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5 benefits of a projector



We have been using interactive technology and games at our school since May 2012 and recommend their use for several reasons. Here are five benefits of using technology and interactive games.



Hardware: Computer, interactive projector, large whiteboard, (optional-first response system).
Software: PowerPoint.



1) Sales. Students always join a regular class for a free demo-lesson with their guardian observing to decide whether to enrol or not. I expect they also try lessons in competitor schools. We play a short educational game at the end of such lessons to demonstrate that we are serious about education since we invested in equipment to teach the students. I have noticed that parents of children taking a demo-lesson always move nearer to pay closer attention when we switch on our equipment transforming a ‘boring whiteboard’ into a huge computer screen. Although our building (and teacher) is old, this modern technology shows us as progressive, and ensures customers remember our lessons.





2) Joyful Learning. As an experienced teacher and psychologist with many years of work experience under my belt (no, it is not a beer belly!), including ten years as an SEG examiner for GCSE child development psychology, I understand the importance of fun for children. Even toddlers learn better when you make them giggle. We have developed several lessons that teach or reinforce language using fun Interactive games. Students often ask for a ‘game’ rather than a ‘lesson’ because they equate games with fun. We never substitute a game for a lesson, but we sometimes promise to reward them with a game if they work hard in class. However, all of our ‘games’ are in fact ‘lessons’. Thus, joyful learning is achieved.





3) Active Learning. Many theorists propose this method. While our approach is pluralistic, interactive games can involve active leaning. Students may actively engage in their own learning by preparing questions and answers. For example, to make our game ‘body parts’ students sketched some body parts and used dictionaries to name them. One man and a dog scanned their sketches and incorporated them into an exciting interactive game for reinforcement. Before playing the game, students have to match flashcards of body images with their corresponding names. We allow students to leave the matched pairs on the table for reference when playing the game. In the game, the image gradually, but not slowly, appears and students compete to be the first to name it. They use first response buttons for this. To deter students from racing to hit their button and then looking-up the answer, when the first buzzer is pressed the screen freezes. So, if they hit the button too soon, the image may be too obscure to identify hence freezing out that player.



The game is based on the Blockbusters TV game of the 1980s. One team (white) tries to build a vertical bridge on a game board of numbered yellow hexagons while the other team (red) tries to build a horizontal bridge. The first team to reach their goal is the winner. Basically, a team selects a numbered hexagon on the game board then the screen flips to gradually reveal a body part image. The first team to correctly name the body part wins that hexagon which changes colour to white or red accordingly.



The game board is projected onto a whiteboard by an interactive projector and controlled by the teacher using a computer mouse. If a response button system is used, the image freezes when the first button is pressed to deter students from anticipating and guessing the answer. The game may be played without such a system.



You can see the body parts game being played here.



The body parts game is available to purchase for 2,500 yen inclusive of tax as is (106 slides, sound files and 27 body part images) here.





4) Cooperative Learning. Some theorists might argue against the competitive style employed in games that require teams or individuals to race and answer the question correctly. These teachers could group students as teams to compete against the clock rather than one another. Students may be tasked to collaborate in small groups to accomplish a shared goal within a set time or no time limit. As an examiner from England, I am very keen on examinations in Japan. We group students by Eiken level and give them control of the interactive projector system to solve test items. For example, in the Eiken Pre-1 listening section they read and discuss answer choices projected onto the whiteboard. They decide when to play the soundtrack then discuss their responses. Then they may decide to view the tapescript to read, discuss and confirm.





5) Free-up a teacher or ‘Heterogenous THEN Homogenous Learning’. In a one man and his dog school, there is often only one teacher. Our classes usually comprise students at different Eiken levels, which is how we denote their ability. We often teach the class using the same basic materials in the early plenary stage of the lesson (heterogenous learning) then we split the class into two or three groups by Eiken level (homogeneous learning). One of the groups will use the technology or play an interactive game independent from the teacher. The group using the technology is rotated week by week. To the four benefits above, we can add our fifth. Namely, the benefit of a teacher being freed up to concentrate on groups not using the technology. A bonus point is that students not only learn English but use of technology.

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