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Testing Out Cool Tools at NECC

One of the most popular draws at a big event like the National Educational Computing Conference, going on through tomorrow here in Washington, is the exhibit hall, where hundreds of vendors set up shop to show off their products. Educators flock to the vendors with the best giveaways—from candy to canvas totes to raffled-off electronics—or those with live demonstrations and opportunities to test out the tools.

A crowd, for example, packed the booth of Troxell Communications to watch how teachers can use interactive whiteboards and digital animation software to get students excited about reading activities. After writing the word "cheese" on the oversized screen, the company representative created a quick series of drawings, storing them as digital slides, to create a short film showing the word morphing into a block of Swiss.

Over in another row at the booth of Circle Twelve Inc., some attendees played educational games and tapped into the Web on a large, multi-use touch table that allows students to collaborate on projects and lessons.

With hundreds of booths of commercial products, education organizations, and services related to ed-tech applications, NECC attendees might have trouble choosing which to venture into. The next challenge for attendees might be trying to fit all the free pens, mousepads, and other marketing materials into their suitcases for the trip home.

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