Microscope.com Launches Exo Labs Focus Microscope Camera™ for iPad®

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Exo_Labs_LogoEdTech Times had the chance to speak with the great folks behind Exo Labs at the time of their product announcement and when they launched their successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.   Now Exo Labs has secured a reseller in the microscopy channel to distribute their product to grab the attention of more young scientists out there.

Here is the press release from PRWeb:

Microscope.com and Exo Labs are pleased to announce that Microscope.com has been appointed as the exclusive reseller in the microscopy internet channel for the Exo Labs Focus Microscope Camera, a new tool that seamless connects microscopes to the Apple iPad.

Roanoke, VA (PRWEB) July 23, 2013

The Focus Camera replaces the eyepiece of a microscope and streams the image to the iPad where the Focus App provides a range of compelling functionality and empowers users to work directly with the image. Because the device connects directly to the iPad it offers a superior user experience relative to other products on the market.

Targeted initially at classrooms where Apple’s iPad is quickly becoming a de facto standard, the Focus Camera is also a professional tool for laboratories and industrial inspection. The core benefit for schools is the highly intuitive user-interface. Instant live video, fingertip point-to-point measurements, pinch finger zoom controls, and easy annotations enable students and teachers to engage quickly and easily. Within seconds of downloading the free app from the Apple App Store℠, the Focus Microscope Camera is ready to take pictures or live video and share them instantly. Images can easily be emailed, viewed on an external monitor, or sent to a projector. The Focus Microscope Camera takes microscopy, that in the past has been an isolated experience and turns it into a shared one.

The Focus Microscope Camera includes an integrated C/CS Mount attachment and fits almost all microscopes using included lens adapters. Simply remove an eyepiece from a microscope and insert the Focus Microscope Camera, or attach it to the camera port of a trinocular microscope. To withstand the rigors of classroom use, the Focus Microscope Camera also features a robust and compact design with shock-mounted electronics encased within a rugged aluminum housing and has the added benefit of charging the iPad when plugged in. Weighing just seven ounces and measuring 3.5 inches long, the camera is easy to store. The camera carries a one year warranty.

Beyond the microscope, the camera has an optional varifocal zoom lens that enables operation as a stand-alone macro lens camera. Simply attach the varifocal lens and point the camera at the desired specimen for instant live images of insects, stamps, coins, and other classroom subjects. Or quickly switch back to the micro world.

“The Focus Microscope Camera is a refreshing and welcome addition to our product line-up,” said Charles Crookenden, President of Microscope.com. “It is nothing less than an enabling technology for teachers and we are delighted to see such an elegant and intuitive microscope camera designed and assembled here in the US. It really is a joy to use”.

Michael Baum, President and co-Founder of Exo Labs also commented “We want to ignite curiosity in the next generation of scientists. The Focus Microscope Camera is great for students, teachers, and researchers looking for powerful yet easy to use tools that make the learning experience more compelling and that open up new pathways to discovery and exploration.”

You can order the Focus from http://www.microscope.com or call Microscope.com toll free on telephone no: 877-409-3556.

EdTechKnowFiles: Sidharth Kakkar, Founder and CEO of FrontRow Classroom

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

EdTechKnowFilesAn article from Quartz back in May came with a title that boldly declared, “These two charts make the case for iPads in every classroom.”  I asked myself whether two simple charts could justify the iPad proliferation in schools today. After looking at the charts, and reading the arguments put forth by the author, Sidharth Kakkar, I definitely had to know more about the person behind the article.

Sidharth Kakkar is the founder and CEO of FrontRow Classroom, an iPad app that provides adaptive instruction to reach students at different levels.  The product has currently been field tested in some California schools, providing Kakkar with these illustrative graphs that highlight the need for iPads AND adaptive tools to tailor instruction to individual students in classrooms.

Sidharth Kakkar, founder and CEO, FrontRow Classroom

Sidharth Kakkar, founder and CEO, FrontRow Classroom

Take a look at these two charts for yourself.  The first shows a “typical” 4th grade classroom, with a bulk of the students performing at grade level.  Even in this typical classroom, there are a number of students below and above grade level, so a teacher’s lesson would only reach the middle performers in this class.

A typical 4th grade classroom.  Photo courtesy of FrontRow Classroom.

A typical 4th grade classroom. Photo courtesy of FrontRow Classroom.

In this second chart, a 5th grade classroom, many of the students are performing far below grade level, with one student peforming on grade level.  A teacher teaching to this class would have the option of 1) not teaching at grade-level standards and not meeting the needs of the student at grade level, or 2) teaching at grade-level standards, and recognizing that the material would be beyond the level of a majority of the class.

