The Latest Audiovisual Technology in Education
When thinking about audiovisual technology in the classroom, digital whiteboards (also known as interactive whiteboards) are probably the first thing that comes to mind. In assessing digital whiteboards, one important feature to consider is software. For example, the SMART Board M700 comes prepackaged with proprietary SMART Notebook, Ink and Learning Suite software. This whiteboard also allows users to connect a projector or a computer, opening it up to sharing every application and program they have access to on these other devices.
Another important consideration for digital whiteboards is simultaneous touchpoints, or how many users can directly interact with it at one time. The Samsung WM75B supports up to 20 simultaneous touchpoints, allowing large groups to engage directly with content on the whiteboard at the same time.
Projectors are an additional core classroom technology, allowing teachers to present and share materials on a projection screen or whiteboard. Projector brightness needs to hit at least 2000 lumens for a good classroom viewing experience. The Epson PowerLite 982W is a moderately priced projector with a brightness level of 4200 lumens. It also features a moderator function that supports up to 50 users simultaneously connecting to the display, allowing teachers to show multiple pieces of content at one time. An alternative is the LG ProBeam BF50NST, which offers 5000 lumens and 1920x1200 native resolution for a bright, sharp image, regardless of the lighting in the room.
Student engagement improves through a combination of visual and audio inputs, so it’s important to also have technology that connects with students’ ears. One option to consider is adding a sound bar to your digital whiteboard. Promethean offers the ActivSoundBar as an option for schools looking to enhance their Promethean ActivPanels. Providing 40 watts of output power, this sound bar offers the right audio boost for most classrooms.
A different approach to greater audio presence is a portable, Bluetooth-enabled speaker like the JBL Charge 5, which can connect to either a laptop or digital whiteboard. This speaker offers 20 hours of rechargeable battery life, enough to get most teachers through the school week on a single charge.
Schools that want to go a step further with classroom audio might consider adding a digital assistant into the mix. These digital hubs use a voice-activated interface, usually in the form of an artificial intelligence–enhanced smart speaker, to assist teachers in quickly navigating among digital resources. The Merlyn Mind Symphony Classroom allows teachers, through either voice commands or a remote control, to access and control classroom devices, apps and resources.
The Belkin SoundForm Elite is a more traditional smart speaker that makes use of Google Assistant. Pairing it with a smartphone lets instructors use voice commands to access everything from classroom calendars to countdown timers, all while the phone sits and charges in the speaker’s charging cradle.
Flexible Classroom Furniture and Infrastructure
If audiovisual gear is at the center of an effective classroom, then furniture serves as the infrastructure that positions instructors and students alike to best take advantage of classroom resources.
Instruction is increasingly focused on team-centered activities, making flexible, mobile furniture key to moving quickly between full-class instruction and small-group activities. The VariDesk Flip Top Training Table offers great classroom flexibility, with a flip-top design and roll-and-lock casters that make for easy mobility and storage when not in use. This is a great table for stationary activities.
For individual seating mobility, the Ergotron LearnFit Short Sit-Stand mobile desk is a great option. This height-adjustable desk allows for ergonomic personalization, and its caster-driven mobility allows for quick, on-the-fly seating configuration changes in the classroom.
Teachers also need to be able to instruct and present from different locations in the classroom. The Balt Trend podium has a simple setup, providing locking casters for easy movement, plenty of securable storage for technology, and built-in cable management.