Category Archives: Education Technology Conference

What Chromebook Case Option is Right For Me?

Congratulations- you’re the proud owner of a new Chromebook! You’re all set up too- you’ve got your reliable WiFi connection, your chromebook headphones with microphone, and the charging cord just in case you need to plug it in after a few hours of use. Looks like you’re all set to bring your Chromebook everywhere you want to go!

But…what are you going to put your Chromebook in? If you haven’t already noticed, there are a multitude of cases specially designed to accommodate Chromebooks on the market, and it can be a bit overwhelming to determine which of these options best fit your needs. Fortunately for you, we did the research, so you can just sit back, relax, and read on about the advantages and potential drawbacks of each of the most popular types of Chromebook case available.

Briefcases and Carrying Cases

NUTKASE BALLISTIC NYLON FOLIO

Need a little more room for your peripherals, charging cord, Chromebook headphones with microphone, and other accessories? You may be in need of an upgrade to a carrying case! These soft-sided, briefcase-style bags are equipped with a handle, carrying strap, or both for easy transportability, not to mention a number of pockets for your other school or office supplies. We like the NutKase Ballistic Nylon Folio Big Pocket for Chromebook shoulder bag carrying case.

Pros:

– Slim, compact profile allows for ease and convenience.

– Solid outer clamshell design and quilted padding interior for maximum durability and protection.

– Accessory storage pockets eliminate the need for a second backpack or bag. Students can transport everything in one case!

– Padded shoulder strap provides comfort and ease when on the go.

Cons:

  • May not be practical for those who rarely have to carry their Chromebook long distances.

Who Should Buy One: Any student or office worker who needs to transport their Chromebook back and forth every day should look into this convenient, all-in-one carrying solution. It is especially ideal for kids on hybrid learning programs.

Gumdrop Cases*

Gumdrop DropTech Case

Before you ask, no- these cases are sadly not made of gumdrops. However, if you are looking for a case that is so durable and rugged that it renders your Chromebook virtually unbreakable, this may be a case worth looking into! Gumdrop cases combine the impact-resistant outer shell of a standard hard case with the practicality of rubberized sides, backs, and edges to help build air pockets inside, cushioning just about any blow. We like the Gumdrop DropTech Case for Chromebook.

Pros: 

  • Made with durable thermoplastic polyurethane for extreme drop protection.
  • Rubberized sides and back offer maximum shock absorbency.
  • Slim profile makes your Chromebook a breeze to pack in a backpack, briefcase, or suitcase!

Cons:

  • No variety of color or style options are available.

 

Who Should Buy One: Do you or your kids drop stuff, like, constantly? Do you work in a field that involves you bringing your laptop to construction sites, geological digs, or other dangerous surroundings? Do you just want to be certain that nothing’s going to break your Chromebook? This might be the best investment you ever made.

Hard Cases (Shells)

Max Case* Extreme Shell

As its name implies, a hard case is, well, hard. That is to say, it is built for durability and can protect your Chromebook in a number of otherwise problematic situations. We like the Max Case* Extreme Shell for Chromebook.

Pros: 

  • Rugged hard outer shell provides shock resistance from drops, collisions, and other types of impact or force. 
  • Dust-proof, waterproof case protects against other types of damage.
  • Shell fits right over your Chromebook, protecting it in the same way that a phone case protects your smartphone- no excess baggage when you travel!

Cons:

  • Most hard shell Chromebook case models don’t have a handle or carrying strap, meaning you’ll have to carry it separately in your hands or put it into a backpack or messenger bag.

 

Who Should Buy One: Anyone who is prone to dropping their laptop at regular intervals (read: your kids) or who has to commute on foot, by bicycle or scooter, or take public transportation regularly, as these activities increase the chances of dropping your Chromebook.

No matter which style of case you choose for your Chromebook, it’s important to always make sure the case you choose is designed to fit the size, make, and model of your laptop. These cases are rarely a one-size-fits-all option and it’s imperative to read all the fine print either online or at the electronics store to ensure it will fit your Chromebook.

It’s also fun to choose a case that suits your personality as well as your Chromebook protection needs. No matter what kind of commute you have or how often you have to take your laptop out of the house, the most important thing is to select a case that fits your lifestyle.

Additionally, keep in mind that a case for your Chromebook is always a great investment, no matter how infrequently you plan to take it out of the house. By purchasing a case for your Chromebook now, you can have the ability to safely transport it wherever you want to go in the future.

By taking good care of your Chromebook and keeping it protected against drops, collisions, shattering, dust, and water when you’re on the go, you can look forward to many years of enjoying your computer and learning new things!

 

*Though not listed on our website, Gumdrop and Maxcase Chromebook cases are available in classroom-sized quantities from Encore Data Products. Contact Customer Service to tell them what you need and they’ll provide options and a quote.

How to Identify the Best Headsets for High Schoolers?

As young adults with different educational goals and needs (not to mention larger heads!), it stands to reason that high school students may have different requirements and use cases for school headphones. Here are some of the things you should consider when determining which headsets will be the best for your high school student.

Ear Cup Size

Available in three primary styles, (in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear) the right ear cup size depends on each student; however, there are pros and cons of each style as detailed below.

In-Ear – Commonly called earbuds, in-ear headphones require users to place the headphone directly into the ear canal. This facilitates excellent sound quality while keeping outside noise to a minimum—all while being portable. However, they can be exceedingly uncomfortable or regularly fall out if using the incorrect fit, expensive and easily lost.

On-Ear – Sitting on top of the ear, on-ear headphones send sound directly into the ear canal while still being portable. They also have a few drawbacks though, namely that they can’t filter out background noise and need to have a proper fit to avoid causing pain to the user.

