Until recently, classroom technology has tended towards limiting linear platforms. There was chalk, the blackboard, and the teacher. Information flowed in a single direction from instructor to students assembled in straight rows. Authority and order were maintained, independent thought was seldom encouraged, and young minds were engaged almost solely for the sake of memorization.
With time, overhead projectors sparked innovation by introducing a simple and effective way for teachers to create content that could be saved and re-used by colleagues while also creating the unfortunate side effect of giving tired students a chance to nap when the lights went out. This was followed by the whiteboard, which was a blackboard without the dust and an visual element of color. With these tools presentation may have changed but the teaching model stayed the same and students with learning styles not suited to the rigid front-to-back structure suffered the consequences.
The first interactive whiteboards, or IWBs, were a seismic leap forward. Innovation and spontaneity were added to classroom environments. As an evolution of IWBs, the introduction of interactive flat panels (IFP) has transformed how knowledge is created and shared. Empowered teachers can construct a more flexible and inclusive environment where more students can prosper. The benefits multiply when the technology is paired with leading edge educational methods and learning becomes more engaging and interactive than ever.
Working together, learning together
Research shows that students achieve more when they work together. Through collaborative learning, teachers can leverage the strengths of a group to help individual students make the most of learning experiences and minimize the odds of anyone falling behind. Education depends on presentation. Knowledge sharing invariably means displaying, although with an ever-increasing emphasis on reciprocity between educator and students as well as on interactivity. With the right display system, student teams can track their progress on a device in their discussion area and share it in real time with other groups on the classroom’s main visual platform.
Getting the classroom flip right
Conceived before IFPs or STPs were common in schools, the flipped classroom approach introduces students to learning material before class with classroom time used to deepen understanding rather than waste time on preliminary introductions and basic concepts. This approach can yield more synergistic results, helped by the streamlined but richer exchange of knowledge and content afforded by new technology. The idea is that through discussion with peers and problem-solving activities facilitated by teachers, students move away from passive learning towards active learning, where they engage in collaborative activity, peer collaboration, and challenge-based learning.
Make smart spaces smarter
Learning happens when space, teaching methods, and technology come together to encourage interaction and collaboration. And a restructuring of learning spaces is an ideal opportunity to integrate new technology to create a more active and engaging experience for instructors and students alike. With displays available in a range of sizes, it’s easier to facilitate multiple flexible, collaboration-friendly spaces for e-learning and small group work. IFPs replace chalkboards and STPs projecting on group tables work better than individual seating structures, as all contribute to a better learning environment.
Winning at gamification
Everyone has loved games and stories since the dawn of time. As contemporary kids consider video games an integral part of life, new display technology gives teachers even more capabilities to use this familiarity to their advantage and to the benefit of students. Sharing content in the form of play allows more introverted members of the student body to demonstrate their knowledge of material and participate without having to raise their hands. Most of all, gamifying class performance reviews and even the grading process can boost the general class energy levels and remove most of the apprehension that’s traditionally attached to them Virtually all kids appreciate the challenge-reward structure of video games, and these digital classroom platforms can incorporate a wealth of problem solving and social skills to increase motivation through engagement.
Healthy bodies set the stage for healthy minds
Teachers need students to be alert, attentive, and healthy. Touch screens can be a major breeding surface for microbes so it’s best to choose a brand that considers these issues takes preventive measures. For this reason, many manufacturers use screen coatings that kill microorganisms so ideas and not infections are the most commonly shared item on the menu. Likewise, eye strain and air quality are further considerations. Prolonged exposure to blue light emitted from computer screens can lead to eye problems and a high concentration of CO2 is thought to reduce the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in drowsiness and lack of attention. The newest displays address these issues through built-in CO2 sensors and lower levels of potentially harmful blue light, ensured by properly calibrated and adjusted panel technology.
With so much to gain, why miss out?
The importance of the latest technology in the classroom cannot be underestimated. According to a PBS Learning Media nationwide survey of teachers in the United States, 74 percent of educators said technology is key to helping them expand classroom content. The same percentage of respondents said technology is a motivational tool, and 73 percent said it helps teachers respond to different learning styles. Moreover, 69 percent said technology has helped do more than ever before for their students, independent of budget or circumstances. The message stands clear: technology in the classroom goes far beyond buzzwords into the realm of the must-have.
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