Staying on top of technology can be a daunting task can’t it? It’s a full-time job to filter through the latest buzzwords, devices, upgrades, platforms, etc. day in day out. For example, how quickly did the phrase “Digital Transformation” arise in the area of business? Recognising which technological trends will have the most constructive and significant effects is an essential part of every educator’s job. So too is updating the learning environment, not to mention their own skills to meet those trends. Change is going to happen whether you pursue it or not so in that respect, adaptability and preparation are more vital to success than ever. In this article we will look at some trends that may mould your future classroom technology ideas. We can ensure that our children are well-prepared for whatever their futures may entail by understanding these concepts ourselves.
Technology in Today’s Classrooms
I’m a big fan of Plato’s philosophy on education: that it’s function is to determine what every individual is capable of and fitted to do. When that individual has established what he or she is best at, then they should devote their lives to it. The classrooms of today are adopting methods and procedures that foster a child’s creative mind; to allow them to explore the space around them, both digitally and physically. To that end, two trends that are already making their way into classrooms and/or are expected to garner mainstream usage include Makerspaces and Online Learning. Implementation of these tools may of course look different depending on the environment. However, the benefits of adding such developments to the learning environment will be clearly apparent; boosting their problem-solving, critical thinking and creative skills.
Makerspaces / Hackspaces / FabLabs
The focus of a Makerspace is giving kids the chance to tinker, design, create and explore form and function. This is why they are so engaging! Kids learn invaluable skills by doing rather than simply viewing. Makerspaces allow for hands-on learning, using different tools and methods used in the traditional classroom setting. Kids also develop resilience and perseverance as they experienced trial and error failures – something that occurs in everyday life. Even for those that are on tight budgets, the potential of community mobile makerspace is one with limitless possibilities. In addition, there are tons of resources for creating makerspaces on a budget.
Now. Online learning doesn’t just mean hopping onto Google and searching for the answer to your Geography homework. Rather, a huge blend of endless resources exist that can only enhance their own in-class experiences, while also allowing them to create digital artefacts that demonstrate understanding of a topic and connect with other learners and experts, etc. Teachers can research new strategies and improve their own digital citizenship and proficiency. Online learning breaks down the four-walls of the normal classroom and provides students, teachers and indeed parents with far-reaching and forward-thinking opportunities that increase every day.
Short-Term Future Classroom Technology Ideas
As these FabLab, maker- and hack-spaces take root alongside advances in online learning, additional developments will start to appear alongside them over the next few years. Interested? Then read on …
The very concept is amazing and it can open a student’s eyes to a new method of interacting with study concepts. Through a VR lens, they can explore distant places, interact with people and/or places in computer-generated environments, etc.. Essentially a student’s perspectives and opinions on a particular topic, which had previously been confined to pages in a book, can come to virtual life.
Think about it. Putting theory into practice within a VR world, kids will experience higher levels of engagement and fact retention. What was once presented in a textbook becomes an engaging and memorable journey in virtual space.
A quick Google search will unveil a wrath of companies currently working on educational virtual or augmented reality platforms. With programmes like Google Expeditions, Nearpod and Immersive VR, the breakthrough of this technology has already begun. This will most likely be another commonly accessed component for integrating technology into the classroom.
The STEM elements of Robotics are already making their way into education but this is currently as part of an after-school robot club or robotics lunchtime group. As you know, codingBox loves this specific area, and it’s reasonable to assume, judging from the research information available, that robots will become much more attractive to the educational masses in the short-term future.
The engaging nature of a robot and the opportunity for strengthening hands-on coding skills is really attractive too. With proper training and focused discussion, robotics can become a valuable teaching and learning tool with innumerable impacts on a wide variety of students. Cognitive development can be strengthened as can communication skills, strategic- and goal-orientated thinking. Working with robots helps kids adopt an analytical and strategic focus on logical reasoning.
Longer-Term Future Classroom Technology Ideas
At the turn of the millennium AI was the title of a movie directed by Steven Spielberg; a futuristic phenomenon. Fast forward 16 years and today it is almost a reality. In fact, technological developments are widely expected to establish a foothold in education over the next 10 years.
Imagine virtual assistants that can automate grading, allowing teachers to focus more on in-class activities. Software will be developed that can be adapted to specific student needs and requirements, for example, in subjects and areas that they haven’t fully mastered yet. Virtual Reality experiences of World War II or field-trips to Ancient Rome may replace their everyday counterparts. One of the most exciting future classroom technology ideas is that of AI tutors, assisting teachers with course creation, feedback and individual student instruction. In essence, artificial intelligence has the potential to radically change where students learn, who teaches them and how they acquire basic skills and information. Just about everything we take for granted in education may be on the verge of an almost climatic change.
Who remembers Inspector Gadget, the cartoon detective from the 80’s who seemingly had all manner of devices in his back pocket? Well, that idea may not be too far off. All the cool gadgets are not just for superheroes like “Ironman” Tony Stark anymore. Wearable technology has surged into the world of fitness, and as the cost of these devices decreases, it is predicted that their presence in primary and secondary (K-12) classrooms will increase. In the same vein, the immediate feedback response of wearable tech will help kids to quickly adjust their behaviour in their pursuits of attaining study goals.
Our children may be the generation that gets to try out ‘kinetic-energy-creating’ gym shoes that convert movement into an income stream for their school. Contact lenses may contain microchips that can beam digital schoolbooks onto their ‘smart-desks’, eliminating the need for heavy schoolbags. There will be no more getting lost in the corridors as students will be directed to their next class via the GPS system embedded in their uniforms. The possibilities are endless.
The Final Exam
These future classroom technology ideas are but a brief glimpse into what may be coming down the line. Many of the innovations and advantages that technology can bring to education are only just being realised. As the technology becomes more commonplace and those who adopt it share their experiences with other educators, student learning may become more engaging than ever. By embracing these changes we can assist our young people to be ready for whatever is ahead.