Smart Teaching Tools for Dynamic, Interactive Learning

Interactive learning is THE growing trend in progressive education. Teachers are looking for more engaging ways to better connect with their students, while today’s distracted students are tired of the traditional-style lecture. These students are often hungry for knowledge, but they’re interested in voicing their opinions in real-time and receiving immediate feedback. So educators are looking for learning methods that imitate the way we naturally learn using today’s technology. It’s all about watching something happen, live, then demonstrating knowledge through participative learning. Our involvement in the opening of a new charter school in Milwaukee meant that Smartwave began evaluating a variety of smart teaching technology products. Unsurprisingly, the school administrators were looking for the best interactive learning products available, but they were also constrained by a tight budget. So we took the bull by the horns and sought out interesting and equally engaging alternatives to the more expensive products out there.

Here’s what we found…

SMART Boards: Top of the Line Innovation

SMART Boards are the obvious front-runner in this new trend toward dynamic education. SMART Boards are almost like a giant whiteboard that functions like a giant iPad screen. An image is projected onto the large, special screen and the image can be interactively manipulated through the use of special sensor pens. The more recent models require you use only your fingertips. That image can be saved, the process of creating the image can be recorded, and these files can be sent to students. It’s brilliant, flexible and smart – and perfect for interactive learning.

The problem is that, once you purchase the projector, the board, the markers and the software, the costs add up quite quickly.

Mimeo: A Cost Effective Alternative

Mimeo works using different modules, so schools have the option of paying for what they can afford. And, unlike SMART Boards, you don’t need to purchase the actual board. This unique technology works with your existing whiteboard. MimioTeach combined with MimioCapture is nearly comparable to the features offered by SMART Boards. There’s also MimioVote, a multiple choice, wireless voting system for students; MimioView, a document scanner that projects viewed images onto the screen (via the projector), and MimioPad, which allows the teacher to write on the board from any location in the room.

SoapBox – A FREE Tool for Collaborative Learning

Soapbox, winner of the Chicago Lean Startup Challenge is currently free, because it’s still in beta. The idea is that each student in a lecture can communicate with each other and with their instructor with their laptop, while they’re listening. The instructor can effectively gauge comprehension levels, while the students get clarification in areas of confusion, all in real-time. Questions are addressed as they occur, creating an atmosphere of constant interactive collaboration between all class speakers and participants.

This exciting trend toward interactive learning is growing, and more and more of these interesting and effective collaborative tools will appear and evolve as the trend progresses.