Interactive touch screen displays in education are poised to make unprecedented changes in how teachers teach and learners learn. Reasons to use interactive whiteboards in a classroom range from student engagement and performance to teacher and administrator efficiency. And they provide a few unexpected benefits as well.
Read the full list of 10 ways an interactive touch screen display can improve your students’ prospects and your classroom’s effectiveness.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for ideal classroom display solutions. Fortunately, schools have options. Most classrooms benefit (hugely) from at least one interactive touch screen display. Many find that more than one display is ideal for flexible classrooms that maximize active learning.
Interactive touchscreen displays – what some call smart flat-screen TVs – deliver loads of benefits. Here are ten of the top advantages of using an interactive touch screen display in your school.
1. Supporting Active Learning
Interactive touch screen displays have an inherent ability to bolster active learning. (Provided teachers use them for more than showing videos and slides). It’s one of the greatest advantages these dynamic devices bring to the classroom.
As the name implies, active learning is learning through engaging with content. By becoming involved in the learning process. That it works so well should come as no surprise to seasoned educators. Countless activities facilitate active learning. Many – if not most – are enhanced when instructors and students use interactive touch screen displays.
Collaboration. Students working together consistently tops the list of active learning approaches. Interactive touch screen displays are masterful at enabling collaboration. Multitouch capabilities let several students manipulate onscreen content as a team. It’s an ideal way to brainstorm. Present. Analyze text or images. Work through an experiment. Or engage with a learning game. (All of which, by the way, are recommended activities for active learning.) Add collaboration software and students can cast and share content from their seats. Even better, use an interactive touch screen display that comes with it out of the box. Or offers secure cloud-based capabilities.
Demonstration. When students show, explain, and teach, their minds are actively engaged in the learning process. Do these things on a large interactive screen and the benefits blossom. Have a process to demonstrate? Step up to the interactive touch screen and diagram it out. Create a presentation with teammates and present together on the big screen. Break into workgroups to learn about different aspects of a topic, then teach the rest of the class. With an interactive touch screen, students can pull content from the internet. Annotate on top of slides to highlight key points. Add video and audio clips. And so much more. Students are adept at finding creative ways to use tech. Give them the tools. Provide the direction. Then let them loose. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with.
Experimentation. Forget telling students about the results of scientific study. Lecturing is old school. Active learning is paramount to maximizing STEM learning. Interactive touch screen displays bring STEM subjects to life. Students can conduct labs and experiments at the display. Work out equations as a team. And share their inquiry via screencasting to spark group discussion. Try Digital Frog for a humane, formaldehyde-free option. Explore the inner workings of cells with the iCell App. Or build a tower with Mosa Mack Science Design Thinking activities. The options for leveraging big-screen interactivity are endless.
2. Developing Critical Readiness Skills
Interactive touch screen displays help students of all ages develop critical life skills. The jobs of today and tomorrow demand greater adaptability, problem-solving and critical thinking. To prepare students for career and college readiness they need to be using tech tools. And they need to be using these classroom tech tools in ways that develop these critical skills.
To stay afloat in a competitive world, students need to be able to think critically. They must be able to observe and analyze. To suss out smart solutions to complex dilemmas. They need to be able to answer higher-level questions that require thought and exploration. They need to learn to ask why, what if, and how to think through all sides of an issue.
As discussed above (and below) interactive touch screen displays do all of this and more.
Collaboration skills are critical. Today’s employers expect employees to work in teams and collaborate effectively. The traditional one-to-many lecture format fails to foster these skills. Interactive displays enable constructivist learning. They enable students to work together to make connections and develop knowledge.
By 2030, 30 to 40 percent of jobs will require strong social-emotional skills. Automation is displacing jobs that require repetitive tasks. Today’s students will engage in work that machines can’t do. Like communicating, managing people, and applying expertise. Using touch screen displays with classmates helps students develop social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies. Skills like self-awareness and self-management. Social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
3. Boosting Enthusiasm and Engagement
Students in classes that leverage an interactive touch screen display are more engaged. They pay more attention. They’re more positive about learning. Teachers often report that increased attentiveness and engagement are the top benefits of teaching with interactive display technology.
This motivating impact of interactive displays is seen at every level of education. A good deal of research shows the benefits of interactive touch screen displays in early childhood education. (Note that many researchers still use the term “interactive whiteboard,” “IW,” or “IWB” for all similar technology.) These benefits include gains in achievement, participation, motivation, and cooperation. Students were also able to engage in exploration and activities for longer periods of time. Focus and attention span during lessons increased.
