How to Create an Engaging Learning Environment

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Classrooms have evolved over time from the stereotype of a teacher standing in the front of a room lecturing to students of all ages. Instead, we have a much more interactive, collaborative learning environment facilitated by a variety of modern technologies.

It’s no surprise that our classrooms have been forced to evolve, either. Studies show the average attention span has fallen to eight seconds, shorter than that of a goldfish. It would be almost impossible for teachers today to keep the attention of their students without embracing technology and creating a more engaging, hands-on learning experience.

Classrooms in the Digital Age

What does this new learning environment look like? What makes a classroom interactive and engaging? And, most importantly for educators, how do you create a learning environment that can keep the attention of today’s students? A big part of the answer is found in digital projectors for schools.

Kids are being introduced to technology earlier than previous generations — the average age a child gets their first cell phone continues to drop, reaching a new low of 10 years old in 2016. We’re also all used to juggling multiple screens on a daily basis, with TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Depending on the age of the students in your classroom, you may be fighting your students’ smartphones for their attention. However, digital projector screens in schools bring lessons in any subject to life, and a big screen can compete with and often win the attention of students — especially when it’s used in combination with a variety of other technologies and teaching strategies.

Bigger Is Better

There’s something about a big screen that captures your attention — whether you’re in school, or out. Every year TV screens are getting bigger and bigger — HIS Technology estimates that by 2019, over 80% of global TV sales will be 40+ inches.

A large projector screen has a lot of potential in every subject you could possibly be teaching. For example:

  • Gearing up for a history lesson? You can show an artifact in larger-than-life style.
  • Studying the sciences? Combine projector screens in schools with a digital microscope to put a group of cells on display.
  • Want to expose your class to more current events? Tune in to a broadcast on the digital projector to bring a big-screen-TV feel to your classroom.
  • Want to show a classic film? Showing it on a digital projector turns your classroom into a movie theater.
  • Learning about geography? Find the location you’re studying on Google Earth and show your students the landscape.

When you put any of these subjects on a projector screen, they make an impact. And making an impact is exactly what teachers want to do in the classroom.

Create Engaging Lessons

While these larger-than-life projector screens may be fun to look at, just looking at them alone isn’t going to keep the attention of your students. It’s combining these projectors with interactive lessons that will keep them engaged.

Enter the interactive projector. These devices give you the opportunity to create a variety of hands-on lessons. You can have multiple students drawing on the screen at one time — maximizing the amount of active engagement you can have in your classroom. You might also choose to have the students compete in a game, solve problems, label an image or answer questions for a quiz.

With projectors, learning can also be a totally immersive experience. Learning about a foreign country you can’t go to in person? You can take your students on a virtual tour of the area instead. Whether it’s using Skype or Google Hangouts to connect with a classroom across the country or checking out a live web cam halfway around the world, projectors empower you to harness the latest technology and put it on display for your students.

By making a topic interesting and engaging — and dare we say, fun? — students will be less likely to be distracted by their smartphones, notepad doodles or what’s outside the window. They’ll also be more likely to remember the material.

The bottom line is this: Regardless of how you decide to engage students, interaction is an essential part of an effective learning environment.

Record as You Review

Another opportunity you have with a digital projector is to combine it with recording software. To maximize a student’s learning environment, you could record that petri dish you see through the digital microscope in science class — and watch its contents grow in real-time — or record the class review of one of your student’s writing assignments.

Regardless of what topic you’re covering, giving students the opportunity to review what was done in class is an asset. It gives them an additional study tool and take the pressure off of note taking. While note taking is important to learn, often times students get so caught up in trying to write everything down that their focus isn’t on the bigger picture.

Recording what was done in class relieves them of the pressure to take notes and gives them the freedom to learn through the visuals presented during class. It also ensures that you, as the educator, have provided a consistent foundation of learning material across the board — regardless of note taking skills. Another bonus — it’s a great way to get a student who missed class caught up on what they missed.

