Friday, 6 May 2011

High Tech @ Low Cost

Our teaching team strive to devise lessons and strategies to help our clients improve their English and in turn their opportunities for a more 'inclusive' experience in our society. Alongside this Graham and I are always looking at technology being developed for use in our lessons, whether it be interactive software for students to use in the classroom or simply to present how they can get free help in their studies with the immeasurable on-line resources that exist today. One important development in recent years has been the use of 'smart-boards', these allow you to use computer software on an electronic whiteboard with countless applications for the classroom.

The interactive whiteboard combines the power of your computer and projector into a powerful tool for teaching, collaborating and presenting.

Key Features
  • Interact by touching the board to control any computer application.
  • Using the pens, write notes, draw diagrams and illustrate ideas.
  • Highlight key information with 'electronic ink'.
  • Save, print or e-mail notes.
  • Drag and drop, resize and delete handwritten or
    typed notes with your finger
The cost of a 'Smartboard' can be around £2500!!!

The running and success of our ESOL program depends largely on our very kind volunteer teachers who devote their efforts and time for no financial reward whatsoever, luckily for our group as we have very limited funding. Delivering a media-rich environment in the classroom helps students enjoy an interactive, productive and more interesting experience, in the words of a former trainer of mine "when you go to the effort of making a lesson dynamic and enjoyable, it in turn makes the students feel like they are worth it". So Graham and I got our nerdy tech hats on and trawled the Internet for a possible low cost solution - and we found it!

So using a Wiimote (a Nintendo Wii game controller) an old marker pen, some wires, an infra-red LED light from an old TV remote control, a small battery and some cool open source (free) software we now have our own 'Interactive Whiteboard' which can be used on any surface that we project onto. All for a massive £20!! We are now practising using different applications with it. I was able to use it last night to highlight and annotate important information on a presentation I'd prepared for the lesson. We now look forward to devising cool activities with it for our students. Graham and I particularly like this as it uses existing tech in a new way and reminds us of the cool display effect in the film 'Minority report'. Many thanks to Johnny Chung Lee for developing this idea, which has enabled schools with low budgets to have 'smart-boards'.


Johnny Chung Lee > Projects > Wii

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