By tpm | October 3, 2011
Texas Instruments has just announced a major update to their TI-Nspire Navigator system to allow Navigator to work with schools in a one-to-one computing environment. As was the case with the TI-Nspire CX, Texas Instruments was willing to fill me in on the details of the new Navigator system prior to today’s press release. Last Friday, TI-Nspire captain Mark Fry talked with me what the new Navigator system is capable of.
In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a brief summary of what the TI-Nspire Navigator system has been able to do for some time now. The Navigator system allows a student’s TI-Nspire to interact with a teacher’s computer. The teacher has the ability to see what is on the display of every TI-Nspire in the room, send and receive documents with those calculators, even let a student demonstrate what they are doing to the entire class. The system also allows for assessment, since teachers can create documents with problems for students to solve and then “collect” their answers via the Navigator system.
Of course, all of these capabilities required a TI-Nspire for every student in the classroom. That’s not going to be the case any more. For classrooms where each student has a computer, it’s now possible for schools to install TI-Nspire student software on the computers and have that take the place of the TI-Nspire handheld. Unlike Navigator for handhelds, Navigator for Networked Computers does not require any additional hardware. The computers’ built in WIFI is all that is needed for the Navigator to communicate between computers.
All of the old functionality of the TI-Nspire Navigator for handhelds is still available with the computer version, but there are a few additional capabilities. With the handheld version, the only documents that could be sent between teacher and student were TI-Nspire documents. With the networked computer version, you can send and receive PowerPoint and Word documents as well. The screen capture feature is also a little different. A teacher can choose to capture the entire student screen or just the TI-Nspire software portion of the screen. Fry told me that one of the main reasons they wanted to offer the ability to capture the entire screen was for teachers who are incorporating the internet into their lessons.
I was interested to hear how this setup for Navigator would compare in cost to Navigator with handhelds. I found the original TI-Nspire Navigator system for handhelds on Amazon selling for around $2600 for a classroom set of 30 students. That includes all of the necessary WIFI hardware and software, but no handhelds. I was told that the Navigator system for computers would cost around $1400, but that you’d still need the student software, which I’ve seen online selling for about $65 per student. Add thirty of those in and you’re at about $3350. Of course, the laptops cost far more than the handhelds to begin with, but some schools are really into the one to one concept and want to give their students the option to do just about everything on their laptops. It’s also important to note that in schools where each student already has a TI-Nspire, a license for the software is included with the calculator. In the one to one environment, TI-Nspire Navigator for Networked Computers is going to be an interesting option. Texas Instruments is offering a 30-day free trial to any teacher who would like to try it out.