International company drives onto campus, brings interactive technology

Promethean's ActivClassroom in Motion parked itself outside UH's Farish Hall to provide College of Education students and faculty information on cutting edge technology in the world of interactive instruction.

The ActivClassroom in Motion, an RV that has been transformed into a mobile classroom, rolled onto campus last Friday to introduce College of Education students and faculty to new educational technology.

Promethean, which is headquartered in London and has offices across the globe, is the company behind the travelling classroom. The company bills itself as a worldwide leader in interactive learning technology.

“The College Of Education’s Promethean partnership will allow our faculty and students to become a part of the world’s largest whiteboard community and have access to over 21,000 lesson plans and professional development resources,” Sara McNeil, an associate professor of instructional technology, said.

Students and faculty were introduced to Promethean’s technology, including the ActivBoard, when they boarded the refurbished RV.

The College of Education will be installing 24 of the boards in Farish Hall.

For teachers familiar with Microsoft Power Point, Promethean’s representatives claim that using the board will come quickly. The board allows a user to take snapshots of nearly anything they find on the Internet and manipulate them in any number of ways.

Promethean’s online network allows its  690,000 members — all of whom are educators — access to premium content created specifically for Promethean users by educational companies like Brain Pop, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, Pearson Education and National Geographic Explorer.

Members also have access to an online forum where they may post questions in blogs or forums and receive responses from teachers all over the globe.

Denise Polt, a national education strategist for the company, said they also consider improving student’s achievements extremely important.

“If I had this technology (when I was teaching), my students would have really benefitted,” Polt said. “I want the students to benefit from the technology, and they are.”

Robert Marzano, an education researcher, is in the midst of a multi-year study of the ActivClassroom’s effectiveness and, according to Promethean, is already seeing marked improvement over students taught using traditional methods.

A study of 79 teachers across 50 schools claims student achievement rates jump 17 percent after using the technology in the ActivClassroom. Achievement rose 29 percent when instructors used the technology over 75 percent of the time for instructional purposes.

The study also states that in order to achieve this 29-percentile gain, teachers need a “high confidence level in using the technology.”

The amount of time that must be spent using the technology, however, has some questioning its viability in the public school system.

“You can’t spend 80 percent of your instructional time using technology,” Susan Wood, a retired middle school teacher said. “An important part of the learning process is getting your kids to interact with each other. Every district I’ve worked for has put heavy emphasis on group work, which is limited by the use of a board,” Wood said.

1 Comment

  • re: Susan Wood's comment: The Promethean Board actually encourages interaction between students in many activities. In one activity, two users try to build a designated shape using dual pen tools to move shapes together that are limited by the laws of physics. The activity is challenging (and fun!) while building collaborative and critical problem solving skills.

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