Encourage Creative Presentations

There used to be a limit to the different types of student presentations you saw in a classroom — before digital projectors, students could choose from using the chalkboard, whiteboard, easel and/or creating a poster or some sort of other visual to use in presentations. Digital projectors add a whole different dynamic.

Encourage students to be creative in presentation assignments. Start with having them explore PowerPoint or Prezi for classroom presentations. Then, challenge them to push the limits — do they know how to incorporate video into their presentation or perhaps a link or screenshot of a source they found on the Internet? As students are given more options, their presentations should become more robust — preparing them to capture the attention of fellow students.

Have students that are nervous about speaking in public? Instead of having them in front of a classroom fumbling nervously with their notecards, you can empower them with a presentation that captures some of their notes so they have the assurance of knowing they won’t lose their place.

Roam Freely

Digital projectors give you the opportunity to roam freely — within your classroom, of course. Without having to be writing, underlining and erasing handwritten notes and drawings on chalkboards and whiteboards, you are free to walk around the classroom as you teach. Interact with students directly and make sure they’re staying engaged with your lesson.

Projectors also give students some level of freedom to roam. Break the old stereotype of having the teacher constantly restricted to the front of the classroom, while students sat in rows of desks — a stale set up that isn’t ideal for an engaging learning environment. With a projector, students can see from pretty much any angle, so you can ditch the boring rows of desks and rearrange desks into pods or smaller groups. If small groups aren’t a good fit for your lesson, perhaps a circle or half circle would be better to facilitate classroom discussions. Better yet, mix it up so that seating arrangements change.

If you don’t have the flexibility to move seats within your classroom, consider having students move into smaller groups for in-class assignments and discussions. Remember — with the focus on the projector screen, being able to see no longer restricts seating arrangement.

Reward Good Work

Teachers have always acknowledged stellar student assignments in class, but projectors give a new opportunity to not only recognize student work, but also to use it as an example. In the past, a pat on the back for an in-class assignment was always possible, but for the teacher to use that student’s work as an example, it had to be recreated on a chalkboard, whiteboard or through paper copies distributed to the class. All of these options take time and aren’t efficient.

Today’s technology allows teachers to show student work spur of the moment in the classroom on the projector screen for the entire classroom to see. Now instead of just receiving a pat on the back from the teacher, students’ work can be used and on display as an example for the rest of the class, giving them confidence in their work, and giving other students in the classroom a healthy dose of competition.

Mix It Up

Getting projectors for schools is the first step, but even with projectors and big screens, keeping your students’ attention is going to be challenging. It’s important to mix and match technologies to keep things fresh. Maximize the power of a projector by using it to show a variety of different things. Start with a presentation, then cut out to a video on the web. Start a group game or activity, and then circle back to continue with your presentation. If there isn’t a variety, things will get old fast — regardless of whether or not you’re harnessing the latest technology.

It’s also important to note that paper isn’t — and shouldn’t be — dead. There’s still a place for paper and other tangible supplies in the classroom. While it’s important to create a learning environment that embraces new technology, that doesn’t mean we should get rid of the old. A true mix incorporates a little bit of everything.

Save Time

In the world before projectors and screens, teachers were taking time before class to make enough copies for everyone in the class and using chalkboards and dry erase boards in class. All worked well, but more often than not, teachers had to write or draw while class was in session. When it was time to switch gears, or begin to focus on a new part of the lesson, they had to erase their notes and drawings, and start over. As they took time out of class to do that, many students would begin to chatter and lose their focus. Projector screens in schools give teachers the opportunity to seamlessly transition from one part of the lesson to another — and from one technology to another.

Regardless of what subject you’re teaching, a digital projector is a must to capture the attention of your students and keep your classroom on the cutting edge when it comes to technology. Digital projectors and screens come in all shapes and sizes.

At Projector Screen Store, we have a wide variety of projectors and screens to choose from — you’re sure to find something to fit your classroom and your budget. Need a few accessories to go along with it? We also carry several presentation tools, mounts, cables, lenses, bulbs and more to get your projector and projector screen up and running. Visit our website today to get started.

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