Clear Touch Team

20 Incredibly Useful Websites You’ll Wish You’d Heard About Sooner

We’re in the business of helping our corporate clients connect, network, and collaborate more efficiently. Clear Touch Interactive® panels for business are an all-in-one solution that arrive walk-up ready with a full suite of built-in business software for annotating, collaborating, giving presentations, hosting remote team meetings, and more.

However, our panels are also device and software agnostic—which means you can use any software, cloud-based tool, or other resource from any device that you prefer. Here are 20 of our favorite useful websites that can help your team members be more productive, collaborate better, and gain new skills online.

Our Favorite Business Websites:

 

Best Websites to Help You Brush Up Your Work Skills

Research shows that continuing education not only improves your mental health and reduces your chances of developing dementia. It also helps you thrive both professionally and personally—and remain adaptable and open-minded throughout your life. Here are four of our favorite web resources that help users keep their work-skills sharp, often from the comfort of their own homes:

  1. MeetUp
    It’s no secret that we tend to learn best from our peers. Join other users in your area to swap skills and learn about everything from bartending to SEO. MeetUp is an easy-to-use website that categorizes groups by areas of interest and gives users the opportunity to grow professionally and socially—typically free of charge. Increase your network, sharpen your skills, and discover new opportunities in your area, all from one convenient platform.
  2. Lynda
    Stay current with on-demand elearning from Lynda, LinkedIn’s online learning platform. This website features over 4,000 courses led by experts in software development, business, design, web development, and more. The only drawback to this resource is that using it requires a team license, and you have to contact Lynda for individual pricing. However, once you have a license, everyone on your team has access to unlimited courses. There’s also a 30-day free trial, so sign up and try before you buy.
  3. Udemy
    The Udemy platform is similar to Lynda but allows for ad hoc pricing so that individual users can pursue topics that interest them. While the courses can be pricey, Udemy often runs intro specials and flash sales, dropping per course prices to $9.99 or $10.99 a piece. Udemy for Business is the platform’s subscription-based service for teams and begins at $240/per team member per year for unlimited access.
  4. Inc.edu
    Ready to turn your side hustle into a legitimate business? Want to get your start-up going fast? Inc’s educational program promises to teach would-be entrepreneurs all of the business skills necessary to go from idea to launch in just 5 weeks. Learn how to establish your brand, build an effective business plan, and more. The $395 enrollment fee includes a weekly syllabus of live workshops led by proven entrepreneurs, access to real coaches, and personalized feedback. There’s even a money-back guarantee.

Honorable Mentions

Best Websites to Help You Brush Up Your Work Skills

By now, we all know that multitasking is a myth—but we may still be having trouble breaking our browsing habits. Fortunately, there are a number of online tools that can help us focus, automatically track our time, cut back on unproductive time, and set up more streamlined workflows. Here are our four top picks:

  1. RescueTime
    If you really want to know where all your time is going every day, then RescueTime is the tool for you. Once installed, RescueTime runs securely in the background of your computer and mobile devices, automatically logging how you’re spending your time. Once you have a full picture of your time management skills, you’re better able to break any unproductive habits. RescueTime also allows users to set personalized alerts when they’ve spent a certain amount of time on an activity, giving a gentle nudge to move on. The premium version of the service even includes a feature that will block your ‘blacklisted’ distracting websites for a predetermined amount of time. See which activities are sucking up your time, set goals, and get results. The basic version of RescueTime is free while the premium version costs just $9/per month.
  2. Productivity Owl
    For those who are truly addicted to time-sucking websites—and may be in need of more than a gentle nudge—there’s the Productivity Owl. The Owl is like a personal trainer for productivity, getting in your face if you start to waste too much time on distracting websites. The Productivity Owl is a Chrome extension. Once you’ve downloaded it, the Owl follows you as you browse the web, swooping in and shutting down your tab if you’ve been on a time-wasting website for too long. Users can schedule break times throughout the day for undisturbed browsing, block or allow specific websites, set their own time limits for browsing, and save interesting websites for later.
  3. IFTTT
    Ever feel like you have trouble syncing all of your activity across multiple online platforms, social media outlets, apps, and smart devices? IFTTT stands for If This, Then That—and it’s a free platform that was created to solve exactly this problem. IFTTT gets all of the things you do online talking to each other, allowing users to create custom recipes or triggers to automate everything from email responses, calendar invites, scheduling meetings, and social media postings.
  4. Zapier
    Similar to IFTTT, Zapier makes it easy for users to set up Zaps, or automated workflows that increase productivity. Simply connect your favorite apps, accounts, and websites so they can share data, set triggers, and start getting more done. Using Zapier doesn’t require any code, and the basic version is free. The premium version costs $20/per month and allows users to create Zaps that have more than 3 steps.

Honorable Mentions

Best Websites to Get You More Organized

One of the ways to be more productive is to get more organized, eliminating potential distractions before they even come across your desk (or your desktop). Here are four resources that enable users to better arrange their work, save important links for later, and keep information securely in place:

  1. Cyfe
    Create a beautiful, visual dashboard for all of your business applications in minutes and monitor everything from one place. This platform is perfect for people who get distracted by tabs or hate logging in and checking multiple communication channels each morning. Cyfe integrates with all major business websites and applications, including Google, Slack, Trello, Shopify, MailChimp, and countless other services. Link the websites that you use most frequently and enjoy a sleek, streamlined interface that gives you an instant overview of how your business is performing, outstanding tasks, and more. Cyfe is free for individual use and just $19/per user per month for the premium version.
  2. Pocket
    After you’ve gotten all your business applications organized in one place, consider installing the Pocket button on your toolbar to save interesting articles and resources with one click. Pocket is like your browser’s built-in bookmark feature, except that it saves links across multiple devices. Users can save a link on their desktop and easily read it later on their mobile device—or vice versa. Build your digital library in one place and eliminate the hassle of searching for that story you wanted to read or that recipe you were dying to try. Pocket is free to use for the standard version or $44.99 a year for the premium version.
  3. Feedly
    Like Pocket, Feedly is a content curation tool, but it includes additional features such as easy, customized organization and social sharing. Feedly also allows users to set keyword alerts for topics that interest them, which is a great way to keep track of all press releases and website articles related to your business or industry. Finally, the pro version of Feedly, which costs $45 annually, gives users more collaboration tools, Dropbox integration, advanced search capabilities, and custom sharing options.    
  4. LastPass
    This service was designed to be the last password you’ll ever need. LastPass takes all of the frustration out of online security by generating strong, randomized passwords and automatically updating passwords on a regular schedule. All you have to do is add your frequently-visited websites to your LastPass vault and then remember one master password to get into all listed websites. Even better, LastPass is surprisingly affordable at $24/per year for the premium personal version. Businesses can purchase access for just $29/per user per year.

