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Coming Soon in January 2014…ChesterKeys&Case for the iPad Air

DSC_1850At Chester Creek Technologies, staying on top of technology trends is vital to our business and livelihood.  Plus, it’s fun to learn about the changing world of technology!

We are thrilled to announce our latest product innovation – the ChesterKeys&Case for the iPad® Air!

ChesterKeys&Case for the iPad Air features an adjustable Bluetooth keyboard with a rechargeable battery for 120 hours of continuous use.  The new iPad Air case is a soft faux leather case that closes securely with a magnetic clasp keeping all controls, ports, microphones and camera easily accessible.  The Bluetooth keyboard includes all the function keys you would need with an iPad such as, Home, Volume, Search, Internet, Select All and more!

ChesterKeys&Case for the iPad Air is available with Chester Creek’s color-coded keys for improved typing, speed and accuracy, or a black and white keyboard; both with extra-large, bold face font for increased visibility.  The iPad Air will rest securely with its built in, collapsible stand that can be angled for optimal viewing.

Contact us today to preorder your ChesterKeys&Case for the iPad® Air!

Chester Creek Technologies – 888-214-5450

ChesterKeys&Case Air Specifications:

  • Size:   10.39” x 7.17” X 1.22”
  • RoHS & CPSIA Compliant
  • Battery Life:   120 Hours
  • USB Charging Cable included
  • Bluetooth V3.0 compatible with iOS 3.2 and higher
  • Part #  TCK – Air (Black Keys); TCK-C – Air (Colored Keys)

iPad® is a registered trademark of Apple and not included.

iCanConnect

iCanConnectLogoHave you heard of iCanConnect?

iCanConnect is The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program.  This Federal program ensures individuals who have combined hearing and vision loss access to telephone, advanced communications and information services (like the internet).

The FCC set aside funding to support one program per state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  iCanConnect provides communications technology free of charge to low-income people of all ages who have combined vision and hearing loss.  Equipment provided can range from hardware or software applications to the varying technology needs of specialized equipment, like screen readers or braille displays.

How do you know if this program is for you?  You may be eligible for this program if you are a person who has combined vision and hearing loss and you cannot afford communication technology that enable you to use telephone, send email or access the internet.  A qualified program specialist will help you identify your equipment needs and train you on how to use it as well.

You can learn more about iCanConnect and watch a wonderful video introduction on the program by visiting their website at www.iCanConnect.org or by calling 1-800-825-4595.

To apply, contact your state’s program. For more information visit: www.fcc.gov/NDBEDP

It’s Sale Time…

wrappingIt is that time of the year when Chester Creek Technologies is all about giving!  We are about to kick off the Holiday season and we are doing it with a bang this year.  Watch for the FIRST sale – a four day sale – to start before Thanksgiving and then ANOTHER 12 DAY, that’s right – 12 day! – sale to start on Cyber Monday, December 2, 2013.  We are passing along many savings to our valued customers and cannot wait to share them with you!  We hope you all take advantage and get the technology gadgets you want for the Holidays.

Happy Holidays from the Chester Creek staff!

Travelin’

The past few months have been a rush of travels for the Chester Creek team and we still have more to come!  We set out to learn more about our customers and find what you want and need.  We have been visiting with our customers and distributors as well as attending a trade show here and there.  Here’s where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to:

August brought us out to Boston, MA, to visit some of our best customers and to a Red Sox game!

In September we visited one of our largest distributors, D & H, and visited with other Pennsylvania customers.

October arrived and we traveled to Mashantucket, Connecticut, for the 9th Annual WB Mason Trade Show and Convention.  It was well attended and we had a blast!  Also, Connecticut has Fall Colors VERY similar to Duluth…just no Lake Superior.

Also in October, we traveled down to North Carolina to visit two education customers.  Another great trip with beautiful scenery like Duluth, but still no Lake Superior.  We really are spoiled up here, aren’t we?!?!

Here’s an idea of what’s to come for our travelin’ gang:

November we travel to Washington, DC, for the 2013 NAEYC Expo & Conference.  NAEYC stands for National Association for the Education of Young Children.  We are excited about this one as a lot of our customers will be here so we will get to visit with them, face to face!

In the New Year, we travel to Orlando, Florida, to attend the 2014 ATIA Conference.  The Assistive Technology Industry Association is a great place for us to be in January.

