It’s crazy to think how the technology a teacher has available to them has changed over the last couple of decades. In fact, it was only 20 years ago, that the era of blackboards in classrooms came to an end, with the last survivors replaced with the sleeker, shinier whiteboards.

 

It appears we have now reached the end of an era and beginning of another, in the form of emerging Audio Visual components taking over whiteboards. With solutions getting more cost effective year on year and clear evidence emerging of the increase in student interaction when using interactive screens, schools are eager to invest.

 

But what makes these screens worth investing in, can they actually improve student engagement and what do they offer over a more affordable whiteboard?

 

Benefits of AV in the classroom

 

  • Engages students who may otherwise be disengaged or bored – from experience I can tell you that some lessons can feel like the longest hour of your life, and you leave the room no more informed than you entered. An interactive component at the front of the room can keep even the most hardcore daydreamers engaged with your lesson.
  • Promotes collaboration and communication between students – interactive screens get students talking. A task that is engaging and fun is more likely to get students talking in the right way, collaborating with each other to find solutions, rather than just chatting about what they are doing later whilst the teacher struggles to wipe the pen off the board that’s been there for 3 weeks.
  • Makes learning enjoyable – following up from the last points, students learn when they are having fun and are engaged. If your pupils come to school looking forward to the lesson you have planned, they are going to take away valuable knowledge and probably retain a lot more of that information too.
  • Helps students visualise rather than guess – one of my biggest downfalls at school was not always be able to visualise what the teacher was trying to explain. With an AV solution in place, students who learn from seeing and interacting can thrive just as much as those who love to listen.
  • Wider selection of teaching tools – when a teacher is stood there with a marker pen and a whiteboard, they’re on their own in terms of tools. I’m sure even the Da Vinci’s of the pen and whiteboard world have to admit that having endless possibilities to create, learn and imagine with is enticing. Tools such as WePresent allows up to 64 users to all share and present content on a screen at any one time! Imagine trying to gather that many people around a whiteboard.

 

It’s hard to argue that interactive solutions in a classroom aren’t a good thing, as they provide countless advantages and benefits to teaching and learning. The real question is, what solution best fits your needs? There are a lot more AV options than just the standard interactive board so there’s plenty to choose from.

 

We take a look into the various options available, and just how much they can help push teaching and learning to the next level:

 

Interactive Touchscreens and Large Format Displays (LFDs)

Audio Visual

Why don’t we start by taking a deeper look at interactive touchscreens and LFDs. As I said, there are many uses for screens within the classroom, but where do you start when considering how they can benefit you and your class? My advice would be to review how your current methods are performing – are your students engaged? What are you trying to achieve from a lesson? These are just some of the key questions and considerations that might help determine which AV path to take.

 

If you have students in lessons who seem disengaged when you’re trying your best to explain what they have to do, perhaps they would perform better being able to interact with a screen that lets them visualise a subject and communicate with their classmates to discuss the topic.

 

There are a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to solving these issues, there are interactive panel’s or LFD from companies, such as:

  • Iiyama
  • SMART
  • CTOUCH
  • Promethean
  • BenQ
  • Clevertouch

Plus, did you know that 97% of small children either have access to, or own their own mobile device and 1 in 3 now own their own tablet computer? With such a large number of children using advanced technology from such young ages, it seems clear to me why they struggle to stay engaged within the classroom.  Allowing them to use what is now their ‘norm’ seems only logical.

 

Yet another thing for you to consider is the uses for these digital screens across every subject. It would be fair to say that a good chunk of people immediately think of maths when it comes to an interactive board. Students can come up and solve sums, collaborate to find the answers to problems, no doubt it’s a real gem for maths teachers across the country.

 

But have you thought about using an interactive display in PE or even D&T? You’d be forgiven for overlooking the uses as these subjects are already very hands on.

 

There was no better day than going into school and finding out we had an hour of football for PE. Then you would get towards the end and the teacher tries to explain how you have achieved various skills during the lesson, I won’t lie to you, it went in one ear and out the other (Sorry Mr Green!). However, if we were taken back to a room (or even the gymnasium) where we could see what we had done on an interactive screen, that definitely would’ve changed things.

 

There are clearly many uses for interactive displays within education just waiting to be implemented, you just need to evaluate which areas would benefit your students, and the results would almost certainly be conclusive.

 

Video Walls

 

Perhaps a newer and funkier way of getting through to your students comes in the form of a video wall. Imagine if every time you have a piece of information or a fresh idea you had to get the entire school into an assembly, there would be no time left for lessons! With a video wall, you can broadcast this information all day, every day. Easier for you, more fun for the students and everyone within the school.