Honorable Mentions

Best Websites for Collaboration

Getting everyone on the same page, or the same digital platform, can be daunting. In the past, businesses regularly dealt with long, messy email chains, missed deadlines, and unclear communication. Now, there are a number of online tools that create team dashboards, use instant messaging for quick communication, and share calendars and bulletin boards:

  1. Trello
    You’ve probably already heard about this Kanban-style productivity and collaboration tool—but all the hype is justified. Trello is completely free, and its easy-to-use interface includes boards, columns, and colorful drag-and-drop cards that allow users to approach project management in a fun, flexible, and highly-visible way. It’s the digital equivalent of using Post-It notes on a bulletin board. Trello works equally well for freelancers, personal projects, and business teams. For teams, color-coded cards help everyone understand which tasks are the most time-sensitive.
  2. ProofHub
    An all-in-one project management tool, ProofHub enables users to bring teams and clients together in a single location. Share feedback on files in real-time to speed up the document review and approval process, set custom roles, track time, create workflows, and much more. The user interface is uncluttered and intuitive, making ProofHub fun to use. The Essential version includes all of the core features for $45/per month billed annually for unlimited users. The Ultimate Control version includes more advanced features and costs $89/per month billed annually for unlimited users.
  3. Slack
    This tool doesn’t really need any introduction. Slack was one of the first online collaboration tools to popularize instant messaging as an effective business tool. If you’ve ever used Slack, then you know that it feels like the digital version of dropping by your coworker’s desk to ask a quick question—making it especially helpful for businesses that manage a remote workforce. In addition, Slack integrates with Dropbox, Box, and Google Docs. The smart, simple platform allows users to organize messages into channels, send group or direct messages, and supports video calling. Slack has an impressive free version, and the highest tier, Plus version costs only $12.50/per user per month.
  4. CoSchedule
    Nearly every small business has to manage some level of content creation these days—CoSchedule is a content management system that integrates with platforms like WordPress, Google Drive, Evernote, and social media channels.  CoShedule works well for everyone from full-scale marketing agencies and in house marketing teams to small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. Manage workflows, run analytics, schedule social media posts, manage a marketing calendar, run email marketing campaigns and much more from one simplified platform. The only downside to CoSchedule is the price. The basic version costs $60/per month if billed annually while the Enterprise version is $1200/per month billed annually.

Honorable Mentions

Best Websites to Deepen Your Professional and Customer Relationships

The relationships you maintain are your company’s most valuable asset—whether with clients, vendors, colleagues, or employees. Here are four amazing tools to help you manage and grow those relationships more easily:

  1. Insightly
    Insightly is a popular, comprehensive CRM that helps users grow their relationships and better understand their customers. One of the more innovative features of this platform is relationship linking, which automatically builds and displays links between contacts, projects, organizations, tasks, and emails. Insightly also integrates with mobile devices for companies that manage a remote workforce or have salespeople in the field. The Plus version costs $29/per user per month billed annually, and the Enterprise version is $99/per user per month. Insightly also offers support packages for ongoing training and professional development.
  2. Streak
    An amazingly cool CRM that allows users to complete all relationship management tasks directly from their Gmail accounts without switching back and forth between email and legacy CRM solutions. Know who you know and what you know about them—automatically. Streak requires no manual record entry as it automatically pulls content from email conversations into the CRM. The platform is intuitive and ultra-easy to set up and begin using, especially for those already familiar with the Gmail interface (which, let’s face it, is virtually everyone). It’s no wonder that Streak boasts 675,000+ users and counting. The personal version of Streak is free while the highest-tiered professional version costs $99/per user per month.
  3. Kayako
    This cloud-based customer service solution is a bit different from the other websites in this category. Kayako gives users a simple, streamlined solution that helps small business owners listen to their customers and manage customer requests from multiple channels on a single platform. Kayako also enables users to provide both external and internal help desks so they can offer personalized support to their customers and their team members. While Kayoko targets small businesses, it’s also a favorite resource for large, multinational organizations such as GE and Toshiba. The cost for Kayako ranges from $15/per agent per month for small teams to $60/per agent per month for large organizations that are actively growing.  
  4. Traackr
    Not a CRM. Traackr calls itself an IRM platform—Influencer Relationship Management. Traackr uses an algorithm to score influencers in your company’s industry based on Reach, Resonance, and Relevance. The tool then helps you manage and track how and when you engage with them. Influencer marketing made simple. While Traackr is an easy-to-use and sophisticated tool, it is also pricey. Pricing is individual, but a single search for a top 25 list each month will run you about $499, and there is also a set-up fee.  

What are your favorite business tools? Want to see how these websites or any of your preferred platforms look on a large, crystal clear HD screen? Schedule a Live Online Demo to see our interactive panels in action.

Benefits of Educational Technology for Rural Schools

Rural schools have a number of advantages, including smaller class sizes and greater community involvement. Historically, however, they have also had more financial and logistical challenges than urban schools and have been less equipped to offer a broad range of classes and enrichment activities. With their higher per-pupil operating costs, less dense populations, and stretched budgets, rural schools often find it hard to compete with their suburban and urban counterparts. They simply lack the resources to offer the full array of opportunities afforded to larger schools with bigger budgets and greater access to teacher talent.  

This gap can potentially put rural students at a significant disadvantage, limiting their education, their college paths, and their professional choices. However, educational technology and other tools are beginning to bridge this gap, bringing a wider variety of educational resources to rural communities. More and more often, rural school districts are partnering with companies like Clear Touch Interactive to leverage technology in the classroom in order to provide a more thorough education for their students while still offering the strong community support that makes these schools effective for the populations they serve.

Technology in the Classroom Boosts Rural Education

Here are just a few innovative ways that technology can improve the quality of education in the rural classroom:

1. Wider Variety of Course Offerings

Rural schools often have smaller teaching forces to go along with their smaller student populations. Smaller faculties necessarily limit a school’s ability to offer specialized content, schedule a larger variety of class subjects, or incorporate more on-site talents and skills. Enter virtual learning. No longer boring, static videos, virtual learning has grown up and matured. Online classes are often live and interactive, with direct communication with and support from the remote instructor. Most can be accessed through a range of devices—smartphones, laptops, tablets, and more. These programs allow schools to expand their offerings and fill curricular gaps. Rural schools can offer more world languages, more specialized, higher-level programs like STEM classes, and more extensive Advanced Placement courses. iTunesU is one simple, smart (and free!) place for rural schools to get started offering an expanded course schedule. Of course, online courses and other remote learning opportunities become even more engaging and interactive on a large flat-panel with 20 points of simultaneous touch. With our educational software suite, students and classroom facilitators can easily participate in surveys, annotate lessons, share their screens with the class, and screen capture the lesson for future reference.

2. Expanded Library Access

Rural students typically have less access to books in their schools and through their public libraries. Public libraries in rural areas are hard-pressed to compete with their peer institutions in more densely populated areas. Many rural counties have only one small library. Staffing is limited, often with only one Master’s level librarian. Hours of operation are restricted and actual resources are limited. And even when a rural area has a vital public library, the children and adolescents it serves may find it near impossible to get there due to limited transportation or family schedules. Providing internet access and devices along with sites and programs like Google and Google Scholar equips students to read hundreds of thousands of texts and to research specific queries. Students in rural areas do not have to be scholastically compromised by the limited hard-print resources their schools may have. Information is at their fingertips.

3. Simulated Laboratories

The use of virtual laboratories have several key advantages over traditional laboratory learning. Access can be flexible. Students can engage with the experiment at the time that best fits their schedule, or when they learn best. Another valuable advantage is the ability to redo an experiment. In a more traditional lab, the cost and availability of supplies often means that practically, there may be only one opportunity. Whereas with a virtual lab, if a student makes a mistake, they can learn from it right away by redoing the experiment. Virtual labs make it possible to always have access to leading-edge equipment. Lab equipment is expensive and most schools could never afford to replace their equipment as regularly as more advanced equipment becomes available. But since virtual labs are shared by so many schools, and because they are in competition with each other, they have the flexibility and incentive to stay up-to-date. Several colleges and scientific organizations offer free and low-cost virtual laboratories, including the University of Colorado Boulder’s PhET Interactive Simulations Project, learningscience.org, labster.com, and The American Chemical Society.

4. Blended Learning

A greater percentage of rural districts are appreciating the benefits of blended learning, where students participate in a combination of online, distance learning and traditional brick-and-mortar classes. Not only does blended learning expand course offerings, but it creates much-needed flexibility in the students’ schedules and can save critical budget dollars. The correlation between rural districts and lower income families can mean students often have the added responsibility for contributing to family income or helping to care for younger siblings. Blended learning creates possibilities for students to adjust schedules to accommodate these other responsibilities. It can also facilitate a student’s need to be at home for stretches of time due to illness or family obligations. Schools also benefit from the added flexibility. When students can accomplish part of their learning outside the walls of the classroom, schools can actually consider three or four-day weeks, saving many thousands of budget dollars on bus transportation and hours per week of kids on the road.

