Flat Panel Touch for That iPad Feel

tabletgroupWith all the iPads and tablets being used in schools and classrooms today the presentation options such as whiteboards and flat panel displays for whole class collaboration may get overlooked. The traditional front of a class option today, the interactive whiteboard, has been a great choice for quite a few years, and still continues to be an option. When whiteboards replaced chalkboards, TV monitors, and overhead projectors in classrooms, the typewriter was still the trusty composition tool for students and teachers. Later, the computer room became the only way students actually placed hands on a digital device. But today, is the whiteboard the best means of gathering the class for those discussions and collaborative lessons necessary in this century, especially with all the handhelds of many sizes in more student hands? There are other choices.

When was the last time you walked into a home and saw a whiteboard hanging in the living room, or family gathering area? Certainly a classroom is not a living room, but it is the place where students and teachers spend a great deal of their time—sort of home away from home. Shouldn’t we be hanging something, or placing something there that is as brilliantly clear and interactively touch sensitive? If students have iPads, tablets, and touchscreens in hand, shouldn’t there be something more appropriately similar at head of class? Flat panel displays should be a classroom presentation option.

Many educators have tried to think completely away from any presentation device, and rely solely on handhelds and tablets. While that is perfectly feasible, and can be done by some, it seems to rely on group gatherings of students with individual devices. Certainly there is a daily need to say, “Class, let me show you.” There has to be a time each day where a teacher needs to gather everyone at a central location, as you would colleagues in boardroom meetings. And when those large group meetings happen, it should happen at the most brilliantly bright place.

There are many reasons flat panel displays should be part of school technology choice discussions, and why even if the price may be more, they can still be the right classroom choice. In the old days, teachers would use a pull-down white screen, or look for the whitest wall to project a movie. Even the best education movies were difficult to see. In most classrooms whiteboards have become that projection screen. While whiteboards are good for a lot of things—dragging, listing, circling, and pointing, whiteboards aren’t great video screens. Even the best video clips aren’t bright and engaging for students, who are used to crystal clear displays–everywhere. The point is that if the money is spent for all the brilliant touch handheld displays, wouldn’t it be proper to have the same brilliance in front of an entire class? Shouldn’t that large group presentation tool be state of the art in every way, as well as more like the tablets and other in-hand devices?

It is truly up to school district leaders and educators to decide education technology paths according to future plans that are 3 or more years in duration. Those plans are made, for the most part, with slim budgets. For that, the best technology that can be afforded most times makes the district decision. But if we look back, at the history of presentation in the classroom, flat screens need to be considered as a way to get educators out of the shadows and possibly into the future—and who knows, even into those 3D lessons that need more than a white wall.

Editor’s Notes: Additional Reading can be found at T.H.E.Journal Classrooms Slow to Move to Flat Panels from Interactive Whiteboards and at academia.edu Teachers’ Remarks on Interactive Whiteboard with LCD Panel Technology. Warning: both of these sites use a gatekeeper popup before posts can be read.

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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