Heavy textbooks and dusty blackboards will soon become relics of the past, like wooden paddles and individual slates. Digital technology is rapidly changing the Australian education system, and the edtech industry has greatly expanded over the past few years—with technology in the classroom reshaping the way teachers teach, students learn, and schools operate.
Today, technology in the classroom means more than having a line of PCs in the back of a classroom. Digital devices, like low-cost laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even robots, are becoming an integral part of the school day. This momentum has opened up a world of opportunities for technologists and innovators, who see the classroom as the next marketplace for disruption. From the way information is delivered to the way administrators track student progress, every aspect of the educational system is undergoing an exciting transformation. Here are four big ways technology is moving schools into the future.
1. The flipped classroom
The idea of “flipping” the classroom has become hugely popular in education. It’s an educational model in which students are initially exposed to new material outside of class—often through video lectures—and then use class time to absorb that knowledge through interactive activities. This model blends the advantages and disadvantages of both online and classroom learning. The classroom is important for socialising, where students receive direct help from their teachers and interact with their peers. For many students, the structure and accountability of classroom time is essential for driving their performance—particularly for those struggling with organisation, discipline, and motivation.
Online learning offers its own set of advantages, like enabling students to learn at their own pace and seek help when they need it. Unlike in the classroom, where a student has only one chance to absorb a lecture, students can pause and replay a video lecture as many times as they need to understand the material in an online setting. Delivering information online also frees teachers to spend more classroom time working one-on-one with students, as well as dedicate more time to group projects, experiments, and critical thinking activities.
Adoption of “flipped classrooms” is still in its early days, but in the future, it will be the norm—especially as technology makes education more personalised, adaptive, and interactive.
2. Digital textbooks
Just as lectures will go digital, technology in the classroom is also turning physical learning materials digital. Physical textbooks are static, expensive, and heavy. Even worse, their content tends to go out of date before the books even make it to classrooms.
Technology is lightweight, flexible, and continuously updated. Students can access digital content anytime, anywhere, and they can easily search for the information they need. Digital devices also make it easier to enhance text with visual tools and deliver multimedia experiences, with interactive activities to help students gain a firm grasp on the material. Devices serve as portals for a wide range of supplementary materials that accommodate myriad learning styles—and this can have a big impact on student engagement. According to a report on digital learning, 76 percent of learning and development professionals surveyed said mobile learning technologies are in high demand for the classroom.
3. Tracking and assessment
When students actively engage with technology during class, teachers can monitor their progress and understand their needs better. For example, while students are practicing fractions on tablet games, teachers can observe their students’ scores on their own devices. If one student is having a hard time mastering a concept, the teacher can quickly become aware of the issue and respond.
Software can take the guesswork and friction out of identifying patterns, such as if one student’s grades have been slipping or the entire class is falling behind on a specific topic. By making it easier, faster, and cheaper to assess student progress, technology provides teachers with more frequent, robust data about student performance, which teachers can mine to ensure no student is left behind.
4. Innovative admin
School administration is notoriously rife with bureaucracy, stifling teachers and preventing schools from innovating and evolving. When teachers and administrators spend huge amounts of their time on bureaucracy, they have less time to spend focused on actual education.
Software can help automate tedious tasks, eliminate paperwork, and keep documents organised. It can also streamline the way educators communicate with parents and manage logistics, such as teacher contracts, assessments, and scheduling. In the past, teachers manually collected attendance and hand delivered the reports to the office, where they would be put into a system. Today, systems can enable teachers to quickly note the students who’re missing and sync that information automatically with the school’s database.
In today’s highly digital world, technical skills are critical to finding a job, no matter the field. This makes technology in the classroom not a nice-to-have but a must-have.