Over-Ear – Providing the best sound quality of all three options, over-ear headphones cover the entire ear, allowing for noise cancelation. They’re the least portable option; however, students are unlikely to move from their computers, making this a moot point for most high schoolers. This is usually the ideal pick for most students.

Comfort

High school students are going to wear their new headphones for several hours each day, so comfort should be a top priority when looking for which model to purchase. Again, exactly which model is purchased depends entirely on the student. In-ear and on-ear headphones need proper fitting to ensure a comfortable fit while most parents can purchase nearly any pair of adult-sized over-ear headphones. Finally, when examining over-ear or on-ear headphones, make sure to find a pair that has a soft, padded ear cup.

Microphone

In-ear headphones won’t have a built-in microphone which means a separate purchase for parents to ensure proper communication and ideal sound quality between students and teachers. In comparison, microphone options are available on both on-ear and over-ear sets with varying sound qualities. Look for a set that allows the mic to go close to the mouth—ideally around an inch to prevent picking up background noises while also not catching breathing from the user. 

Sound Quality

On-ear headphones provide the poorest sound quality of all three headphone options, allowing background noise to filter in and cause distraction. In-ear and over-ear headphones will give the best sound quality, with both filtering out background noise while delivering sound directly into the ear canal for optimized sound. 

Wired or Wireless

All three styles are available in both wired or wireless options, with the right headphone depending on the student. Wired headphones plugin directly to the computer to get their power supply, meaning no one has to worry about batteries or charging, but they also prevent movement—only allowing the student to travel as far as the cord will let them. Wireless headphones allow total freedom of movement; however, students need to make sure they charge their headphones after each use or keep track of the battery life if the headphone uses disposable batteries.

Price

Headphone prices can vary greatly, with some models costing hundreds of dollars. While the adage of “you get what you pay for” is often true, many companies offer affordable headset options well under the $50 dollar mark that are perfect for students and will last for years. Most people will see when examining specs that cheaper headphone options offer many of the same benefits as more expensive models or a minuscule difference. 

Top Picks

  • AVID Education AE-75 Deluxe Over-Ear Classroom Computer Stereo Headset TRRS Plug

    AVID AE-75

    These are our number one pick for a reason, they’re one of the best models on the market—no matter what price point. The ear-cup is well padded and the head strap adjustable to ensure maximum comfort while the over-ear style allows for excellent noise cancelation. The microphone is in the one-inch sweet spot, meaning students can speak clearly with their instructor and peers, while also facilitating pin-pointed accuracy to cancel out background noises. Finally, the universal functionality means this set will work across almost all devices, platforms, and applications.

 

  • AVID AE-55 Black and Silver Headset TRRS Plug

    AVID AE-55

    Slightly less deluxe than the AE-75, these headphones are an excellent budget option. Offering Avid’s superb sound and mic quality, this model is perfect for those looking for a durable and dependable headphone system. The bidirectional boom rotation facilitates clear sound quality while the braided rope and padded ear cups allow students to comfortably wear them all day long.

 

  • HamiltonBuhl Smart-Trek Deluxe Stereo Headset with In-Line Volume Control And 3.5mm TRRS Plug

    HAMILTONBUHL SMART-TREK

    Much like the Avid AE-55, these headphones are great for those on a budget. Durable and versatile, these headphones are compatible with most educational technologies as well as offering a rugged, comfortable design that’s more than capable of standing up to the normal wear-and-tear that students commonly put their supplies through. While not quite as padded as the AE-75, these HamiltonBuhl’s ear cups are comfortable while the adjustable head strap ensures students receive the right fit.

 

 

  • Andrea Communications WNC-2100 Wireless Noise-Canceling Bluetooth® Mono Headset

    ANDREA COMMUNICATIONS WNC-2100

    These Bluetooth headphones mean no more cords, but they also come at a steeper price. The 12-hour battery life means high school students will be connected throughout the day while the semi-rigid boom ensures mics will stay put. What really pushes these headphones over the edge is the sturdy carrying case, meaning no more damaged headphones. 

 

 

 

  • HamiltonBuhl WSP2BKDeluxe USB Multimedia Headset

    HAMILTONBUHL WSP2BK

    Unlike the rest of the headsets on this list, this headset connects through a USB port that’s both PC and Mac compatible. The ear cups are soft and comfortable while the steel-reinforced mic features in-line volume control. Easy portability makes this a great option for remote use while the anti-lice bag means they can be used in school as well.

 

 

Choosing the right headphones for your student is an important decision, and with a plethora of options on the market, it can seem like an endless number of choices. When you select headphones, make sure you have your student’s comfort in mind while looking for excellent sound and mic quality. Remember, the right headphones save money in the long run.

Education Recovery With the CARES Act and Title 1 Funding

The year 2020 will likely be remembered for one significant event- the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting fallout that caused the world to change completely almost overnight. Some of the creative workarounds and pivots we were forced to devise in order to continue the various systems and processes that make up our society turned out to be even more beneficial to us than the way we did things before and are likely to become part of our everyday lives even after the pandemic has officially ended. Food and grocery delivery services, online shopping, and mobile banking, for example- all things that previously existed but soared in popularity amid the pandemic- are now the preferred method for tackling ordinary household chores.

In person learning, however, does not seem to be in danger of being replaced by its online counterpart. While remote learning was a necessary pivot for K-12 schools across America for nearly all of 2020 into 2021, the educational model was less than successful for numerous students, who experienced what experts are referring to as a “learning loss gap”- a backslide that could potentially set their educational goals back for an entire school year or more. Because of this, teachers and school administrators are hard at work planning various interventions, including, in some cases, mandatory summer school, to help students most at risk of retention catch up to their pre-pandemic learning levels. 

