The Future of Education Technology
Author Hannah Biener
Children sit in circles, each cradling a laptop in their lap and chattering loudly with the members of their group. The teacher roams around the room, intervening when a student has a question, but largely staying out of the way. This scene depicts many modern classrooms, a place where the role of teachers and technology has changed drastically over the last 50 years.
A technique called “flipping the classroom” has cropped up in schools of all levels across the country, largely aided by the increase of technology available to school districts. Tools like Google Chromebooks and Smartboards are cheap and accessible technologies that schools can easily obtain. As described by a handout from the nonprofit “Educause,” flipping the classroom generally refers to the practice of assigning pre-recorded videos to watch before class so class time can be devoted to interactive activities.
The new learning revolutionizes the classroom experience. By having students watch lectures before class, the time spent in school will act not as the student’s first exposure to the material, but as a laboratory where hands-on learning will re-inforce the subject at hand and encourage a deeper understanding.
Especially in college classes, flipping the classroom solves the age-old hazard presented by lectures. College and high students across the country know the feeling of scribbling down a teacher’s lecture, furiously trying to keep up and hardly thinking about the topic. By allowing students the ability to pause and rewind any lecture at their own discretion, students can forget the pressure of taking notes and just try to absorb the information.
In class, the use of personal computers and tablets also encourages collaboration amongst both the students and the teachers. Schools across the world are investing millions of dollars into this type of technology for their students. According to an article in the New York Times, 12.6 million mobile devices were shipped to American primary and secondary schools in the past year, inundating schools with new ways to help children learn.
Charter’s very own Mr. Saggione acknowledges the value of such investments. ”We’ve always wanted to move to a 1 to 1,” referring to an idea in education technology where each students has his or her own designated electronic device provided by the school. The timeline for such advances is a bit unclear, however. “We are hoping to get each student a Chromebook,” he says, “but don’t quote me on that.”
There’s no doubt that along with the increase in education devices, unique online programs have democratized information to a point previously thought impossible. For instance, the SAT standardized test has for years drawn criticism because of the need for expensive preparatory classes, unfairly granting advantages to students whose families can afford them. However, starting in 2015, the College Board partnered with the website Khan Academy to provide free official test prep for all. With each student getting his or her own device, more students have the opportunity to succeed.
The future of education technology is full of intriguing new applications and devices, but they all seem to be headed in a similar direction. When asked what he believes is on the horizon, Mr. Saggione says, “I think just flexibility and collaboration...Less boundaries, basically.”