At Tampa Prep, we build our classrooms to offer students a state-of-the-art learning experience. Our Active Learning Environment (ALE) classrooms are designed to support collaboration, student engagement and creativity.
Components of our ALEs include light, sound, comfort and technology to ensure optimal learning. All students bring an iPad to school. Teachers receive an iPad and a MacBook Pro for instruction. Each classroom has LED overhead lighting, which is energy efficient and less straining on the eye. Mobile furniture makes it easy for students to move into small groups for collaboration or adjust their position to best see displayed content.
The walls in each classroom are covered with Walltalker dry erase presentation material. Above each of these walls is a short throw interactive projector. A flat panel mounted on an additional wall enables each classroom to present content on three out of four walls (the fourth wall being mostly glass). A voice amplifying system amplifies the teacher’s voice throughout the room so every student can hear clearly regardless of which way the student or teacher is facing.
We looked at both projectors and flat panels and when we built out our first classrooms we put some of both technologies in the rooms. What we found, however, is that the interactive projectors provided a much wider, more collaborative space for less money. To make our final decision, we asked the following questions:
- Is image size important for readability?
- Can multiple people collaborate on one document/image?
- Is the technology compatible with student and teacher devices?
- Can collaboration happen on the fly?
- Where will the presentation technology be installed?
- What is the company’s policy when technology fails?
What we found at Tampa Prep is that interactive projectors answered these questions for us while helping us meet our instructional goals.
Chad Lewis is the director of technology at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa, FL. Follow him on Twitter: @clewisterrapin or www.linkedin.com/in/EdCreate.
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