Clear Touch Team

Clear Touch™ Second Annual Community Service Project Feeds 17,500

2019 efforts nearly doubles impact of previous year’s initiative

Greenville, SCDuring the first week of 2019, Clear Touch Interactive®, an American-owned and operated company headquartered in South Carolina and a leading provider of multi-touch interactive flat panels for education and business, gathered their national team in Greenville, SC, for the company’s second annual service project. During the yearly outreach activity, Clear Touch™ representatives packaged 17,500 meals in less than three hours—approximately one meal for every panel the company sold in 2018—and donated them to Greenville’s Harvest Hope Food Bank.

After partnering with Florida-based nonprofit Meals of Hope in 2017 to prepare 10,000 meals for victims of Hurricane Irma, Clear Touch™ chose to participate in the organization’s meal packing outreach once again—this time with a more local impact in mind. This volunteer project, which focused on helping the Greenville community, was one of many that the company will complete this year as part of their ongoing corporate commitment to helping others in need across the U.S.

“From the very beginning of our company, we’ve worked hard to create a company culture that encourages our team members to look for opportunities to give back to our communities,” said Clear Touch™ CEO, Keone Trask. “We are so thankful that incredible organizations like Meals of Hope and Harvest Hope provide a practical way for others to participate in their missions. We’re encouraged by the fact that our team voluntarily requested to provide healthy, nutritious meals for those in our community who need them most. We look forward to continuing our team’s tradition of service in the years to come.”

ABOUT CLEAR TOUCH INTERACTIVE®

Founded in 2012, Clear Touch Interactive®, Inc., an Inc. 500 company, is transforming interactive experiences for educational institutions, government agencies, and commercial enterprises. Clear Touch™ panels, related accessories, and software provide a truly immersive experience with twenty simultaneous points of touch and rapid refresh rates, HD LED display technology that produces brilliant colors on an anti-glare, anti-friction tempered glass surface, and are available in six sizes ranging from 55 to 86 inches. For more information, visit www.getcleartouch.com.

Clear Touch Interactive® named one of South Carolina’s 25 Fastest Growing Companies

Award recognizes Upstate-based company’s economic impact.

Greenville, SC — Clear Touch Interactive®, an American-owned and operated company headquartered in South Carolina and a leading provider of multi-touch interactive flat panels for education, government, and business, has been recognized as one of The Capital Corporation’s SC 25 Fastest Growing Companies.

“As a company headquartered in South Carolina, we are proud to receive this recognition because even as our partnerships and customer base expand nationally, we’re strengthening our home state’s economy in the process,” shared Clear Touch™ CEO, Keone Trask. “To be listed among such a respected group of South Carolina businesses is an honor.”

Presented by The Capital Corporation and co-sponsored by Integrated Media Publishing, this annual award program spotlights the outstanding economic contributions of private and publicly-owned companies throughout the state. Award recipients were honored on October 10, 2018, at a luncheon in Columbia, SC.

ABOUT CLEAR TOUCH INTERACTIVE®

Founded in 2012, Clear Touch Interactive®, Inc., an Inc. 500 company, is transforming interactive experiences for educational institutions, government agencies, and commercial enterprises. Clear Touch™ panels, related accessories, and software provide a truly immersive experience with twenty simultaneous points of touch and rapid refresh rates, HD LED display technology that produces brilliant colors on an anti-glare, anti-friction tempered glass surface, and are available in six sizes ranging from 55 to 86 inches. For more information, visit www.getcleartouch.com.

How to Engage Students with Digital Learning

The technology revolution continues to amaze and astound us. Practically every day we see, read, and hear about new ways that technologies like machine learning, “Internet of Things”, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are solving complex problems in the world.

Digital learning in the classroom has likewise experienced its own technological revolution, as newer and better technologies and softwares find their way into the hands of educators. Devices like touch-screen panels, microcomputers, laptops, and tablets are giving students and teachers alike powerful access to hundreds of thousands of new softwares, tools, and applications. All of these are opening the door to countless new ways to engage, interact, and learn.

5 Ways to Engage Digital Learners in the Classroom

In the hands of a skillful and creative teacher, digital learning can provide compelling answers to many of the most challenging questions facing educators today, such as:

    • How do I teach diverse students with varied learning styles?
    • How do I teach students with learning disabilities or special needs?
    • How do I empower students to take control of their learning?
    • How do I teach the big picture more effectively?
  • How do I make learning more engaging?

While many teachers understand the potential of these technologies to answer these questions, some may still be uncertain as to how to incorporate them effectively into the classroom. Here are just a few ideas for how teachers are successfully engaging their students with digital learning:

1. Encouraging interaction with the lesson.

Your students have incredibly powerful imaginations, but many of them may not exactly know how to apply this power in understanding and comprehending a traditional lesson or teaching style. Interactivity and hands-on engagement help to bridge this gap by allowing students to “see it and do it for themselves.”

Learning by seeing and doing is as old as education itself with its roots in the discipleship model of the ancients and institutions like the medieval trade guilds. In each of these cases, an apprentice or disciple learned under the watchful eye of a master, who skillfully guided the student first by observation and then by doing. There is wisdom in this approach, and it is still quite applicable in the landscape of digital learning.

For example, rather than expecting students to understand basic chemistry simply by reading a textbook or listening to your lecture, you can supplement the student’s learning process with visual interaction with the various concepts, like atomic structure or covalent bonding. With a swipe, pinch, zoom, drag, and drop, students can easily interact with these concepts, thus reinforcing the lesson content and giving students a valuable spatial and visual awareness of how concepts relate to one another.

Blended learning opportunities like these are also allowing teachers to take scenarios like the one above to the next level. For example, many of the most common chemistry experiments that previously required a lab, expensive equipment, goggles, and signed safety waivers can now be performed safely directly on a tablet or touch-screen panel.

