There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when every educator has grown up with computers and the Internet; there won’t be teachers who remember a time in their lives that was pre-Internet. For teachers younger than 30, it is already hard to grasp a life without technological devices and aids that enhance education. But for those north of 40, the opposite can be true: it can be hard to grasp a whole new model of teaching. A model that is less lecture driven and more collaborative, where teachers facilitate, coach, and advise, and where technology plays an integral role in expanding the classroom beyond even its own native country, serving to individualize the learning experience of every student. That idea is exciting and inspiring, but can, at the same time, feel overwhelming.
For our students, though, using educational technology is not merely a benefit or a preferred learning style—it’s a genuine need. All K-12 students have grown up in a world where they can interact with touch screens to zoom, swipe and manipulate content and where they can tap on a link or icon to explore a topic further. Students expect to be able to engage with their world this way and often find it more difficult to learn when they can’t fully interact with the information.
As teachers, it makes sense to invest our professional development time to become EdTEch savvy so that we can reach our students effectively. As an added bonus: classroom technology keeps becoming simpler to use and more intuitive, so learning how to use educational technology will save you time and frustration, too.
Top 5 Ways Educational Technology Enhances the Classroom Experience
These are exciting times for education. Innovative classroom technologies are creating possibilities that were unimaginable only a few years ago. And we aren’t done. We can predict that over the next decade emerging technologies that are now at the cutting edge will become commonplace, and new technological tools will be introduced that do not yet even exist. We have arrived at a place where we can say with confidence that every student stands to benefit from the use of technology in the classroom.
Here are our favorite ways that students and teachers are using technology to bring their learning to life.
1. Student-Directed Learning
As educators, our goal is for students to take ownership of their learning. When students take responsibility for their education, they develop skills to explore and solve real-world problems like poverty, waste management issues, business sustainability challenges, and illiteracy (which gives learning a meaningful context and makes it stick). They cease to be passive receivers of knowledge and become engaged co-participants. When teachers are limited to textbooks, video lectures, worksheets, and other static resources, they are limited in their ability to increase understanding and improve learning. Used effectively, technology can come alongside the teacher and provide the needed differentiation in instruction. Technology expands a teacher’s reach, inviting every student to think independently and engage in the learning experience in his own unique way. For instance, with our panel’s screen sharing capabilities, students can take control of the panel and present to the class at the touch of a button.
2. Teacher-Facilitated Learning
Technology in the classroom is freeing teachers up at unprecedented speed to step out of the antiquated “sage-on-the-stage” role. When teachers can move around the classroom more freely, they can facilitate as students work individually and together to pursue their passions and heighten their educational experience. Educators who use technology to individualize learning are freed up to assume a role as coach or facilitator, guiding and encouraging students as they leverage their own ideas and interests in the classroom. Effective educational software programs observe and track student’s problem-solving methods and progress. This provides critical data that informs teachers’ planning and communication with parents and other teachers. As an additional benefit, better data helps teachers work with students to set realistic goals for their learning.
3. Individualized Learning
Every teacher hopes to meet his students where they are—to tailor each student’s education to her individualized styles, needs, strengths, and challenges. Easier said than done. That hope is often trumped by class size and limited resources. In a perfect world, we might have a tutor for every student, but that is an impossibility. Integrating technology in the classroom can help teachers tighten that gap between class size and individualized instruction. When we can put effective educational technology at their fingertips, students get the individualized learning we all want for them. Individualized learning means that while overarching goals remain the same for all students, each student is able to work at his or her own pace, engaging in lessons that maximize the student’s aptitude and help the student surmount challenges. The best technology is designed to adapt in real-time to create individualized education. For example, our software suite includes Snowflake Lessons Online, which enables teachers to assign and grade work outside of the class, give formative assessments, introduce self-directed, game-based learning into the classroom, and much more.
4. Collaborative Learning
When students collaborate, each one is able to capitalize on the strengths and particular skills of the others. But in a traditional classroom layout where a teacher stands up front and addresses students in isolated desks, collaborative learning can be a challenge. Technology in education shifts this paradigm such that students not only work in teams inside the walls of their own classrooms, but are able to interact with the creative minds of students in other classes, other schools, and even other continents. For example, in a recent case study that Clear Touch™ conducted, we discovered a district where preschool and early childhood education classrooms are using our panels to video conference with engineers and scientists. At another school, the Yearbook teacher and her students collaborate on design spreads in real-time. In an era where global communication is now the norm, delivering this possibility to the classroom is key to preparing students to succeed in a connected world.
5. Learning Promotes Digital Literacy
There was a time when only those professionals who fit specifically into a technological niche were required to be tech savvy. Not so today. It’s a sink-or-swim world where success for almost everyone from those in vocational fields to expert decoders need a working knowledge of computers and other tech devices. When we provide students ample exposure and experience engaging with technology, they develop early on their facility in using it. This early command eases their transition into college and adulthood, giving them a leg up as they enter into the larger world and boosting their chances of professional success.
Clear Touch Interactive® panels are the perfect resource to make these educational goals a reality in the classroom. Our interactive displays feature 20 points of simultaneous touch, so that multiple students can use the panel at once, and an impressive educational software suite that helps teachers build a library of digital resources.
Contact us today for a Live Online Demo to see all the ways that Clear Touch™ can bring your classroom to life.