The world has become digital, and touchscreen-focused; the use of chalk boards and posters in the classroom are quickly being replaced by tablets and interactive whiteboards. Traditional classroom staples are no longer enough to retain students’ attention because students are constantly interacting with digital content outside of the classroom – they are immersed in visual engagement.
Though books still have their place in education, there is a growing need for more interactive options. For example, we have to balance between good note-taking skills and typing skills; there isn’t only one way that students should learn. Without access to online information and ways to interact with lesson content, it can be difficult for teachers to keep young students’ attention.
Ideal technology for the classroom should enable a new type of teaching interaction, serving as an immersive experience for both teachers and students. In my experience, the best lesson retention can be achieved through a two-tiered method of a personal tablet or laptop for students, and a larger interactive whiteboard for the teacher. This learning method makes it easy for students to interact with content, share their own work and receive feedback, and even flip the classroom to teach their fellow students.
I used this method with my fourth graders, using a JTouch digital whiteboard from InFocus with LightCast software. With the JTouch, I can create a fast-paced environment where students can work individually on their devices, and then share their work by casting it on the JTouch for immediate presentation, feedback and collaboration. The combination of technology also enables individualized instruction that allows kids to learn at their own pace, while creating more fluid and effective interaction in the classroom. With technology like this in the classroom, students can interact with content as well as take charge in each other’s learning – an experience that can’t be achieved using only textbooks and notebooks.
Collaborative teaching also allows for flexibility; I need to be able to incorporate new information sources or devices as they become available. Each of my students’ devices are equipped with the LightCast software so they can wirelessly cast content from their device and then walk up and interact with it on the JTouch screen to demonstrate, enlarge, draw, or bring up an adjacent web page.
With interactive ability in classroom technology, students move from passive to active learning. Former classroom technology relied on movies, a web browser projected onto a screen, or even an overhead projector, which doesn’t engage students in the learning materials. Moving forward, I see the classroom learning experience shifting towards more student involvement in activities, where teachers facilitate group discussion and collaborate on projects. This environment promotes teamwork with collaboration, and more closely mirrors real-life working conditions, so students can be comfortable using technology to interact in the future. Personal technology and digital whiteboards encourage students to voice their thoughts in the classroom and take charge of their own learning experience.