Saturday, January 24, 2009

Digital Teaching - Setup Details

This post is meant to give details about the possible digital teaching setups. Specific hardware and software will be listed. Cost will be considered as well.

In the previous post a digital teaching nationwide system was discussed. This system uses simple modern technology to transform any classroom to a digital one. There is no need for fancy interactive classrooms. They are expensive. These suggestions use between $300 and $3000 dollars (depending on how fancy you get and what you already have available) to create a digital learning environment.

The Tech:

Tablet PC's
such a the HP Pavilion tx2110us (which I use) are cheap (~$1100) and provide nearly everything you need for digital teaching. The laptop can be connected to a projector and written on. Notes can be saved and distributed electronically.

Bluetooth Microphones allow for voice recording. On board and stand up microphones work as well, but they don't give as much freedom for mobility. ($30-$70)

Projectors will be used to project the tablet PC interface onto a screen for the class to see. This isn't always necessary since you could just prepare the lectures on your Tablet PC and have the students watch the lectures on their own time. ($600-$1000+)

Recording Software can be used to save lectures which can be store online for student use. Camtasia is a great program which will record your screen activity and voice. It also has the ability to feed in webcams. Videos are easily edited and posted online in a multitude of formats. There are many programs available for simple voice recording.

Wacom Tablets are available if you already have a PC or laptop and want to add the ability to write on the screen. There are many cheap tablets which are perfect for writing quality. Many of the expensive tablets are made for artistic purposes. There are even wireless bluetooth tablets available. This would instantly give you the capability to transform a cheap PC to a remote in class writing platform. The disadvantage to these tablets is that you can't see what you are writig on them, but with practice that is not an issue. It may in fact be better that you need to look at the board like the students instead of always looking down. ($60-$250)

Cameras can be used to record a lecture. However, they do not work well to record the actual note taking process. High quality cameras are needed (which are expensive) so that you can read what is being written in the final video. Also, a camera may need to be operated (pan and zoom) by a person which is either inconvenient or expensive. Cameras do allow you to record live demonstrations which do not need as high of a resolution. For this a cheap digital camera could be used. ($100-$500+)

All of this equipment can be used in a variety of ways to make digital classrooms. A few options are given here.
This first setup uses most everything we talked about. A laptop feeds in the signal from the wireless Wacom tablet and Microphone. This Data is sent to the projector. All of this can be recorded on the PC as well as an additional digital camera. (1100+700+250+50+300=$2400)

This setup can be modified. The camera is an extra. A cheap stationary PC could be used instead of the Laptop as shown below. (700+250+50+500=$1500)

A bare bones system could consist of just a tablet PC and a projector. (1100+700=$1800)

If you want to get really cheap you could use a cheap PC and a wacom tablet hooked to a projector. $500 (PC estimate) + 100 (Wacom) + 700 (Projector) = $1300.

And if you want to get really cheap don't use a projector. Just prerecord lectures and have students watch them online later. (500+100 = $600)

Considering that most schools already have computers and projectors in classrooms many of these costs may be redundant. It may be as simple as buying a Wacom tablet and a microphone to get started. This would only cost $150 to $300.

And there you have it. Cheap simple ways to drastically change the way we educate.

1 comment:

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