Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The interactive classroom

We had a fun session this morning! We used the SMART board and CPS clickers. I think most teachers now want one or both of these technologies for their classroom. I encouraged them to talk to their building or district tech committees or department chairs about finding some technology money to invest in this hardware.

Too often I think schools blindly upgrade their Office suite of software-- spending thousands of dollars-- without thinking about some of the other stuff that's out there. Most students and teachers know their way around Office 97 or 2000-- if the district upgrades to Office 2007, the menus and toolbars all look different and a simple task has suddenly become much more time-consuming.

I'm really hoping more schools will change to one of the online office suites (i.e. Google Docs) or an open source suite like Open Office or StarOffice. That way, students would be able to use the same software at home or at school without having to worry about file compatibility.

But getting back to the interactive classroom. I like to use the analogy of the TV news. 20 or 30 years ago, the 6 o'clock news wasn't much more than a "talking head." Today we have live remote broadcasts, graphics, doppler radar, and other visual ways of representing the information that are far more interesting for the viewer. Likewise, in the classroom, teachers can get away from being the "talking head" and allowing students to have a little more control, and make the lessons more interactive either through manipulating the SMART board, or using the CPS clickers.

I certainly hope these technologies catch on more in our county. We have a couple sets of clickers that teachers can check out. I hope they'll be in use all the time!

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