Dec 15 2022

3 Ways Audiovisual Technology Is Changing Flexible Classrooms

These mobile AV solutions support dynamic learning as flexible spaces continue to trend in K–12 education.
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In Wisconsin’s Southern Door County School District, STEAM teacher Jessica Meacham no longer stands at the front of the room.

Her flexible learning environment “changes based on the type of lesson or activity and desired learner outcomes,” she says. Movable furniture helps, and so does audiovisual technology.

“Open and flexible classroom design promotes collaboration and exploration,” according to the Consortium for School Networking. Schools are looking to reimagine classrooms in the years to come, especially as technology becomes more integral to learning.

AV technologies, including wireless document cameras, “smart” whiteboards and modernized projectors, all help empower classroom flexibility as education trends toward more elastic and adaptable learning environments.

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1. Wireless Document Cameras Stream and Record Videos Anywhere

“Flexibility allows students to sit in different groups and allows teachers to get away from the old, traditional model, with the teacher at the front of the room and the students in rows,” says HoverCam Executive Vice President Craig Justice.

Wireless document cameras, like HoverCam’s Orbit Gigabit Wireless Super Camera, help bring this to life.

For example, students can work in small groups and use the camera to show other students what they’re working on, Justice explains. A wireless connection “allows the teacher to be mobile and use the document camera anywhere in the room,” he says.

A wireless document camera also opens new learning possibilities. “Students can use it for everything from show and tell and read-alongs to recording videos,” he adds. Many wireless document cameras can even be used outside, for maximum classroom flexibility.

In these outdoor classrooms, educators can go beyond traditional uses of the camera. “Students can take images of snowflakes in the winter or up-close shots of leaves in the fall,” Justice says.

DISCOVER: Ruggedized IoT technology supports outdoor learning for flexible classrooms. 

2. Mobile Interactive Whiteboards Adapt to Changing Classroom Setups

In her STEAM classroom, Meacham uses flexible design to accommodate collaborative learning. Each student team has a large worktable with storage space for in-progress projects. “When we work with robotics or need large open spaces for physics-based challenges, we roll the tables to one side of the room so teams have adequate floor space to conduct their investigations,” she says.

SMART Board interactive whiteboard helps her engage with students in this flexible space. Mounted on a mobile stand, “the board can be repositioned to the best viewing spot, no matter what configuration our room is in,” she says.

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Meacham can display a slide deck with all the necessary information about the day’s STEAM challenge. She can then broadcast that content directly onto students’ personal devices, so they can follow along as they work in their group spaces.

By tying the SMART Board to students’ one-to-one devices in this way, she says she is able to support a variable classroom dynamic, “from more traditional rows to clusters of tables that allow groups of students to work as a team.”

3. Modern Projection Technology Brings Learning to Any Surface

A new generation of classroom projectors is raising the bar in support of the flexible classroom trend.

“A lot of innovation is taking place in this technology, making it more compact, impactful and flexible for different applications,” says Remi Del Mar, senior product manager at Epson.

Craig Justice
Flexibility allows students to sit in different groups and allows teachers to get away from the old, traditional model, with the teacher at the front of the room and the students in rows.”

Craig Justice Executive Vice President, HoverCam

In a modernized projector, “the technology is far smaller, at just 16 pounds. It’s more efficient, and with laser technology instead of lightbulbs, one can get an image of up to 200 inches diagonal that feels real,” she explains. “A larger display image that can be seen from anywhere is important for keeping students and teachers engaged and in sync.”

The laser technology also means less maintenance for IT teams because there’s no bulb that needs replaced. Learning can continue uninterrupted in flexible learning spaces, which are made more dynamic by the projector’s wireless technology. “It can be used on any wall, be mobile or project on any surface,” Del Mar says. “Teaching can occur in front of the classroom or from anywhere else.”

Suppose the teacher has broken out the students into different groups. “You can put a small projector on a mobile cart and roll it against the wall, where a small group can be looking at that, or you can project it onto a big table,” she says.

Teachers also can use a projector in conjunction with a mobile whiteboard by projecting an image onto a portion of the board alongside other content.

All these technologies work to reshape the classroom dynamic. “Flexible learning environments enable students to customize their learning experiences,” according to the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit social science research organization.

As technologies support the continued spread of flexible classrooms in schools across the country, educators can use these spaces to deliver “a wide range of rich learning opportunities to construct knowledge; engage in inquiry-based projects; participate in collaborative, small groups of mixed ability; and have authentic interactions,” according to AIR.

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Drazen Zigic/Getty Images

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