Internet access in rural areas can be a challenge, with many rural students having no ability to get online at home. Furthermore, economic circumstances can mean kids do not have computers or other devices at home. Some districts are finding ways to fund countywide wireless networks in rural areas in order to better support student learning—and some larger corporations are finding creative solutions to the problem as well. For example, Google’s Rolling Study Hall is expanding to offer Chromebooks and Wi-Fi on school buses to thousands of rural students across the country to let them optimize learning during long commutes.

5. Virtual Field Trips

Rural schools, by their very nature, are more isolated geographically, and tend to be less affluent as well. This can result in fewer enrichment opportunities for their students. But through virtual field trips offered by programs like FieldTripZoom and Discovery Education, rural students can experience the whole world’s wonders. Harvard researcher Robert Putnam has done extensive research on problems caused by isolation and has concluded: “One of the most promising applications of technology in our public schools is the use of technology to transcend the physical classroom and combat this growing isolation.”

Virtual field trips allow students to get a sense of the world’s museums, explore the rainforests, the arctic, or connect with students of the same age from another culture on the other side of the world. While a virtual experience is not as enriching as a real-life encounter, it can certainly spark a sense of wonder and possibility. It may open a door for a child in a remote, rural community that she eventually walks through as an adult.

Not only do rural students benefit from educational tools and increased access to information and resources, but they grow and mature from the networking and connectedness created by technology. A world of global and diverse friendships is opened to them, expanding their horizons and vision of who and what they can be.

Improving and increasing the use of technology in the rural classroom is an ever-changing and ever-expanding field. There are still plenty of challenges imposed by funding and underdeveloped internet networking, but the future looks bright for rural schools. School districts are problem-solving and increasing the ways in which they incorporate technology into the rural classroom—and recent studies show that a greater number of rural students are graduating and pursuing higher education degrees than ever before.

Clear Touch Interactive® Adds Partner Portal for Qualified Resellers

Greenville, SC – Clear Touch Interactive® is proud to announce the next step in their continuing process to build and expand relationships with Clear Choice Reseller Partners with the launch of the Clear Touch Interactive® Partner Portal. This web-based portal exists to assist our Partners globally by providing the latest news, ongoing training, helpful marketing materials, and one stop access to exclusive Clear Choice Partner Program features.

Through this portal, Clear Touch™ will streamline communication with Reseller Partners and give them quick access to key documents and materials to assist them in responding to clients in a timely manner. The team aims to help resellers position themselves and Clear Touch™ as the preferred suppliers of interactive systems and software.

This portal is a one-stop shop for Reseller Partners to:

  •    Access Sales Incentive Program
  •    Download consultant and specifier-level technical information
  •    Keep up-to-date on news, updates, and marketing materials
  •    Acquire marketing materials for use, including specifications, case studies, and “Tips and Tricks” documents
  •    Book online live demonstrations for our mutual customers to experience our solutions

Additionally, Partners will be able to use our automated Opportunity Registration System to easily register new opportunities and stay on top of already-submitted ones. The automation will check for duplicate registrations and monitor and update the registrant on the status of each opportunity.

“We have been working for over a year to develop better processes that empower our resellers and therefore better serve our clients,” said Peter Taylor, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Clear Touch™. “This portal demonstrates our commitment to resellers and our continuing expansion as a company into the collaboration market.”

Clear Touch Interactive® is thrilled to announce this new website and to continue exploring new and innovative ways to make customers lives easier. Eligible resellers can access the portal now.

Please contact a Clear Touch™ representative today to find out more about becoming a Reseller Partner and the Partner Portal.

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ABOUT CLEAR TOUCH INTERACTIVE®

With twenty simultaneous points of touch and rapid refresh rates, Clear Touch panels feature a true multi-touch design that fuels collaborative experiences in education, government and business. They are made with 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.

Founded in 2012, Clear Touch Interactive®, Inc. is transforming interactive experiences by enabling educational institutions, government agencies and commercial enterprises to interact differently. Clear Touch panels, related accessories and software are designed to not only meet the demands of today’s highly collaborative business and educational environments, but also to provide a truly immersive experience.

 

Davie County builds a new high school with Teacher-Driven Technology, Part 2

A year in with Clear Touch Interactive® Panels

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series. View Part 1 here.

After a highly-successful selection process and implementation of Clear Touch™ technology in every classroom, Davie County High School has enjoyed a year of building on their initial training, finding new resources, and looking for creative ways to use the panels to support their teaching and learning goals.

In many ways, this effort to integrate the interactive displays has been spearheaded by a team of individuals, mostly teachers. The team consisted of Hugh Lee and Ann Davis, the Instructional Technology facilitators for Davie County High School, Yvette Shore, the Math department chair and National Board Certified lead STEM teacher.

SEEING THE RESULTS

Making a Difference in Classroom Instruction

“We do all of this only because it makes a difference in the classroom,” said Butch Rooney, the Chief Technology Officer for Davie County. “Every classroom in our new school and every teacher got the exact same setup. Not only core curriculum classes, but the Arts, CTE, EC and self-contained, ROTC, as well as electives. Everyone.”

While many schools provide this level of technology only for teachers of core curriculum classes, Lee sees tremendous value in providing it for all teachers.

“People thought we were crazy, but we found an amazing use for the panels in the CTE (Career & Technical Education) program right away,” said Lee. “We were already in the new school, but we hadn’t built the baseball and softball fields yet. The teacher of the carpentry and masonry classes contacted the architect, got PDFs of the dugouts and put them up on the panel for the students to see. Using the pinch-to-zoom feature, they focused in on the specific area they were working on that day, sent the image to the students’ phones, and then went out with the correct measurements to start building.

The students get real world practice, they get to refine their soft skills, like communicating and working together, and they get to take ownership of their school and their own education.

That’s one of our main goals with the technology this year. Instead of asking them to sit there and passively receive information, we want to see what they can do with it.”

Teachers such as Yvette Shore, who teaches Math, Michelle Shue, who teaches English and Yearbook, and Kathy Melious, who teaches physics, have also found some innovative uses for the panel.

“As a teacher, you can always tell which students are still processing and need more of your time. It’s so meaningful and powerful to be able to move around, be next to those students who are struggling without having to call them up to you, and build that rapport. I also love that I can easily record lessons, and I’m already starting to build up my library of additional resources so I can pull the video next year if I’m out.”

— Yvette Shore
Math Department Chair and National Board Certified Lead STEM Teacher for Davie County High School

“As a teacher, you can always tell which students are still processing and need more of your time,” Shore said. “It’s so meaningful and powerful to be able to move around, be next to those students who are struggling without having to call them up to you, and build that rapport. I also love that I can easily record lessons, and I’m already starting to build up my library of additional resources so I can pull the video next year if I’m out.”

In addition to the flexibility to provide more one-on-one support to students who need it, Shore is also excited about how simple the Clear Touch™ panel and the software suite make it to flip the classroom.

“I can get students to check their notes and some minimal instruction outside of class through the platform,” Shore said. “That frees up my class for group discussions, whole class instruction, student-led presentations, and questions. And I’ll tell you what really made a difference for my students. The day I walked into my Calculus class, snapped a picture of student work and sent it directly to the board. They all took note that now it’s immediate, we can analyze instantly, so they’re doing their homework before they get to class now and taking more ownership of their learning.”

Finally, Shore appreciates how well the panel works with other software solutions.

