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Technology to Help Close the Gap in Long Distance Learning

Kelly Glaser

America’s schools underwent an unprecedented experiment in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. With no time at all for planning or training, educators launched a great experiment to educate more than 50 million students using untested distance learning technology.

For many, the technology used consisted mostly of online apps like Google Classroom or Zoom video chats. As might be expected, the results were uneven at best. According to surveys, two-thirds to three-quarters of teachers said their students were less engaged during remote instruction than before the pandemic, and that engagement declined even further over the course of the semester.

With no time to prepare, teachers did the best they could and parents have worked hard to help keep students on track. But without access to the right technology, many students are in danger of being left behind. However, with the right technology in place, educators can expect better results and even better engagement for all their students. In particular, interactive whiteboards can be a powerful tool that can help make distance learning successful.


recent study compared the results of traditional lectures against tech-assisted teaching. Using tablets, interactive touchscreen displays or paper worksheets to learn and practice concepts, the study found students who used tech were more motivated and achieved better results than those who used paper. 

The study also found that interactive displays and other technology can promote active learning for students of any age. As the name implies, active learning is learning through engaging with content. And interactive whiteboards or touchscreen displays – what some call smart flat-screen TVs – deliver many other benefits when used in remote learning. This includes boosting enthusiasm and engagement, developing critical thinking skills and delivering more effective feedback.

In addition to supporting active learning, distance learning technology must also make feedback and group discussions possible to ensure students are engaged. Whether through an iPad, Chromebook or touch screen display, learning apps can facilitate online quizzes, questions, answers, group interactions and discussions. Educators can lead discussions and collaboration while working from a touchscreen, even if students are remote and logging in from home.


The study cited above found that students in classes that leverage an interactive touch screen display are more engaged and are more positive about learning. And interactive touch screen displays bring STEM subjects to life, making it possible for teachers to conduct labs and experiments virtually and to work out equations and share via screencasting to spark group discussions.

There are some amazing new apps and tools that take advantage of the learning opportunities found in digital whiteboards. For example, for grade schoolers:

Digital Frog demonstrates the biology of a frog without formaldehyde

iCell App illustrates the inner workings of cells

Mosa Mack offers interactive science experiments

Design Thinking gives students building and architectural challenges


But interactive whiteboards are not just a stop gap measure just for navigating the pandemic shutdown. In fact, whiteboards are an important tool that prepares students for their future careers. Research shows that collaboration skills are critical and today’s employers expect employees to work in teams and collaborate effectively. The traditional one-to-many lecture format does not teach these skills, while interactive displays enable exactly this kind of learning.

We have seen that interactive displays with multitouch and whiteboard capabilities can promote advanced collaboration between students and teachers. And if classes are in-person, projectors allow educators to vividly present content with the right brightness and image quality from a safe distance.

Of course, a teaching tool is only successful if it is used on the most effective manner. Simply showing slides or text on a whiteboard will not change the game. But with online screen sharing, a teacher can present documents, information and videos to different groups, and communicate content to students while taking notes, editing and drawing as the class learns.

To learn more, see the interactive whiteboard options from GFC or contact us for a free consultation. 

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