cat 5 cables. Many schools have lots of these cables already available, but we can provide them, at a very reasonable price, if needed. Another benefit of EZ teach, is that it also connects together not only the PCs, but also the sound cards. Just Add Power can supply headphones for each station and a teacher microphone. With this system you get not only a “PC control” system, but also a classroom sound system. And this is all accomplished without connecting the LAN or NIC cards. The small external “box” that goes to each station does this, without the need for networking or adding traffic to already overburdened networks. If you would like a product quote on what this would cost to install in one of your computer labs, we s imply would need to know how many student stations are involved, and whether you plan to supply your own cables, headphones, and microphone. A lot of people have chosen EZ Teach based on the product materials. If you would like to “test drive” EZ Teach, we do have a limited number of test drive kits we can make available. Just Add Power Inc sells EZ Teach directly to schools, which is a sole source for this product. If you would like a product brochure on EZ Teach, you can find it here : http://www.slideshare.net/WKMcIntosh/the-ez-teach-system-from-just-add- power Here is a product sheet that answers the basic question: “Why EZ Teach?” http://www.slideshare.net/WKMcIntosh/why-choose-ez-teach Please let me know how I can provide any additional information about this innovative new product. I have seen the future of PC labs..and it works. Sincerely yours Bill McIntosh School Vision Inc. Authorized Just Add Power Consultant Phone: 843-442-8888 Email: WKMcIntosh@Comcast.net Just Add Power Website: www.JustAddPower.com
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