Taking Control of Your Classroom
Today’s instructors desperatelywant to teach. They want to make their lessons interesting, innovative, andchallenging for their students. Whether they use a computer display, a VCR, adocument camera, or other presentation technology, the technology should helpthem teach, not distract or interrupt them.
However, when some instructors try to use these newtechnologies in their classrooms, they become frustrated when the equipmentd'es not work easily. Each piece of equipment probably has its own remotecontrol, and its own set of instructions. The presentation technology,therefore, becomes a burden rather than an enhancement. The instructor’sresponse is often never to work with technology again, forfeiting a potentiallyenhanced learning experience for their students.
Fortunately this scenario d'es not have to happen. With atouchscreen-based control system, the instructor can teach without having tolearn how to use individual system components. Touchscreens are similar to thedisplays used on laptop computers, with one notable exception. There is atouch-responsive overlay that allows functions to be initiated by directcontact with the screen.
Touchscreens have been used for years in sophisticated andexpensive boardroom presentation systems. In recent years, their cost has comedown significantly, making them realistic solutions for classroom and trainingenvironments. It is now even possible to incorporate their function into aclassroom computer system. Today’s touchscreens can function as the front endof an integrated system that controls the presentation technology. They canreduce complex electronic environments into simple, understandable graphicimages that respond to an effortless touch. By replacing complex button panelsand numerous remote controls, the instructor’s classroom productivity increasessignificantly. Once you learn to control one system via the touchscreen, youknow how to control all of them.
The touchscreen can also automate the room environment. Thisincludes lighting, window treatments, environmental controls, automatic doors,and even telephones and other communication lines. For example, touching theVCR button on a touchscreen can also set off a series of activities, whichinclude lowering the lights, closing the blinds, lowering and starting thevideo projector, adjusting the audio, etc., all without further input ortechnical assistance. The instructor is now able to concentrate on his or herpresentation, not on the technology. Having a touchscreen control systemshortens the instruction time and saves money.
Easy and Intuitive
Every major function on a properly designed touchscreencontrol interface is represented by a graphic icon. This facilitates intuitivetouch panel operation. There are no commands or function keys to learn. Theinstructor d'es not need to be a network or Web expert. However, just in casethere should ever be a technical problem, the touchscreen has the capability tosend a maintenance or repair request to the appropriate person via e-mail.
The touchscreen can also provide remote diagnoses andpossible remote correction, which decreases downtime. In addition, continuingdevelopments in integrated control systems, touchscreens and networking areleading to even more efficient and effective methods of distributing,displaying and controlling resources, including Web-based resources. With atouchscreen integrated control system in place, the instructor is in totalcontrol of the classroom environment.
This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.