About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Stop Teaching from the Shadows

BoardshadowTeaching in the shadows at the whiteboard is equivalent to teaching in front of a dusty chalkboard. It’s what drove the overhead projectors out of the bowling alleys and into the classrooms more than 20 years ago. If your teachers have only the interactive technology to block the board and cast a shadow on a lesson, it's time to stand back to get a better view. And if you're an administrator just looking for interactive choices, and not sure if teachers will use them, there's a few helpful thoughts here for you, too.

Getting teachers away from the from the front of the classroom, and into the mix, with students won’t quite look like individual instruction, but it will get more actors to participate on the learning stage. And that stage can be the entire classroom.

In my day, the only way to teach interactively (with tech) was by using a projector and whiteboard with a cheap, wireless mouse. If you walked around the room, but not too far, you could control the teacher-station computer with the wireless mouse, and if you had a wireless keyboard, you could let students around the room type in answers and sentences. Having said all that, I’m certain there are teachers out there still doing it, or thinking about trying it. In the old days, I did more, I actually bought a wireless keyboard and mouse for each of my staff members. Oh, I bought a lot of batteries, too! That was then and this is now...

There is no reason you should go the wireless mouse/keyboard direction today. Almost every whiteboard, document camera, response system, or projector company makes or supplies a far better tablet/slate classroom teaching/presentation device. And many interactive device companies will, or are offering software solutions that will work with iPads and other computer tablets. That software will allow teachers the same classroom instruction opportunities, and most likely more, and the options for getting teachers out of the shadows continues to expand.

If you still question whether teachers will use the equipment, maybe this answer from a recent interview will help. After observing many teachers in a school using tablet/slate/pad controllers easil, I asked, “You seem to handle teaching from anywhere in the classroom, and operating software on your whiteboard easily with that device. What would you say to teachers, who may be a bit leery of walking away from the stylus at the board?” The teacher looked at me, smiled, and said, “I pretend it’s a mouse.” Now, that was simple to understand, and it reminded me of my wireless mouse and keyboard years ago. It was easy to do, because she thought of it as familiar.

Because there's a choice when it comes to these devices, my advice is to try them out to see which is best for your needs. Choosing one that fits into your existing tech mix may be best, but testing outside possibilities is always a good call, too. You may find a gem that teachers find easier to use. Remember, this may be a purchase you'll live with for a long time. Check ease of use, set-up, battery, wireless distance and compatability, as well as support and upkeep. Unlike my cheap wireless mouse and keyboard, running these products through actual teaching lessons, before deciding, makes a lot of price/common sense.

Here are some companies (random order) that provide interactive ways (Pads, Slates, Tablets) and software to interactively launch a teacher out of the whiteboard shadows and into the classroom light with their students:

eInstruction

ELMO

Promethean

Dymo/Mimio

Qwizdom

QOMO HiteVision

SMART Technologies

Luidia

Califone

Apple (iPad)

Acer Iconia Tab W500

Acer20
Acer11 I took a look at the Acer Iconia Tab W500 . Actually I took a look at the two Acer18 parts that make up this interesting tablet hybrid. There's actually a keyboard that the tablet part fits into. They really are two parts, because the keyboard and tab sections aren't designed to stay together when closed, but rather the tab sits on top of the keyboard like a cover—with the help of some magnets. A latch on the lid locks them closed.

Acer21 Here's the keyboard part with a centered mouse button. There's a trap door that reveals two prongs for this  keyboard-docking station part. The W500 works without the keyboard section quite nicely, but it does offer two additional USB ports and an ethernet input connection as well. Most will use the WiFi, which with Window 7 quickly locates and connects to a wireless network.

Acer8 I found the tablet section very sturdy, but a bit heavier than I thought it would be. Acer1 The specs show it at about 2.2 lbs. The bright screen is something I really like, and the Windows 7 touch features were very responsive. I thought the Acer Ring idea was a unique touch for finding and opening applications. Reminded me of opening an old safe, but turning the tumblers with touch. Check the images right and left to see what I mean. 

Acer17 I always test out the audio, and it was great—what's not to like about Dolby Acer2 Advanced Audio Virtual Surround! It was also wonderful with video, and yes, it played everything including Flash. The camera switched, with a tap, from front to back quickly and easily for both stills and video, and the images were quite good (right). The screen resolution is 1280 x 800. Again, holding the W500 for a long time convinced me that setting it in the keyboard stand would be my viewing option.Acer4

Acer15 There's HDMI, SD, Bluetooth, wide screen view, and of course easy rotaion shifting. It was quick one-button start and stop. I worked all day on a battery charge.


Web browsing in IE was fine, and touch scrolling and finger expanding for zooming was easy, too. Acer22 The onscreen keyboard hides to the left of the screen until you tap or drag it for use. I changed quickly from keyboard to writing with my fingers in Writing Pad. Acer6Windows 7 on the Acer Iconia Tab was seamless.

 Other than the Windows 7 standard applications, my review model had Skype, Nook for PC, Acer Games, and Times Reader. I was looking more at a cool gadget this time.

  Here are the two parts together, but separate them and the Tab goes mobile: Acer18

Eee Pad Transformers to the Rescue!

Eeepad I have a very dear friend working at Asus corporate in Taiwan. She always keeps me in the loop on what’s new at Asus, and almost always makes me smile for remembering me. Today, I received a press release on the new Eee Pad Transformer, along with a link to a very recognizable sitcom spoof, in which the Eee Pad Transformer plays a starring role. I’ve embedded it at the bottom of this post. It should make you smile, and really give you a short look at the unique Eee Pad design.

The Eee Pad seems to be more than a tablet, or a convertible notebook. You can actually detach and separate the PC keyboard side from the Tablet side quickly and easily. Together or separate, I like the creative way Asus is looking for a step up on Apple’s tablet dominance. The 16GB model is slated for under $700 (US). When you consider that the 16GB iPad is going for $499, having the Eee Pad Transformer options makes a lot of dollar sense.

The Asus Eee Pad runs Android’s 3.0 Honeycomb, and shouldn’t be confused with their e-Slate, which runs Windows. Asus’s 10.1-inch Transformer offers unlimited Web storage, either 9+ or 16-hour battery life, depending upon choice, and front and rear cameras. I like that it has Gorilla glass, as well as its 10-finger touch capabilities. Multi-tasking is a no brainer on these, but happily it is not the only iPad differentiation factor. It’s nice to begin seeing companies, like Asus, move from Apple-chasing to creatively leading the pack again.

Enjoy watching this Eee Pad sitcom spoof; spotting the guest star should be easy:

Intel Convertible Classmate Makes Book Bag Obsolete

Intel's Convertible Classmate PC makes a good case for an all in one 1:1 computing device for today's students. Check out my review of the Convertible Classmate to see if it's right for your needs. Could the book bag be obsolete?
View the review:

My Graduation Plan: Video Royal Treatment

Excent and My Graduation Plan get The Video Royal Treatment:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.