In the past two decades, technology has advanced so quickly that is has undoubtedly become a part of every-day life. Internet-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets have become a vital, if not necessary tool for learning and communicating, and their impact on the education system has been profound.
Due to great advancements in technology, students and teachers have better access to mobile devices, digital learning tools, and other educational technology.
Instructional technology in particular has improved considerably over the last decade – and that’s largely been driven by greater affordability, higher expectations, and increased teacher adoption.
Jim Flanagan, chief learning services officer at Arlington, Va.-based ISTE, is encouraged by the student-to-device ratio, which has dropped considerably with the emerging expectation that students have at least one dedicated mobile device.
Ensuring that technologies are Internet-accessible has been a big contributor to the uptake in integration in schools.
“Wireless bandwidth is catching up with demand and new apps and platforms are giving teachers and students exciting tools to explore,” says Flanagan. “In general, teachers and schools are starting to realize the benefits of technology through improved access to information and greater productivity [in terms of managing assignments and student assessments].”
An ongoing challenge with learning technologies is that they’re not all interoperable, according to Flanagan, who notes that the goal is to create an educational experience where a student is working within a particular app and that experience is shareable throughout the classroom. You’ll see a “ten-fold breakthrough on interoperability” when leaders in the education world demand interoperability among these devices, he says.
The following educational technologies have become much more advanced and accessible, and greatly enhance teacher instruction and student learning. Consider the benefits and challenges of these technologies when looking to implement new tech in your school.
Interactive smartboards have become a popular technology in many classrooms as they help increase interactivity and collaboration in the classroom.
Lindsey Baker, a training specialist at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based CCS Presentation Systems, was a teacher when smartboards were just starting to enter the classroom. “We had one in every classroom, and I saw how excited students got. It literally changed the environment of my classroom,” she says.
Using interactive smartboards really helps make learning more fun, she says. “Technology allows students to work together in the classroom and take ownership of what they’re learning. It’s not as structured as it used to be.”
While interactive smartboards used to be extremely expensive – and beyond the reach of many schools – today, you can get a 70-inch interactive smartboard for $2,500, which is close to the cost of projector technology, according to Baker.
The standard technology environment – say, with a standalone chalk board and the typical rows of desks – doesn’t allow students to really project their own thoughts, says Mark Racine, director of technology at Boston Public Schools. It certainly helps that students are generally far beyond adults in their use of technology in their personal and social lives. Racine explains that it’s second nature for today’s students to use technology such as interactive smartboards in the classroom.