Technology Trends to Watch in Education
Technology is changing the way that we teach and learn. It provides useful tools to engage learners and improve retention. Technology is helping teachers become more effective, offering flexible classroom solutions that cater to different learners. In fact, nearly three-quarters (73%) of teachers appreciate how technology interventions have helped in their classrooms.
boy engaging in virtual math lesson
Nearly every classroom across America is using laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices for routine learning. And as the majority of schools transitioned to remote learning for part or all of the school year during the COVID-19 pandemic, these devices became essential for learning. Advancements in solid-state drives (SSD) have made many mobile devices more accessible. And with the rise of the circular economy in ITAD, even the poorest school districts can afford to access common technologies to enhance student learning.
Why Technology is Important in the Classroom
When it comes to technology, the answer is always because it provides a better, faster, or more effective way to do something. Educators have struggled for decades with low student achievement and a struggle to get many at-risk students to meet minimum graduation requirements. Increasing pressure from school boards and heavy restrictions from regulations adds to the stress teachers feel in the classroom.
This stress is causing 44% of new teachers to ditch the profession in the first five years and leaving two-thirds of all teachers ready to quit their current jobs. As school districts and students suffer from teacher shortages, technology is providing a light at the end of the tunnel to ease some of the burdens. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using technology in the classroom:
- Technology Boosts Learner Engagement and Improves Student Performance
- It Caters to Different Learning Styles and Needs
- It Teaches Essential Collaboration Skills
- Technology Future-Prepares Children for Work in the Digital World
- It Supports Social-Emotional Learning Needs
- It Improves Teacher Job Satisfaction and Reduces Turnover
The Rise of Asynchronous Learning and Flexible Classrooms
Traditionally, all the students in a classroom would cover the same material at the same speed. While teachers struggled to keep twenty-some students together, the pace was often too fast for remedial students and too slow for advanced students. Asynchronous learning, which is made possible by technology, allows every learner to move at their own pace and even work on different activities.
The trend of using asynchronous learning is catching on as more teachers are adopting flexible classrooms. Some have even gotten rid of traditional desks altogether. As every student works at their own pace, teachers can focus their attention where they are needed most. Instead of standing in front of a class and lecturing for forty minutes, they remotely monitor student activity and get a little help from AI tools to identify who is struggling so that they can provide appropriate interventions.
Digital asynchronous learning activities might include:
- Watching Pre-Recorded Video Lessons
- Reading Independent Assignments
- Performing Guided Internet Research
- Online Class Discussion Boards
- Individual and Small Group Projects
- Gamified Learning like Solving Problems
This trend means that more classrooms than ever before needing access to individual devices for every student in the room. But it also means that they have the flexibility to collect an assortment of devices. Some students can work on Chromebooks, while others use tablets or smartphones. The problem is that not every school budget has the resources to provide sufficient technology. Thankfully, another trend is filling that need. There is a growing push for companies to reduce their e-waste and repurpose their electronics instead of dumping them in landfills. Many ITAD companies who already took care of decommissioning this technology are adding services that provide an easy way to buy and sell secondhand technology. A lot of the devices that are sold to these companies end up going to schools and non-profit organizations.
A New Way to Develop Teamwork with ESports Teams
Many students check off the extra-curricular requirements on their college applications by participating in school sports. Basketball, cheerleading, volleyball, and football, among others, are commonly pushed as a great way to build collaborative teamwork skills that future employers will recognize. Sports are deeply ingrained in American culture, so it makes sense. But what about the students who lack athletic ability?
Warming a bench can do a lot more psychological harm than electing not to play sports in the first place. But for students who never learn the camaraderie of playing on a sports team, it can be challenging to find other opportunities to build essential skills. That’s one reason why ESports are becoming increasingly popular, even in school settings. ESports are organized competitive video gaming competitions.
Benefits of starting an ESports League:
- Important Technology Skill Development for College and Career
- Better Career Opportunities in Technology and STEM Fields
- Technology Pathways to College
- Social Skill Development
- Student Engagement that Translates to Improved Student Achievement
- Similar Positive Impact on Students as Other Extra-Curriculars
- Positive Media Exposure for Schools
- Better Students who Make Better Choices and Engage in Healthier Behaviors
The roots of ESports can be traced back to the early 2000s in South Korea. During a time when the government was investing heavily into technology infrastructure, a cultural phenomenon was born. Restaurants, bars, and other public spaces transformed to host PC Bangs–essentially organized group gaming that became wildly popular and eventually highly competitive.
But starting an ESports league in your school is going to require something a little more advanced than the standard-issue Chromebooks your last technology grant purchased. Here are some things to consider:
- Network: Gaming requires bandwidth. You may need to upgrade your school’s internet connections to provide ample speed and bandwidth in order to host a team and stream tournaments on popular platforms.
