Interactive @ Classroom

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A universal truth for all schools is that engaging students in learning is a constant challenge. In India, the task becomes even more daunting due to the advanced accountability and student achievement requirements that Education for All mandates. India still has a big share in the world drop-out league, we still strive to bring in effective measures in teachers’ skill building and in inclusive and special needs in education. It’s no small wonder if we turned to technology as a solution for meeting such stringent accountability demands, if we engage the student community including those from K-12 segment and the students in the higher education and in special sector, the deaf or hard of hearing.

The need is for the learning tools that these students could connect with – something that drives them beyond their limits and stretches their educational experience, that provides more interesting, interactive, visually stimulating and technologically advanced lessons to them.

No wonder that the electronic whiteboard system has made a huge difference in how the teachers teach today and how motivated the students have become about learning. Using an electronic pen or pointer, a teacher or student can interact with the images there, highlight or write notes on the screen, and incorporate graphics, sound, and video, the same way a desktop computer can. This visually engaging and user-friendly group-teaching system has clearly captivated the attention of teachers and students alike. We have been impressed with the seamless integration of this teaching solution, the whiteboard with interactivity, into every aspect of classroom instruction. The possibilities are still infinite.

The interactive-whiteboard industry is expected to reach sales of USD1 billion worldwide by 2008, according to Decision Tree Consulting, a London-based market-research company. The company, which tracks whiteboard sales in 66 countries, predicts that one of every seven classrooms in the world will feature an interactive whiteboard by 2011.

In the United Kingdom, about 60 percent of classrooms have interactive whiteboards, which leaves a mark for inspiration back in our homeland. It’s a bit harder for interactive whiteboard companies to make significant headway in India, where education spending is much more localised than in many other countries. There’s a lot of opportunity though in the Indian market. Market is growing rapidly, in part because technology prices are dropping.

Companies are also making their interactive whiteboards more attractive by developing libraries of ready-made lessons to pair with their products, organised by subject and age-group and even aligned with individual country standards.

But the need should not be felt only in the science or mathemeatics class; for science, the whiteboards may not be the priority; the social studies teacher may opt for smaller electronic tablets, similar to whiteboards but more portable. There should be rather the question on their ubiquitous application in schools, colleges, and other academic institutions. There is need to look at this technology and ask whether it should blanket the institution!

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