In my professional life I help educate people on the benefits of interactivity and projection, something that comes naturally for me because of my past experience teaching elementary school students. While the underlying principles are the same – opening doors to help discover new abilities and cultivating an appreciation for learning in new ways – I’ve learned that teaching kids can be an easier undertaking than teaching adults.
Kids are a blank slate, open to discovery, while adults are often set in their ways, particularly if they have been following the same process for a long time. This is similar to the dilemma that Fabien Bourdon, technology specialist at Citrix, faced when tasked with structuring the company’s “Classroom of the Future.”
He needed to create a learning environment that was conducive to teaching students how to use Citrix mobile workspaces and virtual tools, whether located onsite or participating remotely. Beyond installing collaborative technology tools, Bourdon also needed to motivate Citrix instructors to hone their teaching techniques to incorporate the new technology, a challenge in itself.
Bourdon installed two Epson BrightLink Pro interactive projectors into the Classroom to create an inclusive environment that would allow the instruction team to demonstrate the power of Citrix mobile workspace solutions. The projectors are interactive; enabling the instructor and the students to walk up to the projected image and use their fingers to “write” on the projected image. In addition, students participating in the class remotely can see the projected image on their mobile device and annotate on the shared display, creating a collaborative training session.
While the new interactivity offered a vast improvement over existing teaching methods, Bourdon knew it would be difficult to teach instructors how to use the interactive projector. “Instructors generally don’t like to change the way they run their classes, so one of the things I wanted to highlight is how to have fun with the projector,” he said. “People see their screen projected on a wall and don’t give it a second thought. It’s neither new nor compelling to them. It’s not the most effective way to use these new projectors.”
How did he do it? By using a method close to my heart – gaming. Knowing that most people are comfortable playing online games on mobile devices where your fingers control game play, Bourdon created an “Interactive Acclimation Guide” for instructors, working in popular mobile device games to make the transition easier. He used one very popular mobile game that requires the use of physics and trajectory to help make the interactive functions less daunting to instructors – and, in turn, students – and make training more effective and immersive.
“I’ve been reading up on memory retention in training. Apparently a great way to retain what you’ve been taught is using manipulatives to develop the spatial memory of students while engaging them kinetically, and what better way to do that than combining gaming and a BrightLink Pro? This popular game works extremely well because it has a real time physics engine in it and the game works entirely from the mouse pad without requiring a keyboard,” said Bourdon. “With dual projection screens you can challenge students prior to the class or during their break. Add in the audio over the speaker system and the whole effect is unique, memorable and the students quickly start seeing this as a new way to learn.”
In my experience I’ve found that it’s easier for students to internalize lessons when they enjoy the subject matter. Bourdon applied that same teaching method to his Classroom of the Future, and found a way to tie a concept that both instructors and students are comfortable with to break the mental barriers surrounding projectors, and embrace the new capabilities that come with interactivity. I’m looking forward to hearing about the new discoveries Citrix instructors and students make, and sharing them with you.