Crestron business development manager, education Phil Waterhouse discusses the changes he and his company are seeing in the modern day classroom – all thanks to modern technology
How has technology evolved and changed the traditional classroom learning environment?
Looking back 15 years there were very few education institutes using any technology. The most advanced institutions may have had a few over head projectors (OHP’s) dotted around the building but nothing more. TV viewing was a booked service and a TV was wheeled in on a trolley to the classroom at an allocated time, plugged in and set to the desired channel for students to watch. These days as we know, projectors, large LED screens, streaming of videos and TV is the norm. With the impact of handheld devices touchscreen technology has started to become the norm in many classroom or lecture theatres.
Today most institutes are investing in large touchscreens that give a more inclusive environment in the classroom
Specifically, which products/solutions have experienced the highest level of growth?
Touchscreen technology has been the latest ‘big thing’ and has really taken over from where projectors started. You’d be hard pressed to find a classroom two or three years ago that didn’t have a projector connected to the teacher’s laptop or a DVD player. Today most institutes are investing in large touchscreens that give a more inclusive environment in the classroom along with a better ROI for the institute with screens now coming with anything up to seven years warranty.
How have these impacted students?
The introduction of touchscreens has enabled students to be fully aware of what is being taught or discussed. Annotations and notes made by the teachers can be saved for later reviewing, meaning students don’t miss any note taking and consequently pay more attention to what is being taught at the time.
The introduction of touchscreens has enabled students to be fully aware of what is being taught or discussed
Would students today be at a disadvantage by not have access to these technologies?
The delivery of information is now very easy, especially with large screens at the front of class. Information is richer and apps and software are now designed to deliver lessons, this technology has advanced the classroom significantly from ten years ago. Interaction from students coming to the front of class to deliver their thoughts through annotating on screen and collaborating with each other on a touchscreen means the learning outcome has significantly improved.
What would your advice be to AV technicians/managers working in academia reading this?
Don’t just do what you have always done, open yourselves up to new ideas, new technologies and become an evangelist with product. Ask the salesperson talking to you about new technology to set up a proof of concept, get them to show you how it will impact your establishment. I would also say that there are many technology shows dedicated to Education that will give you a better insight as to what others are doing, what product is being designed and why. Another key thing is to talk to others in the same role. Sometimes the evangelist may have found somethinggreat, create a network of likeminded people to seek out new ideas.