It’s a 39″ flat screen on a rolling thing with a shelf and a switching unit and a bunch of cables. The new student laptops have an HDMI port and this has four HDMI cables. The idea is that up to four students (or teachers or whatever) can hook up their devices to this baby and share their screens with each other more easily. It does NOT split the screen four ways. It only can switch between them.
The funny thing is, all this equipment we are getting was decided upon at the district level. This thing just showed up with no clue as to how to hook it up or anything. Now being a nerd I wasn’t too bothered but I was imagining some of my less-bold colleagues rolling their eyes and putting it in a corner for later.
I got it set up and plugged a couple of laptops into it but I had to actually break down and read the instructions to get it working and even then I had to call someone about display settings on the laptops.
Now I’m a creative individual and started brainstorming ideas on ways this could be used right away but I hate re-inventing the wheel so I emailed some of the folks in the head office I assumed were in on the decision to have one of these sent to every elementary school in our overly-large district. It just seemed weird to me that they would spend this much money on something and not have a plan or training for it.
I also posted a request for ideas on our forum. Here’s one of the answers I received:
“It’s based on the very popular Mediascape concept created by Steelcase. The Broadcast department developed a mobile version so that this technology can be used anywhere in the school.
I would leave laptops hooked up to it for ease of use. I’ve seen several successful uses of it with coding at the elementary level…. I think the collaborative poetry activity [mentioned in earlier post] could be really interesting as well. The MUD also encourages more seamless collaboration than 3-4 kids standing around 1 small computer screen. I’ve seen it aide several groups in creating video projects.
Maybe one week you set it up for groups to work on code.org. Another week it’s a Common Sense Media lesson. Create a sign up sheet next to it so students can book it if they want to work on projects. Choose a grade level each week and ask those teachers send small groups during centers. Use adapters so students can use it with their own devices. Encourage small groups of teachers to hold a meeting there when someone needs to present (instead of the big screen in their room) and see if they like that environment better.”
That’s all I needed to get me going. Now I don’t have a clerk so I don’t teach coding, but I’ll mention that to the rest of the tech team who might. I’ll have to show it off to other teachers since it is on wheels and can be used anywhere in the school. I don’t want it to travel around just yet, though. I’ve heard of schools where it’s gotten Shanghaied and never came back. I want folks around here to think of it as a Media Center thing that can occasionally be moved for special reasons. Not something to check out and keep somewhere else all year. Though I think it would be nice for small groups of staff as well. I can imagine a team working on an IEP or grant proposal together and being very happy with this.
I’ve shown it to a few classes and they all seem impressed but of course the first idea the students always have is to turn it into an awesome arcade game. I think I will try some kind of poetry center next month, perhaps using some of those ReadWriteThink.org interactive poetry lessons and see how that goes.
I’m not to sure of this thing yet, but the screen looks niiiice and one of the things I love about this job is that it’s always changing and always new. Keeps things fresh.
Oh, and one thing I have used it for after hours is hooking up my laptop, going to a music playlist and cranking that TV waaaaay up. It sounds great and gives me a beat to clean my desk to!