 

And with that, once again, we come back to communication. Communication is key within education, right from primary school up to when you leave university. Any object that inspires and encourages communication is invaluable to any educator. Video walls are certainly this object. Due to the endless possibilities in content that a video wall can broadcast to students or staff, any topic that may be relevant or interesting, is sure to spark up this conversation.

 

I was in the last year of sixth form as video walls were just starting to take hold and in turn, our school had installed a massive video wall within the lunch area. One day, the school had broadcast an image of Dumbledore, alongside an inspirational quote that read at the end – Gandalf. The school was buzzing with debate of the quote, countless people laughing at the school getting it wrong.

 

This was a great method to get the students talking, and it worked. By the end of the week, there wasn’t one student who hadn’t heard of and couldn’t repeat the quote that was on the board.  Video walls give you endless opportunities, again it’s up to you how to get the best out of them.

 

The uses for video walls don’t just stop at their communication value. Video walls are now being implemented across various educational establishments to display vital information or important announcements – for example in universities, colleges and secondary schools. In instances such as organising the school fete or Harvest festival, even processing high amounts of information for example – video walls and large format displays alike can be used to easily display information to people in an effective way.

 

Meeting Rooms

Bringing it back to the teachers, how many times have you been in a meeting where nobody wants to be there, stuck in the staff room whilst people are trying to drink their morning coffee?

 

I’m guessing more than you would like to recall. Audio solutions don’t stop at a board at the front of the classroom, so how would you like a customised meeting room that would fit your needs whilst having all the latest audio and visual technology in place?  Yes? I thought so!

 

In one of our recent posts, we found that opting for a wireless AV solution in your meeting room can make meetings a much more efficient and productive process. It takes around 8-10 minutes to start a meeting, with many believing it’s often double that! By the time you’ve figured out the ins and outs of setting up your screen with all those wires, you’re more than likely 15 minutes into your meeting already!

 

But there are solutions. Ranging from a large format display to show latest results or targets for the upcoming term, to the latest video conferencing software to interact with partner schools or contacts, if you have the problem, there is a solution.

 

Just as it’s vitally important for students, communication is a vital part of how teachers engage with each other too. Having a meeting room that utilises screens, audio, communication and networking means teachers can collaborate to push the boundaries of what they can achieve. Through learning from each other’s experiences and exchanging best practices it makes for a more effective approach to teaching and learning.

 

Video conferencing

 

Just as video conferencing can be used for teachers in a meeting, it can be used to give students experiences that they may otherwise not be able to have. Video conferencing allows students to connect with others, not only in this country, but all around the world in real time. This ability to share experiences with others not only engages students, but also gives them a real insight into various cultures from around the world. Taking learning beyond the classroom without actually having to leave.

 

The limitations don’t stop here either though! Students aren’t restricted to speaking to other students. Given the technology available, they could connect with an employee from NASA, for example, to have a virtual tour or even learn more about space.

 

Video conferencing technology gives students a way of interacting with the wider world, all from the comfort of the classroom. Whilst field trips are a great way of giving students learning experiences that will stay with them a forever, this isn’t always practical. The fact there is another way to gain these experiences is invaluable to both students and teachers.

 

Audio

Even though its very name is right there within the title (Audio Visual) – audio is perhaps one of the most overlooked and forgotten about aspects of the subject. Everyone wants those big flashy screens that can do 1001 functions all at the same time, but what use are they if nobody can hear anything? A video playing about how we can fly a man to the moon is all very exciting, until you realise you can’t actually hear how he did it.

 

I can’t even begin to think about the amount of times I’ve heard that unbearable crackle of the outdated speaker, sounding like a giant vintage walkie-talkie is bearing down on me. This is something that is directly relatable to the classroom. How can we expect a student to take in information if they can’t hear what’s being said?

 

With rows and rows of speakers to choose from, crackled sound and fingers in ears can join those pesky blackboards in being a thing of the past.

 

Whilst some screens and devices may come without sound capabilities (meaning you’d need to invest in the latest sound setup), there are also many that do. Having the latest technology such as surround sound, simulating sound bars, and built in speakers – we really are spoilt when it comes to deciding what audio we want with our latest tech.

 

So there it is, a range of different solutions that can bring your classroom into the 21st century.

 

As I mentioned throughout, key areas of a student’s journey through education –  communication, collaboration, concentration (let’s call them the 3 C’s!) – can all be achieved by updating your AV capabilities.

 

If you would like more of a visual representation of how Audio Visual can bring your capabilities up to date, take a look at how Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School effectively implemented AV throughout their school for a more intuitive learning experience.

 

Installing the latest, innovative AV technology throughout the school was a must. They were keen to give students every chance to interact with education in new and innovative ways.  By bringing the school up to the latest technological standards Bishop Vesey’s have now facilitated outstanding results and can already see improvements in their students’ learning experiences.

 

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