A 5th grade classroom.  Photo courtesy of FrontRow Classroom.

A 5th grade classroom. Photo courtesy of FrontRow Classroom.

I spoke to Kakkar via Skype, to ask more the article on Quartz, the nature of the FrontRow product, and how his product plus the tablet paradigm addresses this difficult instruction gap problem.

Check out our EdTechKnowFiles video, with clips of FrontRow in use in the classroom:

Thanks to Sidharth for his illustrative article, and for speaking with EdTech Times!

For more on FrontRow Classroom, click on the logo below to visit their website:

FRClassroom logo-hierarchy4-300x120

EdTechKnowFiles: Q&A with Adam Lupu & Adam Schwem, founders of The Delta Program (Part II)

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

EdTechKnowFiles In Part II of this Q&A with Adam Lupu & Adam Schwem of The Delta PRogram, the founders expand on their written answers on ETT’s questions, talking more about the future of education technology and how the products of the ed tech future should work.

Reminder: The application window for this program closes today Monday, July 1—watch their video and read all about it here.  There’s still time to sign on to this exciting opportunity!  Details about the program appear in Part I of this Q&A.

Hear more from Adam & Adam here:

ETT: Where do you see education technology going in the next 5 years?

AL & AS: As blended learning models and “flipped” classroom approaches become more prevalent, there will likely be a continuing shift in the way students interact with the type of learning that schools provide. K-12 learners will have more flexibility in how they learn new skills or interact with new content. While higher-ed will start to adapt new programs that more consistently support job placement. This makes for very fertile ground in education both nationally and internationally. In this ground we will plant the notions that learning technologies should be more about people than products, that new devices alone are not a solution, and that what we build must be informed by the science behind how we learn. If we are successful, then 5 years from now, education technology will not be driven by new devices or new software, it will be driven by advancement in how people learn together.

ETT: What is the biggest trend in education technology that we should be watching?

AL & AS: Higher education is operating in a bubble. Faced with inflationary economic indicators like tuition rising at 1120% over 30 years, the excessive availability of financial aid, the devaluation of degrees due to so many being printed every year, the higher education bubble is about to burst. When that happens, new opportunities will open up for high school graduates and K-12 will no longer be seen as just a factory for college preparation. The entire educational system in this country will begin restructuring itself. What happens during that restructuring will dictate the next several decades of education nationally and globally. Watch for the signs that this is already happening. During this restructuring, we aim to make educational institutions take more responsibility for solving unemployment.

ETT: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting technology in the education space?

AL & AS: The technology being built doesn’t solve any real problems and isn’t a joy to use. Most of the education products being shopped around require users to exert more energy to understand and apply the technology than the energy they could save by using it. This means adoption is negligible. We know how to make technology that tech novices can easily use, but not enough of us choose to.

ETT: If you could provide students nationwide with one education technology product, what would it be?

AL & AS: Smartboards. Just kidding. The technology every student should have is some kind of mobile device with access to the internet, plain and simple. From there we can craft a whole host of educational opportunities.

Thanks to Adam & Adam for talking to ETT about this opportunity!  Special thanks to Sean Duffy of EdTech Austin Meetup and Ryan Lee for video.

Find out more about The Delta Program at their website:


EdTechKnowFiles: Q&A with Adam Lupu & Adam Schwem, founders of The Delta Program (Part I)

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

EdTechKnowFilesETT took some time this week to talk to Adam Lupu & Adam Schwem, the founders of The Delta Program, an Android development training program based in Austin, TX.

In Part I of this Q&A, Adam & Adam talk about The Delta Program’s origins and goals.

The application window for this program closes on Monday, July 1—watch their video and read all about it here.  There’s still time to sign on to this exciting opportunity!


Adam Lupu, co-founder of The Delta Program

ETT: What is your elevator pitch?

AL & AS: Learn Android development in under 3 months. Change what’s possible. Mobilize your career.

ETT: What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving?

AL & AS: The demand for Android Developers is significantly higher than the supply. Colleges and online training programs are not producing people with the skills necessary to be immediately impactful in these positions. We can take people from all walks of life, from all other fields, and as long as they have a love of learning and a commitment to their own professional growth, we can train them to be job-ready in under 3 months.

ETT: Why did you get into this? What drove you to start this?

