Digital Classroom

AV in Action

Today's students expect to learn with technology.

Educators know that students learn at different paces and on varying levels, so alternative methods of instruction are beneficial. Audio/visual aids make learning entertaining and fun, and encourage students to pay attention because they are engaged and interested. When these aids are coupled with a well-spoken instructor, the possibilities to learn are endless.

Imagine a student with limited vision. It would be difficult for him to see the information that a biology professor at the front of a classroom would be writing on a traditional blackboard due to poor lighting, glare and distance. This would have been a major issue just a few years ago, but the use of projectors has become widespread. A simple addition like a multimedia projector transforms a standard classroom into a learning environment where there isn’t a bad seat in the house. That student with the sight issue — and every other peer in his class — can see the biology lesson in crystal-clear detail with perfect lighting. Better visual of the information being presented and taught ensures an environment more comfortable and conducive to learning.

Interactive Items

When the incoming freshman class of 2013 arrived on campus, it’s likely that these college students-to-be headed to class for the first time with a multitude of devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablet computers. With the student body having answers to every question in their daily lives available at their fingertips via Google and other search engines, there is no reason why the higher education classroom shouldn’t be outfitted the same way. Instructors need to be prepared for today’s students by not simply teaching from the front of the classroom, but instead engaging the class and improving the overall learning environment.

To meet those needs, there is a host of vendors available whose audio and/or visual products are bringing maximum interaction to the classroom. Colleges looking to implement such technologies can find a wealth of offerings, including interactive projectors, interactive lecterns, interactive tablets, document cameras, digital signage and sound systems.

Multimedia projectors have been used in various industries. However, these projectors are ideal for the higher education market because they can be adapted into large classrooms or lecture hall style setups. The projectors offer 3LCD technology, or three LCD chips to ensure a rich, colorful experience; smooth, uniform images with high clarity; wireless functionality; and are powered with less electricity when compared to some other one-chip DLP projectors. 

Illinois State University (ISU), located in the community of Bloomington-Normal, has an on-campus enrollment of more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university has integrated multimedia projectors into auditoriums and large classrooms.

The supplier trained ISU’s in-house staff members on the devices and supports the products as needed. “We find the image quality to be exceptionally good and the program pricing makes them a great value. They are also easy to mount and very easy to service,” says Douglas Smith, director of learning spaces and audio/visual technologies at Illinois State University.

Students Speak Out

Jon Blaisdell is a distance-learning student from New Jersey who is pursuing an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston. Even though he is taking classes remotely, audio/visual technologies have been beneficial. Using an online e-education platform, Blaisdell observes, “This allows for whiteboard functionality combined with an instructor-led chat forum. I can replay the lectures in their entirety or fast-forward to specific areas of interest after the live lecture. This allows for maximum understanding with difficult lessons.”

Jessica Magee, a freshman at Towson University in Maryland, is just one of today’s students who is well versed in social media, computers and mobile devices. At her high school, teachers utilized interactive projectors and interactive whiteboards, so Jessica expected nothing less on her first day of college classes. She says, “My professors at Towson utilize smart notebooks during our lessons, and they can write on these small devices. Everything that they write, whether it is images or text, is projected onto a screen at the front of the classroom. The students can easily see the information. These notebooks help us to understand the concepts that the instructor is explaining to the class, because we can see the details clearly. I find this product to be quite helpful for learning the lesson.”

Change Is Good

Say goodbye to the old, because today’s classroom is truly cutting-edge, with various technologies to not only make the experience more entertaining and fun but also to ensure reliability and comfort as well. Audio/visual aids are valuable classroom tools because they can improve the way students learn.

Karen Spring has been a technical writer for more than 10 years. She contributes to a weekly newsletter that highlights network and Internet security topics.


This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Karen Spring has been a technical writer for more than 10 years. She began her career working as a marketing specialist for two computer distributors and as a senior editor for an IT publishing and consulting firm. Ms. Spring contributes to a weekly newsletter that highlights network and Internet security topics.

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