We’ve all heard that touchscreens are great for collaborative, student-led learning, but what can they actually do? Andy Cain explains key multitouch software…
Working with schools to implement multitouch screens, I’ve seen some fantastic learning outcomes, including increased peer-led learning and feedback, better student engagement and a rise in on-task behaviour, as no one’s ever left waiting for ‘their turn’ to work.
However, many teachers are nervous about adopting the technology because – unlike tablet devices, which run apps that you can download and trial at home – multitouch tools are a bit of mystery until you get your hands on one of the screens.
Obviously, the best way to get over this hump is to arrange a demo or get a sample screen to a TeachMeet so that staff can try it out (give me a call on the number below to arrange a demo, by the way). But until you have time to try one out, I thought I’d try and demystify the key tools included with one of our most popular ranges,Clevertouch screens.
Let’s start with the pre-made stuff. Snowflake Multiteach is an excellent collection of pre-built fun activities that encourage students to learn by making use of the Clevertouch’s interactive features. Activities cover everything from maths and literacy to geography and biology, to music.
As well as being a subtle way to improve your class’s hand-eye co-ordination, these apps are great for engaging different types of learner and teaching content in a range of ways to ensure the message hits home for everyone. You can customise the pre-made activities for different levels of ability, or make your own activities using Clevertouch’s software (I promise you don’t have to code anything).
Top tips to save time/make you sound clever when you finally meet a demo screen: apps can be categorised for easy reference, then accessed by swiping left to right on the screen. You can also divide the screen into two (so that students can compete or carry out independent activities at the same time) by clicking on the Zones icon and then just selecting your preferred layout.
Next up is this fully-featured annotation application that allows you and your students to annotate over any type of document – if you’ve ever used SMART Notebook or Active Inspire, you’ll feel right at home, and will be wielding its multiple pens, brushes, highlighters, shapes and lines in no time.
The software installs on a Windows PC that connects to your touchscreen, and
every screen comes with five perpetual licences, so you won’t have to pay for
software subscriptions. Once it’s up and running, you can choose from its vast library of hi-res imagery (maps, buildings, people, animals and food all feature heavily) or drag and drop images from Google,which can be accessed without leaving CleverLynx.
Once you and the students have annotated to your hearts’ content, you can use screen capture to save the lesson’s work for revision or assessment. Much easier than keeping track of worksheets.
If you order an Android-based Clevertouch screen, you’ll get a model with the CleverNote annotation application included, so you can just turn it on and start scribbling. It allows you to annotate anything on screen – you can brainstorm, paint and import pictures to add notes to.
As CleverNote is incredibly simple to use and doesn’t require your screen be attached to a computer, there’s very little risk of failure or damage, meaning it’s a great app to let students use in their free time. Anything they work on can be emailled straight from the screen, saved to its built-in memory or to a USB stick.
Because this application doesn’t require a computer, it’s great if you want your screen to be trolley-mounted and mobile, and supply teachers can just upload their lesson content via USB stick and crack on – even if school laptops and computers are down.
DisplayNote allows you to wirelessly connect your tablet to the touchscreen to deliver presentations, or mirror the content onscreen to students’ tablet devices. Students can view and capture slides and pages, then collaborate with one another and the teacher in realtime – you can even give them access to the Clevertouch screen to add animations from their tablets.
Like the straightforward annotation apps, you can import any document or image and share instantly. You can also see at a glance which students are actively adding content, check their screens on your own, send them individual messages or pause a student’s access to DisplayNote if you think they’re up to something. And as every Clevertouch screen comes with ten perpetual licences, you don’t have to worry about subscription fees.