Lastly, in April we conclude our travels right here in Duluth, MN.  We will be attending the 2014 MACHE Home School Conference & Curriculum Fair.  The Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators is held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) every year.

Let us know if you’ll be at one these events. We’d be happy to meet you!

Even though we are travelling, we still have a dedicated team at the office working hard to ensure everything runs smoothly!  We love meeting you, our customers, and hearing what you have to say about our products!

Celebrate Our Grandparents

Bill with VB2 whiteNational Grandparents Day is September 8, 2013. It is the first Sunday after Labor Day every year. September was chosen for the holiday to signify the “autumn years” of life.

Some people think of Grandparents Day as a “Hallmark® holiday” made up by the card and flower companies but that is not the case. Grandparents Day was founded by Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade of West Virginia. Her hope was to encourage grandchildren and other youth to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. McQuade initiated a campaign in 1970 with efforts concentrated on civic, business, church and political leaders statewide. The first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1973 in West Virginia by Governor Arch Moore. It then took five years for legislation to pass the proclamation. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.

Here at Chester Creek Technologies, we are celebrating our grandparents in a different way. VisionBoards are on sale from Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – Friday, September 13, 2013, in honor of Grandparents Day.

It is the 40th anniversary of Grandparents Day and a lot has changed since 1973. Grandparents are now tech-savvy. They like many of the same gadgets as the younger generation. However, some suffer from some sort of vision loss or other conditions that make it difficult to use their fun gadgets and computers. Our large key VisionBoards provide a great alternative to a standard size keyboard and they come in a variety of options like wireless, wired, Bluetooth, black lettering with white keys or vice versa, and yellow keys with black lettering which is great for those with Macular Degeneration or other forms of vision loss. Visit our website below to check out more details and give us a call at 888-214-5450 with any questions you may have.

Chester Creek Technologies Website: http://www.chestercreek.com/assistiveTechnology.html

If you want to read more about Grandparents Day, visit: http://www.grandparents-day.com/

Oh PS – I almost forgot to tell you, there is also a Grandparents Day song. It is written and composed by Johnny Prill of Bad Axe, Michigan. It is called “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa”. Take a listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfp0zFYdJHc

Tablets in Schools

Since the iPad came out, it has become, remained, and grown more popular.  Today, many schools use tablets – both Apple branded and not – in the classrooms for various functions.  These new technologies are finding a particular home in the special ed departments in many districts.  Like computers, touchscreen tablets have been of huge benefit to those who often struggle in school.  With the advent of the PC, we had  not just another medium for research, but a new medium for communication.  For many disabled and struggling individuals, grasping a pencil to write or even speaking may be of considerable difficulty.  Computers can help us bridge the communication gap we sometimes see.
The tablet can take this a step further.  While it may not be idea for quick writing due to the lack of a physical keyboard, the tablet as a technology presents a huge opportunity, especially for the nonverbal kids.  There are loads of apps out there designed not just to engage and educate, but also to assist less verbal user.  Users can click through screens of pictures or words.  Taking works and making them visual can be especially helpful to many autistic students, who are often nonverbal as well as other symptoms.
By adding a keyboard to a tablet, you can make it almost as functional as many full computers, with full typing capabilities and speed, but with more mobility and  a slew of apps, both free and paid.  Chester Creek offers a lovely tablet case with portable, color-coded keyboard.  The color coding can improve typing skills, and is a fun addition to a child’s school supplies.

Technology in the Classroom

While the advent of widespread technology has left huge footprints in the education world, there are a number of ways it can be utilized that haven’t yet been implemented in most school.   In fact, many of the recreational websites and services used everyday can be turned to education.

Take Tumblr for example.  This micro-blogging service has been around since February 2007, and, according to their website:

 

“Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.”

This can also function as a neat way to save, organize, and share notes and research for school, especially since for upper grades and college, computers are gaining ground on traditional notepads.  Teachers can use it to host resources and to post class syllabi, as well.

Another great organizational tool that can be used for schools is Trello.  Trello lets you track the details of anything a group is working on.  It includes notes, lets you move things to different people, lets you watch deadlines – and it’s all free.  The website describes it as a “whiteboard with superpowers.”  This could be great for teacher to organize a whole classroom, or for students working together on a group project.

