Interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) have become increasingly common in educational environments, thanks in part to the technology’s flexibility and ongoing evolution. IFPDs let us easily share information with more devices in more ways seemingly every day. As a result, university users are making the most out of their IFPDs, from connecting to smartphones to help turn a lecture into a dialogue to syncing with a learning management system (LMS) to hash out a group project in real time, regardless of participants’ location.

As IFPDs’ feature sets continue to grow, it can be easy to think about what they can do in the abstract (connecting with smartphones or other IFPDs, for instance) instead of how they can actually help in the classroom (making it easier for students to participate and collaborate). Recently, we worked with a customer whose architecture school was still using overhead projectors and wanted to make a change. When working with potential customers, I like to talk about how their school can put the technology to work so people can see how IFPDs are empowering digital classrooms. Here are three key examples:

1. Everybody in. Multiple students can use the whiteboard at once, using built-in text and shapes to call out specific areas and a pen to add or highlight key details of their architectural drawings with more precision than a fingertip or felt-tip pen. This allows collaborative teams and/or instructors to enter a dialog, making changes and responding to one another in real time.

Previously, classes gathered around desks and used tracing paper placed over architectural drawings to mark up their changes. From there, the professor would walk to each desk to critique the markups. Now, they make changes and comment on and learn from them in real time.

2. Get involved from the back row or a back road. Reflecting the increased mobility in classrooms and real-life work environments, students can connect to the whiteboard wirelessly from inside or outside of the classroom. At the architecture school, that means being able to mark up a PDF of an architectural drawing on the board, having students weigh in from their mobile devices, annotating from wherever their instruction takes them, as long as they have web connectivity.

3. Share seamlessly. Many IFPDs today can sync with third-party apps, especially LMSs. LMS connectivity can make sharing and annotating in-class slideshows a snap, in addition to other potential use cases, like real-time collaboration across distances on homework, from calculus corrections to poetry analysis. The architecture school chose to take it in a particularly exciting direction: installing CAD software directly to the whiteboard, so students could collaborate on drawings and diagrams within the exact kinds of software environments they would expect to encounter in the real world. This makes learning the ins and outs of specialized programs faster and easier, with real-time instructor and peer feedback available every step of the way.

Universities considering an IFPD would do well to note these use cases, both as examples of what can be done and inspiration for what more can be done.

How could your classroom use an IFPD? If you’re interested but unsure how to proceed, third-party experts who have studied the issue and helped drive positive learning outcomes are available to help.

About the Author:

Elisa Esposito is senior manager, channel marketing, higher education, K12, and SLG for Ricoh USA, Inc., responsible for vertical marketing strategy, development, and success to ensure strategic alignment for customer environments. Esposito has worked with Ricoh’s strategic partner, Blackboard, to create the industry’s first scanning and printing connector that unites information from a Ricoh multifunction device to integrate within Blackboard Learn, and also supported the partnership agreement between Ricoh and CANVAS.


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