Technology has become a disruptive force in almost every industry. Education is among them, with the internet and electronic devices used more and more frequently in the classroom. Pew Research Center’s “Teens, Social Media, and Technology Overview 2015” reports that 58% of U.S. teenagers have access to a tablet. A separate report from the U.S. Department of Education (2009) found that 93% of classroom computers are internet-connected. Combining the portability of mobile devices and the improved access offered by in-class internet, students are experiencing educational advantages previously unavailable.
The New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative’s NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition looks at major developments and emerging trends in education technology. Below are three of the most important tech innovations the report found to be impacting classrooms today.
Bring-your-own-device policies have become common in the workplace, but the benefits of increased productivity and personalized interaction realized by businesses are now being experienced by schools as well.
“The integration of personal smartphones, tablets, and PCs into the workflow supports an on-the-go mentality, changing the nature of work and learning activities so that they can happen anywhere, at anytime,” states the report. “Employers and higher education institutions are finding that when given the opportunity to choose their device, users are saved from the effort and time needed to get accustomed to new devices and can therefore accomplish tasks with more ease and efficiency…Once it was clear that smartphones could play a major role in teaching and learning, institutions updated their infrastructures to accommodate BYOD programs.”
Not only are BYOD policies helpful to staff members, but they also allow students with different learning styles to access information in ways best suited to them. Such initiatives can also create a stronger connection between the work done in the classroom and study at home.
2. Wearable Technology
One of the biggest emerging technology trends is making its way to academia. Wearables like the Fitbit and Jawbone have exploded onto the consumer market, and now schools are integrating the devices into their teaching strategies. The majority of experimentation with wearables has taken place in higher education institutions, driven in part by the popularity of the technology among college-aged students. The NMC report cites Forrester research stating that 21% of U.S. adults use wearables. Another report by GlobalWeb Index discovered that 71% of students between the ages of 16 and 24 are interested in using wearable technology like smartwatches or IP-enabled glasses.
Wearable technology’s biggest benefit is that it offers students the ability to partake in hands-on learning and truly interact with their lesson. The data recorded from these devices can also provide teachers with previously unavailable insights about how their students learn and what techniques have the most impact.
Schools are experiencing multiple benefits by implementing technology in classrooms.
3. The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things isn’t far behind wearables in classroom ubiquity. One of the most promising ways schools can take advantage of the IoT is through hyper-situating. This refers to the ability to increase a user’s knowledge based on their location. Students with connected devices can benefit from a variety of interdisciplinary information pushed to their tablet, computer, or smartwatch from a hotspot in their immediate area.
“For instance, a learner exploring a city with a rich historical past can explore their environment through an architectural, political, or biological lens, depending on how the surroundings are equipped,” the NMC report explains. “IoT can also create an environment where learners are informed by crowdsourced contributions and observations from the community via networked objects.”
With all of these trends affecting classrooms today, schools and universities will have to upgrade their networks to keep up with growing demand for bandwidth. They’ll need the proper infrastructure and services to support all this technology.
What to Remember About Tech in Education
Cutting-edge technology is on the rise everywhere, but it’s having a major impact upon the classroom experience. Here’s what you need to know about how tech is changing learning.
- Implementing various technologies in the classroom benefits students with a range of learning styles.
- BYOD policies reflect the ubiquity of mobile devices in students’ lives and allow for on-the-go learning activities.
- Wearables, on the rise among teenagers and adults alike, can increase the interactivity of information presented to students.
- The Internet of Things helps situate and educate students about their immediate surroundings in a variety of disciplines.
- Educational institutions at all level will need to upgrade their infrastructure to support the tech moving into classrooms.