Primary and Secondary Education Zones – Look for interactive flat panels as a key tool for teacher-driven learning

Jane Osborne, Assistant Director of Technology Integration, Albemarle County Public Schools

“We want all teachers to be able to enter all learning spaces and provide instruction through high-quality screens, high-quality speakers, and advanced functionality,” he says.

While some students still lack connectivity at home, once they are in the classroom with a variety of modern audiovisual devices, they get the chance to use technology that expands their learning.

The Childress Independent School District has been deeply committed to providing effective learning tools for its 1,000 students. Each teacher at the three Texas County schools can choose to have a Promethean ActivPanel in their classroom, and most do, says Sarah Mills, director of federal curriculum and programs for the district. Although there are no formal measures of student participation, classroom reports support their value.

Mills says digital whiteboards promote equality by improving the learning experience for all students, regardless of ability or special needs.

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“Anytime you have a student who is able to interact with whatever they’re working on, it will progressively improve that student’s success,” she says. “When a special education student, for example, is able to manipulate the material in the lesson, it will be a more realistic learning experience, and they will retain it better. For any group of students, being able to engage with the material in a tangible way enhances learning.”

Mills adds that the boards also promote student participation at every grade level. “In biology, for example, students get a chance to manipulate the cell, not just see an image,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how old they are. When students are allowed to go in and fiddle with technology, it grabs their attention.”

Modern technology supports quality teaching

For all the misery and learning disruption the pandemic has caused, the pandemic has successfully pushed New Bedford Public Schools toward greater use of educational technology, says Robert Tetro, Massachusetts County Chief Technology Officer.

Last summer, NBPS invested $1.2 million in upgraded networking and hardware, including new interactive flat panels for its three middle schools.

Says Tetro, whose school district serves nearly 13,000 students in 25 schools.

The NBPS plans to deploy interactive boards in its primary schools as well. High schools are equipped with relatively new short-projection projectors, but they will be upgraded to interactive panels when they reach the end of their life.

Besides their presentation and interactive capabilities, the main considerations in choosing modern audiovisual tools, Tetreault says, are ease of use and maintenance, connectivity options, and the lifespan of the technology. Modern AV tools must be chosen to meet the needs of educators, so it is important to consult with them on procurement and provide them with training and support, he says.

“Professional development for teachers is really important so that they feel comfortable with techniques and have all the tools they can,” he says. “If teachers can’t handle technology, they can’t engage students.”

Read on: Professional development remains important in K-12 education.

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