Local Company Developing Equipment and Software for 21st Century Classroom


Classtalk represents a new genre of instructional technology called the

"Classroom Communications System."

It was conceived and developed by "Better Education Inc." an educational research organization In Yorktown. Early prototypes were tested at Christopher Newport University. The learning benefits have been validated by such prestigious organizations as the National Science Foundation and Harvard University.
Michael Tomczyk, chief operating officer at Better Education showed the governor how a teacher uses Classtalk to pose a question. He pressed a computer key and the following Illustrated question appeared on a TV monitor: "What town in Virginia is the oldest continuously occupied English-speaking settlement in America?" Governor Allen, as the and "student." typed in his response on a small palmtop computer. The Governor answered "Hampton" which was correct, and his answer was immediately displayed on the teacher's computer. and "feedback message" also appeared on the student computer screen, congratulating the Governor on his right answer. Anyone who got the answer wrong also received a friendly computer message, explaining the right answer. Tomczyk told the Governor.

"Classtalk was developed in Virginia. We'd like to see more school districts and colleges using it here. Schools in other states such as North Carolina are moving to integrate Classtalk into their curriculum improvement programs. We'd like to see the same level of support in our own state."

He noted that V-Quest, the state's initiative to improve education in science and technology, has been an enthusiastic supporter. A few progressive school districts such as York County have scheduled Classtalk demonstrations for groups of teachers. but he pointed out that more needs to be done to disseminate information

"The power of this technology is that all the students participate, even if they're shy or lack confidence."

Tomczyk explained, and

"It's like having all the students raise their hands at the same time...electronically. Most important-Classtalk students learn better because they are actively engaged-we have research that proves it. Classtalk students at four schools were surveyed and 83 percent agreed that Classtalk is good to have in the classroom, and it helped them understand the subject matter better. A majority also said Classtalk helps them enjoy class more."

 

"Teachers like Classtalk because it's one of the few ways they can measure if their students are learning. without having to wait until a quiz or exam- by then, it's to late to re-teach the material. Classtalk helps them. in real-time during class, which students are struggling or not keeping pace, so they can quickly identify and correct misconceptions and learning gaps. Time-consuming administrative tasks such as grading and attendance are also computerized."


Classtalk is already in use at schools and colleges in nine states. Installations include high school classes and learning labs with less than 20 students. and in lecture halls with over 300 students.
The concept for the Classroom Communications System originated in the late 1980s by a small group of Virginia scientists. programmers and educators. Courtesy photo Governor George Allen helped demonstrate Classtalk, a new interactive electronic classroom technology, at the Virginia State Fair. The system was showcased at the V-Quest Education exhibit, which won the Governor's Award for best fair exhibit.

 

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