There are tons of emerging technologies in education and every other area of all of our lives. And some of it is absolutely incredible. But some of it is just "extra."
As teachers, we need to be very discerning about what emerging technologies go into education. It is a wonderful time to be introducing our students to technology. They will be able to use it to navigate a very rich life outside of the classroom. And that makes it a wonderful time for us to help train them to discern what technology is beneficial to us and what we can and should do without.
But what are emerging technologies in education that will help us to teach our students better and more efficiently? In this article, I would like to share some of the best examples of emerging technologies in education. Then we can all use that knowledge to make our classrooms a better place. What a great accomplishment it will be to prepare all of our students to go live their best life!
There is an excellent report on emerging technology in STEAM programs on the Tech & Learning website. It says this about the direction that technology is heading:
When asked about future innovations, respondents named virtual reality/augmented reality (28%), coding (23%), and biotechnology (16%) as areas where they saw the most promise for student instruction. The following best represents educators’ current implementation of STEAM in the core curriculum: computer science courses (75.9%), project-based learning (75.2%), intro to technology (72.3%), robotics (70.7%), and career and technical education (69.4%).
To read the full report, click here.
Using Technology to Reach Your Students
An article in US News (read it here) talks about a teacher, Stacey Roshan. She was an Advanced Calculus teacher at the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. Because of the difficult nature of the subject she was teaching, she had difficulty reaching her students for years. She saw the frustration they faced because they didn't have enough time in class to really understand the concepts. And she was always short on time to really drive home those concepts with them. She needed more time to work on their homework with them.
So after putting some thought into how better to do this, she came up with a genius idea. She videotaped herself giving the actual lesson and assigned that for her students' homework. Then the next day, after they had watched the video at home, she would only work on their homework with them. Because they got to spend the whole hour on it with her, their questions were answered and their confusion dissipated. The first year that she started doing this, her students' overall test scores rose dramatically.
What an awesome way to meet the needs of your class in a very unconventional way! Surprisingly, using technology enhanced her ability to reach her students by allowing her the freedom to change things up.
Tablets Weigh Less than Books
Well, as long as we are talking about electronic tablets and not stone tablets, then yes, tablets weigh less than books!
So what is my point? For years, we have known about the damage done to students (especially younger ones) when they carried large backpacks full of books around school all day five days a week. And there have been many attempts to rectify this problem. Streamlined backpacks that were easier on the backs of students seemed to be the best route. Less homework so they didn't have to bring the books back and forth also helped. And of course, for many years, lockers to keep extra books in has always helped. But none of this eliminated the problem.
For many years, it never occured to the people doing the study to eliminate the books themselves in favor of tablets. Plus add the fact that those tablets could hold way more than the backpacks they were carrying their books around in.
And finally, you will almost never hear your students complain that they would rather have their huge backpacks back instead of the tablet they are carrying around!
Some drawbacks to this exist, though. Keeping tablets appropriately charged can be an issue. Having one or two charging docks for multiple devices solves that problem easily. This is the one on Amazon that I got a few of so all of the kids had a slot to use. Also, you may want to wait for those classes using tablets until after a break or other class period. Then the tablets will have had plenty of time to charge.
Another perceived drawback is the expense of tablets for all the students. But when you factor in the cost of the physical books they are using instead, the books are actually more expensive than the tablets. This is because they need at least one separate book for each class/subject. But they only need one tablet for all of their courses. The savings come quickly once you realize how much is saved when you don't have to buy all those books.
One final advantage to tablets over textbooks is that you don't have to store textbooks on rows of bookshelves in your classroom (or keep them stuffed in lockers for the ones that the kids keep with them throughout the year).
Let's Play Games!
For so many years, teaching focused very heavily on academics and not so much on fun ways to learn. Then somewhere along the way, some pretty smart teachers realized that adding games to the academics allowed the students to remember the academics much better. The games served well as object lessons. Thanks to emerging technologies in education, there are plenty of game themes to add to and enhance your classroom's academics. And because teachers changed up the routine by using these games that students were eager to be involved with, kids were more alert and able to make the connections better.
Fast forward just a bit. And then you can add technology to the games bit. There are some tremendous options out there for adding gaming to any of the subjects that you want to. And there are some great games (such as Minecraft, Classcraft, and Code Builder, all of which have been immensely popular in classrooms) that not only help with the academics, but also with behavior and social skills.
There are also nearly limitless games for learning math concepts, reading and grammar, and foreign languages. Honestly, teachers will have more of a problem with finding the time to pick the one they like the best more than trying to find any options at all. We live in an age of too many great options for our classrooms!
I have mentioned virtual reality in previous articles. But maybe that is the sign of how significant it really is in the classroom. It definitely goes to the top of most lists of emerging technologies in education because it is constantly improving on itself and making waves with the advances that continue to occur. The more popular it has become in the classroom, the more companies have worked to improve programs and technology to make it even better. This snowball effect has been great for the educational world. And it is also why even though virtual reality "emerged" quite some time ago, it is still considered emerging because it is constantly evolving and improving.
Virtual Reality can be used to allow students to tour places that they will likely never see in person. It can be used to play games that they don't even realize are related to the lesson. And then sometime later they will be able to make the connection after the lessons. Watching that light bulb light up for them is worth its weight in gold to the teacher who worked so hard to make the game/academics balance work the way it needs to.
code.org is an incredibly valuable resource. The byline on their homepage reads, "Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science."
I almost didn't put this site in this article because it isn't quite emerging technology anymore. In fact, code.org says that 1 million teachers use code.org and 40% of US students have an account. But the reason I did include it here is because of what is emerging based on how it is so highly used in American classrooms.
The strength in this program is how much it builds on the creativity and individuality of the students. That is so counter-intuitive to traditional learning in all the right ways! Steve Jobs once said, "Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer...because it teaches you how to think."
There is no better way to do this than to include it in school AND in the younger grades. Then students who already intuitively know how to function with technology from infancy can move into programming comfortably. And they can do it without being intimidated by the process. It just becomes the next thing.
Some Final Inspiration
I would actually like to close this point by encouraging you to watch this video by code.org. Then share it with your class. It is one of the most inspirational pieces I have ever seen! It talks about all of the greatest contributors to our technology world and how they were first inspired and started out. Plus it only takes 5 minutes, so it's easy to slide into your school day somewhere. The beginning of the school day may be the perfect place. It makes such a perfect way to inspire us all by starting our day with it.
For us to see where these amazing people started and what they ended up doing that changed our world so dramatically inspired my students and me in ways that may enable US to change our little part of the world too!
Let me know how your class liked it and where they want to go with their ideas!
For more information on technology in the classroom, click to read the following article: