Not that long ago, classrooms were a bastion of tradition in both method and medium but the rapid evolution of digital technology has undoubtedly modernised the way education is delivered to young people. The pace of development is showing no signs of slowing down, so perhaps, ahead of Bett 2018, the world’s largest education technology show held in London next week, the biggest question is what is next on the agenda for classroom technology?
The prediction that the education technology (Edtech) sector is set to reach £129 billion by 2020, as stated in a joint report by London & Partners and EdtechUK, is testament to the widespread adoption across the nation’s schools, HE & FE colleges and universities. There are a multitude of positive examples of how technology in classrooms has benefited both students and teachers. Rather than focusing on the individual products, many of which have become a staple part of the classroom set up, perhaps we should explore how that technology has been used to enhance the overall learning experience and help prepare students to thrive in the working world.
One well documented benefit is the way technology improves engagement and knowledge retention. Integrated into lessons, technology provides different opportunities to make learning more fun and enjoyable. It can bring topics to life and encourage more active participation in the learning process which can be harder to achieve through a traditional classroom environment.
Technology has also helped to create more opportunities for collaboration. An important part of modern learning is about developing the necessary ‘soft skills’ that can be transferred into the workplace. In the last few months, the government has announced a host of new initiatives focusing on higher education and bridging the skills gap. The classroom plays a pivotal role in cultivating the right skills for our future workforce and technology will foster better collaboration, complex problem solving and critical thinking for students.
With so many opportunities and possibilities, 2018 promises to be an exciting year for edtech. Interactivity will form the basis of many technological developments and there is already much hype surrounding areas such as virtual and augmented reality and how it can be used effectively in the classroom. The devices are still evolving, yet there are an abundance of apps and 360 degree videos geared for use in education. Emerging applications such as ‘Google Expeditions’ which allows teachers and students to go on virtual field trips has gained lots of attention in the US and some of the more established headsets such as Oculus Rift are being used in everything from virtual campus tours to special needs education. Specific virtual reality tools are also facilitating learning in specialist subjects, such as architecture and design, with 3D modelling software being trialed in many colleges and classrooms.
There is huge scope for Virtual Reality (VR) in education and it’s not hard to understand why. Seeing, hearing and experiencing a topic rather than simply having it explained from front of class would surely appeal to the majority of students. What’s key for its success is to remove the barriers to adoption. Cost is clearly a significant issue in education and the technology itself needs to be fine-tuned to make set up and general use suitably school-friendly.
During this year’s action-packed events calendar, we are bound to witness some amazing technological firsts for edtech. It is hard to imagine a modern classroom that doesn’t incorporate several elements of technology. ‘Old school’ could literally become a thing of the past, as educators open their classroom doors to the latest engaging and immersive technology for more-rounded, better-skilled students.
*See the latest solutions from Avocor and chat to our experienced team at Bett 2018 on Stand B160**