To be clear, we are not suggesting that digital learning replace traditional learning experiments and methods, as these are still incredibly valuable. Rather, we are demonstrating how technology opens the door to teaching in new ways that may not be possible otherwise.

Properly guided by a teacher, blended learning and classroom interactivity will foster a sense of exploration and discovery that is key to students grasping complex ideas, learning them, and building upon them. This is all possible today thanks to the power of technology in the classroom.

2. Create learning adventures.

Never underestimate the power of a story. The human brain thrives on stories—their characters, events, connections, and purposes. Stories have the incredible power to stick with us—sometimes even throughout our entire lives—and are an amazing vehicle for cohesively communicating knowledge, facts, ideas, and concepts.

Digital learning tools, such as lesson plan builders, now give teachers the unique ability to take various teaching methods (e.g. games, matching exercises, quizzes, etc.) and create individual learning components that can be cohesively woven together to form a learning adventure or story.

For example, with a touch-screen panel, you could start the lesson off by telling the story of the founding of America from a slide deck. You could then bring the story to life by turning the panel on its side to create a tabletop learning station. Students could then gather around and explore each element of the story on a map or artboard. The lesson could progress with each game, quiz, matching exercise, and virtual tour unlocking the next chapter of the story. Skillfully done, a learning adventure like this can guide students to memorable comprehension of the subject matter.

3. Make it challenging.

There’s sometimes a misconception that technology in the classroom means students spend all of their time playing games and not learning. In fact, fun, games, and engaging content are all great ways to teach and to learn if done strategically.

You know your students best, and you know the amazing things that they are capable of achieving. A key to success in this area is to ensure that your content stretches and challenges your students to grow. It’s important to never forget that education can and should be challenging.

Many classroom technologies are ideally suited for creating customized problems and challenges that push your students out of their comfort zones and force them to think for themselves. For example, when teaching physics, you could present your students with a challenge to assemble a machine on a touch-screen. Rather than it simply being a game that could be solved by brute force trial and error, your challenge could require students to utilize the various concepts that they have been learning. For example, you could incorporate concepts like gravity and transfer of energy.

With a clear teaching goal in mind, you can easily integrate challenges into your lesson plans that reinforce the content and foster a sense of achievement when the challenge is overcome.

4. Explore project-based learning.

Technology has also opened the door to a whole new variety of project-based learning options in the classroom. Rather than sending students home to work on projects independently, you can now have students work on projects directly in the classroom. Projects—similar to learning adventures—tap into senses of progress and achievement that help students think creatively and grow.

For example, after teaching your students about geology and tectonics, you could have them work on tablets or touch-screens to map recent earthquakes across the globe. You could then challenge them to draw their own conclusions and create a presentation on how these findings cluster on the map. Finally, they could apply their findings to demonstrate visually the concept of plate tectonics. This is just one of millions of potential ideas that students could perform right in class.

Previously, projects like these would have required students to go to the library, scan and print copies of various maps, articles, and pictures, and then create a project folder with scissors, paper, glue, and markers. While there is still value in these more traditional project types, technology allows you to do more projects more quickly, all in the context of a teacher-guided classroom.

5. Keep the end goal in mind.

Your mind is probably buzzing with hundreds of ideas and ways that you can engage your students with your lessons. At this point, it’s important to remember that a key to engaging students meaningfully is to keep the end goal in mind.

Ultimately, your job as a teacher is to train and educate the next generation of students to be able to think, comprehend, and live in the world. Technology is a tool that can help you achieve this goal; but ultimately, it does not happen magically or automatically simply by using digital learning. Technology cannot replace your creativity and ingenuity as a teacher.

You hold the keys to your students’ success. Each day as you assemble your lesson plans, you have the ability to effectively shape their minds and help them think for themselves, learn for themselves, and interact in the world independently. With this mindset firmly planted in you, engaging your students successfully with digital learning will naturally follow.

5 Tips for Integrating Technology in the Classroom

Technology usage in the classroom has skyrocketed in the last 10 to 15 years. Overhead projectors, TVs, and VCRs used to be the only technologies available to teachers, and these played only a limited role in the educational process, such as to help students see more clearly or to play an educational movie. It wasn’t until the advent of PowerPoint that the potential of technology in the classroom really began to be realized, as teachers imagined more and more creative ways to use technology to enhance the learning experience.

Today, educators have a wide variety of technologies available to them, such as laptops, tablets, and interactive touch-screen panels, not to mention thousands of apps, tools, and softwares. Each of these technologies can be leveraged in new and compelling ways to engage students and solve some of the most challenging issues facing educators and students today.

How to Successfully Integrate Technology in the Classroom

Everyday educators are finding new ways to teach their students via technology and digital learning. However, some educators are still uncertain as to how exactly to integrate the right technology into the classroom. Here are a few ideas to help you successfully navigate the entire process.

1. Be intentional.

It may sound too obvious, but intentionality is the key to success when it comes to integrating technology into the classroom. The purpose of educational technology is not technology for technology’s sake. Rather, technology must serve a purpose, and that purpose is to benefit both students and teachers in the learning and teaching process.

One of the first places to start in being intentional is to consider the layout of the classroom itself and how technology fits within it. Do you want a more collaborative learning space? Or do you want independent work stations? Do you want a front-to-back seating arrangement or a half circle? Or do you want flexibility to reconfigure on the fly? As you consider these types of questions, you will begin to get a clearer picture of the types of technology that accommodate your particular classroom environment.

Equally important is thinking about your particular students and how technology will best meet their needs. Does your technology accommodate different learning styles? Does the technology accommodate students with special needs? Will your students benefit from collaborative technology or do they require individual laptops—or both? Consider whatever unique situations and needs your students have and then explore technologies that satisfy these needs.