“In Math classes, there’s lots of great, subject-specific software available, and it’s all worked well on the Clear Touch™ panel,” said Shore. “For example, I found an online application that does graphing functions for Trigonometry, so students can write equations to match the graphs they’ve been given. I’m able to look at my iPad and see what each student is doing, I can go to the front of the classroom and pull up an individual student problem for class discussion, and students can also help each other in the same environment or early finishers can work challenge problems. There are a dozen ways to use it—it supports differentiation at its finest.”


Clear Touch™ Improves the Design Process for School Yearbook Class

Similarly, Michelle Shue has found unique ways to use the Clear Touch™ panels to support learning in her Yearbook classroom.

“Yearbook is supposed to be collaborative, especially when it comes to design, but in the past we’ve struggled with that,” said Shue. “We’d have to send our page layouts to individual team members, make changes, compare notes, and then send the layouts back to the desktop. Or we’d have to all crowd around a single desktop to try to see the layout. It’s easy to miss things that way, and it’s difficult to collaborate and be creative when there’s so much lag time with the technology you’re using. Clear Touch™ works great with the Adobe suite, including InDesign, so now we can throw the design onto the board and just play.”

One of the biggest benefits Shue sees in her classroom is the ability to help the younger designers learn faster.

“The zoom tool alone is amazing. We can zoom in on one aspect of the layout and the kids in the back can finally see it,” said Shue. “This has been especially helpful for teaching younger designers who may not speak up or give input as readily, or who, in the past, have been afraid to try something different because it would take so long to fix if they messed it up. Now, everyone can see and everyone can be part of the process. We can move things around together, put things back where they were, rearrange everything, test out how it looks if we make the picture bigger or smaller. We can put up templates and drag and drop design elements right on the board. We can design collaboratively in real-time—it can happen as quickly as they think about it.”

Shue has also begun creating time-lapse videos using the EasiCapture feature on the Clear Touch™ panels so designers can watch the process happening.

“When you edit a design, it’s nearly impossible to go back later and explain everything you did to transform it from a weaker design to a stronger design,” said Shue. “A million choices get made, and you just can’t go through every one of them. You can only go over the major changes in a holistic way, so students don’t really understand how the design became better. Now, I can show each step of the creation as it happens simply by pressing a button. Students get to see which choices they made that were good and where they could have made better choices. I’ve seen this practice boost my designers’ confidence already.”


Making Physics Fun and Memorable

Perhaps one of the most memorable uses for the Clear Touch panel during its first year at Davie High School occurred in Kathy Melious’ Physics class.

“In the Learning Commons, we have the convertible stand that changes the panel into a tabletop learning center,” said Melious. “My physics students were studying vector analysis and collision theory, so I found an online billiards game, virtual pool, and held a double-elimination tournament.”

Michelle Shue remembers the activity well.

“We have pictures from that day on our board right now, getting a design spread,” Shue laughed. “Ms. Melious and her class had so much fun with it, they made it look like a pool parlor in the Learning Commons those days.”

However, the activity provided more than a couple rounds of fun. It was game-based learning perfected.

“We were working with elastic or inelastic collisions, so I changed the rules of collisions as the students went along,” explained Melious. “We began with all inelastic collisions, like a real pool game, and played a couple games that way. Next, I changed the elasticity on some of the balls, made certain balls stick together more easily. I kept changing the rules and the formulas to keep students on their toes; they had to work fast and do the calculations in order to stay in the tournament and win.”

According to Shue, the activity was able to keep all 22 students engaged and learning for the entire class period.

“Every couple of minutes, it was their turn again and, when it wasn’t, they were watching their friends to figure out what they could do better next time,” said Melious.
“The class went by very quickly, and all of my students did well on that chapter. I’m definitely going to use this activity for vector analysis next year.”

Looking Forward to Year Two

All-in-all, the Clear Touch™ integration has been a tremendous success for Davie County High School, from the selection process to the installation to the ongoing training and support in the classroom.

Both the administration and the teachers are excited about building on this solid foundation and bringing even more resources into the classroom next year.

“There’s a learning curve with any new technology,” said Lee “But since Clear Touch™ has been so simple and intuitive, the learning curve is not steep, which allows teachers to focus on teaching their subject. They’ve all helped each other learn, helped each other build up their teaching resources, and come up with some tremendous, highly-creative uses for the panel. The panel has truly changed the way the teachers interact with each other and with their students while keeping high-quality teaching at the forefront.”

 

Davie County builds a new high school with Teacher-Driven Technology, Part 1

Advancing Education with Clear Touch Interactive® Panels

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. View Part 2 here.

The Davie County High School story began years ago. Davie County is a small school district in North Carolina that serves about 6,200 students. For many years, the district administrators had been submitting requests and trying to get a new high school built. Those efforts finally paid off in the spring of 2014 when the new high school bond passed and work began on Davie County High School.

Davie County has historically been a forward-thinking district when it comes to educational technology. It was one of the first Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the state to have SMART boards in every K-12 classroom, thanks to a joint effort between a county fundraiser and a local philanthropist in 2006.

So, early on, the planning team in charge of building the new high school decided that they should continue that same commitment to technology that enhances and supports the pedagogy.

“In Davie County Schools, we want everything we do, including the evaluation and procurement of technology, to be teacher-driven. Our Superintendent, Dr. Darrin Hartness, wanted to be sure we asked for teacher input in designing and outfitting the new school. They are the ones who will be using the technology and working in the classroom everyday, so they need to have input. We took this directive as the first, basic parameter for how we would outfit the new school with instructional technology.”

— Butch Rooney
Chief Technology Officer for Davie County


Designing the Technology Selection Process

In order to meet the directive, Rooney and his IT team began by working with the department chairs for Davie County High School. They created a multi-purpose room where they had all of the options for new technology set up and allowed teachers to come by, use the technology, and submit their feedback.

“We took the largest room in the old school and turned it into our technology showcase or proving ground,” said Rooney. “We had regular flat panel TVs, interactive panels, and interactive projectors for the teachers to test drive for us, several brands of each, including Clear Touch Interactive® panels. We also provided all types and brands of teacher devices: laptops, tablets, Chromebooks, iPads—all with wireless connectivity.”

Hugh Lee and Ann Davis, the Instructional Technology Facilitators assigned to the new Davie County High School, and Yvette Shore, the math department chair and National Board Certified lead STEM teacher, were all involved with the selection process.

“The departments came in over the course of a good month to a month-and-a-half to experience the technology, keeping in mind what they currently used and did in their classrooms,” said Shore. “We had Mr. Lee and Ms. Davis available at all times to help us. As we evaluated our options, we were encouraged to bring in student groups to try it out, see how it worked for them, and get their input as well.”

Since different departments have different needs, the department heads met to discuss and compare their options with their teaching teams, talking about how the technology would both support their pedagogy and change how teachers teach.

“Math is a very heavy usage department when it comes to technology. We tend to show work on the board, do group work, solve problems individually and together,” said Shore. “Our department was looking for technology that could shift from the front of the room, change from teacher-led to student-led when needed, create a flipped classroom, keep kids engaged and interacting when working in groups, and give teachers the flexibility to be at the front of the classroom demonstrating a concept and then free to walk around the room and be with students the next moment. That’s a tall order—but I think it’s key to whatever solutions are chosen for schools going forward.”


The Next Phase: Building the School

“In the spring of 2015, we began the next phase of this process,” said Rooney. “We started both the build and the technology build out. This is a 60 million dollar high school; it’s an impressive facility. As the concrete was being poured and the bricks were going up, we still had the technology selection process going on behind the scenes.”

Davie County High School knew that the technology they chose would end up being the foundation for
how the teachers and students interacted in the classrooms, so they wanted to give everyone enough
time to experience and evaluate the tools.