AL: I’m a learning scientist and former teacher. When I discovered how much research on human learning was locked up in the Ivory Tower and had not found it’s way to education, I was shocked. Technology training, or TechEd as I like to call it, is a perfect place to rapidly design effective learning environments based on this research, deploy them quickly, and refine them to start solving society-wide problems like unemployment and technology literacy.

ETT: What is the biggest need for your startup?

AL & AS: In order of priority, we need:

1) Quality Applicants who want to become Android Developers
2) Android Developers who want to help mentor and facilitate others in becoming part of the community
3) Organizations who want to help elevate the conversation about job training, apprenticeships, and professional education


Adam Schwem, co-founder of The Delta Program

AL & AS: Our goal is and will always be to continuously improve learning opportunities for people. In our current phase of growth, we are reaching out to the community that is interested in face-to-face learning and have catered our program towards Android Development. Starting revenues from that program help stabilize and start to scale our model of immersive learning and the technology that supports it. As we move forward, we plan to run 4 more sessions in which we will expand our offerings in mobile development. Milestones include the expansion of our program to include iOS, UX/UI Design, Project Management, and a matching program to build teams of talented technologists. In its first year, The Delta Program hopes to achieve a 60% profit margin. As these financial needs are met, we plan on expanding our team from 4 to 10 people. And we will be investing our profit into the design and development of learning technology products. This could lead to additional revenue and growth in our second year of operation.

Thanks to Adam & Adam for talking to ETT about this opportunity!  Special thanks to Sean Duffy of EdTech Austin Meetup and Ryan Lee for video.

Find out more about The Delta Program at their website:


EdTechKnowFiles: Interview with Reading Plus CEO, Mark Taylor

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

EdTechKnowFilesWe’re really excited to introduce our new feature, EdTechKnowFiles, a series of video interviews with people who are passionate about educational technology today.

Our first interview is with Mark Taylor, CEO of Reading Plus, a company that is building a research-based “intelligent e-reader” to assist students struggling with reading efficiency.

In Part I, Mark talks about the Reading Plus product in-depth. We also get a glimpse of the product at work, modeling efficient reading for students.

In Part II, Mark talks about the importance of efficacy in ed tech, and specifically how the Reading Plus product’s research-backed techniques address efficacy concerns in the industry.

Part III gives us a closer look at Mark himself, and his family’s legacy in education and reading, which dates back to 1931.

Thank you to Mark Taylor for the interview and to John Kissell for helping to arrange the details.

Check out Reading Plus site here:


Interview conducted by Griff Resch, Video by Ryan Lee, Opening Music by Michael Boezi, Control Mouse Music.

Q&A with Tony Le, Co-Founder of TeacherGraph

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

TeacherGraph's founding team: Joseph Van, Founder/CEO and Tony Le, Co-Founder

TeacherGraph’s founding team: Joseph Van, Founder/CEO and Tony Le, Co-Founder

This week’s Q&A is with Tony Le, co-founder of TeacherGraph, a web-based app simplifying the communication process between parents and teachers.

ETT: What’s your elevator pitch?

TL: TeacherGraph is a cloud-based web app that simplifies parent/teacher communication by organizing important information and interactions into one, easy-to-use tool.

By consolidating all important messages, student information, and teacher interactions through TeacherGraph, parents can keep track of their child’s progress more effectively. Providing the ease of access to these key insights allow parents and teachers to have more productive conversations. Parents can stay connected anywhere by receiving real-time updates about their student through email, text, or the application itself. Additionally, parents can stay engaged by responding back to the teachers, promoting two-way conversations.

We focus on the delivery so educators can spend more time teaching, and less time sorting through technology. Teachers can send class-wide messages to parents using TeacherGraph from anywhere. By making communicating easier, our mission is to increase parent engagement, which can improve student performance significantly.

TeacherGraph provides a modern solution to an outdated process. Communication is tied back to the student.

ETT: What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving?

TL: The communication gap between parents and teachers today is not contributed by the lack of technology. The technology exists. However, modern society offers a wide range of mediums for communication. One solution to solving this problem is to organize technology versus pushing individuals to adapt new ones. Instead of teachers having to deliver messages through various ways to parents, we believe they can communicate in a clear, succinct way.

TeacherGraph allows teachers to deliver messages all in one place and determines which medium is best each parent to receive the message.

ETT: Why did you get into this? What drove you to start this?

TL: There are many issues that need to be solved in the education system. We have family and friends who are educators – many of whom complain about tedious tasks and outdated ways of communicating important information.

We believed in the power of effective communication and focused solely on that. Although schools operate like businesses, many don’t see themselves that way. Great companies have effective communication tools – we want to build the equivalent specifically for education.