A recent study compared the results of traditional vs. tech teaching with students ages three to six. One of the three groups each used tablets, interactive touchscreen displays, or paper worksheets to learn and practice concepts. The results revealed that students who used tech were more motivated. They also achieved better results than those who used paper. What’s more, the teachers strongly perceived interactive display learners as being the most motivated of the three groups. Why the difference in enthusiasm between the tablet and interactive display groups? It was likely the collaborative component, the authors concluded1.
The IW allows several students to perform the activities at the same time, and this encouraged them to interact with each other. For instance, they discussed the correct answers… and they willingly helped their partners if they did not know the correct answer. In this way, the benefits of collaborative learning became very noticeable…. We experienced some of the key factors reported for using IWs (Wong, Russo, & McDowall, 2012): (a) interactivity, which enhances active learning not just passive reception of information; (b) a large size that facilitates collaborative group working; and (c) accessibility for young learners who have not acquired fine motor skills. Although paper groups and tablet groups also worked together, the individuality of the tablets and the lack of motivation when working on paper did not allow the same kind of interaction as in the IW group.
Primary-age students were similarly more motivated when they used interactive displays. The positive impact of interactive tech was significant. Student learning improved as did the quality of the learning environment. Plus, the interactive displays clearly boosted excitement for the lessons.
Moving up to higher education. The results continue to prove the captivating qualities of interactive displays. A study of first-year students compared classes taught with and without an interactive touch screen display. Those assigned to the “with” class achieved higher levels of “academic press” – the degree to which they cared about academic achievement. The researchers conclude that the difference was a significant positive correlation.
4. Delivering Effective Feedback
Students need feedback to know when they’re on the right track. Decades of research have shown that less instruction plus more feedback creates greater learning. In fact, it doubles how quickly students learn. 2
Harvard Physics professor Eric Mazur was one of the first to figure this out. His Intro to Physics students was floundering. Although they were book smart, they were failing at applying this knowledge in other ways. The prof’s peer-instruction model got them back on track. Mazur assigned students problems to ponder, then discuss in small groups. This, wrote Mazur, provided frequent and continuous feedback about the student’s level of understanding. He went on to say that it boosted their problem-solving skills as well as their understanding of the subject.
In this example, Mazur didn’t employ an interactive touch screen. But he easily could have. EdTech provides abundant ways to create effective feedback. Small group discussions get an infusion of creativity when students have technology at their disposal. Be it an iPad, Chromebook or touch screen display. Tech-savvy students will turn to the devices at hand to research, draw, diagram, describe, and defend. During these discussions, students provide one another with continuous feedback on their ideas and understanding.
Not all feedback is created equal. The most effective feedback is timely and consistent. It’s delivered frequently and in proximity to the learning event. Interactive touch screen displays can maximize effective feedback. Use them to employ formative feedback apps like Formative, Kahoot and Socrative. Get kids in the game with interactive learning apps like MathPlayground, DuoLingo, and Tiny Cards. Students working at interactive display boards receive immediate responses that tell them how they’re doing. Quick action and repetition allow them to try again. In doing so they receive the consistent, ongoing input critical to turning feedback into learning.
5. Enhancing Classroom Management
Interactive touch screen displays can be a boon to keeping classes running smoothly. For one thing, the more engaged students are, the less likely they are to be disruptive. By making lessons more dynamic, students are inherently more captivated by the content. (Who doesn’t like learning with a game, video or lively discussion with onscreen annotation?)
For another, interactive displays enable the use of can’t-be-missed visual aids. Visual timers like Time Timer keep kids on task. They help kids conceptualize, manage and visualize time when taking tests or taking turns. Visual noise level cues make “shushing” more fun and spare the teacher from being the bad guy. Two popular options to try: Bouncy Balls and the Too Noisy app.
Finally, experienced teachers know that developing a cohesive classroom community is half the classroom management battle. (Or more.) The classroom interactive touch screen display provides a central space around which to build that community. Use it to conduct your morning meetings. Even better, let students earn the role of morning moderator at the big screen. Take a break from traditional Star Student posters. Let students create multimedia presentations that express themselves in a dynamic new way. Challenge them to join forces with cooperative gameplay apps.
6. Creating a Common Experience
When schools implement one-to-one learning programs, students can end up spending a lot of time behind a screen. Focused on their own activities. This can be great for differentiated learning. Not so good for maintaining a classroom community. Diverting their focus to the interactive display brings students back to a community mindset. Whether it’s the teacher or a group of students presenting, the display creates a common experience.
The more you use your interactive touch screen display the more it becomes a central gathering point. A visible means of creating common ground among classmates. Collaborative projects, presentations, and gamified learning all do the trick. Or, take a group break from the pressures of the day. Try infusing mindfulness activities from the Calm School Initiative. Your display can even help create a communal atmosphere when students are focused on their iPads or Chromebooks. Use it to display nature scenes or using music accompanied by a visual music player.
