Students who attend school—regardless of grade level—in this generation do so in an age marked by advances in classroom technology and changes in instructional methods. While such progress is typically positive, as educators develop and move toward strategies and techniques that better suit today’s students, the usefulness of emerging classroom technology is enhanced when you, the student, understand and willingly engage with it. To aid in this process, here are four technological trends and their intended uses to watch for in your school:
A society’s young members, from grade school to university, often possess the greatest inherent knowledge of new technologies. This observation is especially true of the “iSuite.” Apple’s line of i-products, including the iPad, iPad Mini, and the iPod, are perhaps best recognized in the contemporary education sphere as incredible classroom aids.
Why? They are portable. Undoubtedly, your backpack weighs a significant amount. Would you prefer to carry an iPad/iPad Mini or a laptop? i-products also allow for the personalization of education that a lecture or single classroom activity simply cannot. Do you struggle to view the whiteboard? Your instructor can pre-load notes on your iPad. You can then determine the font and size of said notes. Are you an advanced or emerging reader? Instant access to e-books ensures your teacher can select a companion text (or a text that supplements your primary reading for the course) for you that is ideal for your ability level. A portion of e-books even contain interactive material, including internet resources and videos.
Unlike Apple, SMART is a relatively recent addition to the educational technology field. If you attend a school that possesses a wealth of resources, you may be familiar with their SMART Boards, or electronic whiteboards. SMART also produces document cameras, which, like overhead projectors, display real-time images of an item – typically writing. These SMART products hold powerful potential for all students.
Why? They foster interaction. Do you find it difficult to complete a complex algebra problem? Do you pause when presented with a dense piece of literature? The SMART board enables two or more students to collaboratively address such challenges. You can strike out and underline text in different colors, as well as access internet resources. Manipulation, in fact, is key – the SMART document camera, for instance, can create a 3D image of an item. For mathematics and science subjects, this means it is now possible to view an otherwise complex or mysterious structure from multiple angles.
For a percentage of schools, the video game genre (including specific programs like Minecraft) enables students to explore subjects like architecture and skills like problem-solving and strategy in an immersive environment. If you are an individual who enjoys gaming, you may soon encounter it in your classroom, whether to enliven review practices or to simulate scenarios that are difficult to envision and teach without such technological progress.
Advances likewise exist outside of games and hardware like the iPad and SMART Board. Open source content, or material that is free to access and modify provides individuals with rich opportunities to participate in their education. Open source may lead to apps that are developed by students for students, as well as malleable textbooks and websites (see, for instance, Wikipedia). Information, in theory, will be reflected in a more timely manner, with traditionally underrepresented perspectives present – history students would be especially wise to take note!
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