Among the most at-risk groups for experiencing this learning loss are students from Title 1 schools. “Title 1,” which refers to Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, better known today as ESSA, is a program that provides financial assistance to local schools and educational agencies with high percentages of children from low-income families through allocation of various types of grants. Title 1 exists to help schools in underserved communities receive the necessary funding to provide educational intervention services to students who are at risk of failing to meet state academic standards for their grade level. 

Title 1 Schools and the CARES Act

More than ever, Title 1 schools are in need of funding to help bridge the technology and resource gap in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic shined a spotlight on the disparity between schools in affluent areas and Title 1 schools in terms of technology and equipment necessary for remote learning. Students from wealthy school districts had far less trouble obtaining laptops or tablets in order to attend school from home, not to mention a reliable internet connection to attend class sessions and complete online homework and projects. Low-income students from Title 1 schools, on the other hand, found it much more difficult to attend school remotely due to lack of the basic technological requirements.

However, thanks to funding from the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund included in the $2.3 trillion CARES Act passed in April 2020, Title 1 schools received one-time funding to help facilitate remote learning and keep at-risk students learning amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Intended to provide initial relief to the states and districts facing the toughest education challenges due to the coronavirus, the Education Stabilization Fund was divided into three parts:

  • The $13.5 billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which is allocated to states based on the number of students in poverty. States are required to allocate 90 percent of this funding to districts, including charter schools, based on Title 1, Part A of ESSA. Districts have flexibility over how and which Title 1 schools are funded, while states have the flexibility to decide how and where to target the remaining 10 percent of funding not allocated to Title 1 schools. This one-time funding equates to approximately 80 percent of annual funding for the most recent year of Title 1, Part A.
  • The $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was allocated to states based on a combination of school-age population and poverty rates. Governors of these states were granted broad discretion over how these funds are used to best support K-12 schools.
  • The $14.25 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which was granted directly to higher-learning institutions for support with emergency financial aid for students. Approximately $1 billion of this fund is earmarked for historically Black colleges and universities, as well as minority-serving institutions.

In addition to the CARES Act, congressional COVID funding passed in April 2021 has reserved an additional $123 billion for K-12 schools to be distributed through Title 1, with the focus on helping schools in underserved communities reopen safely, as well as helping students catch up on the learning they may have missed during the pandemic.

What the CARES Act Means for Title 1 Schools

Because such a large percentage of education funding from the CARES Act is targeted toward helping Title 1 schools, it is expected to make a significant impact on these schools’ ability to bridge the learning loss gap for at-risk students. A large portion of this funding is anticipated to be used toward technology and equipment to support students’ learning process.

This raises the question: what is the most effective and impactful use of funds for each Title 1 school, and how can these schools get the most out of their allocation? Many schools are looking into low-cost, high-impact technology solutions that benefit the highest possible number of students. 

School headsets and earbuds, for example, help block out unwanted noise and distractions, allowing students to focus on the lessons at hand. Affordable headsets such as the award-winning AVID AE-55 TRRS headset are highly beneficial to students in

ELL/ESL programs, since they provide the quality mic sensitivity necessary for language-learning software at an affordable price. The AE-55 also carries the benefit of meeting state testing requirements to leverage usability.

AVID’s AE-1M earbuds with inline mic serve as another affordable school headphone option that facilitates quality microphone sensitivity when student response is required.

For younger learners, the disposable AE-215 earbuds are an ideal low-cost solution, featuring rubber tips to provide greater comfort and fit for small ears. Each of these headset and earbud options can make a large impact on learning and information retention, for a relatively low price.

As schools continue to navigate education in a post-COVID society, it is imperative that they have the technology and equipment necessary to reach the most at-risk students and intervene before any further learning is lost. Only then can we have the essential tools we need to help all our children succeed. 

 

Technology and Equipment Designed for the Return to In-Person Learning

With three different COVID-19 vaccines available to adults nationwide, it looks like we may finally be nearing the end of the pandemic in America. This news is especially welcome to parents of school-age children, many of whom have been overseeing their kids’ remote learning since mid-March 2020, when the coronavirus caused all in-person learning for most K-12 schools to grind to a halt.

While a number of school districts in the nation have since reopened for in-person learning in a limited capacity for the 2020-2021 school year, not all parents have opted into a return to the classroom just yet, and many American students are still learning via Zoom or Google Hangouts rather than in a traditional class setting. However, things are looking like they will be back on track to some level of normalcy for the 2021-2022 school year, and educators everywhere are already planning the best ways to ensure that their students’ transition back to in-person school is both as safe and as smooth as possible.

Part of this planning process includes putting the right tools into the hands of teachers and school administrators. Not only does access to improved technology and equipment help teachers ensure classroom safety by allowing for each student to have their own materials, but it also will go a long way in helping them use the upcoming school year to close the learning gap that experts say has occurred from the shift to remote learning during COVID-19. Here is some of the top classroom technology to help students and teachers return to school this year.

Classroom Sets of Headphones

While children’s education experts agree that the use of headphones can have numerous positive benefits to a child’s learning process, new safety measures that have been put in place by school districts to limit contact between students mean that these headphones can no longer be used at a communal table or listening center. By providing teachers with a class set of headphones, each student will have access to their own pair for use with computer programs, educational videos, or learning labs, giving them a distraction-free way to concentrate on their lessons. 

Of course, the type of classroom headphones that each teacher needs can vary by grade. Younger students who will primarily use headphones to listen to stories or watch educational videos may benefit from headphones designed for comfort and durability. Brands like AVID Products, Califone, Cyber Acoustics, HamiltonBuhl, and ThinkWrite are all optimized for use by school-age children and have been designed accordingly, with adjustable headbands to fit virtually any age, rugged cords to withstand normal wear and tear, and over-the-ear or on-ear cups for sound isolation. 

