The speed with which technology has been adopted by classrooms around the country is quite astonishing. Computers represent a fantastic new opportunity for educators, and administrators are quickly realizing the need to adapt. As such, programs continue to spring up that connect students with the kinds of powerful technologies that promote engagement through interactive digital tools. Here are a few of the ways that schools have embraced computers and the Internet over the last 20 years.
The Internet is the most extensive data pool in the world. As such, it houses the majority of the world’s collective knowledge in one easy-to-access space. In light of this, there has been a big push in recent years to connect classrooms to this international resource. Recently, the Federal Communications Commissions approved a $2 billion proposal that will increase broadband and wireless Internet access in K-12 schools. The funding was applauded by the National Education Association’s Director of Government Relations, Mary Kusler, who believes the increased funding will provide more valuable resources to America’s classrooms.
Traditional boundaries between online and in-person learning are quickly becoming obsolete. Blended learning initiatives are incorporating more Internet-based instruction into the overall curriculum. For example, flipped classrooms are one of the most discussed new educational strategies. They are reversing our previously held assumptions about the schoolwork-homework dichotomy. Thanks to the Internet, what is traditionally done at school can now be done at home, and the work that used to be assigned for home can be completed in school. Proponents of the system claim it is better for teachers and students, as more class time can be devoted to addressing individual questions or problems.
The mobile revolution is in full swing as our Internet-enabled devices become smaller and smaller. As the screens decrease in size, portability increases, allowing students and teachers to take their computers with them wherever they go. Tablets are making big waves in classrooms for the ease and portability with which they can be distributed among students. Current focus is on the most effective ways of implementing a 1:1 program, wherein there is one tablet device for each student. While these types of programs can be costly, more and more educators are realizing that the benefits of 1:1 programs are well worth the cost.
One of the best pieces of hardware to be developed for the classroom is the interactive whiteboard. Teachers are either replacing or adding to their standard chalkboards with these technological wonders. An interactive whiteboard is a large surface that can be used like any other whiteboard. Teachers can draw on them to diagram certain topics or work through math problems. Then, at the end of the lesson, anything that was written on the board can be saved and emailed to students. Interactive whiteboards can also project images or text from the teacher’s computer for easy sharing. The numerous capabilities of this technology have made it a popular resource for teachers.
Not all classroom technology is student-facing. Many tools are teacher-centric, helping educators keep track of grading, attendance, and other classroom procedures. Due to the portability of smartphones, mobile apps are usually the go-to option for this purpose. Teachers can easily transport these small devices between home and school, so that no matter where they grade, teachers can always have a grade book at their fingertips.
Technology is developing at a rapid pace and is an integral part of every industry. Schools are beginning to realize the many ways in which technology can help educate students, and thus are adopting more hardware and software solutions every day.