The most important priority accessories for effective teaching

From edge to core

While peripherals have been on the edge of educational priorities over the past few years, the transition to distance learning last year has brought them to the forefront of the conversation. Adam Jarry, Senior Director of Education Strategy at Dell Technologies, notes, “What we’re seeing here now is a major historical event that has helped drive the conversation. For ten years, we’ve been saying hybrid learning should be the next iteration, but the tipping point is that everyone suddenly needs to a device – no longer just at the command level.”

The result is more than just a rush to buy new peripherals. For Gary, it raises an important question: “How do we create a mindset in people to select the right techniques?”

Delivering positive marginal results depends in part on technology that supports the essential peripheral tools teachers and students need. “Behind the scenes, you need really strong Wi-Fi, along with screen-sharing software to support your peripherals and transition into a one-on-one learning environment that extends beyond the classroom,” says Jeremiah Okal, Dell’s chief educational strategist-syrup. It also points to the increased use of tools such as green screens and high-quality lighting to improve lesson recordings. “Teachers are almost like TV anchors,” he says. “They need all the necessary technology at home and in the classroom.”

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What accessories do schools buy?

Four broad categories of peripherals are now a priority for schools: monitors, cameras, headphones, and interactive displays. These tools improve all learning models. Now that teachers and students have incorporated these technologies into teaching and learning, it can be impossible to return to an environment in which they were not used.

screens: “A secondary monitor is now a must-have for teachers,” says Phyall, who notes that his district makes it a priority to provide teachers with two monitors. According to Gary, “We are also seeing a huge increase in the number of monitors, with many teachers using two or three at the same time. Educators also need smart docking capabilities that allow them to plug in and go with HDMI, while also allowing them to drag and drop across multiple monitors.”

cameras: While plug-and-play webcams with features like auto-focus and lighting adjustment are essential for blended learning, Okal-Frink notes that teachers “need more than a camera-equipped laptop to encourage interaction and adopt a flexible learning approach.” Instead, he suggests using a camera connected to the teacher’s main display as well as a mobile device with a second camera. This allows teachers to move around the room within the visible range of both personal and remote students.

On the students’ side, Phyall points out the potential use of document cameras. He noted that when his daughter used a document camera in kindergarten, the teacher could see her writing in real time. “It would be perfect if every kid had that,” he says.

headphones: Since staff and students often work and learn in less than ideal locations – such as crowded homes or acoustically flawed classrooms – appropriate headphones are critical. “Initially we had cheap headphones, but we need people to feel comfortable, especially the staff,” Vial says. “Now we are investing in headphones and smartphones for all teachers.” The comfortable fit is key; Phyall notes that employees can choose in-ear or over-the-ear options. He says there’s also a growing push for smaller sized peripherals that offer a better fit for small ears.

Interactive screens: In remote and blended learning environments, teachers need ways to interact with and engage students anywhere. As a result, interactive presentation techniques are essential for effective teaching. According to Phyall, while this often takes the form of tools like Promethean’s interactive whiteboards, there is also a push for interactive tablets. “Many of our science and math teachers have requested Wacom tablets because while they are using the cameras, they also want to draw or calculate objects in real time, rather than using the mouse,” he says.

Enable terminal operations outside of distance learning

Beyond the fundamentals and the peripheral overlays supporting them, it is necessary to consider the long-term effects of technology on education as a whole.

“The danger now is to move forward without thinking about the learning model itself,” Okal Frink says. Avoiding this risk requires IT leaders to consider potential pitfalls, such as student privacy and data security, and develop consistent terminal certification plans that go beyond current pandemic pressures. With classrooms with virtual items likely to continue for the foreseeable future, peripherals deployed as part of sustainable frameworks rather than temporary solutions provide a way to build on existing challenges and deliver improved results.

Peripherals, which are now a priority for effective K-12 learning, offer more than one way to overcome the pandemic disconnect. Integrated as part of a larger plan for educational development, these technologies help pave the way for improving teacher efficiency, enhancing student engagement and increasing operational agility.

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