Teachers at Western Heights Public Schools in Oklahoma are used to being ahead of the curve technologically. So when the federal government offered a chunk of stimulus money, the district used it to go to the next frontier in interactive learning—an integrated, intelligent classroom.
To create this new learning environment, Kim Race, director of institutional technology, chose a suite of integrated tools from eInstruction—the Mobi mobile interactive whiteboard, the CPS student response system and Workspace? software that provides the content backbone.
The Mobi combined the utility of an interactive whiteboard with the portability of a handheld device and the capabilities of a computer. Teachers can move around the room accessing content from a wireless computer connection, sharing the Mobi with students who can collaborate at their desks. With a Mobi, teachers can write on the board or even hand the Mobi over to students to work through problems in collaborative groups while the rest of the class follows their steps.
"The most significant advantage of the eInstruction? tools was their flexibility," said Race, whose district serves 3,400 students in suburban Oklahoma City in four elementary schools, a middle school, high school and alternative school.
"That's the number one thing I was looking for. With the Mobi you aren't stuck at the front of the room, you can walk around the classroom and be anywhere among the students."
The district purchased a new classroom computer for each room, along with projectors and screens to go along with the Mobi system. And went further — maximizing the benefit of the system by adding the CPS student response system—a handheld student response pad that lets students respond in real time to questions, quizzes, assessments and classroom discussion.
The district also uses eInstuction's ExamView? to generate tests and quizzes from the textbooks' item banks. The testing component is being used more in the high school, Race says. The teachers using the CPS and ExamView to give the required classroom tests really like it, she said. "It's a huge thing. It's helping us save paper, grading time for teachers and feedback can be immediate. It's so easy that they like it a lot and usage is very high," said Race.
The intelligent classroom powered by eInstruction? technology gives teachers the tools to make lesson plans more dynamic. The Mobi comes with Workspace software that includes 4,000 lessons and rich media content including interactive textbooks, video and collaboration tools for use between the teacher and the class.
The district purchased 170 mobile interactive whiteboards and 81 CPS student reponse systems that included 30 student response pads for each classroom. The students are generally assigned the same student response pad, Race said, so their responses can be collected and tracked over time. The system allows teachers to see responses any way they like—as a group or by individual student. Teachers also have the capability to export responses into their own grade book application with just a couple of steps.
The response from both teacher and student has been very positive. From kindergarten through high school, said Race, "teachers are finding students more engaged and interested."
As students get more excited, so do the teachers. During the training, she says, teachers were challenged to come up with ideas on how they would use the new tools. "People got great ideas from each other and the few who had been resistant heard what everyone else was saying and got interested."
See Mobi mobile interactive whiteboards and CPS student response systems in action at www. http://www.einstruction. com/media/mobi/.