We've come a long way from the overhead slide projector and the ditto machine, and as technology evolves so does education. Here are 6 things we’ve found that are making waves in education.
Smartboards are already pervasive in many schools across the country, and we’ve seen the power that they have to help make learning more interactive, more engaging, and more fun. According to the Global Education Census, conducted by Cambridge Assessment International Education, nearly 60% of classrooms in the US are using interactive whiteboards. Smartboard technology allows educators to give more dynamic lectures and presentations because they can easily and intuitively interact with what’s on screen, and the technology allows students to engage more because they can have a tactile interaction with what’s on screen. Smartboards also introduce opportunities for different types of group collaboration and participation, with polls, live quizzes, and other group activities where students work together and get real-time results.
One of the more challenging aspects of being a teacher is managing the classroom. When a teacher turns their back to the room, students are more likely to disengage, get rowdy, or be otherwise disruptive to the learning environment. Smartboards help minimize the amount of time that teachers have their backs turned to the classroom, which not only means that they can manage the classroom better, but more importantly it means that they spend more time engaging with students. Many resources, like ready-made maps, gamified quizzes, and lesson templates are readily available for an educator to bring up on screen and interact with, which results in educators spending less time preparing and setting up, and more time teaching.
Oftentimes when moving or deciding on whether or not they’ll take a job in a new area, a parent’s first thought is about the schools in the area they’re looking at. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good school, or the types of schools in your area don’t cater well to your student’s particular needs. So you either have to move somewhere out of your price range, learn to be okay with your student going to whichever school serves your new home, or find some other alternative like costly private schools or homeschooling.
With the rise of the internet, online schools have become more prominent and provide more options to families who are looking for different educational options in grades K-12.
According to the NCSE, more than 75% of all US school districts offer online education choices, so digital learning options are most likely available in your area.
Online schools don’t only provide alternatives to traditional school but can be used to supplement traditional education, providing resources that a local school may not be able to offer. You can also choose between private online schools like Stanford Online High School, or publicly funded schools that are just like your local offerings but online.
When students go home, it’s up to them to remember everything that was covered in class and what assignments they should be focusing on. As soon as a student leaves a classroom or tutoring session the interaction with the educator ends until the next session. In addition to the lack of communication with students, parents don’t usually have a regular or open line of communication with educators either. This can leave parents in the dark and mean that they don’t know how to best support their kids with their schoolwork.
Messaging services that tap into SMS, MMS, and other digital communication platforms can help educators stay in touch with students and their families without crossing personal boundaries. Services that allow for one-to-many messaging allow educators to send reminders and updates to keep students in the loop if things change and can be used keep parents apprised of what’s going on in the classroom on a regular basis. This means fewer parent-teacher conferences are needed and parents can be more involved in their student’s education, all while helping students stay more connected to their lesson plans than ever.
Among current technology trends, Virtual Reality is one of the fastest growing. This technology presents some of the most novel ways to enhance student engagement and provide individualized learning opportunities to students. For example, a recent study of 7th and 8th grade students suggested that boys and girls may learn differently depending on how their instructor is portrayed. Girls in the study learned better when the instructor was a young, female researcher name Marie, while boys learned better when the instructor was portrayed as a flying robot drone.
With VR, you can tailor an educational experience to suit a students strengths rather than trying to get a student to conform to a generalized program. VR isn’t just about playing games anymore!
Similar to Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality introduces some very interesting concepts for students to participate in ways that might not be a good fit for a traditionally equipped classroom. Augmented Reality, like the Microsoft Hololens and the technology in advanced smartphones and tablets, provides the ability to overlay digital experiences on top of real world objects. That means that students can potentially touch and feel objects that aren’t actually there, conduct experiments that might be too dangerous for a school laboratory (like some of the more interesting chemistry experiments), or engage with custom materials tailored to each student while still easily and naturally interacting with classmates and educators.
3D modeling, physically interacting with digital objects, and quick access to additional information are all examples of how Augmented Reality can be used to enhance students educational experiences. And with 73% of all teens having ready access to a smartphone, according to Pew Research, Augmented Reality might be closer to the classroom than you think!
The number one thing that educators don’t have enough of is almost always time. School-teachers in particular volunteer an enormous amount of time for mundane tasks like grading tests and developing curriculums in addition to the enormous amount of time and support that each student needs. Ask any teacher when the last time they took their student’s work home to grade and they’ll probably say ‘yesterday’.
Artificial Intelligence offers opportunities for educators to spend less time on tasks like grading tests, adjusting lesson plans, and developing individualized curriculums for students while spending more time working directly with those students, teaching new concepts and materials that make a real difference.
As technology continues to progress, innovation in education will continue. It’s easy to get lost in the mire of how it’s always been done, and what was successful in the past. But as we advance as a society we’ll need to keep thinking forward and stretching our imagination for how we can leverage cutting edge technology to improve education. Some of the ideas in this list were fantasies just a few years ago, and the technological advances that are going to come in the next few years will change the face of education even more.