November 05, 2021

Article
3 min

When More Screen Time Can Be a Boon for Kids

Interactive flat panels can dramatically improve classroom instruction.

Ted Bartnik

Before coming to CDW, I worked in technology roles at two different school districts for nine years. At each district, I had the opportunity to participate in a widespread rollout of interactive flat panels across classrooms. 

At each district, the IFPs were game changers.

In my experience, these new displays help to untether teachers from their desks, lead to more creative lessons and even expand learning time beyond the usual six hours of the school day.

Newfound Freedom for Teachers

Often, projectors require teachers to sit at their desks — typically located at the back of the room — for the entire time that they’re presenting new information. The projectors are sometimes quite literally tethered to teachers’ computers. IFPs give instructors the opportunity to roam the room as they teach, checking for student understanding and monitoring behavior. This was a major change I observed after we installed digital displays in both of my former districts. 

IFP screens are typically 75 to 86 inches and can be mounted using adjustable box mounts, allowing teachers of different heights to easily raise and lower the panels to meet their needs. They can also be outfitted with their own PCs, which essentially turn them into giant Windows 10 tablets on classroom walls, eliminating the glitches sometimes associated with screencasting. Teachers can manipulate the screens from afar, using either a wireless keyboard and mouse or a remote control.

Extended Learning Time

With interactive displays, teachers can take snapshots of notes or slides — or even record entire lessons — and digitally deliver these to students, who can use them as study aids after the school day is over. This can be incredibly helpful for students who need to see things more than once to catch on, especially when they’re learning about complex concepts and multistep processes. 

For example, some students grasp the logic behind geometry proofs right away, while others need to see them worked through multiple times before the concepts click into place. When used effectively, IFPs can help teachers create resources that give students the equivalent of after-hours tutoring.

Increased Creativity in Lesson Planning

Teachers want their lessons to be as engaging and entertaining as possible, and flat panels give them a powerful new weapon in their arsenal. The displays offer teachers the ability, of course, to lead students through any sort of presentation — pausing videos, opening links and encouraging discussion from anywhere in the class. But perhaps more important, IFPs offer multiple points of touch, allowing groups of students to manipulate the display in real time. (Almost all IFPs offer up to 10 points of touch, with some offering up to 20.) 

In a math classroom, for example, the teacher might set up a split screen, with two students using two different methods to work through the same problem. Or in lower grades, they might used for interactive games, giving students a fun way to move around while also demonstrating their knowledge. 

For students, there is often a “wow” factor associated with seeing a new 86-inch display at the front of the classroom, but that sense of novelty wears off quickly. It’s what happens afterward — the way the displays transform teaching and learning — that truly lasts.

Story by Ted Bartnik, a learning environment adviser for CDW with experience in multiple roles in education. He has seen classroom technology transformation happen in real time and enjoys teaching others what is possible in their classrooms.

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