It’s also important to consider what teachers needs. After all, teachers will likely be the heaviest users of this technology. They are the ones who will be creating the digital lessons, and they are the ones who will ultimately make the technology successful in its purpose. If a technology is not well-suited to the teacher’s needs, it is doomed to failure from the start.

2. Focus on seamless integrations.

Apart from being easy to use, technology that works as expected is a critical factor in its success. Technology that works is good. Technology that works well is even better. But when it works well and works well with other technologies, it is the best of all worlds.

From a practical standpoint, you want a technology ecosystem that works together seamlessly, and one that does not constantly waste valuable classroom time when it fails to work as expected. Integrated technology gives a teacher the ability to roam freely about the classroom and easily transition from device to device. This is incredibly liberating and opens up new ways for teachers to interact with their students.

The opposite scenario, however, can be devastating. Failing to have a seamless technology solution can cause unnecessary frustration to teachers who have to deal with classroom distractions every time technology doesn’t work as expected. If technology issues are left unresolved, they can lead to a culture of resistance to using a particular technology and even resistance to future technology implementations out of fear that they will be the same as past ones. All of this translates into lost investment and lost opportunity for a school, its teachers, and its students.

3. Know how to use your technology.

Imagine if you opened up a professional photo editing software, but you didn’t know how to use it. You could probably figure out how to perform some basic functions, but it’s highly likely you would never be able to unlock its full potential unless you invested time in learning how to use it well.

The same is true for classroom technology. While much of it is intuitive and easy-to-use, there are often more advanced features and functionality that can be learned. Teachers that seek to become experts in how to use the technology will learn these areas and unlock new and innovative ways to benefit their students.

4. Don’t limit your technology.

New technology should not be limited to a single purpose in the classroom. In fact, you get to determine how far you want your technology to go and what you want it to do. In the connected classroom, your technology, such as iPads, panels, and computers can be used to extend your lessons beyond the classroom walls via video conferencing and online classes.

There are also many administrative uses for the same technology. For example, many school administrators are now using campus-wide connectivity to various devices as a means of communicating quickly to the entire school. With a simple click, a school administrator can push out a message instantly, whether for morning announcements or in the event of an emergency.

Once your technology is in place, you will be surprised at how useful it is across the entire life of your school or school district. For example, it can be used in facilitating staff meetings and information fairs to hosting parent and student orientation to creating displays at your school’s open house.

5. Don’t forget about the software.

Software ties everything together when it comes to classroom technology, and in order to be most successful, you will want to ensure that any hardware solution you choose comes with an equally capable and well-supported software solution.

The first key is to find a software package that works well and is portable across all of your various devices. For example, when lesson planning, you will likely want to create your lessons on a desktop computer or laptop, but may want to present the lesson via a tablet, mobile device, or touch-screen panel. If an application or software is too limited in its compatibility, frustration will ensue as you will be unable to easily create and access their lessons from any device.

Similarly, all of your various softwares should allow for easy connectivity and sharing of content via cloud or network storage. This will empower you to easily adapt to any unexpected event—for example, a switch to a new classroom or having to use a new device because you forgot your computer at home.

Your software package also needs to provide a wide variety of tools that empower various teaching and learning styles. As already mentioned, lesson planning tools are a must for any technology suite, but sharing and collaboration tools are also extremely useful in encouraging classroom interactivity.

It’s also important not to forget administrative and management tools as well, such as analytics tools or announcement and emergency notification tools. Various connectivity tools are also very important for ensuring easy and efficient remote management by your IT department of all devices school- or district wide.

Finally, it is extremely important to choose a technology solution that offers an all-in-one software solution. Buying and maintaining individual license for each and every software is a nightmare and quite expensive. Rather, you will want to find a solution with an all-inclusive license for various tools and applications.

6. Remember that technology is only a tool.

At the end of the day, technology is simply a tool, and it cannot replace people. This is a key factor to success because people are a school’s most valuable resource.

Integrating technology into the classroom is about providing better tools for administrators, teachers, assistants, and support staff, allowing each person to excel in his or her individual role. It is about exploring new ways to solve complex educational challenges that schools face each and every day. Ultimately, it is about teaching students and equipping them to be the best that they can be.

When it comes to technology in the classroom, remembering this simple fact and following these basic principles will ensure a successful and seamless integration of technology into your school.

4 Ways Educational Technology Can Make Learning More Fun

“Play expands our minds in ways that allow us to explore: to germinate new ideas or see old ideas in a new light. It makes us more inquisitive, more attuned to novelty, more engaged.” Greg McKeown, founder and CEO of THIS, Inc.

Close your eyes for a minute. Now, think back through your years as a kid in school. What were your best years? Which teachers do you remember most fondly? Chances are, the teachers who come to mind are the ones who made learning come alive for you, who made learning fun. Do you remember her fascinating voices and accents she used when reading aloud? Maybe he took you on an exciting field trip that made you fall in love with botany. Did she seem to find a way to turn every lesson into a fun game for you and your classmates?

Brain research demonstrates the importance of fun and play in the classroom. Even the ancient Romans recognized and appreciated this truth—their words for play (ludere) and school (ludus) have the same root. When learning is fun, students are more relaxed and engaged, and information is more likely to make its way into the long-term memory. Lightening the learning environment can also make students more likely to try new things and tackle more difficult challenges, because they become less afraid of failing.

How EdTech Makes Learning Fun

As educational technology advances at lightning speed, teachers are gaining more opportunities to up the fun factor. Whether using interactive panels to introduce game-based learning or engaging students from the moment they walk in the door with digital bellringers, EdTech makes it easy for teachers to set the right tone in their classroom.