- Enhanced Cybersecurity: You’ll find that the world of Esports attracts many tech-savvy students, and not all of them have benevolent interests. Some will be there to win. Others may be there to steal information or even cheat. Cybersecurity is already a big challenge for schools, and Esports only complicates matters.
- Gaming Devices: You’ll need to choose whether your team will use desktops or laptops. As far as specs, you’ll need to meet the minimum league requirements for where you are competing. That means that CPU power, RAM, hard drives, and GPUs are all important. You’ll definitely need more memory, and a better Graphics Card than most student workstations offer, so you are looking at specialty technology equipment.
According to Intel, you’ll need to run a minimum of Windows 10 on an Intel Core i7
processor (or similar) with 12GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon R9 Fury graphics card to compete in modern video games as of 2021.
- Monitors: High-quality, 4K monitors, bring gaming to life. You’ll need individual gaming monitors and large screens for teammates and audience members to watch the action. Consider the ASUS 27” 1080P TUF VG279QM Gaming Monitor or top models from other popular brands like Sceptre and Samsung.
- Accessories: Don’t forget all the odds and ends that contribute to the gaming experience. You’ll need advanced gaming headsets with premium sound, a keyboard and mouse that are ergonomically designed for gaming, and video camera equipment to capture the action. For example, the top-rated Audeze Mobius gaming headset can cost as much as $400 brand new. And anything with LED lighting tends to go over well with gamers.
Related Blog: What to Consider When Shopping for a Refurbished Gaming Computer
Classroom Audio to Support Learner Engagement and Effortless Asynchronous Learning Content
Have you heard of teachers using audio support in the classroom? We’re talking about high-tech setups a little more advanced than traditional public address (PA) systems that are used to broadcast messaging throughout an entire school. Classroom audio includes school-wide and individual classroom sound enhancements that ensure all learners can hear well enough to understand their teachers.
Most schools are large, older buildings with plenty of ambient noise, from the humming of fluorescent lighting to the rumble of boiler-driven radiator heating. While it goes undetected because we filter it out of our consciousness, these noises make it more difficult to hear in larger classrooms. We’re talking about able-hearing students getting lost and falling behind because they’re only catching about 70% of what their teachers are saying.
There’s a reason front row students achieve higher grades. And it’s more than the likelihood that high-achievers will choose to sit in the front rows. Even in assigned seating, front row students perform better than those in the back of the room. It’s because of how sound travels. It’s easier to hear articulation in speech from the front of the room. But new technologies are leveling the playing field for all learners in the room. Small microphones paired with well-placed speakers gently amplify lectures so that all students can hear well. This same technology can seamlessly record lectures for asynchronous learning content that can then be reviewed by students as a refresher or when absent students miss lectures.
E-Learning 3.0 with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), and More
The next evolution of e-learning is here. Every time it feels like we’ve outgrown one iteration of digital e-learning, something new shakes things up. For one, artificial intelligence (AI) is here, and it is allowing for better personalization of e-learning features within a platform. As more e-learning programs are outfitted with chatbots and personalization features that move learners through content based on individual inputs, we are just beginning to see what the potential is for asynchronous learning.
AI won’t replace human teachers, but it will provide a much-needed opportunity to ease the burden on them that makes their jobs so overwhelming. In the next few years, there will be a rise of intelligent-tutoring options and adaptive learning technologies that will customize the learning process for individual students so that everyone can work at their own pace. Teachers will monitor student progress and direct their resources where needed, meeting with students individually and in small groups.
We also expect to see radical changes in how we teach foreign languages, virtually transporting learners to experience cultures and interact with the language in ways that a textbook could never provide. Virtual and augmented reality technologies can simulate lab experiences for science classes, and every history lesson can include a virtual field trip that not only travels without geographic boundaries but also moves in time.
These technologies are still a little bit out of reach, but the speed of innovation is increasing, and it probably won’t be too much longer before virtual reality equipment is affordable and capable of becoming a primary learning technology. Headsets like the Oculus Quest are already available mainstream, providing one of the first financially accessible VR options for gaming. Ed-tech applications aren’t far behind.
The Bottom Line on Technology Trends in Education
The amount of technology that schools need to keep up with current trends in education is growing exponentially, while the financial resources to provide that technology are not. We will continue to see alarming disparities between well-resourced school districts and those who struggle to keep the lights on, leaving equity in education in freefall. One solution to making your ed-tech budgets go further is to focus on sourcing quality secondhand technology components. And when you are upgrading, look into the possibility of selling your redundant technology lots to a similar ITAD service so that a less fortunate school district can access that technology. The teachers of today are reinventing the modern classroom and adopting a wide variety of technologies that ultimately benefit individual student achievement while making their job as a teacher possible. For the first time in decades, we have a real chance at providing high-quality education to all learners; schools just need access to the right technologies.
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