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Touchscreens: The Future of Green classrooms

The struggle for our planets future has never been at a more critical junction, the rise of populism in politics has seen scientific evidence cast aside in favour of garnering more votes. Global warming is one of the major crises of the 21st century and yet it faces more opposition than ever in the post-Obama landscape. With the political classes at loggerheads, it is vital more than ever that environmental awareness begins at grass roots level.

Ensuring your Classroom is a space which encourages environmentally friendly behaviour, will not only benefit future generations but also have a positive economic impact on your school. Technology is now available and accessible within budget that will dramatically change the energy output of your establishment. Manufactures are now offering learning based solutions with environmental impact in mind. Take for example the traditional IT suite, a room filled with PCs, one for each student. Now think of the cost of running such a room, how often are the PCs left running unused? A few hours between each class or days and weeks at a time? Even if it is the former, those few hours a day all add up in the long run and amount to what is an extremely inefficient model.

This form of classroom was in place throughout my school years, and whilst I was shocked at the realisation that it was a decade since my formal education ended, I was more surprised to find out little had changed in the way that classrooms operated. Upon visits to several comprehensive and primary schools, I was met with a very familiar sight. Whilst the rows of black monitors took me back to hours wasted playing any game that wasn’t blocked, I couldn’t help but feel that large parts of the education sector are lagging behind in technology.

The current situation can be explained by a number of factors. The consistent budget cuts to the education sector have impacted the way in which schools view where funds can be spent. There is also a lack of understanding as to what is available in terms of technology and its cost; it is a common assumption that with any advances a higher cost is incurred. But looking at prices from a decade ago v today, it becomes clear that more powerful equipment is available without the mark-up which one might expect. Manufacturers and re-sellers are working to address this lack of understanding. With comprehensive product training now being offered along with dedicated after-sales teams, the benefits of ditching the old systems are becoming much clearer.

Which bring us to Touchscreens, and the role they play in modern classrooms. Touchscreen isn’t a new technology; in fact most of us now carry one with us every day. It is even common for schools to own touchscreen boards in place of traditional white boards or chalk if you’re old enough. It is the way that they are being deployed which is changing. With strong market competition, companies are making rapid developments every year as to what the screens are capable of. With that competition also comes competitive price structuring as manufacturers seek to gain larger market share. These advancements mean that touchscreens are now in a position to be the focal point of any learning environment. Student interaction is encouraged, making for a more interactive, engaging experience. The capability of the screens to connect to wireless devices, whether these be the pupils own or offered by the school also means that we could see an end to the aforementioned IT suites. No more monitors left on for days on end, meaning a lower energy out-put which is not only good for the environment but will also see the school make savings on monthly bills. Savings which can be re-distributed to other areas. Compared with the proposals of large corporations to reduce their carbon footprint, such a small change can seem insignificant on a global scale. But these small changes can have a lasting impact on how future generations approach the challenges we leave them.

By Alex Taylor | October 2017