Computers in the classrooms: Palatine Township Elementary District 15
Return to Educator's Main Page spacer, United Visual Audio-Visual sales, renatls, and services United Visual Home page

Willow Bend multimedia lab

Multimedia takes a key role in District 15

Is it time to rethink the computer lab concept?

Mike Baker, Technology Coordinator at Palatine Township Elementary District 15, thinks it is. "Our schools are starting to move out of the lab mindset," says Baker. "Our focus is on adding more computers in the classrooms where they're more readily accessible to the students."

Accessibility is central to District 15's vision of technology as an aid to individual research, exploration and learning. The district is piloting a new curriculum at Willow Bend Elementary School in Rolling Meadows designed to use this vision to make a major difference in how students learn.

Other stories
like this:


 •  Web assisted instruction & the absent minded professor
 • Distance learning: a virtual reality education
 • The A/V Department as Curriculum Consultant 
 •  Technology at Naperville Central 
 •  Rethink the computer lab concept?
 •  Video production teaches higher level skills at High School
 •  Fundraising in times of belt-tightening
 •  Help choosing instructional systems

Research and presentation at the core
The problem with computer labs, according to Baker, is that they support a kind of mass instruction that is anathema to the information age. Technology, in the district's vision, should be a tool used by individual students to seek out knowledge on their own or in small groups. Thus the major goals of a technology program should be:

1. To build students' ability to access information from a wide variety of sources, including online reference materials and Internet sites, as well as traditional books and periodicals in the resource center.

2. To help students learn to assimilate that information and to use it to gain new understanding of subject matter they are studying.

3. To help students communicate the information they find and the insights they gain to their peers. The first two steps are difficult to measure, but this step helps to focus and evaluate student efforts. Presentation thus becomes a focal point of the process and a major use of the district's technology.

.Networking and multimedia support video taping in the multimedia center at Willow Bend

To meet these goals, District 15 staff are implementing two major technology changes. First, the district is in the process of linking every classroom in its 19 buildings via a state-of-the-art wide area network. The WAN uses a fiber optic backbone capable of transmitting both data and video, and thus can be used to display traditional media as well as to exchange data and provide access to CD-ROMs and the Internet.

Second, schools within the district are developing multimedia production centers. The center at Willow Bend, the first to be completed, includes a two-camera video production setup, a video editing system, and two PowerMac multimedia systems, each complete with a video capture board, color scanner, laserdisc player, and gifics software that includes HyperStudio and Adobe Premier. These centers, used by students and teachers, serve as a major support for the presentation goals of the curriculum.

Multimedia productions
The multimedia systems, according to Baker, are being used for a variety of projects. Many teachers, for example, have been producing video and computer programs to show at parent open houses. Students often are videotaped for self-evaluations of oral reports. Baker has recently completed a history of the district to be shown to the public as part of their 50th anniversary celebration, using digitized still photos run to video with music and narration. But the most important use of technology is the creation of individual and group research reports. At Willow Bend, students do a lot more research than what's typical, and their reports are much more frequent and impressive.

"Instead of just doing the written reports, say on whales," says Baker, "they are now integrating information from the CD-ROMs,plus photogifs, as well as some live video that they have been able to pull from laserdisc. Before long, they will be able to use data they've gleaned from Internet sites. They're bringing all this into their presentations."

The degree of complexity that students put in their presentations naturally depends on the grade level. And, too, most of the activity so far has taken place at the intermediate grade levels. But "this year is a transition year," according to Baker, "and the focus and intent is that all students, kindergarten through 6th grade, will be using technology as a method of presentation."

Each classroom at Willow Bend is supplied with a multiscan monitor, VCR and laserdisc player, which students use to show their productions to classmates. But it's also possible to broadcast computer or video creations from the production center to any or all classrooms in the building, and ultimately throughout the district.

Long and short term projects
United Visual has been a key supplier to the district throughout the curriculum's development. "We're very happy with the support we've received from Lee Wolf," says Baker. "We use a wide variety of vendors for different kinds of equipment and software, and I've come to expect strong support in return for our business. Yet, though we've worked with United the whole 27 years I've been here, I've never had anything happen to make me question the support from them."

Unlike many districts, District 15 does not limit itself to equipment it can justify for a long term. "We use rentals whenever we do a big program," says Baker, "whether a theater production, video production, or parents' night. It's a great way to fill in those items we won't use often enough to purchase. United has always been able to provide what we've needed."

Measuring results
Baker says Willow Bend teachers and students are adapting well to the demands of the new curriculum, and results are encouraging. "Our teachers, " says Baker, "are seeing a lot more information being placed before the kids and a lot more absorption. It will take us at least through this year before we see any changes in standardized test results, but I feel very comfortable in saying that we expect very positive changes.

"If you stopped by our classrooms," Baker continues, "you'd see the computers being used almost non-stop. Students come in before school starts and stay late afterwards, working on various projects. That's having a major impact.

"A different type of student is coming out of Willow Bend, a different caliber. These students are expecting to continue on with what they've learned. This is allowing our junior highs to redesign their curriculum to provide for a continuation of this process."
spacer gif, United Visual, Inc.

Call United Visual 8am to 5pm M-F at 888-814-0030 or 630-467-1500
top of this page LCD projector and panel catalog   lcd projector rentals contact United Visual United Visual home page
frequently asked questions, faq, about LCD
	projectors and computer projection special prices and deals on
	LCD projectors technical help and tech tips about
	lcd projectors repairs and service for LCD projectors
	and av products
using LCD projectors in schools
	and education using LCD projectors in facility management
	and conference rooms using LCD projectors in training and
	human resources using lcd projectors in sales presentations
audio visual discussion group audio visual systems design and integration search this site for audio visual topics news and announcements

[ Top of Page | Catalog | Rental | Contact Us | United Visual Home | Frequently Asked Questions ]
[ Hot New Stuff | Tech Tips | Service Dept | Educator | Facility Manager | Trainer ]
[ Sales Professional | Bulletin Board | Installations | Search | News and Announcements ]

All contents are the property of United Visual, Inc.
© Copyright 1998 United Visual, Inc.

Computers in the classrooms: Palatine Township Elementary District 15