Technology and the classroom of the future
Edtech – the word is fast becoming one of the most used terms in any discussion on education. The word refers to technology in classrooms and the key point in conversations is how this is being used to further education today. Another big topic is what it will be used for in the future.
So what exactly does the use of technology in education mean for the world? In society right now, knowledge has never been more freely available than it is today. The internet and mobile devices have put every piece of human thought (right or wrong) at our fingertips. It is, quite literally, unprecedented. In terms of education in schools, this is both a blessing and a curse. It also means that teachers now “have a fundamental role to play in initiating approaches, providing the keys to access knowledge and leading projects that promote the ability to work together”.
As the role of the teacher becomes intertwined with technology, it’s easy to start wondering about what the classroom of the future will look like. We took a trip in the DeLorean and asked Marty if we could stop and have a quick peek.
What do classrooms of the future look like?
It isn’t a cold future as many have feared. Yes, it’s full of software and devices that change the way we interact, but they don’t limit us or our connections to the real world. It’s quite the opposite. Technology in classrooms allows students to experience things far beyond the physical constraints of the room, the building and even the school grounds. They can also share experiences far more easily with their peers and their families.
Location is no longer a limiting factor for students and teachers. Through online screen sharing or virtual reality (VR), they can go anywhere in the world. Even better, they can learn from anywhere in the world. Students based in one town can talk to leading experts in literature, physics, astronomy and gastronomy from all across the planet. Live video sessions become fully interactive thanks to holographic projections and VR.
The actual physical classroom is also completely different. LCD touch screens line the walls, rather one board in the front. These interactive walls will “keep children engaged and allow for multiple children to touch the screen at once”. Additionally, the furniture isn’t static, with everyone facing forwards. Students can move their desks around with ease in order to team up with each other for projects. Teachers can display information on a large screen for the whole class or share it on specific devices. In the classroom of the future, the so-called “natural boundaries” between teachers and students is gone.
Adaptive learning is a reality
There is a lot of talk right now about the style of teaching changing. Educators around the world are toying with the idea of throwing out the rulebook that says every student must pass the same test to prove they understand the topics covered that term.
Fully fledged adaptive learning is a reality in tomorrow’s classrooms thanks to the complete integration of edtech into a syllabus. The edtech will be able to actually learn about the students and then help teachers to create learning plans for individuals based on how well they are coping with the lessons, according to a theory put forward by ASCD Inservice. In the future, pedagogy becomes unique to the individuals being taught. There is no more one size fits all lesson plan.
Just think about what this means for assessing students. They will no longer have to submit assignments in one particular way. They can find the way that best expresses their understanding of the subject or topic and then set about proving to the teacher that they know what they’re talking about. For example, “the teacher may receive the assignment in various mediums that can include a recorded video, an elaborate diorama, a research paper” or ways we haven’t even thought of yet.
What is holding us back?
Just a quick look at the future is enough to show that the world is nearly there. However, there are some major factors that are still holding us back. The first is clearly connectivity and access. There are far too many people still without access to the internet or up-to-date technology. Until we reach the point where rural and poorer communities can have the same access as the main cities around the world, we can’t quite make it into that future.
Another key factor is educational systems that hold fast to traditional pedagogy. This teaching method states that every student must pass the same tests in order to move on with their schooling. Only a small percentage of students are allowed to deviate from these norms, and they are usually identified as special needs students. This actually puts an additional strain on the student as they are singled out as different in a bad way. Once we are able to break down the barriers and see that two children can learn in totally different ways but still full comprehend the subject matter, we can move forward.
We’re on the right track with technology in classrooms
It’s already clear that we’re working towards this educational future because more and more teachers are enjoying an adaptive style of education. Schools around the world are also embracing technology in classrooms, and seeing great benefits from it.
The number of schools using smart boards instead of white boards or chalk boards is ever increasing. Smart boards allow for greater spread of different types of information. Students can also “touch and move content on the board”, thereby engaging with the content.
Schools embracing the use of mobile devices in class are also seeing great changes, when the programs are implemented correctly. When teachers are able to use Mobile Device Management (MDM) software, they can also track and monitor the progress of each student. This allows them to adapt lesson plans for those who are not coping with the main learning approach. This allows for more personal attention and a greater understanding by the teacher.
As schools adapt their pedagogy, they can better accommodate edtech and get themselves ready for the future.