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Technology and the collaborative learning model

Dick de Vaal, founder of wePresent, looks at why it is important to make education a tailored learning experience

Posted by Hannah Oakman | November 18, 2016 | Technology

Rewind just a few years ago and it wouldn’t be atypical to see rows of students all staring in the same direction with a teacher at the front of the classroom, whiteboard pen in hand poised to deliver the lesson of the day. Fast-forward to the present, and it’s becoming more commonplace to see children sat in small groups working collaboratively, the teacher walking the classroom to provide a more tailored learning experience, attending to each group with their particular problems and tasks. It’s well documented that this kind of collaborative approach provides a much better learning experience for students and dynamic problem solving as well as knowledge retention is greatly enhanced in this way.  

Clearly this isn’t the case in every classroom up and down the country. So how do some institutions manage it where others cannot?

While it is not always possible to promise students a true one-on-one experience, especially in larger classrooms, the tools for a more collaborative learning model are within reach. Where once collaborative technology was only attainable in expensive, wired, purpose-built classrooms, the rise in popularity of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ – or BYOD is changing the game immeasurably. Students with almost any device (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android) can become a part of the collaboration by simply downloading an app onto their device and connecting themselves to the discussion via a wireless gateway like wePresent WiPG-2000. WePresent is an innovative solution to enable end-users to move away from cables and connections and traverse into the world of wireless presentation and collaboration. By using a gateway like this, they’ll find a host of tools at their fingertips, such as the ability to access teacher’s materials and resources, browsing them at their own leisure.

And the collaboration works both ways. As well as receiving material from the teacher, students can also submit their own work to the teacher’s main screen to present, discuss and dissect. In fact, multiple students at a time can bring up their work on the main presentation screen using their own laptops and mobile devices providing a suitable platform for an active learning process with peers and the teacher.

In addition, up to 64 students can be connected at once, meaning the entire classroom can be part of the discussion with the teacher choosing to pull up each student’s screen at their leisure. This way, the students themselves are the focus of the learning experience, rather than just passive participants.

This kind of environment is becoming critical as UK classrooms are growing in size and the material covered is becoming increasingly complex, with critical thinking techniques, not just knowledge retention taking the fore.

The very best classroom technology doesn’t just work with the devices students bring, but also works with the newest and most interactive technology in the classroom. Interactive displays are starting to become the standard in many classrooms, literally putting the presentation at the fingertips of the teacher. Collaborative technology should tie the presentation not just to the technology, but to the students as well.

As well as new technology, today’s classroom also nurtures a new way of teaching that incorporates the same collaborative environment that wireless systems such as wePresent aim to create. Rather than rows of students monotonously copying information from the whiteboard, the modern classroom encourages working together in teams, such as in designs for smart, TEAL, or SCALE-UP learning spaces.

No longer do students need to withstand the traditional scenario of the classroom filling with the tang of a dry-erase marker as the teacher writes an equation on a whiteboard. Virtual whiteboards are swiftly replacing their outdated counterparts, allowing teachers to connect the students who can then access classroom technology on their own terms, via personal devices. In addition, this kind of set-up means that students can also be placed in teams, facing one another, rather than all staring at the same screen.

New technology such as wireless interactive gateways will drive the future of interactive learning. And ultimately, a better experience means better outcomes for students, more engaged learners and less stressed teachers. Every school, college or university would benefit from this collaborative learning technology – creating a more interactive, tailored, and successful teaching and learning environment.

To find out more about wePresent, visit their website

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