Back-to-school gadgets: the evolution of classroom tech

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Published September 04, 2012

| FoxNews.com

Students aren’t the only ones maturing through the years: Classroom technologies and devices have continued to evolve into some pretty cool and beneficial learning tools.

So don’t be left with last year’s it item -- take a look at these new and transformed school gadgets and devices and keep up with the classroom instead.

From Bulky Backpacks to Powerbags

Today’s students don’t walk around with stacks of books and binders in their backpacks. According to a recent Wakefield Research study, about 70 percent of students use digital devices like smartphones, laptops and tablets to take notes in class.

But what happens when one of those gadgets suddenly loses power?

In comes the Powerbag. This line of techy backpacks comes with a built-in battery system that can charge your smartphone, eReader and tablet while you’re on the go. Although it can't charge laptops yet, it does come with a laptop compartment to carefully stow one.

“The PowerBag is great, it not only holds everything you need in school with you, but it guarantees your kids will never be able to use 'sorry Mom, my battery died" as an excuse,” Mashable.com editor Andrea Smith told FoxNews.com. (List price: $169.99)

From a Disk to the Cloud

You're more likely to see a floppy disk as a coaster than a storage device these days. So how to keep things safe yet accessible?

SugarSync acts as your personal lifesaver to back up, sync, access and share all your important files and documents from anywhere at any time. This personal cloud service includes an automatic backup feature, so if your computer crashes mid-thesis rewrite, your work is automatically saved online in your secure Personal Cloud. 

Besides giving you peace of mind, it also has a mobile app so you can work on homework on those long bus rides to away games or field trips. Have a big group project coming up? You can make a public link for any file that can be shared through email, IM or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

“For teachers, we often hear that SugarSync has enabled them to share assignments with their students and eliminate the ‘My dog ate my homework’ problem," Laura Yecies, CEO of SugarSync said. "Students can access and turn in their school work from anywhere.” (Price: Free for a 5GB account)

From Notebooks to Tablets

Say so-long to paper cuts and backaches: Traditional textbooks are becoming a thing of the past.

According to a 2011 study by e-book seller CourseSmart, 48 percent of students who own a tech device frequently read e-textbooks and almost half said they would be more likely to complete a reading assignment if it was in a digital format.

A Binder Insert Case is the perfect way to organize and protect your new reading devices. Made by Griffin technology, the binder case secures an iPad in any standard three-ring binder so students can easily access textbook material while taking notes. 

This convenient study aid also comes with a loop to hold a pen or stylus and comes with cutouts to easily use the iPad's volume controls, dock connectors, headphone jacks and camera ports.

“It conveniently holds the iPad and given the fact that school systems are reinvesting in their technology components in the classroom, the mobile and tablet presence in the classroom will continue to surge,” Ken Wisnefski, tech expert and founder of Webimax, told FoxNews.com. (List price: $24.99)

From Flash Cards to On-Demand Tutors

Every student learns differently. Some may like studying with flashcards whereas others benefit from one-on-one interaction. While a pack of index cards can cost you $3.50, a private tutor session could set you back $100 per hour. 

“With the skyrocketing cost of tuition, many college students are opting for online learning,” Smith said.

InstaEDU is a new online tutoring site where students get the chance to connect with a pool of experts to get extra help with their academics. Whether you’re cramming for a math test at 2:00 a.m. or fighting writer's block on a paper at 2:00 p.m., the site has tutors available 24-7. 

CEO and co-founder Alison Johnston said students love the instant nature. “The fact that you can run into a challenging geometry problem and have someone teaching you how to solve that exact problem a minute later is a huge game changer.” (Price: Occasional users: $30/hr, Regular users: $22/hr)

Dorm Room Resources

Don’t have room for a boom box in your dorm? iFrogz Boost is the next best thing. By simply setting your music-playing device or smartphone on top of the speaker, the Boost magically amplifies the sound. It uses near field audio technology that picks up the signal from inside your device before pumping it out the two high-quality 2W x 2RMS speakers. (List price: $39.99)

Whether you’re hiking to the communal bathroom or sharing one in a suite, there's never enough room for all your bathroom belongings. But Bobble Brush is always up for brushing. A toothbrush stand with a round rubberized and weighted base keeps it from sliding off wet counters or tight spaces. Just place your toothbrush into the Bobble Brush’s inset slot and never worry about it going overboard again. (List price: $12.99)

Making sure you don’t forget to pack any essentials on the big move-in day can be daunting. This spring Dormify.com released The Ultimate Dormify Survival Kit. Filled with all the little essentials you may have overlooked, the box includes adhesive poster strips and hooks, a laundry bag and cleaning supplies, extra Band-Aids for all those paper cuts you’re bound to get, and more. (List price: $99)

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