Monday, September 1, 2008

Last year we set out to define what would be the focus of a smart classroom, a classroom that was focused on Active Learning and Student Engagement. We visited several districts, went to conferences and concentrated on sessions that focused on technology in the classroom and took a trip to the NSBA model school visit at Minnetonka Minnesota. You can see my report on Minnetonka at:

Each of these added information to our concept of what direction we would go with our classrooms. Finally I met with every vendor that I could find, because they do this stuff everyday and usually have the most up to date information.

From this investigation, we compressed the ideas and decided what elements would be part of our version of the “Smart Classroom”. Now I have to say that I really don’t like the “Smart Classroom” name. Obviously it connotes visions of the SMART brand of products and we really have not used them in our project. I didn’t want to call it the classroom of the future because I don’t believe it is the classroom of the future, it is the classroom every teacher should have NOW. Plus, I did not want anyone to say that we do not need some futuristic classroom, but something more pragmatic and grounded. I could not think of anything that resonated with people except for “Smart Classroom” and started to use it. Now everyone in our district uses the name, so now it has “legs” and there is no stopping it now.

We had to decide what different inputs we wanted to bring into our classrooms. Most of the off the shelf systems are designed to accommodate 4 different inputs. We decided that we needed six to provide the flexibility to bring any instructional resource into the classroom. Our inputs are:

• Broadcast video
• Desktop computer (side of room)
• Laptop computer (front of room)
• Document Camera
• Auxiliary video (RCA inputs)
• DVD Player

The only real twist that we added, was that we were intent on making the system easy to switch from one source to another. I guess that this came from my home experience with our home entertainment system switching from the DVR to the Cable box, to the DVD player. Each switch requires powering up a new device and switching the audio and video inputs. It wasn’t until I discovered the Harmony remote, that we had harmony at home. This remote had buttons that read “play the DVD” or Watch TV” and the remote makes all the correct changes in the audio and video equipment to make it happen. What we designed was the Harmony remote for the classroom. When you have a classroom audio system and a number of inputs, you need to switch things seamlessly.

Here is a link to a Slide Show of the Smart Classroom Elements

1 comment:

Mike Kula said...

Bob, I recently put in some 3M projectors in some schools and they have a little I/O panel that seems to deal with all these inputs. You can plug in 6 to 10 different inputs and then use a button on the I/O panel to switch them. Seems to do the trick.