Martha Shott

Short Throw Project Reflection

As a mathematics instructor, I was mostly interested in using the iPad in conjunction with the Boxi projector in order to circumvent the need for students to go to the board during class time while still allowing students to benefit from seeing each other’s work. Students are hesitant to write their work on the board in front of the class; they are nervous about getting something incorrect, and some of them are shy in general. Also, having the students write solutions on the board takes time that could be spent in a more constructive fashion. There is also a tendency of other students to lose focus while they are waiting for the student to finish writing on the board, adding work related to classroom management for the instructor. All of these issues can be mitigated by using technology similar to the iPad and short-throw projector.

Often in class, I ask my students to work in groups on some practice problems. When I want to workshop their solutions in front of the class, I use the iPad to take photos of the students’ work, which are then converted to PDF through an app (I began with ScanToPDF but eventually switched to TinyScan, which was more robust). With TinyScan, I had the option of ordering all of the photos I had taken so that I could present the solutions in order of increasing accuracy/sophistication. When it came time to project the solutions, students seemed more willing to discuss the strengths as well as weaknesses of each attempt because the personal aspect had been removed (I think students are afraid to praise or criticize each other, but not knowing whose solution was on the screen seemed to alleviate that issue). Sometimes I would project the work directly onto the white board so that I could use markers to “edit” the solution based on students’ suggestions.

All in all, I found that the combined use of the iPad with the short-throw projector provided me with a more efficient way to showcase student work during class. Although I had smart classrooms this semester, I have previously been stuck in a classroom without a built-in projector, and the Boxi would have come in very handy at that time. I think it would be really helpful for the school to have a set of Boxis, perhaps housed in IT, that instructors could check out in cases where the classrooms weren’t equipped with that technology. Even when I’m in a smart classroom, the Boxi outperforms the standard projector in terms of start-up and shut-down time. Its portability also allowed me to project on any surface, and not just the classroom screen. That was a big benefit to me, because whiteboard space is so precious within a math classroom. The only drawback I found from using the equipment was that whenever my iPad updated, I had to reinstall the Boxi application in order for the iPad to communicate wirelessly with the projector. Once I figured out that issue, though, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise useful technology duo.

Many thanks to the university administration and the faculty center staff for giving the new faculty an opportunity to experiment with this technology!