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Using technology for better learning

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Whether it be making the classroom a more interactive experience or working towards an effective and engaging distance learning model, the careful and correct choice of audio visual (AV) integration and collaboration tools are key.
Modern AV technology means that there is so much more that can be done to create better student engagement and active learning, enhancing both the teaching and learning process. Solutions also exist bringing the lecturer to the student across a global platform.
On one level, AV technology enhances the learning experience within the traditional classroom environment. Studies show that an interactive learning experience that combines video, images and text delivers better academic results turning failing students into performers. It reduces boredom and engages students in a positive way.
It further allows information to be exchanged whether it be for students to communicate with tutors or to share information and ideas with other people in the class.
The other side of using technology for education is distance learning where there is a growing need to take the classroom to the student rather than the student coming to the classroom.
Distance education includes distance universities, online training on the internet, education and training to groups of students, providing supplementary information and lecturers from other campuses as well as the provision of education and training on portable devices and cellphones.
Dr Taddy Blecher, CEO of the Maharishi Institute, has successfully implemented such a distance learning system where students are taught live (synchronously) via AV technology, by professors based at the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in the US.
“AV rechnology has allowed us to conduct lectures and assessments of students directly from the USA – offering our students the opportunity to engage with a variety of lecturers who are specialists in their field. This system allows for the finest business development via distance education, ” says Dr Blecher.
The Maharishi institute has also deployed AV systems locally, which aid in the better distribution of learning materials to the students by means of screens, projectors as well as audio reinforcement.
One common error, however, is that there is still a considerable amount of outdated AV equipment being used. Sometimes due to lack of finances and sometimes because the wrong product has been installed or badly configured.
When chosen correctly, quality AV technology will most certainly enhance the quality of learning that an institution can offer. The following points provide a guideline as to what is possible and available.

Use the technology that students use
Most students grow up with technology in the palm of their hand whether it be tablets, cellphones or gaming consoles. The AV technology used by learning institutions needs to be able to match this experience.

Share resources
A good AV system, paired with videoconferencing, means that teaching resources can be shared. For example, one can bring a remote teacher into the classroom to teach children and take their questions. This is also a great way of sharing information and experiences with international peer groups. These sessions can be recorded and stored on central databases for students to access in their own time from their mobile devices. Sessions could be forwarded to other learning facilities, etc.

Accommodate different learning styles
Interactive whiteboards allow for flexibility and demonstrations and can accommodate different learning styles from those who prefer tactile interaction to utilising auditory or visual information.

Keep it simple
Due to the many different types of devices that people may use, collaboration across the various platforms can be difficult. By keeping the AV technology simple, such as using an interactive whitebaord, everyone is able to see and participate at the same time.
It is also worth noting that while technology is constantly improving and becoming more affordable it remains important to get the basics of good visuals, audio and information transfer right, to really transform the classroom experience.