CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis
From the PC to todayʼs line up, ripples of difference have become a tsunami of change.
Never before in the history of education has change come so quickly—and so decisively. What began mainly with the PC more recently has included a whole host of maturing technologies now effectively converging, and what were initially ripples of difference have become a tsunami of change. Education will never be the same. Here’s why:
1. Servers have now allowed educational institutions to connect multiple computers together sharing information in ways not previously possible. It’s become a major part of school infrastructure; server-based software has allowed for ease in data gathering and dissemination.
2. With increasing online usage hours and the need to stream larger video files, educational institutions rising to meet that challenge will turn to fiber optics. Currently, we’re using only a fraction of its capabilities.
3. Wireless technology will allow for learning to happen outside of the four walls of the classroom. Imagine the possibilities of instantly accessing the world from any place within the classroom or even out on the school grounds.
4. Daily arrival of new tablets such as The Kno, Moby, iPad and even e-readers such as the Kindle are helping students to access multimedia-rich textbooks and to connect to the web via small portable devices. Load them with student response system software and we’ll see that data gathering and student knowledge acquisition makes them invaluable tools for teachers. Also: seems like educational apps for the tablet are endless.
5. Digital signage in hallways, meeting places and various school areas allow for sharing of student achievements, up and coming events and more. Streaming content from school-based TV studios or other sources are creating dynamic learning environments. Couple this with touch screen monitors and you’ve got the perfect flip chart for teachers to use in their daily instruction.
6. Interactive white boards, especially ones such as Tapit, engage students. They also help special needs learners like never before.
7. Document cameras allow students and teachers to display and share exemplary work and are an excellent way to make stop-motion videos such as those created by Commoncraft. Projecting a document camera can be met with using a digital projector or digital display in the classroom.
8. High definition flat-screen monitors, especially LED, will become the perfect addition to a classroom. They drastically reduce energy consumption and do away with problems inherently associated with projectors and people standing in front of them.
9. Cell phones in the classroom will soon become inevitable. Qualcomm estimates that by 2011, more than half of all cell phones will be smart phones. That means more than half of the 85 percent of students who carry a cell phone now will soon have a portable computer in their hands. How can we as educators not find a way to integrate these into our teaching?
10. Webcams and video conferencing equipment will allow us to connect with others in ways never before possible. Larger-than-classroom learning will allow for students to connect with others around the world in real time, anytime. Virtual field trips and conferences will allow students to take part in previously impossible events.
11. That said, how could we do without Skype? It allows educators, professionals and others to share information and teachings in real time with the ability to share one’s desktop with others while being able to see, hear and type. This will lead to tremendous student interaction. The ability to interview professionals at their place of work is very exciting!
12. The digital camera will be an essential tool for all educators to capture and share various events, work and more. Digital cameras used as a documenting device for student work and learning is obvious. From yearbooks, presentations, graphics and more, digital cameras are transforming education in ways never thought of years ago.
13. Cloud computing is the way of the future. Many experts will tell you that most resources will eventually be located on the cloud. The ability for students to access data, files and programs from any location at any time via the cloud will be needed as the proliferation of technology in their daily learning continues.
14. The advent of the new, Web 2.0 internet has brought great potential educational tools (Facebook, Ning, Twitter, Moodle). Students can collaborate and share 24/7 and access assignments and fellow classmates at any time, any day.
15. What student doesn’t love to take their learning with them? With MP3s and iPods, students create easily-shared podcasts. Applications are easy to add; there are enormous collections of academic applications helpful to students in their daily learning.
16. YouTube provides the possibility of accessing millions of (often student-created) videos, an excellent resource. Tutorials alone on YoutTube will help students gain further understanding of concepts and lessons not fully grasped during class. The ability for students to showcase some of their learning to a worldwide audience provides an added incentive and a purpose, really, to produce higher-quality work. The opportunities are endless.
17. Boring, perhaps, but let’s hear it for databases that can and will transform education, allowing mass amounts of information to be stored and quickly retrieved. Educators worldwide are now able to learn a great deal about their students thanks to key data at their fingertips, data allowing educators to mold learning to individual student needs.
18. Lastly, who can deny the possibilities XBOX 360’s new Kinect offers to education? Physical education uses are obvious, but with a little programming, imagine the ability to dissect an animal with your hands without the necessity of having a real one there. With the user’s body as the controller, the user now becomes part of the program they are immersed in. Being part of the software they are currently using will only lend itself more engaged learning.
As you can see, I could go on for days. The fact is, technology is transforming education, especially student learning, in profound and previously unimagined ways. Though I believe that these technologies should not drive our instruction, I do hope they will transform it to help make learning more engaging—while simultaneously broadening our scope of knowledge. What would you add to this list? Also, any other thoughts? Please share!
Greg Limperis is a Middle School Technology Facilitator in Lawrence, Mass., who founded the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. He has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st century skills.