Top tech gifts for teachers

Top tech gifts for teachers

Summary: The teacher in your life doesn't need another mug. He or she needs some cool tech.

TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware

Teachers, by and large, aren't the geekiest folks around. Unless you're talking about computer science professors at some research university - those guys are really geeky. The average K12 teacher, though, regardless of where they fall on the geek spectrum, has tech needs, whether they know it or not. This presents great opportunities for gifts, avoiding the apple and "World's Greatest Teacher" mug cliches. In no particular order, speaking as a former teacher and someone who regularly assesses that tools and capabilities that teachers need to do their jobs effectively, is a list of several gift ideas that are sure to be hits with the teachers in your life.

Dell Inspiron Duo

OK, this is for the teacher you really like. As in one to whom you're either married or gave birth. It hasn't yet made it to the Dell Connected Classroom or to educational pricing (I'm told that this is on its way early in 2011; a full review will be forthcoming as soon as Dell sends me an educational SKU), but this is the very sort of device that even a slightly savvy teacher would love to carry into class.

It's a netbook on steroids, so the price is reasonable (starting at $549) and it provides teachers with a handy interface for walking among students and sharing images, files, grades, and other content.

A domain

This one's cheap in terms of money, but will probably cost you in terms of tech support. While some schools provide wonderful resources for e-learning and sharing content between teachers and students, many more simply don't have the IT support, the wherewithal, the vision, or the supporting policies. Teachers often turn to free blogging services and other Web 2.0 sites to share content (even as simple as posting homework online). However, with the support of a loving relative or a particularly grateful student, they can not only have their own hosted domain, but that domain could easily contain a WordPress installation, a Moodle instance, or just a simple site builder. It won't be long before the domain becomes a hub for their classes.

A subscription

Again, most schools don't provide VPN access to school data or even teacher laptops to easily take their work home. A subscription lets them store everything they do in the cloud, as well as share the content they want with their students. 5 free gigabytes are generous and you look good for giving a free gift.

A mobile 3G (or 4G) card/device

If that special teacher can't access all the content they want to share with students because of Draconian content filtering, a 3G USB dongle will take care of things. A MiFi will do the same. Data costs can add up, but slow, unreliable, or unfriendly school connections can stand between a progressive teacher and, well, being progressive. Should I be advocating this sort of guerilla Internet access? Probably not, but this is a gift guide, not a policy discussion, and there aren't many teachers who don't bristle at content filtering that interferes with a demo, video, or presentation in class.

Thumb drives

Not everyone is a fan of the cloud. Sometimes, they'd rather back up to a USB stick and sneakernet their work home. Never fear, thumb drives are cheap, small, and increasingly cool. Check out this one from ThinkGeek:

Just don't forget the teacher on your list. Teachers, geeky or not, need toys too, and they might as well be 21st Century toys, right?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    Choosing a gift is hard, because most of us want to get the satisfication from the acceptors.
    When it comes to solve the annual challenge of holiday gift giving, maybe you have no shortage of creative ideas. Here, With the help of iFunia, you'll find inspiring stories of how people spread holiday cheer by making personalized gifts. Get inspired these great gift ideas for the year of 2010.
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    Please tell me the Inspiron Duo was some kind of nasty joke. I wouldn't gift that thing to my worst enemy. The plastic border around the screen is a huge waste of real estate, the mechanism is not one that will stand up to the kind of abuse a teacher would give it, and Dell's baked-in touch UI in tablet mode is downright PAINFULLY slow. On top of that, all it does is link back to piggish Windows applications that take ages to load.

    Pretty much anyone who got their hands on one of these *cough* Paul Thurrott *cough* has universally panned the thing as a complete failure.
    • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

      @Playdrv4me- Don't mind but I personally feel that your comment was a teeny bit exaggerative ( contradiction! ). Okay, an authority on the subject may have condemned the product but still, the entire world, in a broader view has recieved the Inspiron Duo quite well. I feel that you shouldn't have cast light upon the Duo as a heap of crap ( no offense-all in a day's work )
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    I couldn't help but notice the Livescribe Smartpen wasn't on your list. I must object. I have NEVER seen a more amazing and useful product for students, teachers and administrators! I'd be happy to share more if you're interested: or
    • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

      @clickers4yOU Thanks for the cheap commercial... I suspect you have something to gain by giving this "information."
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    Nice thinking Chris! A really useful way of looking at all that opportunity around us!
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    Please tell me, why did you recommend There are other sync disk service, like Dropbox or SugerSync. What is the different between and others?
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    For those who don't wanna spend too much on a gift for a teacher, or give their teacher a gift that they wouldn't know how to use- I think a simple, clarity certified webcam would be a useful and sweet gift. It's applicable in the school as well as for personal networking.
  • RE: Top tech gifts for teachers

    Teachers are being stretched past the limit on every day school supplies. Try gifting them a debit card for Staples or some Craft store. They would appreciate that for sure.
  • USB Swiss Drive

    Not sure if I would recommend that. The pocket knives would probably run afoul of ZT policies.
    Bill Huston