A class above – leveraging digital tools in the class room

Teachers and education establishments are fast realizing the benefits digital technology can bring to the classroom.

In a typically traditional industry that utilizes time-honored methods and practices to help students learn, educational technology is now helping drive change and digital transformation that can have a profound effect on children’s learning rates, success levels and exam scores.

Technology in the education space has shown significant progress over the last few years. In the US for example, public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students while schools are spending over $3 billion per year on digital content. In addition, 2015 was the first year that more state standardized tests were administered via technology rather than using traditional paper and pencil.

On a global scale, technology has empowered people to be able to learn in ways that would not have been possible without digital tools. For example, using massive open online courses (MOOCs) to learn and gain qualifications would simply not have been an option ten years ago.

Technologies that are driving change

Digital technologies and approaches are having major positive impacts across the full spectrum of disciplines in the education arena.

  1. Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality: Digital technology is helping make learning collaborative and interactive, and by using tech that students encounter in their daily personal lives, it is also creating immersive lessons that are fun and engaging. AR and VR let teachers create more immersive learning experiences and can foster increased participation in class from a technology-powered generation.
  2. Classroom sets of devices: This is a philosophical and organizational change that is seeing schools move away from the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach and central school technology labs to having classroom sets of computers or iPads and laptops for each individual student. The benefits of this include helping young students engage with academic subjects, making them more eager to learn, and also teaching students digital literacy and the 21st century skills they will need one day when they join the workforce.
  3. Redesigned learning spaces: In the grown-up workspace, companies have focused on creating more collaborative, digital-based environments and reaped the benefits. Today, school classrooms are also realizing the potential. No more rows of desks and chairs all pointing towards teacher - today’s classrooms are collaborative spaces designed to facilitate student learning and utilize digital tech to enhance the educational experience.
  4. Artificial Intelligence: AI can have a significant impact on taking learning to the next level. Australia’s Deaken University is using IBM Watson to create a virtual student advisory service which is available 24 hours a day. AI in education helps enable the personalizing of learning, and can be used to facilitate one-on-one tutoring with the use of Intelligent Tutoring Systems. Progressive educational establishments are realizing that digital technology is not there to replace teachers, but to complement them.
  5. Personalized learning: As with so many areas where digital has impacted, technology is now enabling greater personalization and customization than ever. Blended learning, adaptive learning and other techniques are changing the educational landscape. Adaptive learning is an area where technology could drive substantial change. Adaptive learning immerses students in modular learning environments where every decision they make is captured and analyzed in the context of learning theory and then used to guide and enhance the student’s learning experiences.
  6. Gamification: Learning through play has long been a popular educational concept, but that was before digital technology was around. Millennials are habitual gamers and gamification in the classroom can be a useful instructional tool. Gaming technology can help make learning complex subject matter a more exciting and interactive experience for the student.

Start them young

Encouraging children to use digital technology in the classroom is essential in the connected world in which we live. It prepares them for a future where they will use technology in their everyday lives, as well as at work.

Orange, for example, recently demonstrated its commitment to helping young people better understand technology with the launch of its #SuperCoders initiative for 9-13 year-olds. The initiative intends to make children more aware of digital culture by offering them an easy and fun introduction to computer coding.

Today’s students are tomorrow’s digital leaders. As more schools make the move to digital tools and techniques, we will see the power technology can bring to the next generation classroom and beyond.

To read more about the Orange #SuperCoders initiative

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.