Adding a wireless keyboard and mouse to my classroom was a game changer this year. I went deskless a couple of years ago, so I sit in a circle with my students. I have a regular desk at the front of the room but the VGA cable doesn’t reach to where I sit in our circle and the wireless connection from my laptop to my projector is a bit too laggy for some higher resolution streaming. I keep this keyboard on a stool right in front of me and the mouse on a table to my right where I keep my laser pointer and planner.
We all know what happens when the teacher turns his or her back to write something on the board; phones come out and kids start chatting. I keep a blank Word document open on “web” view (this gives you a nice wide screen) with 28-point font at all times. Everyone can see it in real time as I type. This works particularly well during Persona Especial (Special Person) interviews, as I don’t lose that connection that I have with the group as we ask our questions by having to go up to the board to write something down. It’s also easy to save my notes at the end of each interview so that I can keep the interviews straight.
This keyboard has more features than I will ever use in the classroom. There are all the features you would find on an integrated laptop keyboard and then some. I can launch Windows Media Player, various Microsoft Office apps, and a calculator all right from my keyboard. I specially like the separate volume and media control buttons that are conveniently located at the very top. No more pressing “F2” and “F3” to control the volume.
Logitech advertises “whisper-quiet” typing with this unit. While it’s not quite silent, it is the quietest keyboard I have ever used. I like it because you can still hear the keys but it’s not distracting to anyone in the room unlike the cheap cabled keyboards that come with desktops. The keys on the Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard respond well to varying levels of pressure and make very little noise. There is a large, cushioned wrist wrest that takes a little getting used to, but I’m glad it’s there. I wasn’t sure if I would like the “wave” shape at first, but I now find my home desktop’s traditional rectangular keyboard awkward and unnatural and will be replacing it with this unit in the near future. The keyboard has three height adjustment levels which stay in place as you type. The oversized space bar is perfect for a CI classroom. Logitech must have known that we need to pause our Movie Talks and telenovelas frequently to check for comprehension!
One of my favorite features of this keyboard is the unifying USB receiver. This simply means that the same USB receiver handles both the mouse and the keyboard. The receiver is so compact (about half an inch long when plugged in) that I can just put my laptop into my bag without removing the USB receiver. It has never gotten in the way or been dislodged. I keep the USB receiver on the side of my laptop that is facing our class circle and haven’t had a single issue with connectivity after more than two months of extensive daily usage. This is one of the most common issues with cheaper units. Logitech’s specs tout a 10-meter range. I keep mine at around six meters away with a few students sitting in between the keyboard/mouse and the USB receiver without any issues.
The ambidextrous full-size mouse is just the right size. The scroll button is conveniently located and operates very smoothly. I keep my mouse directly on the table (no mousepad). It tracks smoothly in all applications. You should be OK using it on any clean, semi-smooth surface except for glass.
The battery life has been outstanding so far. Each device uses two “AA” batteries. Logitech says that the keyboard has a three-year battery life while the mouse’s will last for two. My experience with my Logitech mouse at home supports their claim.
The only complaint that I have with this unit is that the “caps lock” key is not illuminated.
In summary, this keyboard has improved my classroom management and engagement by keeping me in the circle. This sleek combo is a great value considering that you can spend this much on a quality wireless mouse by itself.
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