The A/V Revolution: District Case Studies Show How to Integrate A/V and IT

Article excerpt

If EduComm '05 was any indication, there's an audio/visual revolution occurring in our schools. The EduComm conference, held in June in conjunction with InfoComm, provided ample evidence of the convergence of information technology and audiovisual technology in K-12 districts nationwide.

Conference presenters spoke on a variety of K-12 topics, covering everything from capturing classroom presentations to cutting-edge distance learning to evolving the electronic classroom. EduComm isn't the only indicator that educators are embracing A/V. Multimedia projector sales for educational use in this country are expected to grow 28 percent, from 285,059 units in 2004 to 363,876 units in 2005, according to Stanford Research Institute. Education is already the second-largest application for projectors. Districts are also scrambling to outfit their classrooms with digital whiteboards. That category's penetration increased by 2 percent between 2004 and 2005, according to Market Data Retrieval of Shelton, Conn., and an additional 7 percent of districts are planning to add digital whiteboards this school year. If you weren't one of the 1,000-plus educators in attendance, fear not: Here are some of the best ideas we've seen in A/V recently, from EduComm presenters and school districts throughout the country.

Making an A/V Dream Reality

Donna Smith had a plan. Three years ago, when Smith was the principal at Loma Vista Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif., she and a group of her teachers, all of whom had "tech vision," decided to come up with a way to bring A/V technology into their school. Loma Vista is a high-poverty, urban elementary school with almost half of the students being English-language learners, and Smith's team wanted to incorporate A/V to meet the challenges of NCLB. With a very small budget, the school could not afford big-ticket items such as digital whiteboards, but she knew they could still bring a lot of value to the school.

After some thought and planning, they rolled out a three-prong plan that included putting A/V equipment in every class, building a computer lab and creating a low-budget TV studio.

"Our first step was to give every teacher a TV with a VCR and DVD player," says Smith. The team insisted that the TVs had to be mounted on the wall and not just rolled around on a cart. As a permanent part of each classroom, she knew the teachers would learn how to integrate the tools into their lessons. Every teacher also received a laptop with the proper cables to connect it to the TV. Many of the teachers received digital cameras as well, which the students used to illustrate newspapers and stories, and to create slide shows.

At the same time, the school opened a computer lab with 34 computers and a state-of-the-art LCD projector. Students learned how to make iMovies and create their own multimedia presentations. At the end of the year, they even made a video yearbook for their teachers.

Last, Smith and company set up a video camera in the only remaining free space: the staff room. "Every morning, we pulled a curtain across the room and three students and I would do a morning-show broadcast," says Smith. The morning show, transmitted to every classroom, featured announcements on the school's happenings and events, the latest items available in the student store, character-education lessons, and occasional interviews with special guests. "On top of being educational, the morning show was fun and unique," says Smith. "It made our school special."

The teachers at Loma Vista used high-priority grants and received donations to make their A/V dreams come true. And Smith, who just started as principal at Harden Middle School in Salinas, Calif., intends to put together a team to try and duplicate what she accomplished at Loma Vista.

Engaging Real-World Learners

Two years ago, when School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties in South Carolina received a three-year federal technology grant to improve academic achievement for seventh- and eighth-grade students at three different schools, LeRoy Butler was adamant about not buying desktop computers. …