7. Bringing Greater Inclusivity
Interactive touch screen displays help teachers offer more learning opportunities to more students. Lessons that bring students to the board let kinesthetic learners get up and move. Videos and multimedia presentations appeal to visual and auditory learners. And for those that learn best by reading? Teachers can capture and save on-screen notes and distribute the files for independent review.
Classroom technology can be a great equalizer for students with special needs. Interactive touch screen displays integrate easily with assistive tech. Like captions, text highlighters and text-to-speech software. Students that have difficulty holding a pen can write on the display with a finger or tennis ball. Early learners can trace letters and shapes. Advanced learners can collaborate with classmates on more complex lessons at the display.
Students with mobility challenges may not be able to participate at a wall-mounted display. It may be difficult to reach due to height or their reach may be blocked. An ADA-compliant lift with robust functionality adds accessibility. Look for height adjustment and multiple tilt angles. Plus the ability to go fully horizontal. More options maximize access for more students.
8. Improving Learning Outcomes
Students and teachers agree: interactive touch screen displays are fun. They captivate, improve attention span and boost student engagement. They can be an outstanding cornerstone for classroom cohesion. They’re also a proven way to help students learn more, learn better, and be better able to apply that learning as they move forward in their lives.
We know that active learning works. A meta-analysis of 225 studies concluded that it reduces failure rates by 55% over passive receipt of information. It also demonstrated the many ways active learning promotes higher-order thinking. The very foundation for the skills most in-demand by employers.
We also know that interactive displays and active learning go hand in hand. That these dynamic and versatile touch screen displays facilitate countless active learning adventures.
Early research demonstrated a 6-point gain when 85 teachers used interactive displays across 170 classrooms. This jumped to 26 points when instructors used graphs, charts, videos, and other visuals to reinforce information. Success skyrocketed to a 31 percent increase under the optimal circumstances. By adding “interactive reinforcers” and audience response polling, student achievement reached the highest levels.3
That was in 2009. Today, teachers can leverage the learning potential of interactive displays to an even greater extent. The displays themselves offer a new level of collaborative and interactive capabilities. Add to this a plethora of advanced interactive learning apps. Plus easy-to-use content sharing software. And readily available response systems. All support greater learning with virtually any curriculum.
9. Easy to Implement
IT departments are big fans of interactive touch screen displays. Compared to traditional interactive whiteboards and projector-based technology, they offer big benefits. Because they’re all-in-one solutions, they’re faster to deploy. They require virtually no maintenance. Plus, teachers get up and running with their dynamic displays with minimal training. All of which saves IT time and reduces related costs.
Administrative benefits of interactive touch screen displays:
- An all-in-one solution
- Easy installation
- Reduced maintenance
- No bulbs
- No filters or calibration
- Greater reliability
- Longer lifespan
- Lower energy consumption
- Wall or cart-mount for resource sharing
- Often no software licensing fees
10. Easy to Use
Some teachers love EdTech. Others, not so much. Teachers in both camps typically warm quickly to interactive touch screen displays. Often, they perceive the displays as big-screen TVs, making them immediately approachable. Their whiteboarding functions feel familiar from the days of standard whiteboards. The explosion of touch-screen kiosks in restaurants, retail and movie theaters has added another layer of familiarity.
As teachers gain experience with their interactive touch screen they begin benefiting from the full range of features. IT teams often report that after brief training most teachers are comfortable with the displays. Some display manufacturers offer webinars and onsite training to help educators optimize the use of their classroom display.
Teachers who’ve previously used projector-based systems are often the biggest fans. Compared to these older-style systems, the advantages of touch-screen displays include:
- Maximized teaching time; no downtime from burned out bulbs or recalibrating
- Greater reliability for more uninterrupted class time
- Eliminates shadows and glare
- Quiet, fan-free operation
- Crisp, bright display lets teachers keep the lights on
- Easy cart mounting for resource sharing (without recalibration)
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1 Martin, Estefania, et al. Impact of using interactive devices in Spanish early childhood education public schools, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Volume 35, Issue 1. Accessed 5.20.19 at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jcal.12305
2 Hattie, John. Visible Learning Infographic Accessed 5.20.19 at: https://visible-learning.org/2013/02/infographic-john-hattie-visible-learing/
3 Marzano, Robert. Educational Leadership. November 2009, Volume 67. Number 3. The Art and Science of Teaching / Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards. Accessed 5.20.19 at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov09/vol67/num03/Teaching-with-Interactive-Whiteboards.aspx