“We didn’t call for the end vote yet, and we knew we had some time while the new school was being built, so we installed the top choices in sample classrooms by department,” Rooney said. “This way, the teachers could get real worldexperience in addition to testing it out. The lead teachers got the technology installed in their classrooms and shared with the other teachers in their department.”

Yvette Shore took the opportunity very seriously, keeping a semester-long spreadsheet noting what happened, what worked, what didn’t, and how the teachers were able to collaborate.

“I was especially interested to see how the new technology would integrate with our older tech,” said Shore. “Of course, I lucked out and got the Clear Touch™ panel in my classroom, so I had no issues!”

Hugh Lee and other lead teachers for the new school were also impressed, seeing the Clear Touch™ panel in action.

“One of the things we recognized very early was the benefit of the software tools embedded on the panel,” said Lee. “Clear Touch™ distinguished itself and rose to the top of the list quickly because of all of the things that the teachers could do and how easily they could do them, especially compared to the rooms that had interactive projectors or regular flat panel TVs. The tech department stood ready to help in the experimental rooms, and we almost never got calls from the Clear Touch™ rooms. I think we got one or two calls during the entire process.”

Rolling Out the New Technology

In preparation for their August 2017 move into the new building, the administration brought the teachers together in early February to vote and choose by department which solution best met their instructional needs.

“The teachers unanimously voted for interactive panels, and many departments were also hoping for an iPad Pro or some other tablet to go with the panels,” said Rooney. “As part of the RFP process, I created a rubric that included price, warranty options, installation, teacher feedback, and instructional impact. Clear Touch™ won based on this rubric, with price being the the most heavily weighted factor. I was glad, because I knew Ms. Shore really wanted Clear Touch™, and when you consider total cost of ownership, ongoing software fees, maintenance, and training, it was no contest.”

After the long selection process, it was finally time to install the panels and begin training teachers.

“We had to get everything built out and installed within a month. Everyone was so excited,” Rooney said. “Everything came in on time, the installation crew was ready to go and started the installs immediately. I think we were one of the first schools in the country to get the new 6000U series panels—the installation went beautifully, and everyone was ready to train the next week.”


Ready for Day One

In August 2017, the high school opened as a BYOD campus and is actively building toward becoming a one-to-one school. Right now, they have carts of Chromebooks, iPads, and Windows laptops that the students can use.

“Regardless of what LEA you’re in or how much money your district has, sustaining a one-to-one program is difficult,” said Rooney. “We should be able to get 10-15 years out of the Clear Touch™ panel. That and the fact that we can use any device, and even allow students to bring their own devices, enables us to talk seriously about one-to-one and invest in these other applications.”

While the selection process was exhaustive, Butch Rooney believes that it was essential to finding the right solution, one that teachers would actually use, and making the transition as painless as possible. The rest of the district-level IT team was also pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the entire process went.

“I think one of the best things about the way we handled the selection and roll-out is that it allowed us to get teacher buy-in early, which has made training and implementation so much easier,” said Rooney.  “And, then, we’ve had amazing support from Clear Touch™. They really stepped up, helped us get it done quickly and get everyone trained. From the district’s perspective, having a responsive and knowledgeable partner has made all the difference.”

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. View Part 2 here.

Clear Touch Interactive® Selected for Exclusive Preview for Global Launch of Snowflake MultiTeach® 6.0 at ISTE 2018

Greenville, SC – This year’s ISTE conference will feature the global premiere of a world-class software solution. Clear Touch Interactive® plans to introduce Snowflake MultiTeach® 6.0, the latest offering from NUITEQ®, unveiling the new product in a sneak preview only available during the conference. Attendees should come by the Clear Touch booth 2202 for an exclusive hands-on demonstration of everything this amazing software can do.

“We value innovation and are looking forward to bringing this newest phase of engaging software to the ISTE audience,” said Keone Trask, founder and CEO of Clear Touch Interactive®. “Our demonstration will give attendees a chance to see the latest that Snowflake has to offer and all of the great work that NUITEQ has done to make it an even more effective classroom solution.”

Snowflake MultiTeach® is the only educational software suite that allows users to divide the interactive panel into personalized learning zones. During the demonstration, attendees will get to see how Canvas, Clear Touch’s exclusive interactive whiteboard, easily integrates within Snowflake. And can be used with Zones to create an engaging, interactive learning center for up to eight students at once.

In addition to Zones, Snowflake MultiTeach® has numerous educational games and tools that support collaborative learning, making it an ideal companion software for Clear Touch panels, which feature 20 points of simultaneous touch on Mac and PC. The solution also includes a cloud-based component, Lessons Online, that enables teachers and students to create lessons, presentations, and other content from any device, including mobile. For more information about Snowflake MultiTeach® visit www.nuiteq.com.

The Pros and Cons of Interactive Panels in the Classroom

Before making any large technology purchase, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons, especially in an educational setting. Using interactive panels in the classroom has many advantages, from simplifying lesson prep for teachers to helping students gain more confidence in their work and take a greater interest in their own education. Some of the potential downsides include the sticker price and the time investment required to implement any new technology.

Clear Touch works hard to eliminate these potential disadvantages for the teachers, administrators, and IT departments who rely on our technology, so you can enjoy the benefits worry-free.

Six Benefits of Using Interactive Panels to Enrich Classroom Learning

To us, the most impressive aspect of interactive panels is not the technology itself but the creative ways that teachers are using this technology in the classroom to support their teaching and learning goals. Here are five of the advantages that teachers who use our panels have noticed in the classroom:

Increased Interaction & Collaboration. The multi-touch capabilities that interactive displays offer mean that more students can get around the panel and learn together. Educators have told us that students easily work in pairs, share their work with the class, collaboratively edit writing or design work in real-time, and more. Clear Touch panels feature 20 points of simultaneous touch and educational software that divides the screen into quadrants so more students can participate at once.

Better Student Engagement. Many teachers who use our panels report that the BYOD connectivity and simple screen sharing apps help them flip the classroom and get more students engaged. Students can take a picture of their work on their phone or tablet and send it to the screen for class discussion, learn coding in the classroom, and use game-based learning to reinforce a concept. Teachers use the panels as learning station for both advanced learning for early finishers and remediation. An added bonus: Students are more engaged, and teachers save time and money when they aren’t making endless copies of worksheets.

Enhanced Support for All Learning Styles. Research shows that, while students have preferred learning styles, all students benefit from learning new material in multiple forms. So, for decades, teachers have stressed over whether or not they’re adequately addressing multiple learning styles in every lesson—which is a difficult thing to do when you’re one person trying to best serve 25 or more students. Many of our teachers have told us that including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning practices occurs much more organically when they use their Clear Touch Interactive® display. Teachers can embed multiple media sources in a single presentation, conduct surveys, and give students hands-on practice to free themselves up from too much direct instruction.

More Inclusive Classrooms. We regularly hear from administrators and resource teachers who tell us that their interactive panels have greatly enriched their special education classrooms—which is so exciting for us. Specifically, teachers credit the write to text feature and the mobile, adjustable stands, which can move up and down to accommodate height or different class structure needs, for creating a learning environment where more students have the confidence to express themselves and easier access to the panel in order to do so.

More Flexible Learning Environments. Many teachers have told us that they are most happy with their interactive panels because they feel like they have greater flexibility in the classroom. Teachers can dig deeper and explore a topic that students are interested in right from the panel, walk around the room while still controlling the presentation from their mobile devices, get instant feedback, easily conduct formative assessments, and securely turn the panel over to their students for small group work or student-led discussions.

Greater Efficiency for Time-Strapped Teachers. With our cloud-based Snowflake Multiteach software, teachers can create lessons offsite from any device (no more need to lug a school laptop back and forth just to plan lessons from home!) and then pull the lesson up on the panel in class. Teachers can also build up and refine their own library of lessons and other resources, including recorded presentations, that they can easily use if they have to be out. No more scrambling to make a class set of worksheets during lunch or having to create additional lesson plans for the substitute. Your IT department will also save time, since they can monitor and control all boards through the EasiRemote application and even repair issues offsite.