Here are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Use technology to spice up lectures

We’ve all done it—caught ourselves nodding off during a lecture (hoping nobody noticed that little puddle of drool on our desk). Let’s face it, lectures are not the most exciting things in the world. And yet, they remain a necessary and helpful tool in the classroom. But teachers can limit their time in lecture mode at the front of the class (“sage on the stage”) and breathe new life into lessons by incorporating some of the many wonderful EdTech resources at their fingertips.

Clear Touch Interactive® panels feature wireless connectivity. This allows you to come out from behind your laptop, walk around the classroom with ease, and engage with students. The crystal-clear, HD display means that you can present high quality, enlarged images. Using the full suite of intuitive, educational software included with your interactive panel, as well as other web-based resources, can transform any lecture into an exciting, engaging lesson.

Enhance your lecture on bower birds with a YouTube video about the remarkable male nest building. Treat your third graders to a poetry reading from Shel Silverstein. Download digital books for primary students and never worry that kids in the back can’t see the pictures during circle time again. Clear Touch panels also let you include interactive maps and other graphics with your lessons. Both instructor and students can participate in the lecture lesson by interacting with the panel’s multi-touch capabilities. Thanks to the rapid-growth of online lessons and collaborative teaching communities, your options are practically limitless.

Facilitate collaboration with EdTech

Kids love working together. It’s way more engaging and fun—and it distributes the workload. Teachers understand that collaborative lessons foster student-directed learning and helps address multiple learning styles. Letting students collaborate also encourages students to develop their own perspectives and appreciate those of their peers. Collaboration is an important skill valued and expected by the employers students are preparing to work for in the future. EdTech facilitates collaboration both inside and outside of the classroom, allowing students to create multimedia presentations that cater to individual strengths within a group.

In the classroom, students can use personal or shared devices to work on group projects, creating presentations through sites like Visme and Piktochart. With multi touch capabilities and the split-quadrant feature, Clear Touch Interactive® panels allow multiple students to collaborate while working on the same device. This is particularly helpful when used in its table-top position. These same sites can be accessed by individual students outside the classroom for continued work on a group project, extending the learning experience.  

EdTech also makes presenting and interacting more fun. While it is important to engage students in discussion and to solicit their thoughts and feedback, many become nervous when put on the spot in from of their teachers and peers. Online discussion tools like Flipgrid and GoSoapBox allow students to post audio and/or video responses to questions posted by the teacher. Students can also engage with each other and offer feedback for continued development of a discussion. An added benefit to all of these types of programs is the teacher’s ability to track student engagement. This is very helpful in group projects where the weight of a project can often fall to one hyper-responsible student. Educational technology allows the teacher to see exactly who contributed to a project and how much.

Use technology to make a game of learning

The value of teaching through games is compelling. Games are not only a lot of fun, but they increase motivation in students. Games draw students into the learning process, foster a healthy sense of competition among students, and encourage students to reframe failures as stepping stones to greater success. When students experience learning through gaming, they grow more confident and independent in their thinking.

Programs like Google G Suite and Chrome browser offer plenty of low-cost and free games to incorporate into your lessons. Since Clear Touch Interactive® panels are software agnostic, you can easily open these games as well as popular educational programs like Starfall directly from the touch screen. In addition, our built-in educational software suite includes many customizable games for your lessons.

The best educational games nurture higher thinking skills and allow for create-your-own-adventure type experiences. When including game-based learning in your classroom, try to avoid games that offer arbitrary rewards, but rather games that challenge students to make difficult choices that lead to interesting and meaningful outcomes.

Host guest speakers—from anywhere

Why be the only instructor in your classroom? Mix it up with an occasional guest speaker. Someone who is a specialist on that genetics study in your science class. Or the Southern Gothic author who will make Faulkner come alive for your literature students. Guest lecturers offer fresh perspectives and can connect students’ academic learning to real-world scenarios and issues. They can give students a vision for where their education can take them.

Can’t afford to fly in an expert? No worries. Advanced teleconferencing software has created a shrinking planet. You can invite anyone from anywhere in the world to speak to your class live, often at no cost and with very few logistical hurdles. Bring speakers in through the magic of Google Hangouts Meet, Skype, or FaceTime. Skype even offers a list of guest speakers willing to volunteer to visit your students. Clear Touch panels are compatible with all video conferencing software—not need to set up any additional equipment. Students can see and hear the guest lecturer clearly on a large, HD display with rich audio, while the built-in camera allows the speaker to see the audience.  

From the perspective of the teachers, what’s the greatest thing about making learning fun? Dopamine. That’s right. That critical little neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, in the brain that aids in transmission of signals. But more than that, it’s our brain’s pleasure signal, our internal reward system. When we do things we enjoy, our brains reward us with a little shot of feel-good dopamine. And what does that mean for the classroom learner? Two things. First, we tend to continue to do things that make us feel good. When we have fun learning, we want to keep learning more. And secondly, the presence of dopamine during the learning process heightens the transfer of information to our long-term memory.

So go ahead—let the fun begin. Make your classroom the place to be. Incorporate EdTech to make your job easier and more enjoyable, and watch your students fall in love with learning. Take a little advice from The Cat in the Hat: “It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

Introducing Educational Technology in the Preschool Classroom

We’ve all seen toddlers interacting with their parents’ smartphones, mimicking mommy talking to a friend, taking a picture, or surfing the web. Kids today don’t know a world without handheld devices and sophisticated interactive media. Chances are your preschooler knows his way around a touch screen as well or better than the grownups in his life.

Since kids are naturally interested in these devices, preschool is the prime time to introduce educational technology into the classroom. As with all resources, the best educators incorporate technology with intention. With a little planning, teachers can use EdTech to engage preschoolers, work on problem-solving, or help students learn to work in groups.

Want to see a cutting-edge Preschool Program that is using Clear Touch Interactive® panels in creative ways? Check out the Weslaco ISD Pre-K Program.