ETT: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting technology in the education space?

TL: For many schools, things move slowly. Whether it’s due to stagnant culture, a long decision process, or budget cuts, there seems to be many little reasons that lead to the lack of adoption of technology that could really help these schools.

ETT: What is the biggest need for your startup? (e.g. funding, development, market access, channels, publicity)

TL: Currently, development. Market access may be down the road.

ETT: What should we expect to see from you in the next twelve months? (e.g. product milestones, team size, potential growth/revenue targets)

TL: We plan to launch early in the Fall. Teachers will be able to use our Beta.

ETT: Which three startups do you follow and find interesting?

TL: Enigma.io, LearnSprout, inBloom

The EdTech Times thanks Mr. Le  for taking the time and providing us with a snapshot of TeacherGraph!  

Special thanks to Sean Duffy of the EdTech Austin Meetup Group for connecting ETT to TeacherGraph and the Austin EdTech community!

To check out TeacherGraph, visit their website:


White House Announces ConnectED Initiative to Provide High-Speed Broadband Connectivity Access

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 10.48.25 AM

from Facebook

On their blog this morning, The White House announced an initiative called ConnectED, which plans to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years.

The blog entry goes on to state, “preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, individualized learning experiences driven by new technology…millions of students lack access to the high-speed broadband internet that supports this sort of learning technology. Fewer than 20 percent of educators across the country say their school’s Internet connection meets their teaching needs.”

The aims of the ConnectED initiative were outlined as follows:

  • Upgrading connectivity – The President is looking to on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update and utilize programs that are already in place, such as the eRate program.  He also calls upon the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA, run by the Department of Commerce) to deliver this connectivity, although it is not immediately clear what specific role the NTIA would play.  The ConnectED plans to reach students in rural areas, by expanding current broadband access programs.
  • Training teachers – The ConnectED initiative promises to invest in teacher training on education technology tools that can improve student learning.
    • Citing existing tools for assessment, feedback, professional development, and online lessons, teachers would be trained to leverage these tools to have a more informed and streamlined classroom.
    • The White House also speculates that ed-tech trained teachers would create new avenues of learning through online communities, both nationally and globally.
  • Encouraging private sector innovation – The White House is hoping for a proliferation of ed-tech usage and development in the private sector, as ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband internet creates a greater promise of adoption of these technology products.

As with all announcements, there will be questions about the details of ConnectED.  How will this initiative be funded?  Will eRate be amended and upgraded to reflect the current needs of schools and libraries? Who will regulate and deliver the teacher training in education technology, and by what standards will this training be held to?  (And perhaps the most perplexing question to this writer:  Did anyone research the web before giving this initiative the same name as a product by McGraw-Hill?)

Broadband access is the lifeblood of much of the educational technology that already exists out there – without adequate access, many tools are ineffective or fail at their intended goals.  ConnectED intends to increase access through modernizing government programs and encouraging private sector and community support to meet the changing landscape of technology.

N.B. The White House invites readers to join in today at 3:30 PM ET, in a virtual “show and tell” with three schools that are embracing technology and digital learning. Tune in to wh.gov/show-and-tell to watch live, or join the discussion on Google+ or Twitter using the hashtag #WHhangout.

McGraw-Hill Education R&D ‘Hub’ to Open in Boston

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.


In line with the Boston nickname coined by Oliver Wendell HolmesMcGraw-Hill Education is building its own “hub” for technology research & development in Boston, which is scheduled to open in June with 60 employees.

The company is hoping to build on their current portfolio of digital products for K-12, higher education, assessment and professional markets.  Current products include the LearnSmart Advantage adaptive learning suite, the McGraw-Hill Practice suite of 3D, multiplayer learning games (recently nominated as a SIIA CoDIE finalist),  and McGraw-Hill Connect & ConnectED, digital teaching and learning environments

McGraw-Hill aims to attract top technology talent by opening their Boston office in the “Innovation District”, a label used by Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino to describe the waterfront neighborhood in the midst of a startup renaissance.

In a press release, Stephen Laster, chief digital officer of McGraw-Hill Education describes their Boston aspirations, saying,”we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform education, and investing in digital technologies – and the best digital talent that this country and the city of Boston have to offer – is a critical element of our strategy to do just that.”

Laster goes on to describe McGraw Hill as a “$2 billion startup” looking to capitalize on its established market presence and an “agile, experimental and creative approach to product development.”  The company is offering team members a creative, innovative, team-centered startup environment and culture, featuring everything from open work spaces to gaming consoles to flexible work schedules.

