Jun 30 2010

ISTE 2010: A Showroom in Your Pocket

The Buzz Blog explores the portable projector options at ISTE 2010.

Learning is personal. It's social, and it's engaging, and often, it involves technology. Kids take pictures and record video using their cell phones and then share them with friends and family either online, or just by leaning over and sharing a tiny screen and an ear bud. What's more, they are carrying the digital tools for content creation in their pockets already. 

Consider how cool it would be if you had a tiny projector about the size of a deck of cards, that you could plug your mobile device into and share pictures or video instantly with people nearby. 

Harken back to your last bus ride home from a recent field trip. Maybe you were coming home from the zoo. It was noisy, you had a headache, you were cranky... Try to forget that part. 

Anyway, before the trip, you probably encouraged your students to bring their digital cameras, cell phones, or whatever mobile device they owned at the time so they could capture the memory. Did you see what was happening on the bus ride home? Students were engaged. They were sharing pictures and videos of the field trip with their partner. In some cases, students were out of their seats (naughty, naughty), huddled around one particular student, and no one could see their tiny screen very well. 

Here is where it would have been awesome, if you only had this device: I'm talking about the Pico Projector. Just plug in your mobile device, find a flat, white surface, the roof of a bus would do, and bam! You're an instant showroom. Suddenly, you see even more engaged students, and more kids that want to join the conversation. You pass the device around and sit back while students are sharing, laughing, interacting, and learning from one another. 

A common discussion thread among educational technology leaders today focuses on the idea of integrating existing technologies into the classroom and IT infrastructure. I'm referring to the devices students are already carrying around in their pockets. 

Some forward-thinking schools already have a very open policy on mobile devices in class. For example, back-channelling, the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time conversation alongside live spoken remarks, enables students to post questions and receive clarification from other classmates without having to interrupt the teacher. 

In some cases, cell phones are also being used as personal digital assistants. For example, teachers are helping students use their calendar to keep important school-related dates and assignments organized. And of course, the content creation tools such as the camera and camcorder functionality in modern cell phones can no longer be ignored. 

To quote The Tech Guy, Leo Laporte, "The best camera is the one you're carrying and that's usually your cell phone." And now, tiny projectors like the Pico Projector give students another way to share their ideas and participate in their digital learning environments. 

Please note: Some devices are compatible, and others are not. Visit ThinkGeek for an exhaustive list of compatible and incompatible devices.

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