Monday, November 27, 2017

Life After the Interactive Board

Is It Worth It?

Long has it been that companies like SMART or Promethean have dominated display options in the classroom. SMART really revolutionized how we as teachers demonstrate or share content with students. Freedom is what it represented in those days. The idea that a teacher to could grab content from about anywhere and manipulate it before their students' eyes. It enhanced our productivity as content creators. 

Technology is ever changing. Students and society is ever changing. Therefore, the way we teach should change was well. Once schools began exploring options for all students to have a device, the need for the teacher at the front of the room (The Sage on the Stage) began to dwindle. Suddenly the students had access to thousands of teachers, and personalized instruction became a reality. If a student wants to know more on any topic of their liking, the resources are just a click away. This landscape causes me to question the need to spend thousands of dollars for teachers to stand at the front of the room with what is essentially a glorified overhead projector. (Actually, it is worse because the teacher's back is turned while operating a SMART board.) $5,000 - $7,000 is a ballpark estimate for an interactive display; that equates to a class set of Chromebooks. A class set of devices that can make personalized learning a reality. A class set of devices that can give students the experience, tools, and skills to be competitive in the marketplace. Can that be done by students watching a teacher write on a website at the front of the classroom? What wins in your book?

Options

At MSD of Steuben, we are exploring options to still effectively display content and save money for other opportunities. The simple answer is merely using a television. A 65-70 inch display is reasonable. Especially when comparing to the likes of a SMART or Promethean Interactive television. The next typical response I get is how it can be interactive like SMART or Promethean products. I'll propose a couple of options. One is more focused on teacher-directed instruction. The capability of having a point of interaction and students utilizing the Interface is a reality at the fraction of the cost. The other is to allow for students to take control. Students can be in the driver's seat and sharing from their very own device. But before I move on, keep in mind that both of these options are with the thought that a teacher would still need to have a PC, Mac, or Chromebook connected to a television via the HDMI port. 

Chrome Remote Desktop

Chrome Remote Desktop run on a touchscreen device (iPad, Chromebook, Android tablet, etc.) provides the mobile interactivity that teachers need. We have a lot of teachers that love Active Inspire or SMART Notebook. You can still operate these pieces of software, but from a smaller touchscreen device. One that you can carry with you around the room. You are not stuck at the front of the room with your back turned from the class. You don't even have to have students go up to the board. You can place your device before a student so that they can respond from afar. Chrome Remote Desktop takes your touchscreen Chromebook and turns it into a remote control for the the device (PC, Mac, or Chromebook) connected to your television. This is a nice transition for teachers that are very comfortable with the software that SMART or Promethean offers. If teachers have invested quite a bit of time creating flipcharts or notebooks, Chrome Remote Desktop will ease the growing pains. 

Keep in mind that there will be some necessary steps for setup on your PC or Mac. The next video demonstrates the installation as well as basic use with Active Inspire. You can install Chrome Remote Desktop from the Chrome Web Store.




Google Cast for Education

Google Cast has come a long way since its inception in the summer of 2016. When it first launched, much frustration took place because of poor picture quality and failed casting attempts. The idea was great because it allowed for the teacher to turn the teacher PC or Mac into a Chromecast location. The best part was the fact that students now had the capability to cast their own screen! The teacher could choose to accept or deny the casting attempt as an alert automatically pops up on the teacher's device. There the teacher can see who is attempting to cast and choose to accept or deny the connection. What a powerful way to give students power. 

As I mentioned before, things were rocky for Google Cast for Education, but it has since greatly improved. I've utilized it numerous times during class visits with very few connection issues. Students love being my demonstrator. Like Chrome Remote Desktop, some installation and setup is required. The next video will give you an overview of how to set it up and utilize Google Cast for Education. 

You will need to first download the Chrome Extension for Google Cast for Education.




Training

Life after the Interactive Board is not only the title of this blog post, but it is also the title of a half-day workshop I run with my teaching staff. During this session, teachers have the opportunity to try casting, Chrome Remote Desktop, and explore various interactive websites that work well on a touchscreen Chromebook. The teachers that have participated have expressed positive feedback as it eases the fear of change. Change is never easy, but my hope is that I can adequately provide support to make it palatable.