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February 11, 2014

Table of Contents

Alma Launches Free K-12 School, Learning and Information Management System
Belkin Unveils Portable Tablet Stage
Mobento Introduces New Video Player Interface, Apps for Viewing Its Free Online Video Library
Evanced Solutions Launches Beta Version of Wandoo Planet
SMART Software to Empower Student Creativity and Collaboration Through 3D Printing

Alma Launches Free K-12 School, Learning and Information Management System

Alma has announced the launch of its Alma Learning and Information Management System, which it describes as a modern and affordable alternative to the expensive and fragmented student information (SIS) and learning management systems (LMS) currently in use in K-12 schools. Alma consolidates school, classroom and information management into one simple, intuitive and secure cloud-based system that minimizes busywork and improves efficiency, according to the announcement. Alma’s core services—including more than 100 SIS/LMS features, gradebooks and parent/student portals—are available for free.

Alma is designed to bring together and streamline student information, learning management, and curriculum and lesson planning in one personalized dashboard. Alma combines administrative features with productivity tools, collectively designed to work the way administrators and teachers naturally work.

Ten schools in New York, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia and Oregon have partnered with Alma to provide feedback and refine the development of the service during its prototype phase, and all have signed up to adopt the new version.

Alma offers an extensive range of core features, including: student information; traditional, standards-based and proficiency-based gradebooks; report cards; attendance tracking and reporting; parent and student portals; integrated school calendar; messaging and emergency notifications; standards tracking; and curriculum and lesson planning.

In addition to the free core offerings, Alma offers a range of specialized and high-touch services, such as custom data migration, which are offered for a nominal fee, meeting the needs of a wide variety of institutional challenges and budgets. The company plans to introduce new features every one to two months based on educator feedback and schools’ evolving needs.

As a cloud-based system, Alma requires no additional software to install or expensive hardware to maintain. The system is designed to ensure a smooth set up process and get schools up and running quickly, in as a little one day.

To ensure every school gets the highest caliber of hands-on training and support, availability of Alma in 2014 is limited to the first 500 schools nationwide that sign up. To learn more about Alma and its features, or to request a demo, visit

Source: Alma,

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Belkin Unveils Portable Tablet Stage

Belkin has unveiled its new portable version of Stage, which transforms tablets or smart phones into interactive digital creation and presentation tools. The company is demonstrating Portable Tablet Stage and other products designed for education at TCEA 2014 February 3-7 in Austin, Texas, where teachers, campus and district leaders will gather to share best practices for creating engaging classrooms that facilitate active and inspired learning.

Outfitting individual classrooms with an interactive whiteboard, document camera and computer can add up to several thousand dollars each, and requires extensive training and technical support. Belkin's Portable Tablet Stage transforms a tablet or smart phone into an interactive classroom tool at a fraction of this cost, the announcement states. Educators can present, conduct a video conference, record a tutorial video, or capture perfect pictures using a favorite mobile device. Connecting the phone or tablet to a second screen, such as a television or projector, enables content to be shared with audiences in real time. Lightweight and versatile, the Portable Tablet Stage can easily be transported between classrooms, used in professional development sessions, or taken on field trips.

Belkin's free Stage App for iPad adds interactive capabilities to the Tablet Stage, enabling users to capture live video and overlay text, labels, or highlight key points throughout presentations. Together with Stage App, Stage makes it simple to showcase a lesson or capture content with the iPad and, because it's portable, Stage can easily be used for interactive presentations on-the-go.

Key features included in Stage:
* Enables efficient, effective lectures and collaboration in podium mode
* Design is portable for easy transport and seamless on-the-go use
* Weighs 2.5 lbs, lighter than two iPads put together
* Angle adjustment allows ideal camera positioning and ergonomic use
* Has integrated cable management
* Fits tablets or smartphones with or without cases
* Compatible with Belkin Stage interactive whiteboard and document camera iPad app

The Belkin Portable Tablet Stage will be available April 2014 through Belkin's global network of distributors and resellers.

Source: Belkin,

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Mobento Introduces New Video Player Interface, Apps for Viewing Its Free Online Video Library

Mobento has introduced its new video player interface, and Android and iOS apps for viewing educational videos on the go. Mobento is a free, online library of curated videos for the K-12 market.

