Over the past few years, there’s been ample research about the benefits of technology in the classroom for teachers as well as the many advantages of interactive learning. Studies show that getting students to engage actively with subject matter rather than forcing them to listen passively to lectures improves academic achievement and student satisfaction.
For example, one study found that “abandoning traditional lecturing in favor of active learning” for the attainment of higher degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) raised average grades by a half a letter. It also found that “failure rates under traditional lecturing increase by 55% over the rates observed under active learning.”
Allowing students to take an interactive role in their education is not only more enjoyable, it promotes collaboration with both the teacher and fellow students. There are many ways to create this collaborative, interactive environment, but one of the best is to utilize interactive whiteboards or smart panels, which offer a wide range of interactive activities for teachers and have been shown to increase engagement among students.
Interactive activities for teachers and students
It’s one thing to acknowledge the advantages of interactive teaching and quite another to implement it. Traditional classrooms with kids sitting at rows of desks and a teacher standing up front with a blackboard behind them isn’t terribly conducive to interaction. But when you place an interactive whiteboard (also known as interactive panel or smart panel) such as Promethean’s ActivPanel Titanium in the room, the dynamics quickly change.
Interactive panels allow teachers to create activities or games for their lessons that require their students to participate. One or more kids can come up to the panel and use their finger or a pen to answer the question. This might involve matching a word to an image, writing out a math problem, choosing the right definition of a word, or countless other kinds of exercises.
Interactive panels such as the Promethean ActivPanel Titanium have up to 20 simultaneous touch points, so multiple students can work on it at once. And teachers don’t have to be stuck in front of the class to control the panel—they can move freely about the room and even sit amongst their students. What’s more, students can also share their screens and show their work—getting immediate feedback from their teacher and opening the lines of communication.
Harvard physics Professor Eric Mazur, who developed peer instruction in order to make his large lecture classes more interactive, once said: “Active learning, not passive, makes it impossible to sleep through a class.” In fact, when teachers ask their students to get up out of their chairs to come to a smart panel or hold their attention visually with graphics on a large colorful panel, they’re making it more difficult for young learners to drift off or daydream.
Show don’t tell: Bringing lessons to life
Ever heard the phrase: “It went in one ear and out the other”? People’s difficulty in understanding or retaining things that are told to them isn’t always a result of not paying enough attention. A majority of the population, or 65% according to one study, are visual learners, which means they need to see what they’re learning and find oral lectures difficult to follow.
Interactive panels and whiteboards allow teachers to use a variety of visual methods to teach—from videos to flipcharts to photography to PowerPoint decks. But rather than simply “projecting” these things, as one would do with a traditional classroom projector, there’s smart panel software for teachers that they can use to interact with the visuals, including writing, drawing, and highlighting on top of images and words, as well as taking screenshots and manipulating them in various ways.
Because there is a wide variety of software and resources available for smart panels and interactive panels, there’s really no limit to what teachers can do with them. They can conduct scientific experiments, perform a geometry proof, build an entire city, and much more. And of course, all of this imaginative and fun content will make learning more enjoyable and engaging for students.
Convenience is critical
Educators are some of the hardest-working professionals out there, so giving them tools that make their jobs easier and more efficient is key to their success. When teachers, administrators, and IT professionals are burdened with old equipment, it costs them valuable time and energy. Outdated technology requires constant upkeep and maintenance. Even the simple act of changing the lightbulbs in projectors can be a real hassle.
Interactive panels that are up to date with the latest software and accessories don’t need all that attention. They power up quickly, are easy to use, and rarely require maintenance. When choosing to buy an interactive panel for the classroom, educators should be thoughtful about going with a brand that provides on-demand support, troubleshooting, and training. Promethean, for example, offers extensive support and professional development both in person and online.
The benefits of technology in the classroom for teachers and students are many. Technology saves time. And even though it requires an upfront investment, technology usually saves money as well. Technology brings collaboration and interactivity to the classroom, which has been proven to increase academic achievement and improve the overall educational experience for students and teachers alike.