Pedagogies Gone Wild, Projector Makeover

The world we live in thrives on instant gratification when it comes to information intake. As adults, we can scan the four or five headlines that fit on the screen of our phone without even clicking, or check the trending list on Twitter, and feel caught up on the day’s events. For the kids in our classrooms, it’s the only world they’ve ever known.

Twitter’s 140 characters were too stodgy for them to want to slog through, heck, writing out a full word was too much time and trouble for their busy lives and minds (“lol”). So they turned to Instagram where a picture was worth a thousand words, soon eschewing that for their Snaps, where videos or single word or emoji tossed up with a random selfie sufficed for deep interpersonal connections.

As they say, know your audience. Sometimes to reach them, we need to meet them where they are at. It shouldn’t be a great shock, considering the environment in which they’ve become accustomed, that when the lights dim and a series of word-filled slides marches across the classroom wall, their eyes tend to glaze over. Static slideshows simply aren’t going to cut it, if you want to achieve that magic moment where teaching fires up their little neurons.

Does this mean you have to dump your old gear and steel yourself for a showdown with your school or district’s budget masters for a big spend? Not necessarily. Naturally, scoring a 4K resolution projector whose 8 million pixels send HD video clips and uber-detailed images sailing across the screen with ease would be ideal. But it isn’t the only way to achieve success.

Get Interactive

If you are lacking in the latest tech, interactivity can go a long way. Students don’t want to be passive observers to the teaching process, they want to be part of it. This goes beyond the possibility they might get called on. Interactive projectors that use digital markers (or little fingers) to engage with the material can keep the spark of learning fresh. These can be used on whiteboards, classroom walls or even projected down onto group tables that can accommodate students working together. Bring them to the table, so to speak, and let them work with each other using their favorite medium. A race to trace the migration of Monarchs will set their hearts a flutter. One bonus is that many of these projectors will allow you to save the work including their input for them to use as a study tool, or to share with their parents.

Get Creative

If you need to work with your existing projector, don’t despair. It might just take a bit more of creativity and planning on your part to reach the same result. Many times, projectors aren’t being used to their full potential. Injecting audio or video clips to lessons can bring a PowerPoint to life. Most projector companies offer online tutorials which could reveal additional capabilities to make the most of what you have. Another way to amp up your lessons is to engage all the senses. Talking the Silk Road and trade routes? Pop down to the supermarket; nutmeg was worth the price of gold, dock workers were paid in cloves, Visigoths demanded peppercorns for ransom. A sniff or two of these basic spices can cement facts, or at least perk them up in their desks.

Get Brilliant

All that being said, if you are in the position to request top notch gear for your classroom or have won a grant to improve your school’s tech, a good 4K resolution projector can be a great asset. If you’ve ever viewed an HD channel or program on a non-HD screen (after being somewhat horrified by what your favorite actor actually looks like in real life), there is a strong and distracting sense that something is very off. In the classroom, this can translate a step farther to pixelation or jagged lines marring the image or media, disrupting the focus on the learning material. A 4K will simply offer brilliant clarity and inject vivid action into your lessons.

Sascha Zuger

Sascha has nearly two decades of experience as a freelance journalist writing for national magazines, including The Washington Post, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic Traveler, and others. She writes about education, travel and culinary topics.