Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Interactive Classroom

Flat Classroom SkypeImage by superkimbo in BKK via Flickr

I recently had a conversation with some colleagues about the bits and pieces of an Interactive Classroom. While every Ed Tech leader has their own view of what this classroom should look like - and what pieces are more important than others, I figured I would throw in my two cents.

The cornerstone of an interactive classroom is obviously some sort of projection / image device. Whether this device be a projector, large plasma TV, etc. - each district has their preferences, but the main point is all students are able to view the content displayed by the device.

I believe the next most important piece to be the interactive tool of the teacher's preference. While some districts outfit every classroom with a board or a pad - I believe it is important to survey and receive feedback from the teachers to find out their teaching methods and select the appropriate tool to fit that teacher. For example - most high school teachers (at least ones I have observed) prefer to move around the classroom - they would prefer a mobile pad. However, some teachers are strictly lecture and like standing at the front of the classroom - so a board would be their best solution. It is important that the solution chosen is used both by the teacher AND the student. If only the teacher is using the device - interaction is not achieved.

The next piece I would place in my interactive classroom of choice is the student response system. You simply can not beat immediate feedback. These devices allow teachers to teach content and then - very quickly - determine whether the students understood that content. Do they need to reteach it? Do they need to reteach part of it? Does a certain student need individual assistance? All of these questions can be quickly answered by the student response devices.

A piece of equipment quickly gaining momentum is the document camera. It is the "techie" version of overhead projectors that were popular - even when I was in high school. The document camera allows the teacher to project any image up on the screen - this can be anything from a book, bug or any other image to share.

Too often a piece that can be overlooked is the audio. It is extremely important to ensure the interactive classroom has adequate audio on all devices so students can hear - no matter where they are seated in the classroom.

I believe it is as important as the equipment that the teacher fully understand how to effectively implement these tools in the classroom - otherwise they are wasted dollars. Proper professional development is a necessity, not only to show the "push / click" features, but also the big picture concepts. Once a teacher grasps how these tools can enhance their classroom, they will begin to search out new methods and lessons on their own.


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Brenda C. Nix said...

Some document cameras can also function as web cams to turn the interactive classroom into a "global" one.

JDS-CIO said...

Good point Brenda - I had left that part out. Thanks for additional info!

Olof said...

Interesting article. We had a discussion in my municipality about document cameras and our conclusion is that it is too expensive compared to the functionality it provides and we decided to use the scanners in our copy machines to digitalize our material. The risk is also that our "old fashioned colleagues" would print everything on paper and use the document camera...

Todd Norton-Lawrence County said...

Long time follower, first time poster...What about internet2 and the video capabilities that come with it?

Imagine logging into a live surgery, or getting to chat with your "pen pals" from Australia. If you're reading about China, live conference with someone from China.


I think the more global you can make your classroom, the more exciting and interactive it could be. Granted, some classes work better than others for this type of interaction.