The future of technology in the classroom
Technology is revolutionising the way we teach, and the way in which children and young people learn. Gone are the days of outdated textbooks and simple whiteboards and markers. Schools are increasingly focused on bringing classrooms into the 21st century and using technology to create more vibrant and engaging learning experiences.
Let’s take a look at some of the newest technology for the classroom and the ways in which it is impacting learning, as well as what future classroom technology could look like.
Using games to enhance lessons isn’t a new technique. Teachers have been gamifying their lessons for years because it:
- Makes learning fun
- Makes students more motivated to learn
- Boosts memory
- Improves strategic thinking
- Encourages cooperation and teamwork
- Enables controlled competitiveness
However, the future of technology in the classroom involves a greater move towards electronic games rather than pen and paper games.
This is valuable because the students of today play computer games more than ever before. From smartphones to tablets, and PCs to gaming consoles, kids have access to computer games in more ways than ever before. If teachers are to really grab the attention of their students with games in the classroom, they need to strive to make their games as colourful and engaging as those played outside of the classroom.
New classroom technology like interactive displays makes it possible for teachers to display educational computer games at the front of the class. This could be in the form of games which are intentionally designed for education, or those which are just for fun but which can stimulate learning opportunities.
During an interview with the Guardian, Ollie Bray, Education Scotland’s National Adviser for Emerging Technologies in Learning, described ways in which the latter can be effective. He explained that the Mario and Sonic Winter Olympics game played on the Wii could be used to collect authentic data for use in a numeracy lesson. In the process, kids are able to apply numeracy techniques to data that means something to them, which helps them to become more engaged in the subject matter.
The use of computer games in the classroom can be an excellent way to introduce students to topics that would otherwise be deemed uninteresting by many young people. Future classroom technology could, therefore, include games consoles which can easily be hooked up television screens or interactive display screens.
Access to the cloud
Although the cloud has been changing the way we store and access our data and documents for years, uptake on this new classroom technology in schools is not as high as it could be. However, the cloud poses a huge variety of benefits for teachers and students alike.
From a teaching perspective, the cloud can:
- Make access to lesson plans, presentations, and other resources easier
- Allow access to resources anywhere with an internet connection – i.e. outside of school
- Enable simpler marking if students can upload work to the cloud
For students, benefits include:
- Easy access to resources outside of lessons and school, which could aid with homework and revision
- Use of cloud-based learning apps via smartphones, tablets, and laptops
- Simpler sharing of work or presentations with teachers and classmates
From the point of view of schools, cloud computing makes sense because it’s a cheaper solution to on-premise data storage and networks. All that’s needed is a reliable internet connection; there’s no need to invest in hardware and software, and regular maintenance isn’t required like it is with on-premise servers. Compared to hosted data storage, cloud computing also tends to be less expensive.
Another benefit of cloud computing is that it can make textbooks available online, reducing costs for schools. This could also benefit students if they’re required to purchase their own copies, which is common in university. Electronic copies of textbooks tend to be cheaper, which is particularly useful if editions and curriculum are updated regularly.
The future of technology in the classroom could see students and teachers working from e-books rather than physical textbooks, but cloud computing is the first step in this direction.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways in which new classroom technology can be used is to access the internet for research. Today’s kids tend to turn to Google to answer their questions if they have access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer, but sometimes schools are resistant to incorporating this type of independent research into the classroom.
It makes sense that schools are more eager for students to absorb learning material supplied in the classroom than information sourced from Google. It ensures that students are on the same page in regard to the curriculum. Plus, it can be tricky to figure out the accuracy and reliability of information published online.
However, these points are exactly why future classroom technology should be used to encourage independent internet research. It’s an opportunity to teach students to differentiate between reliable and unreliable online sources and to help them to use the internet in a way that enhances that which is learned in the classroom.
It can also give kids the chance to read more deeply into the topics covered in the classroom if they’re particularly interested in them. Having the ability take control of their learning could help them to get more excited about the subjects studied in class which will only enhance the learning experience.
Here are a few ways in which teachers could incorporate independent online research into their lessons:
- Ask students to use Wikipedia and Google to research for class presentations
- Set additional web research tasks for students to do if they finish classroom work earlier; this rewards fast working and gives students the opportunity to learn more about a topic
- Have students use Google first to find answers to simple questions, such as the definition of a word
- Use an interactive display at the front of the class to Google words, phrases, or topics that are new to the whole class
Some of these techniques do rely on students having easy access to the internet, either at home or during lessons. However, the future of technology in the classroom is leaning towards the availability of laptops or tablets for every student. It may be some time until we get there, but many schools are already focused on future classroom design in which exercise books and pens could be completely replaced with laptops or tablets for every pupil.
Versatile lesson delivery and presentations
The newest technology for the classroom focuses on interactive learning, and interactive display screens are the cornerstone of this trend. Interactive learning is effective because it encourages students to take charge of their own learning and forces them to engage in the class more directly than if they were to simply sit, listen, and take notes.
Interactive displays are large LED screens with touch capability. This allows teachers to deliver full-colour presentations at the head of the class, and interact directly with it by touching, tapping, or swiping at the screen and writing on it.
The advanced interactive displays at Avocor are provided with the Windows 10 operating system and have a variety of connection ports – including USB – to make it really simple for teachers to hook up laptops or USB sticks to display their presentations. Alternatively, if cloud computing is available in the school, accessing resources is even easier. Plus, the screens make it really easy to use to a variety of apps and software designed for the classroom.
Kids can benefit from this future classroom technology, too. They can:
- Interact directly with the content on the board, either alone or with their peers thanks to multipoint touch technology
- Deliver their own interactive presentations with ease
- Enjoy more varied lessons
- Learn from a wide range of media types, including text, images, video, and music
- Take part in virtual field trips, in which places and experiences can be explored via the internet without leaving the classroom
- Collaborate more readily with teachers and peers on projects
Interactive displays also make it possible to incorporate video conferencing into the classroom, which could totally transform future classroom design. It could allow students to be taught by teachers in different cities or countries, or to interact with experts all over the world to gain extra insights into the learning material. It also enables collaboration between different classes or even schools, which could boost students’ communication skills.
Future classroom design looks more and more likely to be focused on interactive learning, and the interactive display is the newest technology in the classroom to have such a vast and versatile impact on the ways in which children learn.