Advances in technology continue to reshape the world around us each and every day. The differences between how we lived 20 years ago and how we live today are staggering and nearly all driven by shifts in technology and how we use it. Nowhere is that shift more clear than in education. Gone are the chalkboard, textbooks and globes that were staples in classrooms of the past. In today’s classrooms, interactive whiteboards, Chromebooks, tablets and an immersive digital world are helping educate students in completely new ways.
As technology evolves, the classroom must evolve with it. Lesson plans can no longer rely on lectures alone. The future is about harnessing the excitement and engagement of technology advances and social collaboration to help students make a connection with their studies and better retain knowledge. Powerful tools like Don Johnston’s Quizbot, which turns existing digital text into a quiz, are helping students learn and retain knowledge in new and different ways. Check out these five technologies that are also shaping the classroom of the future.
While augmented reality (AR) technology has been successfully used in everything from video games to medicine to sports, its use in the classroom may have the most potential. Augmented reality adds a layer of interactivity to the learning experience, putting students in the driver’s seat of their own education. Imagine instead of just reading about the Civil War, students could see a battle happening right in front of them. Instead of reading a speech by Winston Churchill or Dr. Martin Luther King, students could experience it — just by scanning a code with their tablet. AR can give students a closer look at the the stars or help then see inside the human body. Forget the space limitations of bulletin boards. With augmented reality, every corner of a classroom can be another place to learn.
One of the major obstacles standing in the way of any successful lesson plan for teachers is the emotional and physical state of the students. Any number of factors — a skipped breakfast , a late night study session — can lead to distraction and disinterest. Biometrics technology recognizes specific physical or behavioral traits in humans. In the classroom, this technology can be applied to tailor educational materials based on a student’s specific biometric signals. Physical traits like facial expression and heart rate along with behavioral signs like typing rhythm and voice can help determine a student’s understanding of a subject or indicate when they need extra help. As these signals change over the course of a school day, the materials can change with them, helping ensure a student remains engaged in their education.
It turns out the classroom of the future is interactive. A recent study found that technology that promotes collaboration among students makes success 3.4 times more likely. Chalkboards and whiteboards are great for one-way education. A teacher puts information up and students write it down. Smartboards and interactive displays, however, facilitate a more collaborative learning experience allowing students to participate in a lecture as it happens. As the teacher is speaking, students can seamlessly contribute questions, provide quiz answers, even complete a poll, all without any interruption to the flow of the lesson. This group activity, a study has shown, can help raise a student’s social-emotional skill development by 20%. Plus, the creation of interactive projectors means there is no front or back of the class anymore. Every flat surface becomes a place for students to interact and learn.
With the rise in popularity of 3D printing around the world, you knew it wouldn’t be long before they became commonplace in the classroom as well. Similar to augmented reality and interactive displays, 3D printing brings a new level of engagement to the learning experience. Instead of studying objects on paper or on a computer screen, this technology literally puts the those objects in the hands of the students. It creates unique opportunities to take education from theory into practice. Every discipline can take advantage of the technology. Architecture students can study 3D models of buildings. Engineering students can build working prototypes. Chemistry students can print 3D molecules. History students can know what ancient artifacts actually felt like. The possibilities are endless.
Time and time again, studies have shown that the best way for students to learn is through collaboration. Working in groups allows students to achieve a deeper understanding of a subject matter that they may not have been able to accomplish on their own. In the past, the only barrier for collaboration was the number of students in a class or the size of a classroom. That is no longer the case. With anyone on the planet now just a few clicks away, collaboration has gone global. Classrooms on completely different continents can learn together. Students in Boston can solve math equations with students in Bangladesh. An expert on pyramids in Cairo can talk to a class in Kansas. A French chef can lead a cooking class from the comfort of their home kitchen. For each and every student, a connected world means a chance to learn in ways we never thought possible.