Surface Pro 3 + Screenbeam = Untethered Teachers

In a traditional classroom set-up, student device screens face away from the teacher, who is tethered to the front of the room, presenting from their brand new Surface Pro 3 which is plugged into the wall.  This configuration can be traced back to the organisation of industrial revolution workers on a production line.  Outdated?  Only by about 20 years.  The common complaint is that students are actively engaged in using their devices, but management is a constant process.  Many schools have invested in devices like the Surface Pro 3, but haven’t changed their pedagogy and classroom environment.

Computers on desks that are in rows is a transitional phase; from the old paradigm to the new.  Of course students will want to use their Surface Pro 3 devices in ways other than school work, because the technology is the best you can get.  How do everyday teachers combine cutting edge technology like the Surface Pro 3 with a traditional teaching space to ensure effective classroom management?

The ability to be untethered from a fixed position in the classroom is not to be underestimated, as it promotes new pedagogy and classroom management.  Our school was looking at wireless projectors, but not anymore.

I recently received a Screenbeam Pro that plugged and played with the Surface 3 Pro instantly.  I showed it to our Prep to Year 3 teachers during some Scratch Jr training last week, and they were so enthralled by what they were seeing, I could see that they were running through the possibilities in their heads.   I even walked outside and the YouTube video and audio didn’t skip a beat.  I also showed it to my Year 8 IT students and they were similarly impressed.

In a recent survey about the 1:1 programme, a teacher responded that students can become distracted on laptops unless monitored very closely.  They felt that a teacher’s time was not best served wandering around constantly monitoring correct use of laptops.  The teacher lamented the loss of NetSupport, where computer use could be monitored from a central position.

Technical issues notwithstanding, this could be categorised as a classroom management issue, but if the classroom is set up in traditional rows, you will have this problem.  Besides, we have strategies to combat this, such as turning screens around and dipping the lids during instruction.

Hey, I was busted in Year 5 reading a Mad magazine under the table and it was confiscated.  What’s the difference?

With this technology and a reliable device, teachers can position themselves to be at the back of a traditional classroom set up, monitor laptop use and also manage the presentation or lesson.  Even better, reject the traditional model of a classroom and move to an online blended learning environment to deliver a considerable percentage of the content and activities.

So, to prove a point to myself and get some feedback from a colleague, I took his class and unleashed this powerful combination.  The SP3 was light, easy to manage and it was easy to zoom in on different parts of the webpage.  The Screenbeam was unflinching and did not drop out even when the students were working in the LMS and I was streaming a video to the screen.  My colleague thought it was great.

I first saw this technology in action at the recent Australian Microsoft Innovative Educator workshops and it really opened my eyes to the potential.  For those who want to showcase the Screenbeam, here is great video you can use to persuade your IT Manager.

I’ve ordered a flip cover with a strap so that I can walk around the room with the SP3 attached to my hand.  Look out for the review in the weeks to come.

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