New tech in the classroom – an adventure.

In a fit of techie twitching I decided to try some fancy technology in my classroom teaching.  I wanted to do a test review.  The test is a Word document.  I wanted to be able to highlight, underline and circle things and work problems free hand on the Word document.  The classroom I use has a computer and a projector, that is it.  I have an iPad app called Air Direct.  It puts my Windows screen on the iPad which allows me to control the computer remotely so I do not have to sit at my desk to run the computer/projector.  The app works once you figure out what order to do things and remember to set the app to mirror.  Details, details.  The iPad is a bit small to use to run Windows but a fine tipped stylus helps.  Getting that set up was the easy part.  Getting the ability to draw free hand on a Word document is another story.  Word used to come with a feature called Inking under the Review tab that did this task.  Guess what is not built in to Office 2007.  So I went on a search for a solution.  There are several apps out there that do this but are not free.  I live for free.  I kept searching.  No justice.  Think Flint, think!  The school owns some Smartboards so maybe if in install the SMART software I can use it to draw on the Word document.  After installing the SMART software the Start Inking icon magically appears under the Review tab.  Who knew!  So after about three hours of research, trial and error, tinkering and colorful thoughts regarding technology in the classroom I have everything up and running.

It is not a perfect solution, the iPad is simply too small and lag time is a bit of a pain, but it is better than nothing.  It also sort of justifies the iPad the school bought me which I normally use once in a blue moon.  I have got to find $1000 so I can get a Surface Pro.  It seems like the Surface is the tool for a task like this.

There are some lessons learned with all this.

  1. Classroom tech is not always easy.  It seems like the simple tasks are not really simple.
  2. When the Good Idea Fairy sits down in front of you, be afraid.
  3. There is always an issue when trying new classroom tech.  Be prepared.
  4. Actual improvement in instruction using this technology is debatable.
  5. Technology is much more fun than the whiteboard.
  6. I still dislike iPads but there are some nifty apps out there for it.
  7. Do not plan to use new tech tomorrow.  Plan to use it next week after you try it out for a couple of days.
  8. Make sure it is all working when your principal comes into the room for your annual observation.  It was and I was impressive.
  9. Too bad Interwrite/Smartboards are so expensive.
  10. New tech takes TIME!!

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