Gadgets for Creativity and Productivity
Since I make presentations and facilitate workshops about all sorts of different technologies, I try to get my hands on devices and gadgets that I think might be helpful to teachers. Here is my continually updated list of tech gear that I use and recommend.
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After years of using a Logitech Cube as my remote, I've upgraded! The Logitech Spotlight connects through USB or Bluetooth. Its killer feature is its air mouse—I can wave the remote to move the mouse on the screen, and the area around the cursor is highlighted. It's great for pointing out buttons, words, and parts of photos. There's also a button that can black out my screen.
I've used a Brother label printer for years to make stickers that I hand out at my presentations. Brother's P-Touch software makes it easy to add QR codes. A roll of replacement labels is about $13 and yields about 500 stickers (if you use this template I made in P-Touch).
Before using a ring light, getting the lighting just right for my videos was not easy. Now I place my smartphone in the middle of the light, and I have a perfectly lit face for videos and photos. It turns out that this kind of lighting is quite flattering. To complete your the setup, you'll also want to get an adjustable light stand, hot shoe adapter, and smartphone tripod mount. You could buy all this together in one kit, but it more expensive that way.
The iRig Mic HD is the microphone I use with my iPhone or iPad when I broadcast using the Periscope app. It connects to the Lightning port and does a fantastic job of reducing background noise.
I love this drone! I has a 4K camera, four mile range, 27 minute battery life, and very smooth camera stabilization. It can fold down to the size of a shoe, making it great for travel. The Mavic Pro takes stunning photos and videos, and it can broadcast to Periscope, YouTube Live, or Facebook Live. I suggest getting the Deluxe Bundle to get two extra batteries, multi-charger, and shoulder bag.
The Mevo camera is a wide angle 4K camera with iOS software for zooming, panning, and cutting. Mevo works with Facebook Live and Periscope. It's great for live streaming interviews and presentations. When viewers watch, it appears that you have a camera crew working for you, but in reality it's one high-resolution camera image that is being edited live!
I bought these windscreen foam covers for my iRig Mic HD, and they will fit other handheld microphones as well. They are super cheap and it's fun when my audience notices that I've switched colors.
This cube slips onto my handheld microphone. I can affix logos, web addresses, and social media information to the cube, making that information visible to my live audience.
Putting my iPad, tablet, phone, or microphone into a voice isolation booth significantly reduces background noise and echoes. I use an isolation booth when I record voice overs because it gives my productions a crisp clear recording. One of these would make for an excellent classroom recording center! A cheaper option is to buy acoustic foam and make your own isolation boxes.
I use the Nootle to mount my iPad on a tripod for recording videos or for using my iPad as a teleprompter. The Nootle is adjustable and fits small Android tablets, iPads minis, and other tablets. It does not expand large enough to hold an iPad Pro.
The Theta S has dual 180° cameras that take seamless spherical photos and videos. You can view the photos and videos in the Theta iOS or Android app or upload to the Ricoh website. You can also upload (after your Mac or Windows computer processes the video) to YouTube for 360° viewing in a Google Cardboard viewer.
If you don't already have a tripod, this one is sturdy and can be adjusted to be very tall or very short. Its three-way pan head allows it to work perfectly with the Grifiti Nootle to mount an iPad.
I used the Square Jellyfish mount back when I recorded my Periscope broadcasts in portrait. Now that Periscope allows for horizontal videos, I don't use this mount. But if you prefer to broadcast vertically, this is the mount for you.
The Nifty Zip Pod is the tripod I travel with. It's very compact and takes seconds to set up because it instantly springs open. At 48 inches, this tripod isn't as tall or as adjustable as a full sized tripod, but I love that it fits in my backpack.
While this lens kit comes with 3 lens, the only one I really use is the super wide angle lens. It clips onto my iPhone, iPad, Surface, or Android tablet to cover the front or rear facing camera. The lens allows the camera to show a wider angle, which is great for Periscope broadcasts because I can fit multiple people in the shot.
It's not fun to hold a smartphone for long periods of time when filming video. This hand grip is super helpful, especially for live broadcasting. I use a Square Jellyfish tripod mount to attach my iPhone to the grip (or a cheaper tripod mount will work just fine).
I use this stand to hold my iPad above a surface so I can use it as a visualizer. Justand's height and angle are fully adjustable, so it can be used to hold large and small tablets in a variety of positions. Read more about using iPad (and other tablets) as a document camera.
JustandGo is designed to hold any iPad or smartphone above a surface so you can use it as a document camera. JustandGo is not as adjustable as the Justand v2, but it is much more compact and portable. Read more about JustandGo.
I use the Lanparte HHG-01 to stabilize my videos. I've got some amazing shots with my and this gimbal. It uses motors to stabilize my phone. My videos look so smooth—they look like they were filmed using a camera crane. Unfortunately, I cannot use a microphone with this gimbal because plugging in a mic will cause imbalance.
I carry a lot of little gadgets and cables with me, and Grid-It helps keep them organized. It's a board with lots of elastic straps. I use the largest Grid-It they make, and it can fit my USB cables, power adapter, hard drive, power bank, presenter remote, adapters, and portable speaker. When traveling, I just pull out my Grid-It for easy access to my stuff.
This is my green screen. At 8 feet tall, it's very large and needs to lean against a wall. I love that it's collapsible, so I can easily store it when not in use. Unlike my old green screen that I had to iron to get our wrinkles, the tension in this green screen stretches the fabric so it's smooth. FYI: The secret to a really great green screen effect is good lighting.
I use the this background for some of my videos, photos, and webinars. The white side looks like a sheet draped behind me, but the black looks pretty classy. When opened, the tension stretches the fabric to make for a pretty smooth surface. I use this clip and stand kit to hold up my background.
Proper lighting helps my Periscope and green screen videos look more professional. My pair of StudioPRO lights are extremely bright, so it's a good thing they are dimmable. Having two light panels positioned correctly reduces shadows. The lights come with diffuser covers, which I help me control the lighting, and the stands are completely adjustable.
These lights are powered by AA batteries and I use them to light myself when I record webinars. I also use them for when I film in front of a green screen. These lights come with a variety of diffuser covers, which I use to control the lighting. The included tripods are very short, so you may need to place them on tablets, chairs, or taller tripods.
I've been using a Yeti microphone with my computers for years. It's great for recording podcasts and voice overs. I've seen it used in lots of classrooms because several students can huddle around the mic to say their parts. Yeti requires too much power to work with an iPad or iPhone using Apple's USB Camera Adapter–unless you use plug it into a powered USB hub.
I like to have extra power for my devices that charge through USB in case I'm not hear a power outlet. The higher the capacity, the larger physical size and weight of the battery. 10000mAh is a good capacity that will charge an iPad to one full charge or a smartphone a few full charges. Having a portable charger on hand in the classroom is handy—students can continue working on their USB-powered devices and not have to be tethered to a power outlet.
I use this adapter to mirror my iPad's display to a projector by connecting to its VGA cable. Yes, there are wireless ways to mirror an iPad, but using an adapter is the most reliable method for getting my screen projected in front of a class or audience. There are actually 4 different kinds of iPad adapters, so use this chart to figure out which one you need.