Potential Disadvantages of Implementing Interactive Displays in the Classroom

While there are many benefits to using interactive displays in the classroom, including increased collaboration and student ownership of their learning, there are a few potential downsides or, at least, considerations that school districts will want to evaluate before making a purchase.

Price. By far the most important consideration for most school districts is the overall price of the technology—and interactive displays are generally more expensive upfront than projectors or interactive whiteboards. However, projectors and interactive whiteboards can actually cost more when you consider total cost of ownership. Replacement bulbs and cords, IT time, and ongoing maintenance all add to the initial tab, and there are some major competitive differences between interactive whiteboards and interactive, multi-touch displays. In general, interactive whiteboards are an outdated technology that are cumbersome to use in the classroom. In addition, Clear Touch Interactive® is committed to making purchasing easy for our customers. Our panels are flexible and interchangeable so that schools can build on their in-classroom technology as budget allows, and we even offer competitive, fixed-rate financing through our Clear Touch Capital program.

Need for Technical Support. After price, school district administrators and IT professionals tend to be most concerned about how easy the solution is to implement. While it may seem like a more advanced technology would require complex infrastructure that leans on IT department time, the opposite is typically true. Clear Touch panels, for instance, feature out-of-the-box functionality and can run with or without your school’s network. Installation requires no complicated in-wall wiring, no construction crews, and no ceiling mounts for projectors. IT departments love the simple, remote management and the all-in-one packaged solution. When your school does need help, we also feature industry leading, 100% US-Based service and support

Need for Teacher Training. Since Interactive Whiteboards and projectors have been on the market for over a decade now, many teachers already know how to use the technology, so it may seem that these devices require fewer training sessions. Teacher training is always helpful, which is why we offer professional development packages that help schools get the most out of their investment.  We also work with your decision-making team to get buy-in from teachers and IT departments and determine the best way to implement the new technology without disrupting the classroom before the purchase is made. We understand that the choice to purchase new technology for the classroom is not a one and done decision; it impacts every aspect of the learning environment every single day.

Of course, the real beauty of the Clear Touch Interactive® solution is that anyone can turn on our panels and begin using them right away—and then build on their knowledge and expertise as they have the time. Since our panels are intuitive and can run any software, including competitor software, there’s no need for teachers to create a library of lesson plans and other resources from scratch. Simply use what you’ve created in previous years and work in lessons created with our educational software suite when you can.

At Clear Touch, we’re dedicated to creating classroom technology that maximizes the benefits of collaboration and student-centered learning while minimizing or eliminating any potential implementation hurdles. To find out more, schedule a live online demo and see the technology in action.

Clear Touch Interactive® Partners with T1V to Bring Groundbreaking Interactive Collaboration Solution to the Business Market

Greenville, SC – Clear Touch Interactive® recently announced that the company will partner with T1V to bring their next generation of interactive panels for business to the market. T1V, a leading innovator in large-scale, interactive software technology designed for today’s collaborative and BYOD work environments, will provide the built-in software for the Clear Touch 7000X panel.

Chorus, powered by T1V is a groundbreaking interactive software that truly delivers collaboration in harmony. Among other features that make the software a good fit for the business technology space, key developments include the ability to keep sensitive information on each user’s laptop as opposed to storing it on the panel, extreme ease of use, open architecture that allows the software to be used with any platform, simplified and streamlined wireless collaboration in a mixed environment, and an intuitive user interface that requires minimal learning time.

“We’ve been aggressively expanding our footprint in the business market since 2012,” said Peter Taylor, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Clear Touch Interactive®. “This software will be responsible for catapulting us into the corporate space, making us the leading choice for companies that value collaboration, flexibility, and security. Chorus, powered by T1V is an exciting, comprehensive technology that will quickly become the backbone of our corporate product.”

Due to popular demand, Clear Touch will also make Chorus powered by T1V available as an option on its 6000U series of panels. The sales and marketing team at T1V is also enthusiastic about this new business development.

“Clear Touch has embraced our interactive software, and we’re excited to work with a company that shares our vision in providing a single solution to outfit a wide range of collaborative needs,” said Adam Loritsch, VP of Sales and Marketing for T1V. “Chorus, powered by T1V will provide meeting participants access to a large interactive Canvas where they can wirelessly share unlimited content and devices, and that will improve meeting experiences for participants both in-room and working remotely.”

Clear Touch Interactive® has enjoyed rapid growth in the education space and believes that the launch of their new 7000X panel for business with Chorus, powered by T1V software will help them make similar strides in the corporate arena.  

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ABOUT CLEAR TOUCH INTERACTIVE®

With twenty simultaneous points of touch and rapid refresh rates, Clear Touch panels feature a true multi-touch design that fuels collaborative experiences in education, government and business. They are made with 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.

Founded in 2012, Clear Touch Interactive®, Inc. is transforming interactive experiences by enabling educational institutions, government agencies and commercial enterprises to interact differently. Clear Touch panels, related accessories and software are designed to not only meet the demands of today’s highly collaborative business and educational environments, but also to provide a truly immersive experience.

getcleartouch.com

 

ABOUT T1V

T1V is a visual collaboration company specializing in multitouch, multiuser software for enterprise and education markets. The company’s collaboration platform includes ThinkHub® multitouch collaboration, ViewHub™ wireless presentation, and AirConnect™ mobile app – all working cohesively to support a seamless, intuitive user experience for both in-room and remote participants. T1V’s suite of collaboration software represents total meeting room solutions that replace much of the hardware we equate meeting room technology with today.

T1V ThinkHub Connect™ active learning technology is designed to support a variety of teaching and learning styles, from traditional lecture to team problem-solving and group-based work. The solution also supports collaboration between students located at off-site locations and allows easy content sharing between remote locations.

All T1V solutions are Built for BYOD™ (bring your own device) to support the many devices, programs, and platforms of today’s meeting and learning environments. T1V is a leading innovator in large-scale, interactive software technology, with four issued patents and two patents allowed in multitouch, multiuser software.

To learn more, visit t1v.com.

Clear Touch ISTE 2018 Presenters

We’re excited to announce that we are hosting a rotating schedule of presenters at the Clear Touch booth at ISTE 2018. Clear Touch™ team members with experience in education will show participants how to integrate the Clear Touch panel into the classroom, how to use the panel for project lesson planning and assessment, how to get the most out of your educational software, and much more.

Clear Touch Round-Up 2018 ISTE Presenters

Monica Nelson: Monica has worked in education for over 28 years. She has taught 5th grade, elementary science, 8th grade math, Algebra, and Geometry. After 16 years in the classroom, she helped her district build their Tech Integration positions. 5 years later, she moved over to a technology position where she is the bridge between teachers and the technology department. Recently, she has been facilitating many aspects of the ClearTouch implementation her district is undertaking.

Presentation: Note

We will be using Note to create a Morning Opening/Calendar/Circle Time that many early childhood through kindergarten classes do everyday. We will demonstrate how to pull in calendar items, weather, lunch menu, pictures, etc to create the lesson.

The audience will walk away with an idea of how they can use Note to customize their own Morning Opening making it engaging and interactive for students.

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Lauren Gray: Lauren Gray is a middle school librarian. Her school just got Clear Touch boards last year, and she continues to learn more about her board all the time. During unstructured times in the learning center, Clear Touch is a fantastic way for students to collaborate, create, and play. 

Presentation: Snowflake

I will present about using the ClearTouch board for gaming. In our Learning Center, we love our ClearTouch board for recess and indoor gaming. We use the Snowflake app to play arcade games, draw, and collaborate.

Audience members will walk away with knowledge about how to use ClearTouch for fun during unstructured times! ClearTouch is the perfect addition to indoor recess and “free” times in the school day. Let’s introduce our students to more tech during all times of the day!

Leann Wondra: I am proud to say I have worked in education for 31 years. I taught secondary mathematics before becoming the assistive technology consultant for USD 308. For the last three and a half years, I have been working in the technology department specializing in the student management system with an emphasis in the area of student services.

Presentation: Note

Co-presenting with Monica Nelson

Kim Heilenbach: Kim Heilenbach is the 4th-8th grade Computer Science teacher at Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, IL. She teaches classes such as Project Lead the Way- Design and Modeling, Coding, Robotics, and Entrepreneurship. Kim uses her Clear Touch board daily to create interactive and engaging lessons in her classroom. She has her M.Ed in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her B.S. in Middle Level Education from Illinois State University.

Presentation: Snowflake

This presentation includes how to access interactive activities on Snowflake, as well as basic functions in Snowflake that can be used to create lessons for any subject area!

Audience members will talk away with the knowledge of how to use different built-in activities on Snowflake to implement quick and fun Brain Breaks, as well as how to use the software to create interactive lessons in the classroom.

Ashley Martin: Ashley Martin graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama with a degree in History. In 2001, she completed her Masters in History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For three years she worked as a museum curator in Mobile, Alabama at The Museum of Mobile and the Oakleigh House Museum. She now teaches history at Eufaula High School and Wallace Community College in Eufaula, Alabama. She is married to West Martin and has a one year old son named Grant.

Presentation: Snowflake

My presentation, Truman to Reagan, an Interactive History of the Cold War, will show visitors how to create a Snowflake lesson using images, You Tube clips, interactive timelines, hands-on activities and games. History does not have to be boring. Technology does not have to be overwhelming. I use my Clear Touch panel everyday to bring history alive to my students.

The audience will learn what a Clear Touch panel can do! They will also learn how to create interactive lessons within Snowflake using images, video clips, and games that will constantly engage students throughout their lessons. Once the lesson is created, I will show educators how to save their lessons to the cloud. The end of the presentation will involve a question and answer portion along with an interactive activity. Creating new lessons do not have to overwhelm you and take hours to complete!

Edward Tse: Dr. Edward Tse is the Director of Strategy at NUITEQ®. Dr. Tse has over a decade of experience in Educational Technology, most of it at SMART Technologies, where he served as both External Research Program Manager and Project Research Leader. He holds over 50 Utility Patent filings and Academic Papers and was one of the primary inventors of the first multitouch table product for Education, the SMART Table. Dr. Tse is focused on advancing creativity through self-expression and social media and lives what he preaches by running a vlog and YouTube channel called Ed on Ed Tech.

Presentation: Snowflake

Engaging Students with Interactive Videos in Class

You need to fix something around the house. Where do you go for information? Increasingly video is being used for Just in Time learning coupled with hands on practice. There is a growing body of research that shows how embodied hands on practice and creative expression helps to bridge the gap between knowledge and skills. Learners are increasingly turning to YouTube for learning and many YouTube Creators capture millions of views for their educational videos. Learn how you can make take the most popular videos on YouTube and turn them into interactive lesson activities that will engage students and inspire creative and critical thinking.

Lynn Home: I have been an art teacher for grades 1-8 for over 20 years. I received my Masters in Educational Technology 10 years ago and have always enjoyed learning new ways to integrate tech into my art room. This year we received our ClearTouch Interactive panels I am already wondering how I taught without one! I am always finding new ways to use it as a teaching tool and getting my students to interact with the material I present. With the addition of Collage and the ability to share screens from all of the other devices in my room it has become so easy to collaborate and spontaneously share everything, with my students. I would say that having the ClearTouch in my classroom has been the most transformative teaching tool for me to date. Students love interacting with the ClearTouch and have become comfortable using it themselves. 

Presentation: Note

I use Note, the Chrome Browser and Collage on a regular basis. I often start my day by opening up the Browser right from my ClearTouch panel and setting up multiple tabs to access the materials I will need for my lessons. I can also share screens from any of my current devices (MacBook Pro, iPad, PC) using Collage. This allows me to be more spontaneous with my students when we are having discussions or exploring various art forms and need images and information that everyone can (quickly and) clearly see. I also have students interact with the information I am presenting, play art games together for brain breaks, and use the built in tools, like timers and stopwatch, throughout the day.

In my presentation the audience can see how I set up for an art lesson (such as an introduction to creating a ceramic whistle or presenting a multi-cultural lesson on the process of creating Batik Fabric) by setting up multiple tabs in my browser, switching over to EasiNote to demonstrate steps and write notes on top of webpages and documents. You will see just how easy it is to share information and lessons from any device from anywhere in your room.

Chuck Williams: Chuck got his start in technology in ’84 working for a software author that wrote an application development system it resold across the US and Canada.

He moved into education in the early ’90’s and has taught all grades except PK, 4th and 5th, giving him 20+ years of classroom experience. As a technology teacher in NC, he was one of 7 educators that developed and piloted the state’s original Computer Engineering Technology curriculum, eventually leading a two-week session where he, and others, trained teachers from across the state on how to teach and implement the program at their school.

He has also served two stints as a Technology Director, 4 years at DeSoto ISD near Dallas, TX, and 13 years at Indian Springs School near Birmingham, AL, where he was also on the teaching faculty. It was while at Indian Springs that he was introduced to Clear Touch Interactive, eventually buying 25 panels.

In addition to “teaching and teching” he also coached soccer and cross country.

Presentation: Snowflake

Debate Fundamentals using Snowflake Zones, a Tag Lesson and the Media App

Ever wonder what makes up an argument, how to analyze it and how to pick it apart? Attendees will learn everything they want to know about the Toulmin Model of Argument in a quick session that illustrates how to use Snowflake Zones to combine the power of the Lessons and Media Apps.

Danny Brisson: Danny started in technology while working for Northern Telecom making printed circuit boards. He then went to college and earned a degree in computer programming and systems analyst. Later he worked for Motorola in their paging division.

Danny started working in education in the early ‘2000’s as a Technology Coordinator and Specialist. He worked on several committees in Palm Beach County School District including the Smart Ambassadors and the District’s Technology Conference.

He became a certified technology teacher during this time. His experience includes working in both Middle Schools and High Schools. Part of his focus was to train teachers on implementing technology in their classrooms. Danny also taught adult education over 3 years. He then taught 7th and 8th graders 3D Computer Animation.

He then went to work for an Educational Technology Company delivering and creating Professional Development and as an independent consultant for schools and districts around Educational Technologies. Prior to joining the Clear Touch family, he was the lead Professional Development Associate for a web based student learning platform. During these years, he delivered over 600 PD sessions throughout the US and in several different countries. Danny worked with partners across the globe, helping teachers help their students to learn.

Presentation: Snowflake

There’s no place like Nodes

Attendees will see first hand how to have lessons created that can live and grow for them and their students. We will explore all the possibilities Nodes can bring into the classroom. Come join us at the Clear Touch booth and learn how you can Interact Differently!

Billy Jack: Billy Jack began his teaching career as a Middle School Math teacher at a High Tech Middle School. After his students experienced incredible learning gains, he received a Teacher of the Year Award and began training teachers at his school and others on the weekends, district-wide. After a few years, he moved on to be an Educational Technology Specialist for one of the largest School Districts in the United States.

After a few years, he left the district and went to work for an Educational Technology Company delivering and creating Professional Development. Now he has worked for a few Ed Tech companies but has always been focused on how he could help teachers to increase student engagement and learning outcomes. Over the years, he has delivered thousands of PD sessions throughout the US. Billy Jack is looking forward to working with your staff to help them interact differently.

Presentation: Canvas

Making a Splash on Canvas

In this session attendees will see first hand how they can quickly create interactive lessons within Snowflake Multi-Teach on the Clear Touch Interactive Panel. Together we will explore some new and innovative ways that Clear Touch and Nuiteq are finding creative methods to connect students with learning. Come join us at the Clear Touch booth and learn how you can Interact Differently!

Sarah Lowey: Sarah Lowey brings over 17 years of experience in education, technology, and training and professional development. Sarah earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where she began her career as a Middle School Social Studies Teacher. She also has her M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology. During her career, she has served on various youth-advocate committees, and has also presented at several state and national education conferences, including ACE (Arizona Correctional Educators), ISTE, TCEA, FETC, and NYSCATE.

During her years as a Social Studies teacher, she taught students in middle school and high school, including non-traditional settings: jails, group homes, and alternative high schools. Sarah also worked for BOCES in New York as a technology integration specialist providing customized professional development workshops and in-class support on a variety of technologies to several school districts across Long Island.

Her years as the national Lead K-12 Implementation Specialist for eInstruction by Turning Technologies allowed her to work with some of the best educators across the country while at the same time sharpening her presentation and workshop development skills.

Presentation: Snowflake

Investigative Learning, PBL, & Student Collaboration!

In this session, participants will learn how to harness the power of the Clear Touch Interactive Display panel and Snowflake software to enable students to investigate, collaborate, and create in a 21st Century learning environment. Come join us at the Clear Touch booth and learn how you can Interact Differently!

Sunset Ridge School District 29 Implements Clear Touch™ Panels

Clear Touch™ Panels Provides a Brighter Future for Sunset Ridge District 29

Sunset Ridge School District 29 is a small district in the Northern Chicago suburbs comprised of just two schools and around 500 students. The small size means that the classrooms enjoy an advantageous teacher-to-student ratio, supporting the district’s student-centered philosophy and dedication to a rigorous learning environment.

Last year, Sheri Styczen, the Director of Technology for Sunset Ridge, began searching for a better option to replace the schools’ interactive projectors and whiteboards.

“We’ve always been an advanced district in terms of technology. We first started out over a decade ago with interactive Promethean boards,” said Styczen. “We were actually one of the pilot schools for the boards in 2006. We installed two Promethean boards and rolled them out over the next couple years.”

In the 2012-2013 school year, Sunset Ridge decided to start replacing the ActivBoards with another brand of interactive projector and whiteboard, but Styczen felt there had to be a better option.

A New School Needs New Technology

“I’d seen a few boards and interactive panels at different conferences, so when I became Director of Technology, I knew what direction I wanted to go. Interactive panels are simply better for teachers and students,” said Styczen. “Plus, we were planning to build a new school, which was my opportunity to submit purchase orders for the right technology throughout the process.” 

Styczen and her IT team evaluated several options for interactive panels, eventually narrowing the field to Clear Touch™ and one other competitor.

“The reseller I was working with carried both brands, but he actually recommended Clear Touch™ over the other option,” said Styczen. “Clear Touch™ came in and did a demo for us, and it was obvious that they offered more. There were clear advantages.”

However, the IT team at Sunset Ridge didn’t want to make a unilateral decision without teacher input, so they asked Clear Touch if they could have a panel to test out for a semester.

“I know we’re not their biggest customer by a long shot, but they never hesitated. They sent us a panel on a mobile stand immediately,” Styczen said. “That made an impression. All of our teachers got to use it, touch it, and get experience with it before we purchased for the new building.”

“There were all kinds of problems and unanticipated downtime with interactive projectors. The bulbs didn’t really last, and we had to install speakers and connect to teacher laptops with various cords. Even worse, since there are so many moving parts, it was difficult to figure out what wasn’t working when something wasn’t working. We had to use trial and error, which ate up a lot of class time.”

— Sheri Styczen
Director of Technology for Sunset Ridge

The First Year With Clear Touch™

In July of 2017, Sunset Ridge had 22 panels installed at Sunset Ridge School, which serves grades 4-8, and an additional panel installed at Middlefork School, which is the home for the district’s K-3 students. The district chose the 86-inch panel with some training and professional development.

“As the Director for a smaller district, I get to know all my teachers personally. And they are not shy about providing feedback and telling me what they think,” said Styczen. “This first year has been incredibly successful. Everyone loves the interactive panel.”

Styczen believes that, since the teachers were already used to interactive projectors, the transition has been even smoother and simpler, noting that teachers who weren’t ready or didn’t have the time to create new lessons with the new software could easily continue to use what they’d developed in the past—just on a better panel with more connectivity and interactive capabilities.

“I can’t say enough good things about this panel,” said Styczen. “The sound quality is perfect with the built-in speakers, and the teachers and kids both love it. If you’ve been in the classroom you know that you can lose students quickly if something doesn’t work. These panels make the classroom experience connected and virtually effortless. The teachers also love that they don’t have to turn off the lights to use the panels. It’s bright and clear and keeps all of the students engaged. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback.”

Engaging with Students

The school has equipped classrooms with Clear Touch Interactive® panels. They have also purchased three panels with mobile stands, including one on a convertible mobile stand for the Learning Center.

“The mobile panels move all the time between the library and other rooms for presentations, teacher meetings, and parent meetings. But I think our favorite is the panel that converts to a table in the Learning Center,” Styczen said. “We’ve been using the Snowflake entertainment suite and letting the kids play curling, ping pong, and air hockey during recess and lunch. It’s a great, active option to reward students, it completely engages them, and it brings them together to play and learn.”

In order to best use the interactive panels, Sunset Ridge increased their bandwidth and purchased additional technology.

“We ramped up our bandwidth at the beginning of the year so that we’d get the most value out of our new technology. We now have 400 MBs per school,” said Styczen. “The mobile flat panels include a wireless adapter that ties into the network seamlessly, so there are no wires. We have a really good network and infrastructure, and the panels work beautifully with our setup. They also support multiple devices, so students and teachers can connect with their iPads or Chromebooks at the same time.”

The result of this fast, simple connectivity is more engaged and more confident students.

“I recently visited a classroom and saw 5th grade students presenting their Genius projects,” Styczen said. “They were up at the front of the room using the panel like pros, connecting with their own devices, using the annotation features, turning the pages, and leading class discussion.”

The teachers also enjoy the different features that Clear Touch™ panels provide.


LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

More Training, More Support, More Technology

“The initial installation and training went so well, that we’re already looking at ways to expand with this technology,” said Styczen. “The Clear Touch team did an amazing job with the first round of training, and then we did a lot of training in-house. We have an amazing tech assistant who went around to individual classrooms and taught the teachers new features they could use. It’s a process, and we’re still learning how to fully use the panels. But they’re intuitive and fun, so it feels like an easy learning curve. From a tech standpoint, it was also a remarkably seamless transition. I hardly ever get called on to fix an issue and, when I do, it’s always easy to pinpoint and resolve.”

Because of the success of this pilot year, the district has decided to install more panels for next school year.

“This summer, we’ll be installing 15 more panels. This time at the elementary school. Our end goal is to get interactive panels in every classroom in the district.”

— Sheri Styczen
Director of Technology for Sunset Ridge

“This summer, we’ll be installing 15 more panels,” said Styczen. “This time at the elementary school. Our end goal is to get interactive panels in every classroom in the district.”

Sunset Ridge’s success has also started to affect other districts in the area.

“We’ve actually started inviting other districts in to see the panels in action when we have our training,” said Styczen. “They’ll sit in on a demo with Clear Touch™ or even come to a training session that we’re hosting. I’d love to see other districts in the Chicago area make the switch to these interactive panels, because I’ve seen first-hand the impact they have on the teachers and the students.”