Many schools are installing multiple displays for whole-class learning and individual or small group huddle spaces for studying. According to the Social Science Research Network, visual learners represent at least 65 percent of the population, so it makes sense to design a classroom that embraces visual teaching and learning. A crisp, clear audio system is also vital. Make sure the audio system is easy to use and can be heard clearly, regardless of where students are seated.
Multi-presenter tools allow students to share content from their devices to any display in the classroom. Although such technology is still relatively new, it will become an expectation in the near future and is worth prioritizing. Also, look for features like videoconferencing, remote collaboration solutions, and other ways for classes to connect with students and speakers in other locations.
How to evaluating AV tech
1. Determine your district’s needs.
First, call a meeting with educators and relevant staff to discuss their AV expectations and how they mesh with the school’s educational goals. Some products and tools may require training to enable effective use, so make sure you have IT staff available for teacher and student support.
2. Pay attention to warranties.
Once you know the types of products you need, take a close look at manufacturers’ warranties and reliability ratings as you compare choices. If the technology goes down, instructional time can easily be lost, so look for solutions with strong warranties and readily available technical support.
As a rule, you should look for a four- to five-year warranty in education. Look for “hot swap” warranties so replacements can be in place overnight, as opposed to waiting for your unit to be repaired and returned, which can sometimes take weeks. Anticipate your need for such consumables as projector lamps: Some manufacturers offer special deals or promotions on these and other replacement parts when you’re purchasing an AV system.
3. Build a strong partnership.
As you move closer to purchasing products, take time to build a solid relationship with your AV integrator. Make sure you’re on the same page regarding installation timelines and quality expectations. Discuss possible malfunction scenarios and find out what the manufacturer’s protocols are for dealing with them.
Embracing technology for the students
Today’s students are immersed in a technologically rich environment when they shop, travel, or watch TV. As adults in the workforce, they will continue to interact with technology in a myriad of ways and will need the skills they’re starting to build now. It makes sense to mirror that level of media-rich technology in the classroom, meeting the students in their world to capture their attention, to keep their minds engaged, and to build the digital skills they will need in the future.
The stakes are high: Creating an atmosphere that’s an extension of a student’s real-world digital environment goes a long way toward boosting engagement, achievement, and retention.
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