No More Pencils, No More Books: How Technology is Revolutionizing the Classroom
Technology in the classroom has been rapidly evolving since the millennium. In many school districts, the era of pencils, books, and blackboards is quickly fading. Today’s K-12 and higher education teachers are using a variety of tools, apps, and electronic devices to introduce new ways to learn and collaborate, all the while preparing students for success in this digital age.
I’ve spoken to many teachers about how they are using technology to revolutionize teaching in the classroom. Here are a few of the ways they are innovating the way their students learn:
Learning Management Systems
Learning management systems are platforms that many schools use to manage schedules, lesson plans, assignments and course assessments. An LMS such as Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard or Google Classroom allows a teacher to manage and monitor student progress, generate reports, and interact with students both on and off campus. The use of an LMS also allows students to access assignments and course content even when they cannot attend a traditional classroom.
I spoke with Amy Dixon M.A.Ed., a teacher at Willard High School in Willard, MO about the benefits of using a Learning Management System with her high school students. She stated, “Learning management systems are a great arena in which to house curriculum so students can easily access videos, written notes, practice quizzes and other helpful resources from home or in the classroom. The assessment features provide analytical feedback from quizzes that teachers are able to apply during test preparation. The online format of learning management systems allow students more control over the pace and depth of their learning.”
All students learn at a different pace and at varying levels, thus the implementation of an LMS can greatly benefit students while allowing more input and interaction with teachers.
Smartboards, Smartphones, and Laptops
In decades past, students had books, notebooks, planners and a ton of supplies for every class. Every classroom had a traditional blackboard, and perhaps an overhead projector for showing slides. Many schools today are doing away with many of these traditional class materials. Smartboards allow teachers to interact with lessons, videos, slides and presentations on a large screen. Often, students can use their smartphones and tablets to interact with the lessons as well. Students take quizzes, view videos and see results of the efforts in real-time using this type of technology.
Some schools are converting to an entirely textbook-free environment, opting instead to provide small, lightweight laptops to each student. These district-managed laptops allow students to complete lessons in class or at home, access valuable educational resources, as well as familiarizing themselves with computers. Few careers in today’s business world do not require employees to be technology savvy; when kids use tech in the classroom daily, they will be well prepared for the job market.
The use of smartboards, smartphones, and laptops in the classroom helps engage students and enables teachers to connect with their pupils in new and innovative ways.
Technology for Exceptional Learners
Teachers in today’s classroom serve students with a variety of needs, challenges and skill levels. Educators who teach students with learning challenges are increasingly using technology as a resource in Special Education. The use of technology can assist Special Education teachers in meeting the needs of exceptional learners.
I had the honor of talking with Special Education Teacher Shalyn Copas M.Ed., who shared with me how technology has revolutionized her classroom: “While technology in the classroom impacts all learners, I believe students with exceptionalities potentially benefit the most. My diverse learners are able to access curriculum that would not have been available to them, thanks to companies like Google. I have watched my students gain confidence in their abilities, increase their level of productivity and develop independence within days of incorporating a new app or extension that fills a deficit.”
Technology gives educators the tools to create a classroom that works for all students, creating a more inclusive, accessible learning environment.
The technology being utilized in today’s classroom is exciting – we are engaging students, meeting diverse needs and finding new ways to educate the next generation. From Learning Management Systems to smartboards, apps, and laptops, students at all learning levels are benefiting from technological advances in education. At school as well as at home, this truly is the Google generation.2