Older students, meanwhile, may be using their headphones for hands-on instruction via a computer program that requires voice response. In this case, a USB headset with a microphone may be the ideal choice for both practicality and ease of use. Look for headsets with noise-canceling features to help minimize distractions and keep students focused on the task at hand.

Equipment Carts

In a perfect world, each student at school would have access to a Chromebook or tablet on which to complete assignments, take quizzes, and use interactive software as part of their in-class learning experience. However, not many public school budgets can handle the expense of several hundred laptops or tablets. 

Thanks to equipment carts like these, your school can do the next best thing: safely share a limited number of electronics among all classrooms! After each classroom use, the teacher simply needs to sanitize the Chromebooks or tablets with specially-designed electronic wipes, then load them onto the cart for the next class. This way, every student in the school gets a turn to interact with learning technology on a regular basis.

Best of all, equipment carts significantly lower the risk of cross-contamination among different learning bubbles within the school. Most schools that have returned to in-person learning have found great success by grouping small numbers of students into “cohorts,” which are smaller than traditional class sizes and remain together throughout the day. The ability to move equipment from classroom to classroom via a cart, rather than having multiple cohorts of students moving into and out of a computer lab all day, help to cut down on the risk of schoolwide infection, allowing schools to remain open.

Webcams and Document Cameras

Of course, even as we return to in-person learning for our young students, it is imperative that each school retains a plan for pivoting back to remote learning at a moment’s notice in case of an outbreak or a spike in case numbers in the school district. For this reason, we’re including webcams and document cameras on this list. 

At the start of the pandemic, most teachers found themselves unequipped for teaching students over Zoom or Google Hangouts and had to scramble quickly to design a curriculum that could be effectively absorbed without the benefits of in-person instruction. Needless to say, this led to a fair amount of chaos, confusion, and frustration for students, parents, and teachers alike as school districts struggled to navigate this enormous challenge. 

One year later, we’ve learned a lot about best practices for remote instruction, and it’s no surprise that much of it comes down to having the right technology for the job. Teachers at school districts that have invested in webcams and document cameras find it significantly easier to teach lessons as if their students were in person, as this equipment allows them to interact more naturally with students and show examples more easily. A document camera is the next best thing to a smartboard in a classroom when it comes to showing students how to solve a complex math problem or work with words on the week’s spelling list. Best of all, it allows teachers to share documents, such as worksheets or study aids, with their off-site students. 

Meanwhile, webcams allow teachers to maintain eye contact with their students in a way that feels more natural for everyone. Not only does this create a more interactive, engaging environment, but it also enables teachers to get their lesson across more effectively through the advantages of a built-in microphone and other available features to improve resolution at any connectivity speed. 

By supplying your faculty with the right equipment to overcome the new obstacles in education that this pandemic has thrown at us, you can ensure that your students are receiving the best possible education regardless of the twists and turns the upcoming school year may take. Sooner or later, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, we will find ourselves back to the way we were before the pandemic; however, the improvements your school makes to its technology and equipment now will continue to serve your students and teachers well into the future.

What Makes an Award-Winning Headset?

If you’ve had any previous experience with headsets, you already know that they’re not all created equal in terms of quality, durability,  and affordability. But what does it take for a headset to transcend “good” to become “multi-award winning?” Just ask AVID, the makers of the AE-55 headset model that just took top honors at the Tech & Learning ISTE Best Of Show 2020 awards and Tech & Learning’s 2021 Best Remote Learning Tools.

Meet the AE-55 Headset: Available in a variety of colors and with a choice between a TRRS or USB 2.0 plug, the AVID AE-55 checks all the boxes for quality, performance, and price. Starting from $17.99 for a USB headset and just $10.95 for the TRRS plug model the AE-55 headsets are designed expressly for student use, keeping comfort and durability in mind. 

Equipped with a bi-directional microphone that rotates 270 degrees, the AE-55 allows for an ambidextrous noise-reducing experience. A chew-resistant 6-foot cord with a Velcro tie emphasizes safety, durability, and convenient storage. Easy-to-clean removable leatherette earpads optimize comfort while also allowing for essential sanitation and protection against germs and viruses needed in today’s school environment. 

Best of all, the AE-55 is an affordable solution for educators looking for bulk TRRS or USB headsets for use in classrooms, libraries, computer labs, and more. School administrators can provide their students with award-winning performance and durability without breaking the bank and staying well within the school’s budget

About the Tech & Learning ISTE Best of Show Awards

Since 1980, Tech & Learning magazine has been a leading resource for educational professionals looking for ways to innovate in teaching and learning through the use of technology. 

Tech & Learning delivers the highest quality content and essential resources to manage, train, and teach technology, and its extensive marketing services division provides partners with unique, targeted, and highly valued products. An expert team of editors and an advisory board of top industry experts give subscribers an inside look at timely issues, hot trends, new products, and innovative strategies that support the work of K-12 educators and administrators. 

The Tech & Learning Best of Show awards are presented each year by ISTE (International Society for Technology Education), a global organization of educators who are passionate about the use of technology to transform teaching and learning. Billed as “the world’s most dynamic edtech community,” ISTE inspires the practice of teachers and school administrators across the globe, offering evidence-based professional learning, virtual coaching, and year-round academies to help educators learn and apply effective strategies for the transformational use of technology.

Each year, ISTE members are invited to attend a conference featuring keynote speakers, vendor demonstrations, and of course, the Tech & Learning Best of Show awards. Due to the pandemic, this year’s ISTE convention was held virtually in November 2020, and the AE-55 was one of only two models of headset that grabbed the prestigious Best of Show honors.  