High quality video in schools was something Mobento founder Sumner Murphy felt strongly could improve the learning experience of all students. The entrepreneur and web developer sold investors on his idea on how to make that happen and landed the largest private education seed fund in the UK ever of $1.7 million last summer.

Murphy grew his team and has since taken his mission to the next level by focusing on user engagement, discoverability, being platform agnostic and creating a more intuitive user interface. He also just completed and released two new free apps for iOS and Android devices that enable educators and students to download and view videos offline or while on the go. Links to the apps are posted on - and Educators and students who are 12 or older can download the apps to their devices free of charge. currently hosts over 4,200 videos, all from exceptional academic institutions such as Stanford, Yale, NASA, and Khan Academy. By curating its videos, Mobento automatically delivers only content that meets the high standards of educators. This content combined with Mobento’s innovative search engine results in a powerful tool for video learning, according to the announcement. Mobento Search is a key word search that analyzes the spoken word within the videos to take users to the exact place in a video where the key words were spoken. By skipping right to the important part, educators can quickly discover the most relevant content.

Murphy is a fan of the flipped classroom model and an advocate for increasing the use of video in education. He designed Mobento to support educators whether they teach in a traditional, blended or flipped classroom. Educators can decide whether to present the videos in class or assign them to students to watch at home or download to mobile devices and view offline. Mobento helps teachers engage students by providing visual lessons from some of the best instructors and educational institutions in the world.

Educators can access Mobento’s free library of videos at The content is accessible 24-hours a day from any computer, tablet or smartphone with internet access, and videos that have been downloaded can be viewed offline via the mobile apps. Mobento also offers teachers the option of purchasing Mobento School Accounts. These accounts offer a private space for academic institutions to upload, manage and distribute their own content, organize it into courses and monitor the progress and engagement of their students.

Source: Mobento,

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Evanced Solutions Launches Beta Version of Wandoo Planet

Evanced Solutions, a library software developer, has announced the release of the beta version of the world’s first kid-powered interest genome project, Wandoo Planet. The subsidiary of Demco is seeking children, parents, educators and librarians to beta test the online platform—which will be widely available this spring as a free app—and provide their feedback.

The software empowers children ages 6-14 to explore their keenest interests by playing an interest-finding game. After they’ve decided on a few interests, they can then discover relevant books and movies via a personalized recommendation engine. Because Wandoo Planet is driven by an “adaptive learning system” algorithm, the more kids use the software, the “smarter” it will become—and the better its recommendations will be for all the kids who use it.

In the interest-finding game, kids are offered topics and activities that other kids have found to be interesting—from “Twilight” and unicorns to dirt biking, superheroes and everything in between. Kids then decide if they love, like or dislike what they see. Once they have identified a few interests they love—or want to explore further—their own interest sapling starts to grow into an interest tree with individual branches representing each interest. The branches then start to bud with suggested kid-friendly content that directly relates to users’ interests. As kids read and explore, interest branches grow leaves. Future versions of Wandoo Planet will connect directly to some libraries’ children’s collection holdings.

To help get the word out about Wandoo Planet, Evanced Solutions will kick off its Banish Boredom Tour this February. During the four-month-long road trip, the company will travel nearly 20,000 miles to visit libraries across the U.S.

To become a beta tester for Wandoo Planet, visit Sign-up for children younger than 13 requires adult assistance.

Source: Evanced Solutions,

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SMART Software to Empower Student Creativity and Collaboration Through 3D Printing

SMART Technologies Inc. has announced a plan to integrate SMART amp and SMART Notebook collaborative learning software with 3D printing technologies to unlock new ways to engage students. The company will also work with leading educators around the world to extend creativity and collaboration by bridging the gap between digital and physical learning materials. For many years, SMART has supported the progression of 3D learning tools, including various features in SMART Notebook collaborative learning software, SMART Document Cameras and SMART projectors.

SMART amp is a cloud-based education software platform that enables students and teachers to work seamlessly between interactive displays, smartphones, laptops and tablets, and will be available for commercial release in April 2014.

Source: SMART Technologies Inc.,

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