Hide-Away Technology Transforms the Traditional Computer Lab Into a 21st-Century Instructional Delivery Environment
Today’s classroom incorporates technology in many ways. Oftentimes this technology is incorporated from the direct-instruction approach, a method of teaching that emphasizes well-planned lessons clearly presenting teaching tasks. A fundamental understanding of direct instruction is that clear instruction eliminating misinterpretations can greatly improve and accelerate learning (National Institute for Direct Instruction, 2007). With this end, you see advancements in presentation podiums, projectors, instructor computers, to name a few. However, “Hide-Away” technology provides an avenue to enhance direct instruction strategies as well as improve and promote applied learning strategies that target the learner.
When incorporating hide-away technology into your classroom you provide the infrastructure to promote three key factors that involve the learner. First, the learner has the ability to give undivided attention to the instructor, eliminating barriers such as keyboards and computer monitors between the learner and instructor. Second, hide-away technology allows your students to apply knowledge, theories, and skills gained from the instructor while in the computer lab setting. Third, your classroom can be positioned to promote group discussion by presenting clear site lines to the instructor and among students, thus promoting interactive learning.
These are just three of many factors hide-away technology provides that can transform your traditional computer lab into a 21st century instructional delivery environment. Yes, hide-away technology allows instructors to have their cake and eat it too.
Applied learning asks students to learn curriculum, content, skills, and procedures, and then use this newly acquired knowledge to solve a problem, develop a product, or provide a service.
In this learning environment, students may be required to communicate and work in many ways. For example, learners can work in small groups, in teams, with the computer, and using multimedia, visual, oral, and presentation platforms (Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center, 2007). With this understanding and with a goal to promote this learning environment, hide-away technology is ideal.
When I am teaching in my classroom, which has hide-away technology, I find it easy to present theories and concepts to my students without distractions. I typically begin my class with the computers down and safely secured in the hide-away tables. I then perform my lecture, presenting concepts to a class of students who, without distractions, are able to give me their undivided attention.
If the class session requires communication and interaction among the students, having the computers in the hide-away position and the tables in place facilitates these learning options. Small group, team work, and a collegial atmosphere are easy to achieve with hide-away technology. In this environment I have the ability to go back and forth from a lecture on theory to student application of knowledge, as it is very easy for students to place their computers in the hide-away mode and release them when needed throughout the class session.
Finally, hide-away technology allows the students to have easy access to the computers once the formal lecture is complete. Students can quickly access their computers and apply the knowledge just received while it is fresh in their minds. This is ideal when teaching students how to use software applications, lesson design application, and multimedia technologies. These abilities give students more control of their learning, allowing them to follow some of the applied learning strategies by
- Defining the problem or need that a project will address;
- Determining the best way(s) to solve the problem;
- Finding resources beyond the textbook, such as articles and internet resources; and
- Engaging in demanding, complex tasks that challenge their ability to think.
(Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center, 2007)
Many of my students have said they like the hide-away technology because they can take notes and use the classroom in a more traditional setting. They also like being able to talk to their classmates and collaborate on projects while in class. Finally, they like having the option of a high-powered computer lab to use educational technologies, internet resources, and follow along with the instructor as difficult concepts and applications are being presented.
At a time in education when we are asked to do more with less, maximize our classroom space, and continue to find ways to improve instruction, hide-away technology is a big step in the right direction. With this technology the instructor has a computer lab and a traditional classroom all in one. Yes, you have the best of both worlds, which in my opinion, translates into a 21st century instructional delivery environment.
Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center. (2007). Ft. Worth, TX. http://itweb.fortworthisd.net/101
Computer Comforts, Inc., Houston, TX, (281) 488-2288. http://www.computercomforts.com
National Institute for Direct Instruction. (2007). Eugene, OR. http://www.nifdi.org
Content provided by Computer Comforts. Text by Myron R. Anderson, Assistant Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver.