Ask the Experts: Starting from Scratch with Technology

Q: I have just been given a budget of $500 for technology to use in my dance classes. But what should I do with it? I’m starting from scratch.

A: I would recommend just two purchases: a tablet and a projector. You can get a generic Android tablet for under $75 these days, but I would recommend an iPad mini ($299 with 16GB of memory). Though more expensive, Apple offers the most apps, its devices are easy to use and the products have fewer bugs. Also, Apple products retain their value far longer and have a good resale price, for when you want to upgrade later. As for a projector, $200 gives you a variety of options. If portability is your number-one issue, then you might try a pico projector that is small enough to fit in your pocket. These tiny projectors aren’t very bright, though. If you can handle a normal-size projector, you can easily get something midsize that’s bright and high definition on that budget.

With a tablet and projector, you can do a lot. The obvious benefits are video projection and a video-ready camera (I recommend getting a wide-angle lens), but the Apple App Store gives you the tools to do much more. You can use the tablet to store and play your music; augment it with an app to control the tempo of your music and even add a metronome. You can store all of your lesson plans on a tablet, via apps like Evernote or Google Drive—which you can also access on any device with an internet connection. With a tablet and a projector, you can really craft how you introduce material and demonstrate. SMARTBoard’s Notebook app, ShowMe (an interactive whiteboard) and MorrisCooke’s Explain Everything app allow you to easily create dynamic presentations to introduce concepts to your students.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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