10 High-Tech Hardware and Software Tools Every Teacher Should Consider

By Rob Klindt

As technology continues to transform classroom learning, teachers are looking for the best hardware and software deals they can find.

But some devices like interactive whiteboards or scanners are pricey and school districts often aren’t able to stretch their budgets to buy one for every classroom. In that case, teachers may have to wait or share these items. Other tech goodies are free or available at a minimum cost.

Even if teachers can’t have every tech device or software program they want in their classroom, it’s important to know what’s available and how it can be used. While some devices are expensive, others are readily available at a modest cost.  Here’s a look at 10 education technology options, in order from most expensive to least expensive:

The priciest: lobby your school/district to invest

classroom technology illustration

Credit: iStockphoto.com

  • Interactive whiteboard. These devices use eBeam or SMART Board technology that gives teachers a digital platform to write notes and project them onto a whiteboard for lectures that can be saved and downloaded later for students.
  • Document camera scanner. Among the most popular is the Elmo series, which integrates with an interactive whiteboard to display scanned media, class notes and presentations.
  • Tablet charging stations. With more schools buying iPads, Kindles and other tablets for student use, it’s important that classrooms be equipped with charging stations that allow several tablets to be plugged in at a time. Cost is $80 and up at electronic stores and online retailers.
  • Attendance tracker. One of the most versatile programs is PowerSchool, which lets teachers track student attendance, assignments, grades and more. The results can be posted for parents to view at home. Fee-based with free apps for parents and students.

Moderately priced: you might be able to afford these out of your own pocket

  • Digital camera. A plethora of simple low-priced cameras are available at many retailers. Teachers can use them to quickly capture and digitize written content or create photo projects with students. Cost is $10 and up.
  • Portable flash drive. These devices are widely available and are great for storing and moving digital data including documents, photos, music, videos and even PowerPoint presentations between devices. Cost is about $8 for smaller-capacity drives (up to 4 gigabytes) and $25 and up for higher-capacity drives (32 GB or more).
  • Universal remote. These are very handy to control a variety of classroom gadgets including televisions, DVD players, cameras and even some whiteboard projectors. Cost is $15 or less.

Free: These have no fees but will require taking time to learn

  • Video lessons. This software allows teachers to create lessons on video using interactive whiteboard technology. An example is Edureations, which works with an iPad or the through the company website. Free.
  • Video streaming/Web conferencing. Among the best streaming content services for classroom use is SchoolTube, which focuses on educational content without commercials. Skype is one of the easiest-to-use Web conference programs and allows multiple users. Free.
  • Private group texting. A great way to send students, and their parents, reminders about assignments coming due or upcoming tests is to use Remind101. This Web-based program allows registered users to receive texts, but not reply to them.  Free, but registration is required.

Technology in the classroom takes many forms from simple to complex. But in the end, it’s how teachers use that technology to engage students in the learning process that’s most important.