In recent years, audio-visual technology has taken centre-stage in the education sector, facilitating improved productivity and student engagement, offering flexible applications that can create dynamic learning environments for wide-reaching audiences.
Interactive LFD’s (Large Format Displays) are less affected by light than traditional projectors and can empower teachers to create exciting lessons using high quality images, video and web content – encouraging participation and knowledge retention in ways like never before.
Integrated video-conferencing technology also allows groups from all over the world to connect and collaborate in real-time, enabling research teams from different institutions to convene without the need for expensive, time-consuming face-to-face meetings.
The ability to share and store lesson material also means that absent students can access it at a later point, or even sit-in on lessons from home computers. This means students who may be unable to attend classes for a prolonged period due to illness or injury, but are still able to study, do not need to fall behind.
Similarly, this enables students to work with others overseas, which has significant value for language learning; video conversations can be arranged with native speakers, offering students an engaging and challenging means of practicing their language skills.
For other topics, this equipment can be used to give students an insight into areas of their field of study that cannot be conveyed effectively in a traditional classroom setting. For example, film studies or journalism lectures can be enhanced by using AV systems to imitate the experience of working on camera, or with recording technology.
Site Specific Installations
Of course, there are also benefits to institutions themselves, as many schools and universities are made up of old, delicate, or even listed buildings, which can be challenging to equip with modern technology, either for structural or aesthetic reasons. However, the versatility of an AV installation means it can easily be tailored to each site.
The wide range of potential applications also reduces the amount of additional equipment required. A fully integrated AV system can cover the majority of audio visual requirements, from presentation functionality, to seamless classroom interaction, and overseas communication. This means that, despite the initial outlay for a comprehensive AV system, it is not only a worthy investment, but one that can reduce costs in the future. Many AV packages also include technical and maintenance support, meaning any faults can be remedied quickly and inexpensively.
The range of interactive displays seen in many classrooms now allow users to write on-screen, using either a finger or passive pen tool. Shared access also allows an entire class to edit and interact with the display from the comfort of their desks, which saves time, facilitates discussion and can encourage participation from less confident members of the class.
Additionally, laptops and tablets can be connected wirelessly, enabling use in classrooms with limited space. Tablets have the added advantage of being highly portable, and fantastic for use in group work, as students can view and interact with the display from multiple angles, rather than clustering together to look at a computer screen.
More recently, the move away from projection has continued apace, with providers such as Clevertouch, CTouch, Promethean, SMART and Samsung E-Boards introducing interactive displays that come with an embedded Android operating system. This empowers teachers to download a whole world of apps that can be used to create a rich learning environment, with the quality and variety growing exponentially – a marked improvement on the days of having to rely on product-specific software. The access to apps ensures that lessons can still go ahead, even if the network is down, which is an added advantage of Android systems.
Investing in the Future
Using technology of this nature adds a new dimension to the learning environment, firmly cementing lessons in the minds of students by incorporating visual stimuli and facilitating discussion and participation. Indeed, it is said that retention rates improve 55% when images are used alongside text.
Entire classes can edit and interact with the display from the comfort of their desks, facilitating discussion and encouraging participation from less confident students. Lessons can be recorded, and videos of group outings can be played back with ease, allowing topics to be reviewed at any point, which can be particularly helpful when planning revision sessions, or recapping at the end of a lengthy topic.
The volume of specialist Interactive LFD software, specifically designed with interactivity in mind, is continuing to grow apace, and the emergence of immersive technology is especially exciting for the education sector, as virtual field trips can take students anywhere in the world, or video games can be used to facilitate ‘learning by stealth’.
Any investment made by an educational facility is ultimately an investment in its students, and a fully-integrated AV system can be a huge benefit, affording seamless interaction and an engaging, varied work environment, tailored to the requirements of the end user, improving the learning experience for both student and teacher.
Quentin Birchall is the Director of Viewpoint.