Thinking of a Different Classroom

On March 3rd 2012 I was able to attend Edcamp Columbus held at Upper Arlington High School. This event was a gathering of people who were there because they are passionate about education, technology and were willing to spend a Saturday discussing these topics. This event was mentioned here because in the discussions at the conference, lunch and a random shopping spree to Microcenter were valuable and one of those led to me searching out more answers about the topic. Unfortunately I can’t remember who or how the topic came about but it is worth discussion here.
As technology coordinators, we face the challenge of integrating technology into the classroom and have that integration mean something more than being a check mark we can cross off and say we have technology in our schools. The technology that we support and aide our teachers and administrators in implementing has to be able to add value from the standpoint of tax payers, students, parents, teachers and administration. Does adding an interactive white board, projector or any other devices change the way we actually teach or is it just building upon methods that we established previously?
CHALLENGE: Can we replace the projector in the classroom and provide the teacher with a device that can be free of chords while also allowing the teacher to have full functionality of a traditional computer? Could it be extended to the whole classroom? Is it cost effective over time?
SOLUTION: The projector has started to become a common element in the classroom along with an interactive whiteboard. The limits of these technologies require that they stay in a fixed location and require that the user be within a fixed location approximate to the technology.
Apple has implemented a technology that they refer to as AirPlay ( which allows streaming of audio and video between devices on the same wireless network that have the technology implemented within them. A strong wireless network is essential to this technology being practical. The iPad and Apple TV both have this technology which allows for this setup to be practical. In having this technology is it possible that we can replace the projector and the smart board?
It should be noted that these prices are retail and not reflective of possible discounts for buying in bulk or buying as an educational facility. A typical projector costs any where from $400 on up depending on what options one selects when pricing the projector. In our case here we are going to look at the Epson PowerLite X12 which costs a suggested $499.00. This projector was chosen because it has a small foot print, 5,000 hour bulb life and inputs that are configured for future display technologies that will begin to replace existing VGA connections in the near future. A replacement bulb looks to cost around $200. The next piece in the puzzle is the interactive technology (Mimio, Smartboard etc.). A Mimio device can cost around $700 while a smartboard can cost around $2,000 – $3,000. We will settle on a price of $2,500 for the Smartboard. A cost of $500 will be figured in for mounting of projectors and misc. hardware.
The Mimio setup will cost the following:
Projector – $500
Extra Bulb – $200
Mimio – $700
Mounting/Misc. Cost – $500
Total Cost: $1,900
The Smart Board setup will cost the following:
Projector – $500
Extra Bulb – $200
Smartboard – $2,500
Mounting/Misc. Cost – $500
Total cost: $3,700
The Apple Solution setup will cost the following:
Apple iPad 2 – $400
Apple TV – $100
55″ LG TV – $1,800
Mounting/Misc. Cost – $500
Total Cost: $2,800
In examining the three solutions we need to ask our selves if the goal of allowing the teacher to move freely is achieved? The Apple TV solution achieves the goal of allowing the teacher to move freely through the classroom without the need to worry about a cord. The other two solutions do not allow this free movement. The Apple TV also has additional features which can be utilized in a classroom setting such as podcast downloads (audio/video), Netflix streaming (where applicable in a classroom) and others. In addition to the allowing this free movement the Apple solution also incorporates another key element that we hadn’t proposed in our original solution.
Any number of iPads can connect to a single Apple TV (one at a time) and display the screen. Imagine a classroom setting where each student has an iPad and they take turns sharing their work by connecting to the Apple TV through the iPad. The next question for another post is it possible to afford a classroom set of iPad’s? The ways to use this technology to transform the way a topic is taught is endless.
In the example I tried setting up with my iPad and Apple TV I did the following:

Created Evernote notebook with lesson resources
Resources included a PDF, pictures, Word Documents, Audio Recording, Video Recording and templates for an assignment.
During the lesson I used the iPad to take a picture and uploaded it into Evernote.
I opened the pictures and made notations to the pictures and saved them back to Evernote.
I played the videos and audio recordings.

In a real classroom setting we would have been doing this in real time and handed the iPad over to the student at any time and had them for example label the parts of a bug using Skitch. If we had a classroom set we could have reviewed the students work in real time by displaying it on the board. Most of what we just discussed is still that traditional teacher leading the discussion but with the iPad in the hand of the student the teaching has been transferred to the student and using technology that allows the work to be carried on with the student once that academic year is over.
The Apple solution achieves the goal of letting the teacher move freely through the classroom, utilize technology and change the way they teach. Students can be further engaged if it can be afforded to supply the student with the same technology and move the student to the center of the classroom experience. This solution also allows for the technology to move with the end user and not be limited to a fixed room like a projector and interactive whiteboard would be. I would like to see this in action in a classroom, it is one thing to think and theorize that this would be practical but it is another to actually implement and see it in action.

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