This may be the most exciting time ever to work with technology integration for education. There are an incredible amount of options for engaging students in the classroom using technology. Devices, applications, and gadgets are everywhere. They are coming from the largest technology companies in the world and from the smallest garage start ups in the neighborhood. You could spend your entire week reading articles, checking advertisements, and watching videos about all the new things that claim to make our classrooms better educational spaces.
The biggest problem with all these options is that all the options overwhelm most educators. As integration specialists, it is our responsibility to find the best tools from all the noise and hype. I have always tried to keep it simple. Research the products, test them out, and use them in a classroom setting – not just a conference room. I am the first to admit that not every product or application that I have endorsed has been followed by a successful launch in our classrooms but many have made a positive impact.
About eight years ago, I asked to try out an unused SMART Board in my seventh grade World Geography classes. The board was an instant hit with students and provided a great tool for teaching geography. Many years, boards, and various interactive whiteboard products later, I remain one of the proponents of interactive whiteboards in the classroom. I still think – if actually used interactively – the boards are an asset to elementary and middle school classrooms.
A couple of years ago, during a new explosion of new interactive technology products for the classroom, I threw my hopes into a new product. This time I thought the iPad would become the next powerful tech tool for education. But many people felt then and some still do – that the iPad is too much of a consumer product – geared too much towards sales and marketing values. Regardless of consumer appeal, I believe the iPad is the best educational technology tool since the interactive whiteboard. The iPad’s value is also not limited by grade level. The experiences so far in Burlington have shown that the iPad can have as much value in a kindergarten class as a twelfth grade class.
Still with all the positive aspects of the iPad, the educational value was missing something that the interactive whiteboard still worked well for. As we all are learning more and more, the truly great classrooms are student centered – but even in those classrooms we can’t lose focus of the fact that a teacher still often needs to lead classroom lessons and instruction. While iPads provide an excellent individualized learning experience, the addition of an Apple TV can now tie everything together in the classroom. Think about all the devices and applications that you have heard about in the past few years – now put them all in one place.
I think that the Apple TV – yes another consumer device – once referred to as an Apple “hobby” project – may be the next big technology tool for education. The release of true wireless mirroring in iOS 5 will allow teachers to have it all. Using an Apple TV, whatever you are teaching and having students disseminate can be shared with the entire class. Apple has made the process simple and powerful.
Do you want any of these for your classroom?Teacher led instruction + student note taking = Use the iPad to lead the instruction from the front of the room Mobile web enabled device + Apps for any curriculum area = Student centered classrooms Individualized stations + student centers = Use apps and share student work through the Apple TV Digital curriculum + Less reliance on printing = Paperless classrooms Apps like ShowMe + Cheap stylus = Individual dry erase boards with the ability to display on screen for the entire class Apps like Socrative + Ability to have individual classroom response “clickers” = Ongoing and truly “live” assessment
I have some questions for everyone who will say that by adding Apple TVs to our classrooms means to again rely too much on a consumer product that is really a marketing tool…
What’s the difference where the product line comes from as long as it works? Can we please stop writing articles about how Apple is just trying to make money off of education? All products sold to education – consumer based or not – are sold to make money.
While there will certainly be competitors to the Apple TV and iPad mirroring set up – and there already are some – we must always consider our students and teachers when looking at how well a product works and how simple it is to use. We often overlook the end user when purchasing tech tools for our classrooms. The product must be easy to integrate and maintain or our teachers and students won’t use them.
Now one last thing…
The Apple TV only costs $100.
Yes, I realize that you need some other components. The Apple TV relies on a HDMI signal to a HDTV or LCD projector and having lots of iPads can get very expensive – but take some time to compare it all. Compare all the costs of the devices, applications, paper, ink, and peripherals that you usually purchase for each classroom and see how it all stacks up over a few years. The value of the learning experience that can be created and the potential cost saving over time may surprise you.
So what do I think will become a new ideal classroom set up?Class set of iPads iPad charge and sync cart Apple TV Interactive LCD projector with HDMI input Classroom audio amplification system