For the past couple of years, we’ve had a couple of teachers requesting SMARTBoards for their middle school classrooms. The request has evolved a bit as teachers wanted the interactivity in their projection. Considering the evolving nature of our middle school teams (teachers change grade level teaching teams and classrooms fairly often), we’ve been hesitant to invest in the expeninstallation purchase and installation. Currently, all middle school teachers have tabletpcs and projectors in their classrooms, but we would still like toincrease our student interactivity options. Here are some of the pieces we’ve used or tested:
Various “notebook” apps with inking on our tablets. A few faculty used the SMART Notebook until SMART clarified its EULA to state using it without a SMART product was illegal.
Classroom management and screensharing software – Dyknow, SMART Sync, etc.
OneNote shared notebooks – we began using these several years ago and teachers who were early adopters are beginning to move beyond it.
Synchronous collaboration tools – IWB websites, Google Docs (more on this in the future)
I think I’ve finally found what we’ve been looking for – iPads. I know – tons of hype and we already have tablet laptops for all of our kids, but the iPad offers something we haven’t had befowireless reliable wireless collaboration tool. Here’s what I want for each teacher exploring this concept:
An HDMI converter
SplashtopDV ($4.99 as of today – limited time pricing)
Projector and VGA cable (We already have these)
Some of the IWB apps
Teachers can use the iPad as a remote for their school computer while the computer is connected to the projector (VGA). This can help teacher classroom management as the teacher is able to circulate around the room. The iPad can be passed from student to student to demo/practice/share. I’ve tested Splashtop with OneNote on my school tabletpc, and it was pretty slick.
Teachers can use one of the many content-specific or presentation apps projecting remotely via the AppleTV. Again, this can be passed from student to student.
I think this configuration would provide more bang for the buck than a SMARTBoard, especially with middle and high school students. My theory has always been to choose the best most flexible and inexpensive tools for the job(s) at hand. This feels like we’ve found it.
As you know if you’ve been following me on Twitter, I’ve been playing a lot with my new Wii. I blogged yesterday about potential instructional uses of the Wii. I’ve also been prepping to pilot a Wii Whiteboard this fall. I was really intrigued by the Johnny Chung Lee Video and did some research. Educators around the world are implementing them as a viable (and considerably less expensive) alternative to commercial interactive whiteboards.
If you’re interested in the research I’ve done to prep, here are my links in Diigo. One of the easiest sites to understand is Clinik:
I’m not into soldering and creating my own electronic devices, so I decided to cheat a bit on the pen and order one online. Apparently, they’re backordered, so it will likely be August before I can really play I’m optimistic that the Wii Whiteboard is viable, and I’m excited to see so much productive buzz. One of the coolest sites I’ve found is Kindlelab. They’ve modified Lee’s software to feel much like the commercial interfaces. Did I mention it’s free? Ah, the possibilities
Last week I received a very belated Mother’s Day/Anniversary gift – a Wii game console system. Maybe I’ve been involved in educational technology too long, but as soon as I had it connected, I began to realize how powerful it could be in the classroom. There’s something about the physical interaction with the games that makes the system irresistible. In the past five days, I’ve seen this with my two daughters (9&3), a 20-something, and three “senior citizens” as well as my husband and myself. I’d heard my students talk about it, but I really needed to experience the concept to fully appreciate it.
Here were the questions that sprang to mind:
Could I use it to browse the Internet? It took less than 5 minutes to connect the Wii to my home wireless network – we just had to add our WEP password. Browsing is easy. It cost 500 WiiPoints (You can buy WiPoint cards for about $20 for 2000 points – about $1 for 100 points) to download an Opera browser which lets me use a Wiimote to interact with websites. Some pages are slower to load as not all the plug-ins are current and/or available. For home use, I love being able to view YouTube and similar content on my TV without having to jump through a ton of hoops. This was worth the extra $5!
Were there any instructional games yet?Not much… There are a few games – mostly simulations – like Endless Ocean, which allows users to explore the pristine waters of fictional Manoa Lai Island.
Had anyone hacked the system to run Java/Flash games? Actually, no hack is needed as long as they run within the browser. I’m still working on whether or not users can author content for their Wiis w/o significant system modification or browser-based activities.
How difficult would it be to create/develop Wii content?Still working on this one…
What else could this thing do?
Basic image editing
Create Miis (avatars) of everyone in my family
Track my child’s use of the system and use basic parental controls
Interact with users on other systems
Wii Interactive Whiteboard (I’ll blog on this once I’ve given it a shot)
I’ve found a WiiLearn Wiki for educators to collaborate on ideas for using Wiis in the classroom. I’m also tagging resources for educational uses of the Wii:
Has anyone actually done it? We have tablets for teachers at my school, and most of us already have projectors. One of my goals over spring break will be to try this out (unless someone convinces me it’s not worth it). The whiteboard expense, now that we have tablets, seems like a waste. The ability to use a screen as a whiteboard has definite appeal…