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Classroom monitors bring the world to life
for local elementary schools

Monivision monitor in use at Carpenter Schoo, Park Ridge, ILMonday's lesson may come from the internet, Tuesday from the VCR and Wednesday the teacher signs on to cable TV. There's little doubt the resources available to school children today are a far cry from what their parents used. Whether it's a signal from the world wide web or a video documentary, lessons no longer come just from the pages of a book. With so many sources of information available, school districts such as District 64 in Park Ridge and Niles, Illinois have found that dedicating a large screen monitor to each classroom can provide a big payback for teachers and students alike.

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According to Gerald Berkowitz, the districtís Manager of Technology, access to large screen monitors or projectors has become critical to a technology programís success. Under the districtís old system, teachers would sign up for equipment several days in advance to make sure it was available and still sometimes did not get it when they wanted it. If a teacher got a last minute inspiration to add a computer simulation or a video to a lesson, it could be tough to show it. Rolling equipment from classroom to classroom also meant a lot of wear and tear, and sometimes a monitor would even fall off a cart.

It was clear to Berkowitz that a better system was needed. So last summer United Visual began hanging monitors throughout the district including 57 in the new Emerson Middle School.† Rather than going with a purely video monitor, Berkowitz chose new multimedia units from Monivision, which offer true computer resolution as well very good video images.

We asked Berkowitz why the district chose these monitors rather than projectors. Most of the districts you see with projectors in every classroom are high school or college districts, he says. A† projector with an image bright enough to handle high ambient light and still look good will cost as much as three or four good multimedia monitors. The tradeoff for District 64 came down to image size versus the number of rooms it could outfit. This way, says Berkowitz, we covered every classroom.††

Having the monitors available and the sources already connected is a big advantage for most of the district teachers. U.S. History teacher Doug Florence likes having the VCR, laserdisc player and cable TV all plugged in at the same time. In our 8th grade program we discuss the U.S. Constitution, says Florence. When we were discussing the role of Congress, I was able to turn on C-Span, and we watched how the House of Representatives actually worked.† Instead of me telling them, they saw it LIVE!

When something comes up at the last minute, Florence and his colleagues no longer have to hope a monitor is available, or go in search of one. It's always there to use as an extension to his lesson, always ready to bring the real world to life.