Multiple software platforms, multiple locations, one SMART amp™
As mobile devices become increasingly popular in classrooms around the world, educators are looking for ways to overcome some of the challenges these technologies present, such as multiple platforms. Created with the input of teachers from around the world, SMART amp™ collaborative learning software has been designed to connect mobile devices without the need to install, update or maintain a variety of applications across different hardware and software platforms.
And if anyone was to find a solution to this increasing requirement, SMART Technologies is possibly best placed to do this. With over 20 years experience in creating solutions that support collaborative teaching and learning, more than 2.6 million SMART Board® interactive displays being used by over 65 million students and their teachers, and SMART software used in more than 175 countries around the world, it is easy to see why.
In line with the other SMART products, SMART amp™ has been designed to be easy and intuitive in its use. Teachers and students simply log into SMART amp™ software through their Google ID from any web browser. SMART amp™ doesn’t require you to remember yet another password or spend time transferring files.
SMART aptly describes it as the ‘glue’ that connects interactive displays, PCs, laptops, and tablets while enabling teachers and students to collaborate in real time, connect to shared digital workspaces and interact with Web-based learning materials regardless of location or device.
This cloud-based software allows teachers and students to collaborate across all mobile devices regardless of their operating system. However collaboration on mobile devices should be about more than just screen sharing. SMART amp™ goes one step further by enabling students and teachers to work together in real time to solve problems and understand concepts in huge shared workspaces, easily building on existing ideas and creating new thinking.
SMART amp™ also facilitates in-class formative assessment.. Teachers can gauge student progress with embedded formative assessment tools. In light of the recent removal of assessment levels and schools’ freedom to use their own system, SMART amp™ means it is now easy to get an accurate picture of how well students are following lesson material and adjust instruction accordingly, without interrupting the lesson activity.
The integration with Google cloud services ensures simple, cost-effective deployment and eliminates costs associated with supporting numerous proprietary operating systems and applications.
The result is the creation of an open forum for content. Teachers and students can explore and build content without switching between applications. The collaborative workspace serves as a platform where students can gather, create and consume content while easily sharing it across devices. Existing SMART Notebook® software files or content can be leveraged from other leading educational publishers.
SMART amp™ also provides teachers with a classroom management system where they can switch between whole class, small group and individual learning with easy file sharing and student grouping for project-based exercises. Teachers can control who can edit a document, have the class follow a lesson or show examples of great student work on the fly.
President and CEO of SMART Technologies, Neil Gaydon said, “We recognised that teachers were grappling with how to work with different devices and ensure a consistent experience for all their students with universal access to curriculum content. A cloud-based solution like SMART amp™ became an essential requirement in bringing these devices and platforms together into one cohesive learning environment.” SMART amp™ collaborative learning software has been trialed in many schools across the UK and is now available to all schools. For more information, visit smarttech.com/cloud
Collaboration, technology, training and BYOD – what does it all mean for the education environment? Comment by Guy Coen, General Manager Collaboration, Barco
Technology trends touch all aspects of business and even wider society. Nowhere is this more evident than in the education and training sphere. Whether it is secondary or tertiary education, or in-house organisational training, technology has a definite impact. Consider BYOD and the consumerisation of IT; the influx of different devices into the organisation, college or school is becoming standard.
The effect that these devices has on the learning environment is quickly becoming evident, considering the findings of recent research conducted by Ofcom that stated 82 per cent of children aged between 12 and 15 own a smartphone, while 62 per cent own a tablet. The research also found that 72 per cent of children in this age group own at least three media devices.
While in the corporate environment, according to Gartner, it is anticipated that by 2016 38 per cent of businesses will not be issuing laptops or PCs to employees, and by 2017 50 per cent of organisations will make BYOD a requirement for employees.
Coupled with the move towards a more collaborative and engaging educational model, technology as a whole and the BYOD trend
especially can be used to enhance the ways in which employees learn, especially as their role changes from being merely the receivers of information to that of being creators of content. Regardless of the training environment – corporate or institutionalised education – there are certain boxes that need to be ticked for success. Collaboration must be underpinned by supporting technology in order for it to work in the education context. How, then, can this be accomplished?
The world has moved on from chalkboards to interactive white boards and beyond. In the corporate realm, sharing a large screen between facilitator and learners is fast becoming the norm, allowing not only the educator to share content on the screen, but encourages engagement and participation from students who can also share information during the teaching process. With a greater emphasis being placed on supporting multiple learning styles, collaboration is becoming ever more significant. Technologies to facilitate collaborative learning see their most obvious benefits in subjects with strong visual elements. However they can offer value to any course that includes group projects or presentations.
The ideal collaboration technology brings simplicity, efficiency and ease of use to situations that require students and teachers to use different devices to accomplish their goals. Using multiple devices often means different operating systems which can present challenges to the collaboration technology present in training environments. These various operating systems – be it Android, iOS or Windows – often require the use of cables and connectors in order for users to connect to the collaboration technology or presentation system. In addition, the settings of each individual device may need to be tweaked or reconfigured in order to work properly, and failing that, may require specialist assistance from the IT department. The result is almost always disruption to the session and time wastage. It often also becomes necessary for multiple users to share the common screen at the same time – for comparisons or group presentations. A new market segment has emerged within the corporate and, indeed education, sector for a wireless collaboration technology system, such as Barco’s own ClickShare range, that will encourage engagement and co-operation in different training scenarios. With the rate of adoption of BYOD and the impact it is having, this multi-device collaboration support will be the key to training success in the future.
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