Edtech Nerds Gift Guide: Efficacy

Written by Kris Thurston

December 6, 2023

Improve Your Efficacy

It’s the holiday season and the EdTech Nerds are in full cheer!

To kick off the season, being such a gadget Nerd, I’m putting together a series of gift guides focused on each of the EdTech Nerds Five Pillars: Creativity, Community, Mindfulness, Efficacy, and Efficiency. Each post contains some thoughtful ideas for fun and useful gifts you can give to your fellow educators (or yourself) to help bring a little more joy to all of your second semesters.

This series of posts are our top picks for each pillar. For our entire collection of recommended gadgets and gizmos, check out our Wakelet collection here.

These posts are not sponsored by any of the products listed. All Amazon links, however, are affiliate links.

Efficacy: 

Our Efficacy Pillar is all about making sure what you’re doing in the classroom actually works. These products were chosen to help remove some of the barriers that keep students from engaging with your resources and content. They also help teachers communicate the lessons they’re trying to teach more effectively. 

IPEVO V4K Pro Document Camera:

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of document cameras. They can anchor a teacher to a desk or podium when moving around the classroom and directly interacting with students is much more engaging and effective. When you do end up needing a camera, however, it helps to have a good one. 

I’ve been using this document camera with teachers for almost a year now and they’ve come in really handy. My English teachers use it to show how to annotate books. The chemistry teachers use it to show closeups of the chemical reactions. The biology teachers use it with all of their demos and virtual labs. We even have one pointed at the 3D printer to take timelapse videos of the things that students create. I also take mine with me on the road because it’s so light and small. It’s really easy to use anywhere.

The IPEVO V4K Pro is lightweight, portable, and gives you a vivid 4K resolution picture to show off whatever it is you’re working on, whether that’s a document, artifact, model, or artwork in great detail. The camera has a built-in LED light and an AI-powered microphone that enhances clarity.

When used with IPEVO’s free visualization software, you can easily take snapshots, record video, and scan documents. It has features like split screen and picture-in-picture for use with your webcam so your students can see your face while you teach. They also have an annotator app that lets you work with the touch features of your interactive flat panel so you can annotate for your class and record it so you, or your students, can play it back later.

The IPEVO V4K Pro is currently available on Amazon for around $139 or from the IPEVO store for $149.

Audio Technica AT2020+ USB Microphone

One of the biggest detractors to the videos that teachers make is audio quality. At best, poor audio can make your video displeasing to listen to. At worst, your hard work can easily become unintelligible. Any way you look at it, the last thing you want is for your student to skip the video that you worked so hard to make to communicate that thing you know they need to learn.

To remedy this, we always talk about investing in a better microphone. Now, microphones can be tricky. There are so many and the cost can range from pocket change to thousands of dollars. The balance can be difficult to achieve.

That’s why I wrote this article.

Introducing the Audio Technica AT2020+ USB Microphone. This is literally the first microphone I’ve ever used that didn’t make me hate the sound of my own voice. It has a very narrow field, meaning that it doesn’t pick up a lot of background noise, and you should get it pretty close to your mouth, so I also recommend using this with a mic arm. The arm is a nice bonus: it will make you look and feel like a professional radio person, YouTuber, or game streamer and you can get a good one for less than $30. This microphone will make your voice sound very clear and warm. 

The USB microphone can also be used as an audio out device so you can plug your headphones directly into the microphone. Next to the headphone jack, you can dial the balance between your computer’s audio and an audio return of exactly what the microphone is picking up. This can help when recording if you’re trying to eliminate echo, background noise, breathing noises, and other audio detractors.

You can get the Audio Technica AT2020+ USB Microphone at Amazon for around $90. It comes with a simple stand but can be used with most mic arms, like this one, also available at Amazon.

Logitech Brio Webcam

You’re an amazing teacher. You work really hard to establish connections with all of your students and build relationships in order to facilitate trust and motivation so your students will actually try to learn what you’re teaching them. It’s an important step that shouldn’t be hindered by your content.

We’ve found that it really helps maintain that connection if you show your face in your video content. There is a lot of connotation conveyed by body language and facial expression that gets missed if your face isn’t there. That look in your eye also helps you use sarcasm as a tool for keeping your more seasoned students engaged.

To show your beautiful, handsome, expressive face (even if your hair and makeup aren’t done), we recommend the Logitech Brio Webcam. It records in beautiful 4k Ultra HD at 30 frames per second, or at 1080p at 60 frames per second. It works great in low light. It’s also highly customizable using Logitech’s camera management software, available for free from logitech.com.

The Logitech Brio Webcam is available new at Amazon for around $130, or refurbished at Amazon for around $85.

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