5 Effective Ways to Include EdTech in Preschool

Sound use of EdTech should honor and enhance the learning of the early childhood student without usurping or stifling their creativity and natural sense of exploration. Clear Touch Interactive® panels for education give your classroom that capability and help you strike that balance.

Consider these effective ways to include edtech in the preschool classroom:

Use apps and software that encourage creative problem solving rather than drilling.

There are thousands of apps and games out there for early learning, and some are much better than others. Avoid programs that reduce children to passive receivers of information or entertainment. And while drills may hone certain skills, they do not engage the creative brain of a child. Open-ended apps like speakaboos and Leo’s Pad offer excellent interactive, adaptive learning programs that are perfect for the classroom. In addition, Clear Touch Interactive® panels put engaging games and activities literally at your fingertips. Our Snowflake Multiteach collaborative software suite comes automatically loaded on your panel, ready to use in minutes with no annual subscription.

Remember, EdTech is good screen time.

There is compelling research to support limiting a child’s screen time each day—in fact, we’d all do good to be mindful how much and what kind of screen time is in our day. But young children, especially, need to have enough unstructured time each day to engage in creative play and remain physically active.

However, collaborative EdTech is different than unsupervised, unregulated use and interaction with iPads, smartphones, and other personal devices. The key to quality screen time is interaction. Spending too much time alone, engrossed with YouTube videos or video games changes toddlers’ brain chemistry, making them more hyper, more irritable, and less likely to get quality sleep. Intentional use of educational technology with large screens, on the other hand, results in productive brain engagement for young learners. Children playing educational games, working together with other students and the teacher, challenges the brain and teaches helpful technology skills. This kind of activity also helps young kids develop social skills in the classroom. Likewise, watching a high quality educational video followed by a talk and discussion time is a very positive use of technology.

Clear Touch Interactive® panels are designed specifically with group engagement and interactivity in mind. Clear Touch panels are excellent for little learners, especially when adjusted to a low, tabletop position. Preschool students can gather around the panel to play games and other collaborative projects by setting the panel at the perfect low height position on a convertible or adjustable mobile stand.

Realize that sometimes the pretend device is just as good as the real thing.

As we just mentioned, it’s easy to get too much of a good thing with screen time. As educators, we still want to provide and facilitate plenty of real-world engagement and play. Children can create amazing imaginative play with only bare bones for tools. Ask any grandma who’s bought her grandchild a shiny new toy, only to have him spend more time exploring the box it came in, or giving preferential treatment to banging her pots and pans.

The same holds true for tech devices in the classroom. The imaginary play center in a classroom doesn’t need a real stove or real babies in order for children to play house. Similarly, the classroom doesn’t need to be equipped with real iPads or computers to develop children’s curiosity about using them. Provide blocks or old devices without batteries—and other things that can stand in for the real deal. Your kiddos will have a blast booking lunch dates, chatting with friends, and playing exciting imaginary video games.

Choose programs that are child-friendly and appropriate that promote positive social interaction and collaboration.

One of the last things we want to happen is for technology in the classroom to isolate kids and replace interaction with classmates and teachers. The teacher-student relationship and other social interactions are the foundation of the healthy learning environment, and no EdTech can trump that. Instead, the most effective programs for young children allow them to work together in pairs or small groups, interacting and collaborating. Your Clear Touch Interactive® panel provides the perfect set-up for such use. With 20 points of simultaneous touch, multiple children can use the panel at once. In tabletop position, the panel becomes an ideal ELA or Math learning center. Students can work and play on the touchscreen (at just the perfect height for little ones). They can even play similar but different games when the screen is divided into up to four separate individualized active zones.

Use tools and devices yourself to deliver material to students in creative ways.

Not all the use of EdTech in your classroom need be at the hands of the students. There are plenty of ways in which you as the teacher can use technology to enrich their learning environment that do not include direct hands-on use by the learners. Education technology allows teachers to enhance instruction, document data, improve communication, and improve assessments. Along with the Clear Touch Snowflake Multiteach collaborative software, comes a resource for early childhood educators. Through our Snowflake Multiteach Lessons community, teachers can create and share vibrant, interactive learning experiences. You can record and archive lessons with EasiCapture, so you can build a library of digital resources.

When it comes to educating young children, meaningful relationships and high-quality content are the foundation. Without those core elements, the most innovative technology accomplishes very little. But add cutting-edge, effective educational technology to the toolbox of an outstanding teacher, and the possibilities are endless. We make it our mission at Clear Touch to come alongside educators and equip them with the most cutting-edge, accessible, and user-friendly technology to take their already excellent instructing to the next level.

Walton County School District – Using Clear Touch™ to Support Student-Centered Learning

Located along the coast on Florida’s panhandle, WCSD serves 10,000 students grades K through 12. Notably, the district is home to a diverse selection of schools, from Title 1 schools to incredibly affluent schools—and has found creative, effective ways to address the needs of all. The progressive and innovative school district is a proponent of public choice options, offering three charter schools, two alternative schools, a career development center school, and virtual instruction opportunities to better serve and reach their students.

The top-performing district is also committed to academic excellence and has high standards for employees and students. As a result, the WCSD has maintained the State Board of Education’s Academically High Performing School District designation for seven consecutive years.

Recently, Walton County partnered with Clear Touch Interactive® to bring 21st Century technologies to all district classrooms.

Walton County School District Stats

The Search for a New Digital Teaching Platform

“All of our classrooms had legacy interactive whiteboards, so we wanted to refresh technology district-wide,” said Henry Martin, the CIO for Walton County School District. “That was the driving force behind our search for a new solution. The technology was quite old and outdated, and we knew it was time to move into the digital world with a digital platform.”

Martin, along with several members of his IT team, had gotten the chance to see the Clear Touch™ panel in action at a conference three years before their search for a new solution began, and what he saw stuck with him.