“We’re looking for people who want to re-imagine what education can be; who have the vision and desire to change people’s lives and serve a global market. Boston is well known for its spirit of innovation and focus on producing technologies that have a real impact on our society, and we’re excited to be a greater part of that,” added Laster.

The Boston office joins McGraw-Hill Education’s other centers in Bothell, Wash.; New York; Columbus, Ohio; San Francisco and Israel.

BUZZ: NBER Study Finds Computers for Low-Income Kids Do Not Change Educational Outcomes

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

kidshackingLast week, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a working paper with a surprising conclusion — giving computers to low-income families does not affect student educational outcomes.

The basics, from the working paper:

  • Here’s how the study was set up:
    • Researchers from University of California, Santa Cruz conducted a randomized control experiment with 1,123 students in grades 6-10 attending 15 schools across California.
    • All of the students participating in the study did not have computers. Half were randomly selected to receive free computers, while the other half served as the control group.
    • In order to evaluate the effects of the computers alone, no training or other assistance was provided.
    • Administrative data from the end of the school year was used to test the effects of the computers on numerous educational outcomes.  Follow-up surveys given in conjunction with administrative data.
  • And the results:
    • No effect on outcomes: grades, standardized test scores, credits earned, attendance, disciplinary actions, time spent on homework, turning in homework on time, software use, and general computer knowledge.
    • Overall, access is unlikely to greatly improve or negatively affect educational outcomes.

Now, the buzz:

TechCrunch ran the article first, with Gregory Ferenstein highlighting the impact of this study on the socio-economic gap:

“But the real problem is that many poor kids never even get a shot at information technology jobs, and the rich-poor gap is only getting worse. The SAT gap has grown 40 percent and college completion has skyrocketed 50 percent since the 1980s.  This means that the likely culprit is far more insidious: the family and environment.”

Education News summarizes TechCrunch’s Ferenstein, saying:

“The good news is that lack of a computer will not present as insurmountable an obstacle to student success as has been previously assumed. The bad news is that giving out free computers seemed like the most straight-forward solution to the achievement gap between poor students and their better-off peers and now it’s been proven to have no measurable impact at all.”

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias weighs in about the null finding:

“If access to home computers was associated with improved school performance, that would be strong evidence that simply fighting poverty with money could be highly effective education policy. The null finding tends to suggest otherwise, that the ways in which high-income families help their kids in school don’t relate to durable goods purchases and may be things like social capital or direct parental involvement in the instructional process that—unlike computers—can’t be purchased on the open market.”

Education writer Annie Murphy Paul asks the following question on her blog:

“I wonder what would have happened if the children in this study and their families were provided with training on how to use the computers for educational purposes? Of course, even that extra step would only go a little way toward closing the gap between rich and poor that Ferenstein rightly highlights.”

EdSurge’s summary focuses on the following point:

“Of course, they also ‘fessed up that “no training or assistance was provided.” An immediate follow-up question might be: is anyone surprised?”

Truthfully, we SHOULD be a little surprised.  MIT’s Tech Review reported earlier this year on a similar observational initiative with the One Laptop Per Child program in Ethiopia:

“Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. ‘I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,’ Negroponte said.”

If children in Ethiopia have that self-motivation to learn and make use of their technology, what does this study imply about the differences in needs for low-income American students to overcome this gap?

Edxus Group Planning to Spend up to $77M to Consolidate European E-Learning

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Edxus_logoLondon-based Edxus Group, an London-based company is planning to spend €50-60 million ($64-$77M) to acquire companies and create a “European education champion” to compete with the U.S. market, according to TechCrunch and Edxus‘s site. Edxus is headed by a former business exec of Time Warner and top members of media investment firm IBIS Capital, which released a detailed report earlier this year on the edtech industry.

According to the TechCrunch article, Edxus plans to consolidate the fragmented European e-learning market, rivaling similar U.S. edtech giants such as Pearson, Blackboard, Macmillan, Kaplan and McGraw-Hill, which top the list of acquisitive e-learning companies.

From Edxus’ site, Charles McIntyre, the chief executive of IBIS Capital, added: “The European e-Learning industry currently displays both disruptive innovation and rapid growth but it is highly fragmented and lacks a dominant player. These are all characteristics of an attractive pre-consolidation phase industry so we expect our strategy to help the marketplace as a whole meet its enormous potential.”

Edxus will initially focus on northern Europe and the UK, before considering other regions. Vedrenne-Cloquet said that Germany and Italy were also of interest.