03 November 2012

A Wow feature from Vernier

Sharing Made Easy

Sometimes you have a demo that is tricky to set up or that requires equipment such that you can only make one setup. In the past, you would have a couple of students run it in front of the class and then share the data with the others. If you are fortunate, you could show the collected data on a big screen in front of the class where they could copy it as it comes in. But, if you want your students to do data analysis in a spreadsheet application, they would have to manually enter such. Vernier has a solution.


The newest upgrade for the Vernier LabPro software has added a new feature called DataShare (it is also on their newest data acquisition system LabQuest2). DataShare allows any device running a web browser connected to the same network to view a live graph of the data and to download the data.

Once you have downloaded the upgrade and installed the Bonjour software that comes with (the Bonjour software interacts with your computer network, so you will want to speak to your school's network administrator before you activate the DataShare feature), you need to start DataShare.

The software searches your network and assigns an appropriate IP address that you will share with your students. Naturally, you will need to enable Data Sharing, and I suggest you disable the "remote control of data collection" unless you want your class wise-ass "helping" you.

 Once you have things running, a student just has to type your IP address into any web browser to see this.

 They can also change how they view the data.

On a computer, students can download the data for more advanced analysis.

Students can also view things with Vernier's iPad app, Graphical Analysis ($3).

 One advantage that this app has over web browsers on the iPad is that students can download the data for later analysis. I have been unable to download the data with web browser on the iPad (no problem with a real computer), a bug that I hope will be fixed in the future. (Update: Vernier is aware of the problem and is working on a fix.)

(Update 21 Sept; it appears that with Apple's update of their operating system iOS7, the bug has been squashed. I am now able to download data using the Safari browser on my iPad and then open that data in the spreadsheet app I have installed. I can now have my guys do some more advanced data analysis that they are unable to do on the LQ2 or on the Graphical Analysis app).

I plan on using this new feature many times in my class room in the future. Thank you Vernier.

You can do the same with the LabQuest2

You can also do the same with the more portable Vernier LabQuest2 DAQ, but it will cost you $350. However, if you are equipping a new lab, I would suggest getting the LabQuest2 instead of the LoggerPro system. Since my students will all have iPads this year, I will be starting to use these.  This year I will use my AP Reading stipend to purchase a handful of them (unfortunately not enough for a full classroom set).

But my school's network is unavailable

Some schools have a very restrictive computer policy. I know of one school system where the computer hard drives are wiped clean every night and the standard applications are re-installed for the next day. Asking for anything special requires a long paper trail and many days. If this sounds anything like your school, create your own wireless network. All you need is a cheap wireless router. Then connect your LB2's and your other devices to that network.

Since your wireless access point doesn't have to be powerful to get to the other side of your classroom and you don't really need encryption, you can use an old or cheap router. Maybe someone at your school who has upgraded has one you can use. Or you can find on sale for $10-$20. It is not that hard to set up your own private wireless network. Just give it a good name. Mine is Charon (one student each year gets the reference).

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