Guest post from Gethin Nichols, Educational Technology Specialist at RM Education
The best part of my job is applying technology to real classroom application, and every once in a while, a device leaps out at you, immediately fuelling inspiration on how imaginative, exciting lessons can now be created using ICT.
We've been pretty blessed over the last few years, in particular in the field of digital imaging. Visualisers have increasingly become an integral part of the classroom, and as their quality continually improved, the launch of the Hue HD webcam last year (at just £30) made sure that any classroom budget could stretch to having some sort of digital imaging included. The Flip camera a few years earlier had a similar impact: giving inexpensive, portable access to utilising digital media as part of everyday teaching. And that's the most important element – that it gets used!
The common thread with all of the technologies I've mentioned so far is that I remember the first time I showed them to teachers and the feelings it stirred. There's nothing better than having a presentation interrupted by a myriad of ideas and applications for what you're showing. It makes my job simple, as classroom technology is only of any use when it augments the way teachers like to teach.
3M™ Shoot 'n Share camcorder projector - it's fantastic!
And that rather rambling prelude brings me on to the piece of technology that has inspired me to write this blog: the 3M™ Shoot 'n Share camcorder/projector. It's fantastic! I remember seeing a TV advert for a similar product just before I was given a model, and the gadget loving consumer part of my brain thinking "ooh, shiny, want one".
But it was when I got my hands on the 3M model that I started to fully appreciate its application in schools. I only received it a few hours before having to get up and present to a room full of local Authority ICT advisers, and whereas that would usually have filled me with dread, the simplicity of use rendered any fears unfounded.
- It has one button to take a 5 megapixel still
- one button to start recording HD video
- and one button to start projecting onto the nearest surface
Immediate, constructive feedback
This ability to teach off the cuff, and use an innovative way of providing immediate, constructive feedback was incredibly powerful. With no need for a PC in the room, no delays for uploading or copying video, connecting a projector, the lesson just continued its flow.
PE Teacher swiped it from me to road test in his basketball training session
After an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the Authority's ICT Co-ordinators, I also had the opportunity to showcase it with both primary and secondary school teachers later that day. The 3M totally dominated conversation, and the PE Teacher of the host school immediately swiped it from me, and ran off to road test in his basketball training session. He then recorded some (pretty awful) skills, and took some of the team off into the storage cupboard to immediately review his techniques, by projecting onto the side of the tumble-dryer. This may seem a little chaotic, but this ability to teach off the cuff, and use an innovative way of providing immediate, constructive feedback was incredibly powerful. With no need for a PC in the room, no delays for uploading or copying video, connecting a projector, the lesson just continued its flow. And this is where classroom technology comes into its own, when you don't think about it, you just use it.
Simplicity and size
When I was allowed to wrestle it back from the PE department, the other attendees started talking about how they would make use of it: reviewing hand writing, reading ability, drama, citizenship, languages – the list went on and on. Its simplicity and its size (it's not much bigger than a Flip) were a big hit, and you can even connect your own PC or portable device to it and use it as a normal projector.
My job is going out to customers and trying to get them as enthused as I am over the use of technology. Something tells me this might be a bit easier over the next couple of months.
Consumer products rarely fulfil their potential in the sphere of education, but in this case, I feel the benefits lie the other way. The ability to immediately review and discuss with either an individual or a group, is something that is woven into the fabric of teaching, and the 3M simply adds a new visual dimension to this. My job is going out to customers and trying to get them as enthused as I am over the use of technology. Something tells me this might be a bit easier over the next couple of months.