How did the AE-55 Win Best of Show?

According to Tech & Learning’s Best of Show judges, “The AVID AE-55 Headset has been reimagined and reengineered for the needs of 2020. They come with a headphone jack model or a USB model for different uses according to the device they are connected to.” In other words, the AE-55’s versatility, affordable price point, and design features made it the most attractive option for both in-person and remote learning needs for students. Their compatibility with virtually any electronic device allows them to nimbly shift from laptop to tablet to desktop computer with ease. In a world where “pivot” has become the buzzword of the year, the ability to shift gears is just as valuable for headsets as it is for businesses!

About the Tech & Learning 2021 Best Remote Learning Tools

As schools pivoted from in-person to remote and blended learning this past year, technology solutions were key to delivering quality, continuous learning. To celebrate the work of technology providers who stepped up to support this effort, Tech & Learning launched “The Best Tools for Remote & Blended Learning,” a new offering in its legacy Awards of Excellence program. 

Judges deemed these products as standouts for helping students, parents, and teachers succeed in these new learning environments. Eligible products included hardware, software, curriculum, security/safety solutions, PD, student information systems, and more. Categories included: Best Remote/Blended Learning Tools for Primary Grades; Best Remote/Blended Learning Tools for Secondary Grades; Best Remote/Blended Learning Tools for Higher Education.

“Despite the many challenges schools have had to face this past year, technology continues to be one of the key drivers for innovation,” says Tech & Learning Group Publisher Christine Weiser. “The winning products recognized here have supported continuous instruction throughout the pandemic, and we expect this momentum to continue into next year and beyond. Congratulations to all of our winners.”

As schools across the nation transition back to in-person learning, educators need to make sure their classrooms are equipped with cutting-edge technology that makes a bigger impact on the learning process. Now that students of all ages are more comfortable with various computer programs and video conferencing platforms, it’s possible that we will continue to see some elements of remote learning in the future of education, whether it’s in person or at a distance! By equipping students with the right headsets for the job, teachers can ensure that each child is getting the most out of a lesson, in a distraction-free environment.

If you are only able to make one purchase for your students this school year, let the AVID AE-55 be your choice! Purchasing AVID AE-55 TRRS or USB headsets for every classroom in your school is one way to ensure that students have access to multi-award-winning technology every day of the school year!

Troubleshooting Tips for your USB Headset

As we head into winter, it’s beginning to look like we won’t be heading back to school or the office anytime soon. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing as the weather turns cold, many companies and school districts have made the decision to remain online only, with no in-person contact for at least the next several months. If you’re feeling stir-crazy and missing your office space or classroom, trust us- you’re not alone!

However, working or attending classes remotely doesn’t have to mean discomfort or distraction. Even if you’re sharing cramped quarters with a spouse and kids all working and attending school from home, you can still get into the zone with your own work or school commitments thanks to a USB headset that is compatible with your computer. Purchasing a USB headset is a great way to optimize your remote working or learning environment as we continue to adapt to our ‘new normal.’

But what if your new USB headset is having a hard time connecting over Bluetooth, or if you can hear the participants in your online meeting but they can’t hear you (or vice versa)? Like any technology, USB headsets are prone to occasional issues that can cause frustration in an already frustrating situation. Here are some handy tips for you to keep nearby next time your USB headset is giving you a headache. See if these work for you!

Problem: Your Wireless USB Headset Won’t Connect Over Bluetooth
Solution: This is a pretty common problem among wireless USB headsets that use a USB dongle to connect via Bluetooth to your computer or mobile device. Fortunately, there’s a relatively simple fix to re-establish connectivity. Simply “forget” the USB headset and then re-pair it to your device.

You can do this by clicking the Bluetooth symbol, normally located in the top bar menu of your laptop, or going into your System Settings menu and selecting Bluetooth. This will present a menu of Bluetooth-connected devices, including your wireless USB headset, that can be disconnected by clicking on them. In some cases, simply disconnecting and reconnecting will work just fine, but other times it may be necessary to forget the device and pair it once again as a new Bluetooth headset to have your computer recognize it properly.

Problem: You Can Hear Your Fellow Meeting Participants, but They Can’t Hear You
Solution: Whether your USB headset is wired or wireless, occasionally there may be an issue with sound output. If you can hear everything with your USB headset but your fellow meeting or class attendees have indicated that they can’t hear you, try these three quick steps:

  • Check to make sure you are not on mute over Zoom, Google Meet, or whichever videoconferencing platform your organization uses. It may be as simple as a click of a button!
  • Make sure your microphone volume is turned up. Many USB headset models have separate volume controls for headphones and microphone, and it’s possible that one is turned up and the other is turned way down!
  • Check to ensure that either the USB cord for a wired headset or the USB dongle for a wireless headset is plugged into your computer’s USB port and that the fit is secure. It is possible that the USB headset is not connected all the way- or at all!- to your device.

Problem: You are unable to hear anything through your headphones but your mic seems to work just fine.
Solution: Like the troubleshooting tips for a malfunctioning microphone, the solution to this one may be easier than you think! Try these things first:

  • Make sure your headphones are connected securely to your USB port, either with the USB cord of your wired headset or with the wireless USB dongle.
  • Check the volume control for the headphones- is it turned all the way down? Adjust until you can hear sound coming out.
  • Look at the sound settings on your laptop- it’s possible that your USB headset is not selected as the preferred audio output device.

