Monday, October 17, 2011

ActivEngage: A BYOD Solution?

I recently had the opportunity to take a look at the new ActivEngage from Promethean Planet and have to say that I am very impressed.

You may be asking yourself what is ActivEngage, in my own words it is an interactive way to deliver and receive content to and from students over multiple types of devices.  The full description from Promethean is: "...a virtual learner response system that enables students to contribute in the classroom by responding to questions from their laptops, tablets or mobile handheld devices..."  So what does it do?   ActivEngage allows the teacher to deliver Learner Response questions to students without the need of either an ActiVote or EctivExpression, yes, I said without the need.

How does it work?  ActivEngage is a software package from Promethean Planet that you download to your computer, ie a teacher workstation.  Once installed you will have an additional option in your voting Browser that will allow you to deliver questions through a Virtual Hub to any wireless device in range.  With the install there is a Server install which is what is setup on the Teachers computer along with a Client install which will then need to be installed onto any laptops, or other computer workstation in the classroom.  Along with this any student that had their own handheld device, ie. iOS or Android product they can install the ActivEngage App from the respective store onto their own device and interact with the Teacher workstation.

The question then comes to So What?  So what  do you do with it now that you have it.  It looks like it could be an answer to the question of how do we deliver assessments to students.  There are a lot of discussions starting now and some implementation of school systems going totally paperless.  That is everything provided to and handled by students would be delivered electronically.  Testing being one of the discussion topics.  This could be a great opportunity by school systems to take advantage of what is already available to them that they normally will take away if seen in a classroom.

That is why I say lets take a look at the BYOD option, not implement it outright, just take a look at it.  Yes it is going to be a very large undertaking for many school districts across the country and world.  You are looking at fundamentally changing the infrastructure of your local in house LAN/WAN.  There are lots of precautions that have to be taken into account first.  Many regulations put in place to protect the students, teachers and schools.  But now is the time to start the conversation if you have not done so yet.  Normally we have students put away their devices in the classroom or even in some cases we take them away.  Let's take a look at possibly embracing the technology and using it to both advantages.

I know that there are many other products out there that can offer up similar results based on student devices and teacher delivered content.  I hope that some will share their options as well.  ActivEngage was something that I saw that really looked like it could solve a growing problem positively.

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