podiums to workstations

I was reading through the December issue of Campus Technology‘s (that you can borrow or read here, by the way) “101 Best Practices” Smart Classroom section yesterday. Actually, I couldn’t get past the first 25 great ideas, but I was focused on a podium redesign project at Oakland University (MI) (you can see a picture of the workstation at #9). They call their podiums “presentation workstations,” which I think is a much better term than one that implies lectures and speeches.

The heart of the new workstation is a Hitachi T-17SXL StarBoard LCD pen-driven panel that, in addition to the typical projecting of websites, allows the instructor to write on any screen. How is that different from a SmartBoard on the wall? Well, our projection screens are much larger, and the instructor can face the class when writing on a screen.

Smart makes a similar board called a Sympodium, which Georgia Perimeter College is using in its classroom redesign. Such boards are much more versatile than the typical computer monitor, and both boards can capture your handwritten notes.

I’m even more impressed, though, with the look of Oakland’s new workstation, especially since we will be considering new designs this summer, with faculty input. Larger desktops, lower workstations or adjustable monitor positioning, better-secured cables, better IT access to cables and settings, better equipment security–what am I leaving out? What would the best presentation workstation look like to you? No ideas? Google “classroom podium” and then look at the “images” page. I like this one, for example.


Categories: technology

2 replies

  1. I have taught several courses (statistics and calculus) where I wrote all of my notes while lecturing on a tablet PC projected onto a screen instead of writing them on the blackboard. This offered me tremendous advantages. First, nothing was ever erased, so I could always refer to something I had written in the beginning of class simply by scrolling back. Second, I could copy and paste and move parts of my written lecture around. This is helpful, for instance, if you do not want to rewrite long and complicated formulas. Third, I was able to face the students as I wrote, and, if I had had a wireless connection to the projector, I could have walked around as I wrote. Most important, however, is that the class notes were captured and saved and remained as a permanent record of how the class that day unfolded. I think the students found this very helpful. Several other math/science faculty have now also adopted the tablet PC as their presentation tool.

    Having a tablet-like interface on each podium could dramatically change teaching possibilities, for the better.

    I do have a classroom set-up suggestion, though. I have had to stop using the tablet because I use the web and mathematical software extensively in class. In other words, I am constantly using my webpages and software throughout my lectures, and what I am doing has to be displayed on the big screen. I want the students to see the software and/or webpage AND what I am writing AT THE SAME TIME. So I lecture off to the side at the board. The ideal set-up, for me, would be TWO projector/computer set-ups in a classroom. One projects off to the side, and is used for web and software display. The other projects straight ahead and is used to display what the professor is writing.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment.



  2. Ah. I’ve seen a good example of what you’re hoping for at a conference session using the Smart Sympodium with the Smart Airliner. The Airliner is a wireless slate that works with whatever is on the Sympodium, it captures notes, etc. Sara and I were blown away by the combination. The Sympodium allows you to connect to the Web as well as other software, and the Airliner allows you to walk around the room. http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/AirLiner/default.htm

    I have also seen examples of rooms with two screens or side-by-side Smart boards that allow for the dual presentations you could use. Send donations to the OAA 😉


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