Do a quick search of the internet, and you are sure to find a variety of articles on using an interactive flat panel to boost student engagement. Really, flat panels are geared towards educators – large screen with touch technology that begs for interactivity to showcase its features. Most ‘Top 10 Teacher Tips’ will include increase classroom collaboration, take a virtual fieldtrip, prepare for assessments, and gamify for learning new concepts. But when schools closed in the spring, this awesome tech sat lonely in many classrooms. With the debate still going about the learning environment for the new school year (as of this writing, many districts have opted to start the Fall totally virtual), educators may ask, “But what about my panel?”
Even if schools open up so that teacher and students are physically in the classroom, safety and hygiene will be of utmost importance. This would mean tables and seating spaced apart, desks pointing in the same direction, frequent handwashing and cleaning/disinfecting of touched surfaces, and clear signage emphasizing the need to stay safe and protect others (see CDC Considerations for Schools). It is also possible that students in a class are split into smaller groups so that they come in at different times/days. Obviously, when students are in the classroom, facilitating a lesson on a flat panel display is to be expected. With the additional spacing between teacher and student, the quality of the panel is key – the students at the very back or on the outer sides of a room should be able to see the images on the board as clearly as those in the ‘front.’ Can you imagine taking students on a virtual field trip to Greece and they can’t even see the Acropolis?! The ProColor Flat Panel is 4K ultra-high definition so collaborating on essays, reviewing quizzes, exploring websites, and watching educational videos is enhanced. Set up a webcam and invite those students at home into the lesson ‘alongside’ their classmates, where those in the classroom can use a collaboration app for web-enabled devices like the MimioMobile™ to answer questions. Students an also use screen mirroring applications to broadcast their content to the class on the panel. Or try using a document camera with the display for a STEAM lesson to look at the details in a specimen or model a math concept using manipulatives. Of course, teachers are far more creative and inventive than what can be mentioned here so we can all anticipate new lists of fun and engaging teacher tips for using displays in a blended learning environment soon.
There may be a back-to-school model where teachers come into the classroom without students, using a web camera and virtual conferencing tools to facilitate instruction. Use the flat panel to walk through a new skill, model math algorithms, work together to develop a scoring rubric, etc. Or simply use the panel to teach a skill while recording yourself as you do it. Students still want that ‘teacher contact’ and recording a video will help towards fostering the class relationship. Most displays, like the ProColor Flat Panel, come with software for creating interactive lessons and formative assessments. Teachers can use this software on their laptops and present as they would in the classroom. Using a video conferencing app, share the screen and invite students to participate in discussions and answer questions using the conferencing app’s ‘raise hands’ tool, with the chat feature, or simply raising their hands on camera. There are also learning platforms, such as MimioConnect® that can be used to create lessons and tests, facilitate lessons live, and assign activities for student completion on their time, at their pace. Ed tech has really come a long way since days of worksheets stapled together!
As each day brings new developments and district announcements about the start of the school year, one thing we can all agree on is that whether or not school buildings are closed, teaching and learning is not closed. Use the technology available to you the best way possible to keep our students, and you, excited about learning.
On more ways to use flat panel displays, read:
To learn more about Boxlight teaching and learning solutions, including teacher professional development, visit boxlight.com.