If you’ve gone through these troubleshooting tips and are still experiencing issues, there’s a possibility that you may be having a more serious problem with your hardware. Try using a spare set of headphones to make sure the problem isn’t stemming from the laptop itself, and contact the help desk at your computer’s manufacturer to correct any issues.

It’s also possible that your USB headset may simply be worn out from excessive use and normal wear and tear, or that it may have been exposed to water damage or other injuries. If this is the case, contact the manufacturer for warranty and repair information.

People who have tried a USB headset for remote work, online learning, gaming, and more enjoy the enhanced ability to concentrate in a distraction-free environment, no matter where they are! Once you have purchased a USB headset, it can be quite difficult if not impossible to imagine life without it, which is why any malfunction or issue can be especially disheartening. Because of this, it’s important to take good care of your USB headset to keep it looking and working like new. Here are some safety and storage tips to help you make the most of your USB headset purchase for years to come.

  • If you have a wired USB headset model, make sure to bundle your cord when it is not in use. This will prevent your USB headset from cord damage that can affect its performance. We recommend a loose, figure-8 cord bundle secured with a twist-tie or zip-tie when you are not using your USB headset.
  • For wireless Bluetooth USB headsets that you plan to use on several devices, be sure to disconnect a device before connecting to a new one. Too many devices connected via Bluetooth can cause connectivity issues, especially if all the devices are within a 500-foot range of one another.
  • Be sure not to clean your USB headset with anything other than cleaning products that have been optimized for use with electronics. Alternatively, we find that a damp hand towel or dishcloth with a very small amount of mild dish soap is effective and safe for the exterior of your USB headset. Never submerge the cord or dongle to your USB headset in the water!

By following these tips, we hope your USB headset will continue to make your remote working or online learning experience as pleasant and productive as possible.

The Best Headsets for Online Meetings

Since the onset of the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has been significantly altered. Everything from how we shop for groceries to how our children attend school looks different now, and we are adapting to this seismic change with pivots, workarounds, and other shifts to help us safely get on with business as usual.
One of the biggest changes we’ve had to cope with during these unprecedented times is how we commute to the office. Many of us are now working remotely, doing our jobs from home offices in order to stay safe and socially-distanced from our co-workers. While we are certainly fortunate to have the available technology that allows us to do this, working from home can be quite frustrating, and not all workers have had an easy time adapting to it.

This is especially true when it comes to online meetings. It is now commonplace to have to sit on multiple video chats per day with colleagues and clients, interacting via Zoom or Google Meet where we once would have had face-to-face interactions. For many employees, especially those living in cramped spaces with multiple distractions, online meetings have been among the most difficult parts of COVID life they’ve had to adapt to in a relatively short period of time.
For those who have yet to embrace online meetings and are struggling to concentrate, headsets can be an ideal solution. Using a headset can help you create an instant distraction-free environment no matter what’s going on in the background! Best of all, some headsets include special features such as muted microphones that can help minimize background noise coming from your end, providing a pleasant, focused call for all members of the meeting. Here are our top picks for headsets that help make online meetings go more smoothly for everyone involved.

Avid AE-36 – Available in a variety of colors, this headset allows you to make a statement while staying focused on a call. The headset and the speaker are controlled from one jack, making them less bulky and easier to carry. The Avid AE-36 headset works with a variety of computers and tablets, including Chromebooks, without the need for extra attachments, and the sound quality makes it easy for a student to hear the instructor.

Avid AE-55 – Not only does this model offer noise reduction and a cord that is easy to store, but the microphone can also be worn on either ear, making it easier for left-handed people to take notes during online meetings. The Avid AE-55 is designed with comfort in mind and contains ergonomic elements to keep users from straining so that they can pay attention to the topic at hand rather than become distracted by their personal comfort.

Avid AE-42 – For those who don’t always take the best care of their office supplies, a durable headset is a must. This headset is made to withstand any abuse that may come to it, from being dropped by one of your kids to having the cord chewed on by a pet. Although it is durable, it’s also stylish and functional, and it can be adjusted for each user, in case you’re sharing with your partner or child.

Hamilton Buhl Smart-Trek Deluxe Stereo ST2BK – Remote workers who prefer a headset that envelops the ear and cancels noise will love this headset. It offers excellent sound quality with adjustable volume, which is perfect for online meetings with multiple presenters. Its adjustable headset and durable construction give the Smart-Trek Deluxe the ability to withstand multiple uses.

Hamilton Buhl Smart-Trek Deluxe Stereo ST2BKU – Work-from-home parents who want headsets that are available for multiple uses will love this model. The headset adjusts to fit people of all ages. Its ear cups are soft and comfortable, making it easier to sit through a long online meeting. The cord is resistant to knots, which is a bonus for those who tend to twist the cords.

Cyber Acoustics AC-204 – Made with VoIP and gamers in mind, this headset is great for remote workers who need to use the headset for most of the day. It features noise-canceling headphones, making it easier for people in busy households to hear their colleagues, and it can be used with a variety of computers, phones, and tablets.

Cyber Acoustics AC-6012 – With a padded headband and padded earphones, this headset is also a great model that can be worn all day. With its easy-to-clean surface and user-friendly volume control, the AC-6012 can help take your online meetings to the next level.

Cyber Acoustics AC-5008 – A classic look meets modern function in this headset. Its traditional round earphones are reminiscent of classic models, not to mention comfortable, durable, and easy to clean. This headset is adjustable with a microphone that can be used on either side. A USB plugin makes it easy to pair with many different computers and other devices, making it a good choice for a variety of uses in addition to remote meetings.

Soundnetic SN250M – A lightweight option, the Soundnetic Disposable headset is an ideal option for those of us on a budget. This headset is designed for personal use, with stereo speakers that make it easy to hear audio. Best of all, the SN250M is compatible with many different tablets, phones, and computers, giving you peace of mind that your equipment will work well with this headset.

