Chris Drage gets a briefing on Dell’s Connected Classroom
Dell recently announced the next evolution of its Connected Classroom learning environment which incorporates a number of new services and products. Central to the whole concept is the Latitude 2110 netbook (see review of 2100) and Dell Mobile Computing Station. However, in addition, the S300wi interactive, short-throw projector has had a face lift and a range of multi-function printers completes the picture.
Dell's aim is to provide schools and teachers with the necessary technology and understanding to transform the traditional classroom into an environment in which students can be prepared for life in the digital age.
New technologies and teacher-focused professional learning enables teachers to more effectively engage students with easy access to rich and diverse digital tools and content. The whole offering is intended as a far richer digital-based learning environment than simply a sum of its parts: connecting teachers and students with the digital resources and tools they need to collaborate within the classroom, across the instituition and around the world. It's aimed at helping teachers adopt individualised, collaborative, and project-based learning practices while enhancing pedagogy and student engagement.
The popular Latitude 2100 has been updated and will feature anti-microbial keyboard protection, with tamper-resistant design to prevent loss of keys. It also incorporates screen rotation as well as a muiltitouch surface. (I will bring you a detailed evaluation when it becomes available – initial impressions would seem very positive including a new, lower price.)
The Dell Mobile Computing Station stores up to 24 netbooks and allows teachers or students to transport shared Latitude 2110s or the earlier 2100s from classroom to classroom, as well as including a wireless access point, device charging indicators and a wake-up-on-LAN feature. This enables IT staff or teachers to conveniently deliver updates via the network, simplifying management.
Dell S300wi interactive, short-throw projector combines the capabilities of an interactive pen with a multi-purpose, short-throw projector. Teachers can make virtually any smooth surface an interactive learning space. It features DLP technology which allows the projector to display 3D applications in addition to normal 2D content (you would still need to purchase the active 3Dglasses). While the new S300wi gives schools the flexibility to use any compatible interactive software, it will include eInstruction Interwrite Workspace (at no additional cost), providing almost instant interactivity.
Completing the Connected Classroom hardware are new multi-function printers. These come with software that, according to Dell, should transform manual, paper-based processes into easy and efficient digital workflows. A set of education-specific applications provide print-on-demand bubble sheet tests, instant grading results (a Windows server with and additional software is required) and reporting. This Classroom Station software will be available bundled with each of the three printers: the Dell 3333dn, the Dell 3335dn and the Dell 5535dn.
The last component of the Connected Classroom is a range of services designed to support digital content adoption and help ensure that schools and educators have the necessary skills, confidence and infrastructure to transform everyday teaching practices and reach an increasing number of students with varied learning styles.
Allready early adopters across the globe say they are finding they like the vision and the all-in-one package. Typical comments include, from Stephen Reiach, director of technology at the American School of Milan: “We were able to more than double the hands-on time with students in the elementary school... our students have been able to create, collaborate and produce work in ways we haven't seen before.”
It is always pleasing to see manufacturers and suppliers to education actually sit down and listen to feedback from teachers and students. Dell has obviously done this, placing their needs at the heart of the learning environment and providing the tools that schools and teachers need to plan and deliver engaging and effective lessons. We will bring you a more detailed appraisal of the elements included in the Connected Classroom when they become available.