Roger Frost learns about 'pencasting' with the Livescrive Echo Smartpen
Livescribe EchoThe Livescribe Echo Smartpen is a remarkable note-taking pen that a student would probably nag a parent to buy. When they struggle to keep up with a quick-firing, careless lecturer, this gadget is an answer. It is a pen to take paper notes, yet it is also a pen with a microphone that records what is being said.

At first I wondered whether any MP3 recorder would do the job as well. When I tried I had to review most of a talk to find the parts I needed. With the Livescribe Smartpen however, a word you write becomes a bookmark for that moment in the recording.

Why should the little ‘uns have all the fun? Hugh John muses on what the ‘big kids’ want for Christmas
In no particular chronological order... apples, oranges, Cabbage Patch Dolls, PlayStations, smart phones, chocolate coins, My Little Pony, Action Men, Brazil nuts, Barbie Dolls . . . . .they’ve all had their day in the pale winter sunshine of a Christmas morning. But how about us grown-ups?

Don’t we need some seasonal pampering and retail therapy as well? Here are four suggestions to entice you.

Portable memory devices keep getting better. Hugh John reviews AirStash wireless flash drive

Heralded as, “the only wireless flash drive for your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and many other wireless smartphones, tablets and e-books” Maxell’s AirStash has a fulsome, perhaps extravagant billing to live up to, especially as it goes head to head with Kingston’s very successful Wi-Drive.

Both devices transfer data wirelessly and both use solid state drive technology but there are important differences which will probably determine which unit one opts for.

Jonathan Boyle gets acquainted with a new version  of an old classroom favourite – 'Camtasia'
CamtasiaI have to be honest. I just adore Camtasia Studio 8. In fact, I've enthused about all of the previous versions too. Over the 12 years we've been together this software has matured into a fabulous thoroughbred, pushing forward the frontiers of screen capture and ‘better than PowerPoint’ presentations.

You use Camtasia Studio to record what happens on your computer screen, and add narration and basically anything else you want it to incorporate for your high-impact presentations. But you are only as good as your last presentation and Camtasia has really helped to keep my presentations ahead of the rest.

Chris Drage uses Data Harvest's K'NEX control kit for an engaging STEM approach to programming
K'NEX controlThe government is changing what children learn about computers following a successful campaign that established the importance of basic programming skills for the future. This has to be built on practical hands-on tasks that will include children making games and controlling robots.

Although laudable, as we discovered in the early 1980s few students go on to use their programming skill to a higher level. Many drop by the wayside. Programming in school is  not a new phenomenon. Arguably a better medium for learning control is via control technology: programming real models in the real world. At least in this context there is something concrete and tangible to learn about and understand.