AV, Presentation & Display

Sharing Screens All Over the Classroom

Val Verde Unified School District uses mobile hardware and software to keep students and teachers on the same page.

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In the midst of the digital transformation of Val Verde Unified School District (CA), Michael McCormick, the assistant superintendent for education services, faced a familiar problem. He wanted the district’s classrooms to have interactive displays, but he was "not a fan of the electronic whiteboard" because it "tethers a teacher to the front of the classroom." His first step was to give teachers iPads, allowing them to roam the room. Then, to help Val Verde’s teachers connect with students and push content to LCD projectors, the district chose the Splashtop Classroom system.

The system is device-agnostic, so teachers armed with iPads can share screens with students working on both the Asus Transformers that the district has deployed in kindergarten and first grade and the Chromebooks that second- through twelfth-graders use. Teachers use the system to annotate presentations, and can save their annotated versions as separate files. Splashtop also allow them to access students’ devices from their iPads.

Students, in turn, can annotate over lesson content directly from their mobile devices. McCormick said students often use the system to complete worksheets in class. The pedagogical goal for McCormick was to allow his teachers, who had been “rushing to independent practice, to focus on guided practice.”

According to Matthew Penner, Val Verde’s director of information and instructional technology and CCTO, an unintended positive consequence of rolling out Splashtop Classroom was that teachers now use the system to take electronic attendance. Another unexpected benefit, Penner said, was that the system also works with HoverCam document cameras.

Teachers Teaching With Tech

Phil Harding, Val Verde’s tech integration specialist, said that when the district was introducing Splashtop Classroom to teachers, "basic instruction took half an hour."

As soon as teachers got up to speed with the technology, they found ways to take advantage of having a “recording” of an annotated presentation on their iPads. For example, said Harding, a teacher can now send students outside of class for peer mentoring, confident in the fact that those students can then borrow the teacher’s iPad to view the entire lesson that they missed. Teachers have also given iPads to special needs students who may have trouble following a lesson on the projector.

Harding said that the district’s next step is a pilot designed to see what happens when teachers turn control of the main display over to individual students. The plan is to use iPads and a Splashtop feature called Mirroring360 “to turn PCs into Apple TVs.”

No matter what the hardware or software, though, Harding’s mission is to keep the tech side of things as simple as possible so that teachers can focus on their students. “The technology,” he said, “should not be a distraction from the learning cycle."

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.