ThinkWrite TW120 Ultra Ergo – This comfortable, durable headset features an ergonomic design that helps you perform at your best without straining to see or hear. One of the best features of the TW120 is that it was designed specifically to limit exposure to damaging frequencies, which is beneficial to your auditory health. In addition to being invaluable during online meetings, he TW120 is perfect for recording presentations, participating in conference calls over the phone, and listening to work-related video content without distractions.

ThinkWrite Ultra Durable 90119 – With its noise-canceling microphone, the ThinkWrite Ultra Durable 90119 may be the greatest thing to ever happen to your Zoom meetings! No more background noise from kids, pets, or neighborhood construction. The Ultra Durable 90119 is optimized for iPads and Chromebooks, making it a headset that your child can borrow for remote learning when it’s not in use by you. Perfect for the whole family!

With so many durable and affordable models, there is a headset for every remote worker in any situation. Whether they’re being used for meetings, note-taking, recording, or other uses, these headsets are functional and practical for everyday use. Don’t suffer another day with inadequate home office conditions- make sure you’re well-equipped with the right headset to make your work-from-home experience as comfortable as possible!

Creating a Clean and Healthy Classroom

The effects of the COVID-19 crisis can still be deeply felt in virtually all aspects of our lives, and much has changed about how we do a number of things, like sending our children to school. Though we are anxious to return to the way things were before COVID-19 struck, it is critical that we take important steps to minimize the possibility of an outbreak so that kids, teachers, and school staff members can return safely to their normal routine.

When students are slated to come back to their school classrooms, there is still much concern over how to accomplish this seemingly simple goal as safely and responsibly as possible. One of the top concerns of all school administrators is providing effective equipment and supplies to help keep students, teachers, and other school staff protected.

While schools have already decided that they will be taking measures to promote clean and healthy classrooms, there are still a number of parents and teachers who are wary of in-person class attendance. In order to ensure maximum safety for all students and staff, it is essential that all schools that plan to open their doors and welcome children back to school have a large supply of essential products to help keep all common areas clean and sanitized.

Here are our recommendations for the top products each classroom needs on hand to ensure cleanliness and health in the classroom.

Classroom and Library Performance Disinfectant Wipes

Bulk disinfecting wipes

Not all disinfectant wipes are created equal when it comes to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and bacteria that can make kids sick as they head back to school. The hospital-grade Classroom and Library Performance Disinfectant Wipes are effective for all-purpose cleaning and sanitization, killing 99.9% of all bacteria in just 15 seconds! This bulk container of 800 wipes is proven to kill flu and other coronavirus strains, H1N1, staph, MRSA, e. Coli, salmonella, HIV-1, and more. Packaged in a handy dispenser bucket, the Classroom and Library Performance Disinfectant Wipes are free from benzyl-alcohol, citrus, bleach, and phenol, making them safe on all surfaces. To ensure that your school is a safe environment for students and teachers returning to class amid COVID-19, make sure to stock a bucket of Classroom and Library Performance Disinfectant Wipes in every classroom.

Hygenx Hand Sanitizer

Available in 8 oz., 16 oz., and 1-gallon bottles, Hygenx Hand Sanitizer is effective at killing 99.99% of common germs on hands. Administered as an antiseptic spray, Hygenx Hand Sanitizer’s fragrance-free formula contains 80% ethyl alcohol and fully conforms to FDA guidelines. Teachers, students, and school staff can use this sanitizer throughout the day to optimize the level of classroom safety and help reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Supplies of Hygenx Hand Sanitizer are limited due to extraordinarily high demand, so make it a point to place your orders for the fall semester sooner rather than later. Make sure to include Hygenx Hand Sanitizer in your classroom arsenal of cleaning supplies!

Non-Contact Multimode Infrared Forehead Thermometer

Here’s a safe, contact-free way to administer mandatory temperature checks to students and staff. The Non-Contact Multimode Infrared Foreheard Thermometer accurately measures body temperature without having to touch the forehead at all! This FDA-approved thermometer delivers quick, accurate temperature readings from a safe distance using a high-accuracy infrared sensor probe and the latest in smart chip technology. A large LCD readout is backlit with a soft light for easy reading in any environment, and can be set to display results in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. Reliable one-second results allow your staff members to quickly spot a high temperature that can be a symptom of COVID-19 or another contagious illness like the flu, allowing fast action and prevention of an outbreak. The Non-Contact Multimode Infrared Forehead Thermometer helps maintain a safe learning environment for everyone!

Hygenx V-Ray Mobile UV Sterilizer

Go above and beyond with your school’s sanitation efforts by investing in a Hygenx V-Ray Portable UV Sterilizer. This portable UV wand effectively eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and sterilizes virtually all surfaces, including call center headsets, computer keyboards, and porous surfaces that can not be sanitized with disinfectant wipes. Lightweight and cordless, the V-Ray allows for easy portability between classrooms and other common areas. Thanks to a patented safety sensor that automatically turns off the powerful UV-C light when the unit is tilted 30 degrees in either direction, the V-Ray ensures maximum safety and prevention against ultraviolet exposure to the skin and eyes, making it safe for everyday use. This is an excellent choice in an ultraviolet sanitizer, and an outstanding way to keep your school free from viruses, bacteria, and other potentially harmful germs.

Reopening schools is a highly delicate situation that requires the utmost preparation and planning on the part of school faculties everywhere. While we agree that it’s important to get kids back to their classrooms and learning again, it is also crucial that we do it as safely and responsibly as possible. By taking preventative measures such as conducting mandatory temperature checks, cleaning and sanitizing all surfaces regularly, advocating frequent hand washing, and making sure that all students and staff have ample access to hand sanitizer, we can help make this transition back to a “normal” school schedule go more smoothly for everyone involved.

