[Category: In Class]
Finding the Ideal Front-of-Classroom Interactive Display Pt.1
The use of interactive and collaborative technology in the classroom has become a baseline requirement for most effectively educating students to participate and succeed in the 21st century. While many technologies play a part – Chromebooks, iPads, huddle stations and more – the interactive front-of-room display remains a critical component. Delivering the ability to display computer content to an entire room, plus the ability to manipulate that content directly on the surface of the screen, interactive displays represent a transformative shift in the way students and teachers interacted with information as well as with one another. Today, the IWB is joined by several interactive display technologies that offer the ability to empower teachers, engage students and
How Important is Interactivity Today?
Hands-on learning works, and designing classrooms and curriculum for active learning has become a major push across K-12 and higher education environments. Project-based teaching, collaboration and interactive technology all contribute to the proven benefits of handson, do-it-yourself learning.
Today’s employers expect employees to work in teams and collaborate effectively. The traditional one-to-many lecture format fails to foster these skills and education is quickly moving to adopt constructivist approaches, with students working together to make connections and develop knowledge. This shift is backed by significant research and educator experience alike, which confirm that the traditionally designed (lecture format) classroom – and the transference model it represents – lacks what is needed to prepare engaged 21st century citizens.
Instructors and administrators are working to apply this knowledge to new classroom design practices, leveraging flexible furnishings and collaborative technology to create spaces that promote active engagement and meaningful learning. In one recent national survey of pre-K-12 teachers, 94% said that classroom and instructional technologies are extremely important or very important.  Among these technologies, the front-of-room display plays a critical role. Not simply the high-tech counterpart to the static black- or whiteboard, interactive displays deliver a host of advanced benefits. Teachers report that increased student attentiveness and engagement is the number one benefit to teaching with interactive front-of-room technology, and a majority of educators – around 77% in one survey – believe that an interactive display in the classroom is very important or an absolute must.
One landmark study of 85 teachers across 170 classrooms found a student achievement gain of 16 percentile points when IWBs were used. This jumped to 26 points when wellconceived graphs, charts, videos, and other visuals were used to reinforce information; and when “interactive reinforcers” and audience response polling were added, achievement rose a whopping 31 percent.5
Interactive Display in the Classroom
Well suited for any type of classroom, lecture hall or distance-learning environment, the possible uses for interactive displays are virtually endless.
• Teacher-directed viewing and navigation of any website, app, or video
• Onscreen highlighting and annotation
• Save and print capability
• Facilitation of group projects and individual presentations
• A collaborative work environment
• Video conferencing connectivity
• Text/data entry via floating onscreen keyboard
• Onscreen editing and recording
• Support for effective special needs education and classroom differentiation
• Student feedback and assessment with optional audience response accessories
Types of Interactive Display Boards
Not long ago, the interactive whiteboard (IWB) reigned as the classroom standard. Today, large format interactive flat panel (IFPs) displays and interactive projection (IPJ) technology offer alternative means of bringing interactive display to the classroom. Each delivers interactive functionality via substantially different methods.
Introduced in 1991, the original interactive whiteboard system is still widely used, although many systems are reaching their end-of-lifecycle. This system consists of a large display board connected to a computer and projector. The computer’s desktop is transmitted via the projector onto the board’s surface, where users can control the computer with a pen, finger, or other device. In this system, the interactive capabilities are embedded in the display board itself but the content must be transmitted to the board via the projector.
Interactive Flat Panel Displays
Until relatively recently, projector-based systems were the only available IWB technology, with some variation in implementation among suppliers. Large-format touchscreen LED displays, introduced in 2012, offered a new alternative with expanded benefits, reduced maintenance requirements and better overall total cost of ownership (TCO). With this option, the only component needed for full functionality is the LED display itself, although special pens may also be used.
Embedded with interactive technology previously only found in IWBs, interactive projectors transform virtually any flat surface into a collaborative canvas. Users can write, draw, and annotate directly onto the projected image, typically using an interactive pen or “wand” to manipulate content. More recently, systems have become available that enable finger-touch capabilities. This method of interactive display requires only the projector and special implement, using any available dry erase board, pull-down screen, blank wall or other flat display surface.