By Jan Willem-Brands, VP Collaboration, Barco

In today’s schools, collaboration is the norm. Technology is being embraced in the classroom like never before, and it’s becoming all the more advanced. We can all remember overhead projectors being used in schools, but these days they have been replaced with interactive whiteboards. Everything that students and teachers now use is increasingly digital, online, and wireless.

In the near future, the students of today will take their knowledge of technology to the workplace, so the benefit of creating a more engaging classroom environment is far greater now than in years or decades gone by.

The BBC report that 70 per cent of UK schools now use tablet computers as part of lessons, and studies in the US have demonstrated that interactive, touchscreen technology can have many benefits to a child’s education, including higher exam results and more efficient studying.

A report from Ofcom reveals that a third of children aged between five and 15 years old have their own tablet computers, showing that more children than ever before are becoming familiar with technology from a young age.

Many schools and higher education institutes are also now ‘flipping’ their classrooms, whereby traditional teaching is delivered online, outside of the classroom. The teacher’s role becomes one of a guide, while students watch lectures at home at their own pace, communicating with classmates and teachers online. The US government is currently investigating the effectiveness of flipped classrooms, and interest is increasing here in the UK. A wealth of digital educational services already exist, including mobile apps, teaching material, lessons, podcasts, vodcasts, and interactive multimedia. They can provide students with the opportunity to learn at their own pace and the freedom to go back and revisit content whenever they need to.

Both students and teachers can benefit from using their smartphones, tablets and laptops in the classroom, so they need technology that can support their devices and different operating systems, including iOS, Android or Windows, in order to foster a more co-operative and engagement-focused environment. With this in mind, schools could also benefit from introducing a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy, whereby they allow students to use their own technology to take part in lessons.

It’s cost-effective, students are more likely to continue learning outside of schools hours, and it helps students to stay organised with their notes and assignments all in one place, on a device they are more likely to keep safe.

BYOD also encourages students to collaborate on group projects and presentations. For example, classrooms can use an AV solution such as Barco’s new NRC-200 networked room compositor. It can process up to eight input sources and project on to two screens with ultra-high definition 4K resolution. By allowing students to use a device such as this to wirelessly beam the display from their tablet or smartphone on to a shared monitor, it’s easy for them to work together to achieve a shared learning objective.

This solution also allows for greater collaboration directly between the teacher and students. By using technology as a primary learning resource, teachers can use tablets projected on to a wall monitor to give their lesson, and use a solution such as Barco’s NRC-200 to allow students to take control of the monitor using their tablets, thus increasing engagement and learning during class discussions and work.

Technology in the classroom encourages the use of interactive educational tools, allowing for a dynamic learning experience that directly benefits students, not only when sharing ideas and information, but also when receiving feedback.

With classroom technology being used for different methods of communications, students need to be readers, writers, editors and publishers, and must be able to closely collaborate with others, skills that are critical for children and young adults as they grow and enter the workplace.

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