Scribblar is a multi-user online whiteboard.  It lets you chat with group-members while revising images or outlines.

Wallwisher is a free website where you can post online notices – due dates, test schedules, assignments, and more.  It also lets you share sites, have discussions, ask questions and get answers,  and generally share or collaborate on a number of projects.

Another of my favorite tech-based learning tools is actually from a very popular video game: Portal.  Teaching with Portals is a website they built in response to teacher demand.  The game Portal lets you play with physics in some very specific ways to complete challenges.  The website includes free lesson plans for teachers to take advantage of, as well as a teachers-forum to share information, ideas, and feedback.

A new Pew study addresses this phenomenon

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Digital-differences/Overview.aspx?cnn=yes

One in five adults in the US doesn’t use the internet. (I assume this means with any frequency. It would be almost impossible to never use the internet today.) Of those individuals, roughly half of them don’t bother going online because they believe that the internet doesn’t have anything relevant to offer them. They get their information through the TV or newspaper, they make phone calls to keep up with friends and family, they shop in local stores, and they presumably do research only in books.

Other reasons to not use the internet include cost – computers are too expensive – or difficulty.

As you may have guessed, most of these people are older. Almost 60% of US seniors don’t go online. Likewise, about 60% of adults who did not complete high school don’t use the internet. Non-internet users also tend to have lower incomes. Interestingly, ethnicity doesn’t have much to do with it. I say interestingly, because we often see race and socio-economic discussed in studies as being extremely highly correlated. Even more interesting, growth in high-speed/broadband internet adoption is significantly higher among African Americans. They are more likely to be switching to broadband than other groups at this time, though other groups may have a higher percentage who already have broadband.

Mobile phones are making an impact on this number as well. With the internet in a $50 smart phone in yoru pocket, the barriers to internet access dwindle.

My grandfather, until recently, had dial-up. While he did use the internet, it was generally only for checking email or stocks, and not frequently. Now, he has a smart phone and accesses and browses the web daily. Perhaps the most shocking part of this study – for me – was that a good portion of the non-internet-using adult population in the US has never been online. This might explain why they believe it is irrelevant to them. They literally don’t know what they are missing in terms of resources offered.

Society is continuing its shift towards the digital.

Society is continuing its shift towards the digital. A recent study in the UK shows that people do more texting than talking on phones. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18873041 “While 58% of people communicated via texts on a daily basis in 2011, only 47% made a daily mobile call, said the country’s communications industry regulator.”

This is only a little surprising to me. I certainly text more than I talk on the phone, by a good margin. I will use a phone call if I am busy or need a quick response from someone, but it is usually more convenient to text. By texting, I am imposing less upon the recipient’s time – they can respond when convenient. It takes less of my time, as I don’t feel the need to make small talk, or ask the polite questions (How are you? How’s the weather? This is Minnesota, after all). I also find it more private that speaking on the phone in public. In fact, two of my biggest pet peeves are related to this: Women making phone calls in public restrooms when they are not the only occupant and individuals who make mobile calls, on speaker phone, in public places, such as the store or bus.

This weekend, I heard my grandmother express a similar sentiment regarding texting – it is more convenient, quicker, for when she just needs a short response or is multitasking. When I was in high school, most kids had cell phones. Now, most kids’ parents have cell phones, and grandparents are more and more likely to own a mobile device. I have also seen a strong shift towards smart phones and texting by those over 40, rather than voice-focused cells.

While technology is becoming more and more widely used, there are still a number of Americans that have no access to or choose not to use the internet. I found that pretty interesting. I go to the internet for so many things, recipes, social networking, news, and more, not to mention work and research.

Posture to Productivity

A number of our previous posts focused on the benefits of good computer and work space ergonomics. Ergonomics refers to “the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements and its cognitive abilities.” It is widely accepted that improved ergonomics can help raise and sustain productivity in the workplace and educational settings.  This can include positioning of desk, computer, and keyboard.  It can take the form of particular adaptive items, like the Chester Mouse, which fits smaller or weaker hands more easily than a standard sized mouse.  One of the most basic applications of ergonomics deals with posture.  Looking at this diagram from St. Kilda Road Chiropractic, check yourself for good computer posture.
Good posture not only improves your productivity, it should also make you feel better in the long run, even if a certain stance may feel awkward at first.