Bridging the edtech gap

The education sector is beginning to bridge the gap between student’s experiences in the classroom and outside it, says Damien Weissenburger

Just as PCs and handheld devices are quickly becoming the primary driver for digital learning at every stage of pupils’ educational journey, demand is accelerating for collaborative and engaging AV solutions in order to connect with the most digitally fluent generation to date. It’s no surprise that education content providers are investing heavily in device-agnostic, mobile-friendly web based platforms that can be used both in the classroom and for home learning, creating a truly collaborative classroom for teachers and students alike. 

As today’s generation of students have become increasingly confident with technology across all aspects of daily life, the education industry is beginning to focus on bridging the gap between student’s experiences in the classroom and outside it. The industry must take advantage of this considerable thirst for digital if they are to make lessons more exciting and rewarding for students.

The concept of the flipped classroom, where students watch lessons online before discussing the topic in class, has its roots in higher education. However, the idea is increasingly being adopted in secondary education where less classroom time is being spent focused on teacher-led instruction, and far more on collective group learning. This lowers the barriers between pupils and staff, encouraging more exciting and memorable lessons for students who are already confident users of technology. 

We’re seeing a sea-change in the kinds of content that students are consuming, as well as the devices being used for access. AV manufacturers are responding to this shift with wireless presentation systems that allow multiple devices to connect to a central display in the classroom for content sharing and group collaboration. Rather than just relying on a single presentation, systems are developed than can provide multiple types of content, including live video, PowerPoint, web content, still images and movies. This allows teachers to retain the attention of students more effectively than before and create interactive, informative lessons in a format that resonates most strongly.

In parallel with this, there are some significant shifts in favoured display hardware. Until recently, the UK market was characterised by a high penetration of interactive display technology in classrooms, but now interactive flat panels are supplanting existing projection-based whiteboard solutions. Interactive projectors also remain hugely popular, with their influence expanding outside the classroom to separate work group areas and teacher-led instruction being joined by more collaborative group learning.

Lecture theatres demand large screen sizes, making installation projection the preferred technology choice for higher education. In this sector, laser based light sources are rapidly gaining appeal. With 20,000 hours of virtually maintenance-free operation, laser solutions can offer a lower total cost of ownership compared with lamp-based alternatives. Laser light sources also offer exceptional brightness, zoom and throw range, coupled with wide lens shift range, offering a more collaborative and flexible experience for both student and teacher compared to more traditional projectors.

As a result of these types of solutions, students feel more engaged and stimulated with the work presented to them in the classroom. Keeping the classroom tech up to date and appealing can also increase concentration levels among students at all levels, with a faster and more effective assimilation of topics being discussed in class. If the students feel more involved with the lessons, for example by having their devices connected to the central display in the classroom allowing them to physically get involved with the lesson, then there is a larger absorption of knowledge and a greater chance they will retain the information in the future.

In an increasingly digital world where pupils are the most tech savvy they’ve ever been, we have a superb opportunity to engage students with teaching in a way we’ve never been able to before. New technologies such as wireless presentation systems, laser based light sources or interactive displays allow us to provide living presentations, group collaborations and shared content. In turn these methods acclimatise students to the learning environment, ultimately helping them to learn faster and more effectively.

Damien Weissenburger is Corporate & Education Solutions Business Unit Head at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. 

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