Stone Group - Providing digital transformation solutions to organisations across the UK.

Every year a list of ‘edtech trends to look out for’ emerge on the web and they bring lists of exciting new technologies that are set to change the face of education.

But from looking through these ever-emerging trends, it’s apparent that there’s one piece of technology that isn’t celebrated as much as it should be. An innovative piece of tech that’s been around for decades, yet is constantly evolving and has the power to improve retention rates and improve collaboration and engagement amongst school and university students alike. And what is that tech? It’s AV.

It seems that in the hype and excitement of these modern technology crazes – virtual reality and ‘game-based learning’ such as for example – AV has been somewhat forgotten. And as important as these emerging technologies are in bringing a new angle to learning methods, AV has also come a long way from its OHP days to become an innovative method for teachers to deliver classes effectively and encourage better productivity amongst students.

Of course, AV aids can only be fully utilised when used correctly. We’ve looked into some of the cool and innovative ways in which schools are currently using AV in the classroom. From video walls that allow students to get creative with their school productions, to AV in 3D, here’s the best of what we’ve found:

AV Collaborating with BYOD

The emerging trend of bring your own device (BYOD) which enables students and staff to use their personal laptops, tablets, smartphones etc. to be used as a digital learning device has really taken off within the education space. This is particularly prevalent in secondary schools where 29% of schools have some form of BYOD strategy in place and a further 26% are exploring it as an option. This could possibly be due to the fact that BYOD schemes are a cost-saving solution for schools (plus pupils might look after the devices better if it’s their own!).

Introducing AV into the mix means both teachers and pupils are able to connect and share learning materials during class, meaning a better quality of learning for students.

As an example, collaborative learning technology such as SMART Amp integrates with Google Apps for Education, which can then be used by teachers to create workspace classes using a code or through student e-mail addresses where they’re then all able to connect. Teachers can then share lesson materials such as images, videos and other learning content, instantly putting information in front of groups allowing them to work together to solve problems or create presentations. Here’s a good example of how SMART Amp works:

Integrated with an interactive whiteboard or large format display, students are able to see each other’s group work and collaboration unfold, along with educators who can offer guidance and monitor learning without having to disrupt each pupil.

And as all this takes place with students’ own devices, the learning and collaboration doesn’t just stop after they’ve left the classroom. The sharing of content means they can complete projects outside of school, either still in their groups or individually at home, ultimately increasing productivity and learning outcomes. Tibshelf Community School is a great example of the successful implementation of BYOD within education, where their students continue to gain valuable knowledge well after lesson time is over.

In addition to PC’s and tablets, collaborative technologies such as the interactive whiteboard and AV, control devices that allow every student to write on whiteboards from their desks meaning every pupil, right to the back of the classroom can participate in the interactive learning world that contributes a great deal to education and still continues to evolve.

Learning should be fun, engaging and enjoyable for students – so if they’re to learn anything from a lesson, incorporating BYOD and AV tick those much-needed boxes.

Setting the Scene with Video Walls

Many schools within the UK are now using LED video walls for a number of educational purposes – one example is as backdrops for drama performances. Video walls are made so they fit within the required space perfectly and can be easily operated by teachers. It enables students to get creative with backdrops for school performances, assemblies and even parents evenings.

The dynamic display solutions with adjustable brightness are vivid enough to compete in a fully lit environment with stage lights directly landing on them, the perfect combination to create dramatic backdrops for school theatre performances and assemblies, whilst also offering excellent visibility for audiences.

Installing software programmes and apps on these screens, allows students to integrate text, images and moving graphics as well as providing capabilities of streaming live HD videos with ease – to truly set the scene when putting on a theatre production and encourage audience engagement.

Interactive sets are a sure hit with schools and students when the goal is to introduce a fresh way to interact with AV and add a new dimension to the learning process – particularly within performing arts or drama. Pupils can get creative by designing their own sets and loading them on to a screen, watching their artistic creations come to life and putting the excitement back into education.

Encourage Students with a Range of Learning Disabilities

It’s no secret that ever since interactive whiteboards took over the classroom, they’ve had a positive impact on the education world by making it more engaging.

What makes them even more valuable to the classroom is that all students can collaborate and work together, no pupil is left behind – including those that may have difficulties or learn at a different pace to others in the class. That’s something a simple textbook can’t do.

Interactive screens and other AV solutions encourage students with a range of learning disabilities to excel in the classroom. Here’s just a few examples of how:

  • Students with hearing impairments are able to hear more clearly with audio enhancement systems. Audio systems can be integrated with an interactive whiteboard to boost a teacher’s voice via a microphone worn around the educator’s neck, allowing their voice to be distributed evenly around the class through wall mounted speakers. The speaker that assists the whiteboard, allows children who have hearing impairments to comprehend lesson content much easier, such as the pronunciation of words that are written on the board.
  • Students with dyslexia may struggle to process the content of a lesson when learning through a textbook. Interactive whiteboards enable teachers to create lesson content with colourful text, video clips and images, making the lesson content easier to digest. Tests and quizzes can also be done through an interactive whiteboard or screen, making it easier for teachers to easily identify who understands lesson content and who may need some additional help and support.
  • Pupils with ADHD can also benefit from what an interactive whiteboard or touchscreen has to offer. Getting students to remain focused can be tough, especially when they struggle to maintain concentration. But getting them involved in interactive games related to the lesson content via an interactive whiteboard can really improve the engagement of students with ADHD, whilst still maintaining a structured lesson for the class. Also, depending on the software installed on the whiteboard, you can keep areas of information hidden to encourage students to focus on one area at a time, rather than overwhelming them with too much information they may struggle to process.

AV in 3D

3D enabled projectors are now becoming more widely used within some schools. Its proven particularly useful for science and maths lessons where students are able to see from all angles the structure and function of the human heart, giving a new meaning to the human body.

Complex structures can be understood by using microscopic digital mirrors capable of generating two images on a screen at the same time from a single projector source. It does this by splitting the projector’s output into two separate images adjusted for the left and right eye.

Students usually have to wear 3D glasses in order to see the images being projected in 3D, but studies have shown that this method of learning has the ability to shorten the amount of time it takes for students to understand concepts and increases attention span and overall critical thinking which is key to a student’s learning process.

The study also found that students paid more attention and became more focused within class with this technology. Teachers found students asked more questions and became more engaged within the lesson when 3D projectors were introduced, as well as seeing an overall improvement in behaviour.

It’s important to bear in mind the options that are available to you and your school when choosing the right piece of AV, our handy guide takes a look at the different AV equipment and its benefits to you and your school to help make this decision a bit easier.

From exploring the ways in which schools are using AV, it’s pretty clear it’s still just as relevant as it was twenty years ago and should continue to remain the focal point of every classroom. Its ability to connect and enhance the learning experience of students, regardless of their capabilities, is something not all technologies can achieve.

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