“The Clear Touch™ panel piqued my interest from the moment I saw it,” said Martin. “When it was time to start a pilot program to test out a new digital learning platform for our district, I called Clear Touch™ first.”

Henry Martin and his team installed several different brands and types of interactive panels in one classroom at Freeport Elementary School for testing and comparison.

“We had one teacher who was known for being the best at the ActivBoard, so we put the panels in her classroom for a few months so she could compare them and make a recommendation,” explained Martin. “She came back to us after just a couple weeks and told us there was no comparison. The Clear Touch™ panel included the software suite and had superior support and online training available. She liked the feel of the panel and the touch response. Overall, she thought that the panel was a simpler, packaged, all-in-one platform with a higher-quality look. She preferred the Clear Touch™ panel by far.”

“The Clear Touch panel piqued my interest the first time I saw it.”

— Henry Martin
CIO for Walton County School District

 

Installing Clear Touch Interactive® Panels District-Wide

After this initial recommendation, Martin and his team began their technology overhaul, buying and installing eight panels in that same school, Freeport Elementary, when they did a renovation. In the summer of 2017, they were able to outfit about half the schools with Clear Touch™ interactive panels, installing a total of 325 panels district-wide.

“We jumped head first into the project and got as many panels as our budget and schedule would allow,” Martin said. “Now, we’re finishing up Phase 2 of the project and installing about 300 additional panels. In the fall semester of 2018, every classroom in our district will have a brand new digital Clear Touch™ panel.”

In addition to the interactive panels, all elementary school classrooms have the adjustable mobile stands while the media center in each school is equipped with an interactive panel and a tabletop stand so teachers can create learning stations.

The installation went well with very few challenges or setbacks, which Martin partly credits to the control standards at Clear Touch Interactive®.

“One thing that many people forget to consider before purchasing an interactive panel is the DOA rate. Clear Touch™ has a DOA rate of under one-percent, which is unbelievably low for digital panels,” said Martin. “Most manufacturers are much closer to five-percent or even ten-percent. That may not make much of a difference if you’re buying a handful of panels for one school, but when you’re rolling out nearly 625 panels district-wide, it can have an impact. Clear Touch™ not only has fewer panels that are DOA, they also get any panels that don’t work repaired and sent back quickly, which makes the installation process so much more enjoyable.”

Walton County School District Infographic

Implementation and Training

After installation, WCSD started off with one training at the beginning of the school year, followed by a more advanced training in January after several months of classroom use. From an IT perspective, implementation and training have gone smoothly with no disruption to the learning environment or negative impact on classroom time. “We did the installation during the summertime to minimize disruption and had training the first day the teachers came back—panels are so intuitive that once you have a panel and go through a couple trainings, you’re pretty adept” said Martin.

According to Martin, the intuitive platform is part of the reason that implementation is easier with Clear Touch™, but the biggest differentiator is the platform’s simple connectivity and compatibility with third-party applications.

“What really makes the difference, the big seller for me, is the built-in software and the panel’s compatibility with existing software,” Martin said. “Teachers can keep using all of their digital lessons from previous years, which means they don’t have to switch all at once during the most hectic time of the year. We’ve had Promethean for over a decade, so there’s a comfort level there when the teachers realize they can keep using the resources they’ve created over the past 10 years and learn on their own timeline. It’s much less overwhelming.”

The Clear Touch Interactive® panels have also led to more teacher collaboration over the past year.

“Teachers learn the new software and build up new lessons gradually. As they learn the capabilities, they really like the new software and start to teach each other. The training process truly becomes teacher-driven, just like the classroom learning experience becomes student-driven,” said Martin. “Teachers use the panels in a real learning environment, think of things they’d like to be able to do, and reach out to other teachers or one of our digital specialists for support. IT isn’t constantly getting calls to troubleshoot software or connection problems. Clear Touch™ makes it so easy to switch; the transition is smooth, painless, better for everyone.”   

So far, the teachers and students have nothing but praise for the interactive panels and what they’re able to accomplish in the classroom.

“I keep hearing reports that student engagement is up, learning time is used more effectively, and creating lessons is easier and more fun. The teachers absolutely love the panels, especially the clarity and the smooth touch response. Shadows, dim bulbs, lag time and recalibration were ongoing issues that slowed teachers down when they were working with interactive whiteboards,” Martin said. “I’ve had lots of positive feedback and not a single negative comment. I’m not surprised. The difference between a bulky, outdated projector and a digital panel is night and day.”

Walton County Classroom

Bibb County School District – Choosing a Classroom Solution with Far-Reaching Benefits

Bibb County School District is a technologically-sophisticated district in Macon, Georgia. Comprised of 34 schools and 4 specialty schools, Bibb County strives to prepare all students for success in a 21st-century global society. In light of this mission, several years ago the district began looking for a better solution and replacement for their outdated interactive projectors.

“Interactive panels have been the newest, best technology for students for a while now,” said Rose Powell, the Executive Director of Technology Services & REAA for Bibb County School District. “Before choosing Clear Touch, we’d been going to conferences, looking at different panels, and having in-depth discussions with a number of vendors.”

Eventually, Powell and her team narrowed down their search to three different panels, which they asked media specialists in the district to test out and give their feedback. The selection team also asked teachers to test the panels to help with the decision.

“We evaluated the panels at both the district and the school level, bringing in the people who are actually going to be the ones using the technology every day,” said Powell. “The functionality of the Clear Touch panel sold it. Because the panel did so much but was still so easy-to-use, the teachers fell in love. They were comfortable getting up and using the panel right away. They had confidence that they could transition to the new technology without disrupting their classrooms. I think this is Implementing Technology 101. It’s imperative that the teachers and the schools have a say and understand what they’re getting.”