Safety is our number one priority as students return to school. Be sure to stay stocked up on all the essential equipment listed here and you will be able to ensure that your classrooms are able to welcome kids back for a year of safe in-person learning and fun!

Back-To-School Roundup

With new students, lesson plans, &, of course, school supplies, back-to-school means a fresh start to your classroom. Making your classroom checklist can feel overwhelming at first but with the right plan, you can get everything ready to go for your 1st day of school. From making sure your classroom décor is ready to go, to having extra pencils on hand we have you covered with all the best back to school planning. Check out our list of top Back-To-School supplies.

Personalized Pencils: From funny quotes to motivational words of wisdom, there are pencils for everyone. If your students are always taking your pencils, maybe you can have them personalized with your name? That is one way to make sure you always have pencils for you, students!

Bento Boxes: If you’re looking for a way to plan healthy meals that are never boring, look into bento boxes. You can find tons of fun ideas for snack options on Pinterest as well. These are great for kids who have food allergies or are picky eaters. With lots of storage spaces and little dip spots, your kids will feel like they are getting lots of extra snacks.

Fun Bookmarks: Student rewards can be more than candy. Consider fun bookmarks as a reward. These Nessie bookmarks are a unique alternative to turning down a page to mark your spot. They are under $10 so they won’t break the bank.

Pastel Highlighters: Sometimes highlighters in those bright neon colors can give students a headache. These pastel highlighters do the same as regular highlighters without eye distraction.

Stationery Set: Whatever your students are into, there’s probably a notebook or pencil set for that. This Harry Potter stationery set has tons of school essentials. It’s packed with sticky notes, pens, notebooks, and sticky bookmarks.

Cute Pens: If your students like superheroes or dinosaurs, there are fun pen sets for everyone. We recommend these cat ones. Maybe you’re a crazy cat mom or you want pens right meow for your students. Check out these and many more on Amazon.

Encore Data Products: Our educational headphones, headsets, & earbuds are all perfect for your students. Whether you’re working with STEM students or students who have trouble concentrating, we have headphones for them. Our many options are both durable & affordable. They are always more budget-friendly when you buy in bulk.

Be sure to enter our giveaway and you could win a set of educational headphones for your entire classroom!

KEEP YOUR CLASSROOM , LIBRARY OR GYM FREE FROM GERMS!

Keeping computer equipment , mobile devices , headsets and work surfaces free from germs and bacteria is paramount in high usage environments – such as classrooms , offices and libraries!

Fortunately – Encore Data Products has a variety of cleaning wipes and sprays that will handle the job with ease and keep equipment sanitary and students healthy!

Feel free to call our knowledgable customer service TOLL FREE: 866-926-1669 or order ONLINE

Follow us for daily social media posts and stay updated!

 

CLASSROOM & LIBRARY PERFORMANCE DISINFECTANT WIPES BULK 800 ROLL IN DISPENSER BUCKET

Take care of the job fast!

Kit Includes 1 x 800 Wipe roll and 1 Dispenser Bucket

  • KILLS Flu Virus (A2/Japan), H1N1, Staph, MRSA, E.Coli, Salmonella, HIV-1 & More
  • EPA registered in all 50 states
  • Hospital grade, all purpose dual-chain quaternary disinfectant
  • Proudly made in the USA
  • Safe on all surfaces: free of benzyl-alcohol, citrus, bleach & phenol
  • Dimensions of wipes: 8″ x 6″ / Bucket is 10″ tall
  • 800 wipes per roll

A quality American-made product ideal for your classroom, library and more!

Kills 99.9% of bacteria in 15 seconds!

HYGENX HEADPHONE & HEADSET CLEANER SPRAY BOTTLE (8 OZ.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

HamiltonBuhl’s HygenX Headphones and Headsets Cleaner is the ultimate cleaning solution ideal for all headphones, headsets, earbuds and phones!

Free of any harsh chemicals or fumes, the HygenX Headphones and Headsets Cleaner is FREE of any alcohol or ammonia and is non-toxic and non-flammable, making it the safer choice for you, your students, your office, your home and the environment.

Our unique proprietary formula, ensures your headphones, headsets, earbuds and phones are left clean, properly conditioned, scratch-free, streak-free and best of all safe to handle in seconds!

Use it over and over, with complete confidence!

Specifications:

  • One 8 fl. oz. Refillable Spray Bottle
  • Proprietary formula free of harsh chemicals or fumes
    • Chemical FREE
    • Alcohol FREE
    • Ammonia FREE
    • Non Toxic
    • Non Flammable
  • Made in USA
  • Specially formulated for Headphones, Headsets, Earbuds and Phones

GYM & SPA PERFORMANCE DISINFECTANT WIPES BULK 800 ROLL IN DISPENSER BUCKET

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disinfecting Gym & Spa Wipes in Dispenser Bucket

Kit Includes 1 800 Wipe roll and 1 Dispenser Bucket

  • KILLS Flu Virus (A2/Japan), H1N1, Staph, MRSA, E.Coli, Salmonella, HIV-1 & More
  • EPA registered in all 50 states
  • Hospital grade, all purpose dual-chain quaternary disinfectant
  • Proudly made in the USA

TOUCHPOINT STAINLESS STEEL FLOOR DISPENSER STAND FOR WIPES

Stainless steel dispenser for gym wipes.
Includes trash receptacle in lower portion.
Easily insert and dispense gym wipe rolls.
Lift the dispenser to remove the full trash bin as needed.

Many more solutions to choose from – call or order online!