11 Mar 2015

Technology in the classroom: trends and opportunities

The next year should prove to be an exciting one for technology in education. Having already seen a real appetite by educators to use technology to enhance the classroom experience, in the coming years we should see even greater innovations, as teachers come to terms with how students interact with technology, and then how to use it in conjunction with lecture style learning, further improving learning methodologies by capitalising on the strengths of digital media and the Cloud to further create learning outcomes that extend beyond the knowledge that was previously possible.

Rich remote learning – So much educational content in the future will be delivered over mobile applications, and these will be rich in both video content and interactivity. This content will help to drive education outside of the classroom, just as mobile technology has helped enable a greater level of productivity for workers in corporations. These on-demand video and interactive solutions will extend the student learning experience outside of the classroom, inevitably requiring a revision of traditional learning models, as more efficient channels to learning are developed. And of course, remote learning will help to assist children in remote areas access the same robust educational tools that urban children can access, easing the divide that is currently facing students and educators in standards in Australia.

Gamification – Gamification is the idea of bringing gaming concepts into non-gaming applications, and certainly education stands to benefit a great deal from this idea. Children are overwhelmingly comfortable with and engaged in gaming structures, paving the way for furthering the development of learning solutions that include scoreboards, achievements, rewards and enhancedinteractivity, that will be leveraged by teachers to inspire student learning..

Social Media and collaboration – Children (and their parents) will need to learn how to protect themselves while using social media, and teachers are quickly learning that bullying can now extend beyond the school as well. Cyber-bullying will be the most significant threat facing children into the future. At the same time, social media is so pervasive that in itself becomes an opportunity for education, and teachers that make use of it to encourage collaboration between students and as part of the problem solving process will find themselves with a more highly engaged classroom. It was previously difficult for a teacher to design collaborative assignments for students, as this would mean they would need to organise after-hours sessions together, which may have been difficult to facilitate with time-strapped parents. However, on-line collaborative tools mitigate these challenges, enabling students to work together from the comfort of their individual home and or school environment.

Students will become creators – traditionally, a student would attend class, where he/ she were dictated to, whilst dutifully recording notes to learn and review, and subsequently be tested on that knowledge. They would consume information, in other words, but mostly produce little original thought of their own, unless they attended a creative subject such as art or drama. echnology however, will help unleash the innovation of the future young minds. Assessments of the future will require students to create original content – eBooks, video oriented projects, photographic, digital and/or interactive applications. Inevitably, school education will more closely mirror the way that work is undertaken in the real world.

The potential for technology to revolutionise the learning experience is significant, however it will also need to be enabled through investment into technology by the school.

Wireless infrastructure – as education becomes more reliant on mobile devices and applications, the school network will face a significant challenge in being able to support hundreds of connections simultaneously. Indeed, the demands on robust wireless infrastructure for education will be similar to the demands that hospitality industries experience, and many schools will turn to managed services to cope with the demands of administering such extensive networks.

Security – The sensitive nature of student data will warrant ongoing security, including everything from individual projects through to grades being hosted in the Cloud. Schools will require extensive intrusion protection in order to protect against breaches, and disaster recovery will be a necessary investment in ensuring that critical data is not lost in the event of a failure.

Custom applications – Schools (and indeed, individual classrooms) will also need customised applications to further enhance student learning. These tailored applications will be subject/classroom specific, enhancing course topic design and streamlining the process of assignment, learning and assessment. As each classroom environment and topic is different, there can be no “one size fits all,” and so we foresee an increased opportunity within future classroom environments for app developers.

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