Bibb County Stats

Implementing Clear Touch™ Panels District-Wide

According to Powell, they began their comprehensive, district-wide implementation of over 1500 panels at 38 schools with a pilot program at a single school. “The pilot went very well. Everything that comes with the Clear Touch panel is so easily adaptable and customizable, from the software to the stands, mounts, and optional PC unit,” Powell said. “That was the main reason we decided to move forward district-wide. We knew this was a comprehensive solution that we could make work for many different applications.”

In order to manage such a large-scale installation, Bibb County and Clear Touch™ began the process in the summer, working all day and night to get the first round of panels up and running. Installations continued during the school year, in the evenings. From start-to-finish, it took about 18 months to get panels installed in every classroom in the district, and Bibb County continues to add panels to classrooms as they grow as a district.

“The installation was complex but it went incredibly smoothly,” said Powell. “For most classrooms, we chose the wall mounts, and we standardized the height for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms throughout the district. For our assistive classrooms, we have the adjustable mobile C-stands for greater accessibility.”

The installation team at Bibb County decided to bring in additional audio functionality for each panel set-up.

“In each classroom, we also installed audio and video solutions that included four connected external speakers to ensure consistent volume throughout the classroom. This decision meant that Clear Touch had to collaborate with a third-party vendor during installation, and they handled it beautifully,” said Powell.

Bibb County also chose to equip every panel with the optional onboard PC unit, which Powell believes transforms the panel from a useful presentation tool to a comprehensive hub for classroom engagement and school-wide collaboration.

“Of course, teachers can connect to the panel and pull up lessons from laptops, jump drives, or any personal device. But having the built-in PC means that everything they need is always right there, accessible directly from the panel,” said Powell. “Our old, interactive whiteboards had a hard connection, so teachers were tethered to their workstations when they presented. If they brought in a guest to co-present or if the students were working on a project, they had to turn over their computer. Now, they can use the panel as a presentation tool, learning station, and collaboration tool without ever tying up the workstation.”

So far, the IT team has spoken to teachers who use the panels for virtual field trips, mystery Skype sessions, daily learning centers, and much more. The teachers have told the team that they particularly enjoy having everything connected and ready-to-go without having to be calibrated.

“I can’t overstate the benefit of the intuitive, sensitive touch screen. It’s a beautiful thing to watch,” Powell said. “With the interactive whiteboards, teachers had to calibrate all the time, sometimes in the middle of a lesson. It could easily get off, teachers could accidentally erase everything, there was lots of lag time, which is all very frustrating for someone trying to move through various activities in a classroom. Now, teachers just turn their panels on. That’s it.” Another benefit that the teachers have discovered is the ability to use the panel as a platform for their favorite cloud-based software programs, creating a fully-integrated classroom experience.

“We have school-wide access to the Clear Touch software suite, Microsoft 365, and other cloud-based applications,” Powell said. “We’ve customized all of these programs with our district logo, which gives our schools a sense of continuity and community. Overall, the teachers love the look and feel of the panels. They’ve taken our classrooms from old, legacy systems to being one of the top districts in the country for teacher-ready tech in every classroom.”

“I can’t overstate the benefit of the intuitive, sensitive touch screen. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

— Rose Powell
Executive Director of Technology Services & REAA for Bibb County School District

 

Beyond the classroom: Clear Touch™ Panels as Professional Development Devices

Bibb County didn’t stop at the classroom. They are now in the last stages of installation and implementation, equipping all media centers, conference centers, and professional development and other collaboration rooms across the district with interactive panels.

“It was important to us to have the same experience in other offices and areas in the schools and throughout the district that we’ve created in the classroom,” said Powell. “These areas are where teachers, parents, students, and administrators meet, present, and collaborate.”

Powell and her team are impressed with all of the far-reaching applications their schools have found for the panels in the first two years of the initiative.

“The panel is the ideal presentation device. The teachers enjoy having them in the training and professional development rooms because presenters have everything they need in one unit,” Powell said. “That makes it easy for presenters to come in, access their presentation online or wirelessly connect to their device, and get started with zero downtime. My IT teams love them because the teachers can get going without any set-up, A/V, or other tech support. It’s a packaged, all-in-one solution.”

In addition to regular school in-service days and professional development, Bibb County has discovered unique value in having a standardized experience across every school in the district.

“We have the webcam and a video production center at the district offices, and we use it to create webinars for the teachers that we deliver through a virtual live feed,” Powell explained. “The teachers can attend high-quality training sessions in real-time without having to travel to us. By delivering the training to every school, we’re able

to reach a lot more teachers in a way that’s much more effective. All teachers can participate collaboratively in their own classroom or the professional development room, practicing on the same device the presenter is using, rather than watching a video recording later.”

Being able to reach more teachers at once has both cut down on professional development costs for Bibb County and boosted teacher morale. As Powell explained, teachers are tired after a long school day. They don’t want to drive out of their way to cram into an overbooked classroom to get their professional development days completed. Instead, the district preserves teacher time to prevent burnout and fatigue.

“We’ve even been able to use video conferencing to bring in expert professionals from around the country without having to incur travel and hotel costs,” said Powell. “In every way, the panels provide our district with a better ROI for professional development. We can offer effective, district-wide training, and there’s no limit on how many people we can reach at once. The teaching is world-class and it’s direct training, not redelivery.”

Bibby County Infographic

Helping Bring Clear Touch™ to Other Districts

Due to the success that Bibb County has experienced with the Clear Touch Interactive® panels, their classroom configuration is quickly becoming the gold standard in the state of Georgia.

“I have other district IT departments and administrators from around the state contact me all the time. We bring them in, showcase our classrooms, even sit in for our professional development sessions. I present what we’ve experienced so far at educational conferences as well,” Powell said.

