At its best, educational technology helps create a more simplified, effective, and engaging learning experience for students of all ages – an objective that has become even more imperative amid the increase in hybrid and distance learning over the past couple years.
In working to maximize technology’s impact, interactive flat panels (IFPs) can serve as an invaluable piece of the puzzle for educators, serving to help create a rich atmosphere for modern learning – and one that can help alleviate major pain points experienced in many of today’s teaching environments.
To help illustrate this point, we sat down with Kelli Deranger, Director of Curriculum and Innovation at AXI Education Solutions, to discuss all the ways interactive flat panels can help educators elevate learning experiences through ease-of-use, student involvement, virtual instruction, and more.
Pain point #1: Ease-of-use
Ease-of-use is a massively critical factor for teachers in everyday instruction, as a failure to understand and properly leverage technology is likely to render it largely ineffective. Educators who cannot easily learn the features of their technology will not be comfortable integrating it into their everyday curriculum in a meaningful way. In a best case scenario, they might end up using an IFP as a glorified whiteboard. At worst, it will simply become another piece of technology that sits around collecting dust and that ultimately becomes remembered as a wasted investment.
This is a key consideration for the team at AXI, whose focus is on helping schools impactfully integrate interactive technology in the classroom.
“Always focus on how easily a certain flat panel can be utilized within the curriculum and content across all grade levels and subject areas,” Deranger said.
When the basic functions of new technology can be easily understood, there is a lot of room for teachers to grow into creative and impactful application of that tech in the classroom.
“The ease-of-access of these tools allows professional development teams to meet teachers where they are, rather than requiring extensive training and onboarding to get up to speed.”
Just as a teacher would never dive into a lesson plan without first understanding their students’ comfort level with the content, AXI works to ensure teachers are confident and equipped to leverage all necessary features of their technology from day one.
Pain point #2: Equity and access
Historically, technology has typically been something only Title I schools have had access to, as they receive more funding than their non-Title I counterparts. But thanks to federal funding from initiatives like the CARES Act, districts are now able to provide equal opportunity for all schools within their district, affording every student access to the same levels of technology.
Districts have until September 30, 2022, to take advantage of ESSER funding through the CARES Act, which can go directly toward spending related to COVID-19 and/or school closures. IFPs fall firmly within this purview and are an affordable, high-impact way to elevate learning experiences through technology.
Pain point #3: Effective formative assessments
With the nationwide increase in student devices in recent years, teachers are less able to perform effective formative assessments to alter learning in their classrooms. But thanks to the applications available on interactive flat panels, teachers can poll students for immediate feedback to confirm understanding and retention before, during, and after classroom instruction.
Many of today’s IFPs also have high-quality and easy-to-use screen-sharing functions, enabling teachers to help students become active participants in the learning process whether at school or at home. Students can also share their screens wirelessly to the front-of-the-classroom panel, allowing teachers to address any mistakes or to compare multiple students’ work simultaneously. This ability is invaluable for both teachers and students, as research shows that effective, immediate feedback can improve a learner’s confidence, self-awareness, and enthusiasm for learning, which also leads to increased motivation.
Pain point #4: Virtual/hybrid teaching and learning
Over the past couple years, the need has risen for quick and easy methods of virtual or hybrid instruction that can match the quality of in-person instruction as closely as possible. While such an objective may seem idealistic, the right IFP paired with the right supporting tools and resources can go a long way toward closing the gap.
“The ability to join a Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom session directly from the IFP allows teachers to continue their instruction without skipping a beat,” Deranger said. “Teachers can share their interactive flat panel screens so all students – whether in class or at home – can have the same opportunity to learn and watch instruction in real time.”
IFPs also play a leading role in addressing accessibility concerns for vision-impaired students and in giving a voice to more introverted students through the use of screen-sharing, polling, and other applications.
Pain point #5: Standardization
Prior to standardization, school districts would have access to differing levels of technology based on funding and various other factors. Now, the district-wide standardization of technology allows teachers to provide their students with the same level of technology, no matter where they live or attend school.
Imagine a scenario where educators can walk into any classroom in the district and find a uniform and intuitive technology setup they can plug into and begin using effortlessly. IFPs are capable of helping make that vision a reality. Standardization also helps teachers have the same familiarity with the technology, even if they move to a different school within the district.
District standardization also allows professional development and technical support to be more consistent and less challenging to manage from an IT standpoint.