Mimio Global Press

Classrooms go higher tech

Reprinted from Wicked Local - www.wickedlocal.com

Malden, MA - September 08, 2008 - While preparing their course assignments for the school year, Malden Catholic High School faculty members got a chance to sit on the other side of the desk for a technology lesson last Wednesday.

MC has installed "Mimio," an interactive technology linking computers with whiteboards, in its classrooms, with the goal of using it to tailor teaching styles toward technology-savvy students.

"In my visit to New Jersey, I was amazed to see the time my nephew spent with video games, text messages, and computers," Brother Thomas Puccio, the school headmaster, said. "It's a whole different lifestyle...there's a different approach to accessing information. To complement what has become their ready-made learning style, there's a lot more you can do quickly and in a more engaging way."

Last Wednesday morning, teachers got a taste of that future when they assembled in a second-floor classroom for a group demonstration of Mimio .

As a fan hummed in the summer air, two representatives of the Cambridge-based company explained their product, which the Mimio Web site, Mimio .com, describes as "a portable device that attaches to any whiteboard, connects to a computer and electronically captures everything that is written or drawn."

The group of about 20 people watched company representative Bill DiSisto use a laptop on a desk, a whiteboard mounted on the wall behind him, and the Mimio device itself - which looks a little like a foot-long television remote control - during his presentation. DiSisto used the device like a modern-day sorcerer with a magic wand, clicking it on the whiteboard to alter the large-scale images.

Teachers learned the resources that Mimio made available to them. It can rotate, highlight and erase words written on a whiteboard. Faculty members can plot and connect objects on a graph. They can save each screen, store it, and print it.

Even those not present can benefit: Teachers can email saved screens to absent students.

MC took an initial step in making its classrooms interactive when it installed projectors eight years ago. Last February, every teacher got his or her own laptop. The process has continued as the school has replaced chalkboards with whiteboards.

Melanie Leonard, the school technological director, said that the search for a specific interactive technological product "probably started three or four years ago."

"We looked at different technologies - SMART Boards, Mimio , a few others," she said.

However, Brother Puccio said, SMART Boards - whose parent company, SMART, is headquartered in Calgary - are more than twice the cost of Mimio , and would represent a "radical classroom transformation." (The school does have one SMART Board.)

Last year, company representatives visited MC for several demonstrations.
"We had a preview of it then and liked it," Brother Puccio said.

What also helped was an anonymous donation from an alumnus, whose gift of $65,000 covered the entire project, both technology and whiteboards.

"We are blessed to have a donor make it available to happen this year," Brother Puccio said. "Sooner is always better than later."

In his presentation, DiSisto depicted Mimio as a tool that classrooms across the nation would embrace in the future.

"Eight percent of US classrooms use it today," he said. "It's projected that over the next three to five years, it'll be between 38 to 45 percent. There will be a lot of interactive classrooms, classrooms of a laptop or desktop hooked into a projector hooked into an interactive whiteboard."

"Some other local schools are using it," Brother Puccio said. "I think it's a technology on the increase."

However, as MC takes another step toward the future, its headmaster gave what might serve as a useful postscript to Wednesday's lesson.

"You don't want something smarter than the teacher up there," he said.