Overall, when Powell explains why Bibb County chose Clear Touch™ panels, the discussion always goes back to ROI. According to Powell, the true value of the interactive panels lies in the smooth transfer of knowledge, no matter what the application. Whether the school district is using the panels for classroom learning, professional development sessions, or parent and community presentations, the Clear Touch™ panels make the experience easier for everyone, more engaging, and more fun.

“We did our research to make sure we were going with a company with a tried and true product, a company that stands behind their work. We also knew that the product would have to be something that we had the ability to support and maintain over the life of the project. There’s a lot of planning and calculating that goes into a decision like this, and Bibb County takes that responsibility very seriously,” Powell said. “We want to get the ROI we expect, but these panels have far exceeded our expectations. When all teachers are on the same device and there’s no gap in understanding, then the technology becomes an unbelievable benefit rather than a barrier.”

How to Use Technology In The Classroom to Teach Writing

You mean we have to write another book report when we finish reading?

A term paper? On Manifest Destiny? But why? What’s that got to do with me?

Yeah, but what if I never write a letter to the editor?

These are the kinds of questions a writing instructor never wants to hear, but probably does on a regular basis. Every child needs to achieve a certain level of competency in writing skills in order to be successful in the world. But this subject is often drudgery to the average student. The good news? Learning to write doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful, even for kids who don’t like writing at all. Blended learning opportunities available through educational technology can make an in-depth writing assignment on even the chronicles of the Punic Wars come alive.

Set Your Students Up for Success by Integrating Technology in the Writing Process

If teaching writing sometimes feels like pulling teeth, keep reading. Digital writing tools help make the labor-intensive writing process easier and more fun for students—and a lot less stressful for teachers. Online tools can do everything from helping students begin their initial brainstorming to giving them more timely, relevant feedback.

Want to see how that works? Let’s take those Punic Wars and assign them to a handful of students and see what they can do with them, equipped with the right tools.

Make it easy for them to do research—together.

Using educational technology, students can divvy up the specific events or aspects of the Punic Wars that they want to focus on. They then research separately outside of class, during class time on personal devices, or as a unified group working on the Clear Touch Interactive® panel. The panel can be divided into quadrants where multiple students can research simultaneously and share results in real time. Student A scans for articles outlining the causes of the Wars in one quadrant, while Student B watches videos about Hannibal hauling his drunk elephants over the Alps and cartoons depicting the whole ordeal in fewer than 5 minutes. Still another student finds and saves relevant maps and other geographical details.

This mode of work is familiar and comfortable to today’s learner: together, yet independent—and able to collaborate as they find valuable information for their assignment. Working this way feels more active and engaging, challenging each student to find and share relevant information with peers. Researching with friends is a lot more fun than sitting alone and bleary-eyed in front of a computer at 2 am, trying to finish your essay the night before it’s due.

For the actual writing process, think outside the notebook.

Plenty of learners like to jot down ideas the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. However, they also know their way around a keyboard and often find typing easier than handwriting their essays and other assignments. Capitalize on this skill by offering your Punic Wars team a virtual writing room where they can brainstorm, write, edit, and offer feedback collaboratively, and in real time. Tools like Omniwriter can help students limit distractions while they write independently, while Google Docs, Google Slides, and our own software, Snowflake Lessons Online, can act as collaborative writing spaces.

With Snowflake Lessons Online, you’ll be able to jump into the process too, offering editorial feedback and soliciting comments from them about their writing process. You can even use the online lessons community to complete formative assessments without dragging home hundreds of research notebooks or notecards.

Everybody loves an audience.

It’s hard to get inspired to write about how expert scientists think Hannibal’s elephants really made it across the Alps if you know the only person who is going to read your masterpiece is your writing teacher. And he already knows more about the Punic Wars than you do. Considering your audience is one of the first steps to writing well, but it’s difficult to do in the abstract.

So why not have our Punic War Research Team produce an engaging podcast based off their writing assignment?

Today’s learner thrives when given a real-world audience. Most of them are used to that already, through self-expression on social-media. Sites like Soundcloud provide students with a forum to produce, upload, and share their very own podcasts based off their original writing projects, whether academic or creative in nature. Privacy settings allow students to share with the whole world, or only the peers in his own class, flipped classroom style. Podcasts are also a great tool for shared learning and connection with a “pen pal” class from a different country and culture, where kids swap projects.

Producing podcasts encourages students to hone their writing skills as well as their fluency in reading and presenting. While making a podcast, a student can read (or speak) her presentation as many times as necessary until it sounds solid and polished.

Incorporate multimedia to bring the writing alive!

Now that these kids are experts on ancient battles between the Romans and the Carthaginians, they are ready to bring all their findings together in one place. It’s time to bring that podcast to life with the addition of some visual and interactive materials. Remember those maps, graphics, and video clips they gathered on the Clear Touch Interactive® panel during the research process? With their podcast as the background narration (or they can speak their essay live to their class), these students can pull together their various components using to produce an exciting multimedia presentation. Our Canvas educational software gives students an infinite whiteboard to build presentations that they can share with the entire class.

An interactive multimedia presentation transforms a unidirectional written paper into an engaging lesson intended for a reactive audience. The students who create the project are able to maximize their own learning strengths while delivering relevant content that appeals to a variety of learning styles among the members of their audience. Flipping the classroom and asking students to present their findings in an interactive way can strengthen understanding of written text for both the author and audience.

While the core elements of good writing do not change, our methodology for teaching is ever-evolving. Today’s students are preparing for a world and workplace that expect collaboration among peers and colleagues, integration of multimedia with writing, and use of knowledge and skills to address real-world problems. As educators, we bear a responsibility to provide opportunities for students to explore, manipulate, and create a variety of media to give them the best edge in a competitive world. It is our goal at Clear Touch to equip teachers with the best innovative tools to help their students succeed beyond the classroom.

Interested in seeing more ways that you can use the Clear Touch Interactive® panel to bring your classroom to life? Schedule a Live Online Demo today.