John Galloway is captivated by CapturaTalk

CapturaTalkCapturaTalk 'scan'This is very clever technology. Take a photo of a piece of text with your mobile phone, then have it read out loud to you. If you're not sure what a word means, just pause when the yellow scanning highlighter gets to it, then click on an icon to have the dictionary definition pop up and read out.

It’s very useful for people who may struggle with text - whether due to a learning difficulty such as dyslexia, sight problems or perhaps being new to English. It is a tool designed to sit in your pocket, ready to be pulled out when you get stuck, whether reading a menu, a paragraph from a newspaper, a set of instructions or text on a web page or email.

Apple's resurgence in education continues - despite the credit crunch. A report from Gartner, a leading ICT research and advice consultancy, positions Apple as the leading computer manufacturer selling into schools and colleges in both Europe (26.4 per cent of market share) and the UK (27. 3 per cent) for the first quarter of 2009.

According to the report in Distorted-Loop.com, Gartner's corresponding figures for August 2008 were 19.2 and 17.3 per cent respectively.

AutoCollageMicrosoft AutoCollageMicrosoft has made its AutoCollage software available as an exclusive free download on its Innovative Teachers Network. It was created by Microsoft Research and exploits "advanced digital tapestry and facial recognition technologies" to enable all sorts of clever image manipulation.

Innovative Teachers' Kristen Weatherby and Stuart Ball have been using it for their own ITN postings (example left) and Kristen explains the offer in her latest post. The only string attached is that it's an exclusive freebie for members of ITN. You can register here.

Chris Drage welcomes a trio of new handheld microscopes

Coombes minibeastCoombes minibeastIt seems only logical that, following the popularity of webcams and small digital microscopes, the next step is to produce a USB-powered, handheld devices that can be used to magnify tiny objects whose images canthen be captured, stored, edited, presented and shared digitally. They bring to life the microworlds all around us, as The Coombes Infant and Nursery School discovered (left).

These devices are ideal for exploring parts of the human body - skin, hair, nails, fingerprints - or for investigating minibeasts, leaves, fruit, wood, snake skin, fur etc.  Natural materials like wood, leaves, fruit, pine cones and man-made materials like fabrics, foam, metals, paper can be observed at very close quarters.

Textured NB200Textured NB200Education doesn't often get a mention at technology launches, but when Toshiba presented its new generation of netbooks to the computer press the message was clear: Tosh might be late to the market, but the messages it had received from schools convinced the company to bring its distinctive brand qualities to bear on the new niche market opened up by the likes of Asus, Acer and Samsung.

And the results were shown off to the technology press in an imaginative marketing pairing with another established brand, whose resurrection is about to take it off the scale - Star Trek. The first glimpse of its new NB200s might not have had the impact of the new movie - free of its Disneyesque heritage with a welcome injection of movie stem cells from the likes of Alien, and watched under the supervision of a copyright security person with night-sight glasses - but they are an impressive addition to the first Tosh netbook shown at BETT 2009, the NB100.