23 Jan 2017

Multiple devices, multitudinous possibilities

Multiple devices, multitudinous possibilities

Ranjit Singh, a former ICT teacher and the CEO of Genee World, considers the benefits of using a range of devices in the classroom, building on the practices of the traditional front-of-house electronic whiteboard…

It’s the traditional mode of teaching: tables organised in neat lines or clusters so that everyone is facing the same way with the teacher presenting at the front in a lecture-like fashion. The introduction of the electronic whiteboard in the early 2000s seemed like a revolution in this. Suddenly, teachers could call up documents or online photos, videos and resources, rather than just static text and images printed on acetate sheets to be used with overhead projectors. Not only this, but the material could be manipulated from the board itself, using a stylus pen, meaning that the teacher was able to interact with the screen as though they were at their desktop computer.

But what, realistically, did this change in terms of the ways in which we teach? Indeed, the electronic whiteboard was and still is a fantastic tool for classrooms, as it opens the door to a much wider range of content, but what if the teacher could move away from their desk and the display? What if they could control the lesson content on the whiteboard from anywhere in the room? Not only that, but what if the pupils could interact with the material from their desks?

Technology has come a long way, and in the last few years, we’ve seen a huge influx of handheld devices not only in our everyday lives, but in schools as well. Some schools have even gone as far as providing 1:1 tablet provision (or bring your own device (BYOD) models) for their pupils, allowing them to access digital and online content as part of lessons. Indeed, children today have grown up surrounded by technology and will most likely use it in some way during their careers, so it’s only natural that education would follow suit and implement innovative new teaching methods to use this technology effectively.

Interconnectivity is becoming more and more possible across an omni-platform environment, so that teachers and pupils can access the content from wherever they are, using either tablets or other audio visual (AV) resources like multi-touch screens. This opens up a whole new stream of opportunities, for example collaboration between multiple pupils working on the same piece of digital material, or a question and response session where the class can send their answers to a teacher’s query, which then appear on the front of house board and can be organised by the teacher. This form of hands-on learning using the technology that pupils are becoming so accustomed to, means that they are more engaged with the learning experience than they might be just listening and watching. It also gives them more chance to contribute and work together, boosting their confidence no matter what their level of understanding.

Similarly to this, the ability to work across platforms makes it much easier to differentiate. Teachers may have a wide range of pupils with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses, so being able to have an overview of the topic on the screen at the front with individual or group tasks assigned to play to these strengths means that each child knows that they are working on the same content as their peers, but at their own pace and mode of learning. The flexibility ensures that each pupil is able to experience the outcomes of the lesson without being left behind or discouraged.

With all new technologies, there is always the risk of potential distraction. Teachers might be concerned about their pupils accessing other content while they should be on task. However, by linking to all devices, the teacher can keep an eye on each pupil’s progress. This way, if a pupil seems distracted, the teacher can determine whether they are off-task or simply struggling, meaning that the right intervention can take place.

The classroom needs to become more flexible to fit the ever-changing needs of pupils, education and the world. Teachers shouldn’t feel chained to the traditional method of front-of-house presentation, but at the same time, schools don’t necessarily need to remove the electronic whiteboards to innovate in the learning environment. It’s just a case of making use of the technology at hand to really inspire and engage all pupils.

Genee World will be at Bett 2017 from January 25-28 on stand B121. The team will be demonstrating how various technology can be used effectively in the classroom. For more information, visit: www.geneeworld.com

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