It’s no wonder that educators rely on visual aids to bring subjects to life in their classrooms. When it comes to helping pupils gain a deeper understanding of a topic while boosting engagement, the classroom visualiser is hard to beat.
You can share an image of just about anything with the class using a visualiser (the clue is in the name!). They can record as well as demonstrate, which means teachers can also document their lessons. These videos can also be watched time and again by pupils, so visualisers make an excellent revision aid.
What’s more, they don’t just support visual learners. They can support all the different ways pupils learn. For example:
- Visual (diagrams/mindmaps)
- Auditory (spoken word, conversation, lecture)
- Reading/writing (text passages, essays)
- Kinaesthetic (experiences, rehearsals)
The best thing about a visualiser is its flexibility. You can choose a specific make and model, or you can create your own using a webcam, smartphone or tablet wirelessly connected (or plugged in) to your interactive front-of-class display like ActivPanel or projector. Introducing a classroom visualiser like this refreshes tried and trusted teaching practices. What’s more, because they are easy to use, you can incorporate them into your usual teaching style without any fuss.
Here’s how to maximise the visualiser in your classroom.
Three practical and compelling ways to use a classroom visualiser
1. Record scientific demonstrations/experiments
Scientists have long used video to communicate scientific methods, protocols and results. Not least because video makes it easy to convey things such as colour, position, duration, shape and motion. It helps to express a larger, more complete picture.
“Scientists began using moving images to record and describe their work almost as soon as the technology became available. One of the pioneers of ‘scientific’ films was the French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey, who built the ‘photographic rifle’ in 1882—a forerunner of the movie camera—for his studies of animal and human locomotion. He used his gun-like camera to film the flight of seagulls, achieving a frame-rate of 12 photographs per second. The French scientist was nicknamed ‘Posillipo’s madman’ by the Neapolitans because they saw him taking careful aim at the birds with his odd rifle without firing a shot”.
Video in science. Protocol videos: the implications for research and society,
Matias Pasquali, European Molecular Biology Organization
Here are just some ways teachers can use a visualiser to share scientific demonstrations and experiments:
- Create time-lapse videos (e.g. fast-growing plants such as basil, weather changes, eggs hatching, etc.) filmed over a few days with a camera used to capture images out of school hours
- Show and explain the anatomy of plants, etc.
- Film magnet experiments with various materials
- Show what is happening under the microscope
- Share live video experiments with other schools
With all of these experiments, teachers can add annotation and/or audio to explain what is happening and why.
2. Give feedback to pupils in English lessons
Learners benefit from rich, high-quality feedback that helps them know how they are doing, and how they can improve. The visualiser helps as it lets pupils instantly share, explain and give/receive feedback on any piece of work.
Here are just some ways teachers can use a visualiser to help pupils improve in English lessons:
- Create WAGOLL (what a good one looks like) demos for creative pieces of writing. Rather than just underlines, circles and encouraging words, teachers can film a demo with audio, creating a permanent record of why it is good
- Share a student’s work with the rest of the class and get other pupils to discuss what they like about it.The work could be shared anonymously if more appropriate
- Provide on-the-spot feedback so that pupils can improve during the lesson, rather than waiting for work to be marked and returned
As well as helping visual learners, the classroom visualiser should also help auditory learners in English lessons with the addition of audio resources. Also, by using a display to spell out words, teachers can support reading/writing learners, while explanatory animations will appeal to kinaesthetic learners.
3. To explore creativity in art lessons
Technology allows students to create new forms of art, and to manipulate traditional art. Here are some ways teachers can use a visualiser in art lessons:
- Give pupils an outline or a basis and get them to add extra details/colours (e.g. by combining the visualiser with an ActivPanel)
- Let each pupil have a go at modifying the same piece of art up-front of the classroom (this can help to develop presentation skills and confidence)
- Ask pupils to add contributions to a mood board or art project
- Create motion animation videos
- Demonstrate paint mixing, fabric and other and other art techniques
As well as ensuring that there’s a digital record of their work, using a visualiser in art lessons will allow pupils to explore their creativity, develop 21st Century skills, and boost engagement.
How are you innovating with a visualiser?
This is not an exhaustive list of how the visualiser can be used to enhance teaching across different subjects. It does however, show that any classroom can benefit from using a visualiser. Combining a visualiser with an interactive display panel (such as the Promethean ActivPanel) is a particularly powerful way for teachers to use technology to enhance and support their lessons.