Technology has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, changing how teachers interact with students inside and outside the classroom. This trend is expected to continue with more money and time being invested by school districts into the most current innovations. Here is a look at how technology has affected the way students learn and what our future classrooms will be like.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by the University of Cincinnati’s online Master of Education degree program.

Classroom technology education

The Use of Technology in the Classroom

From 1995 to 2014, access to broadband internet in the K-12 levels rose from just 8 percent to 98 percent. K-12 instructors who used interactive whiteboards increased from 66 percent in 2011 to 75 percent in 2014. The use of gadgets in schools has also spiked in recent years, with iPad and Chromebook sales surpassing PC sales in 2012.

School districts have also increased spending on technology. In fact, about 46 percent of districts have increased their expenditure on hardware from 2014 to 2015. Some of the most important types of hardware bought for this purpose include tablets, laptops, interactive whiteboards, projectors and displays.

Public schools have also stepped up in ensuring that their facilities meet the changing needs of their students. For every five students in a public school, the institution provides one computer to use. The schools also spend over $3 billion a year to obtain and maintain digital content. The type of access that schools offer to students regarding their curriculum has also improved. About 69 percent of school districts now offer courses online. This is a 50 percent increase beginning in 2014 until 2015. Student testing is also being performed online by 64 percent of school districts — a 20 percent increase during the same time period.

How Classroom Innovation Is Getting Support

In 2013, President Barack Obama promoted the ConnectED initiative, a program designed to enhance the education of students in America by integrating technology into training. Under this initiative, the government aims to provide 99 percent of American K-12 students with broadband internet access by 2018. Since its launch, the initiative has provided broadband access to an additional 20 million students at school.

Challenges Faced by Technology Implementation

Although technology in the classroom has limitless potential, some teachers do not support its use as applied in teaching. This is due in part to the fact that there is little evidence that shows how technology can improve the outcome of learning. In 2014, an estimated 25 percent of households in America did not have access to the internet. About 64 million Americans remain unconnected to the internet, and 48 million say they cannot afford the cost.

The Impact of Technology on Education

Technology has had a huge impact on how teachers interact with their students. It has helped improve teaching and learning in many ways:

Allowing Personalized Training

With technology, teachers can design learning modules based on a student’s academic potential and limitations while keeping his or her learning speed and interests in mind. Using learning management systems, for example, allows students to work on assignments that are based on their progress.

Allowing 1:1 Computing

Many American school districts are now providing their students with tablets and laptops to use. This, along with the availability of wireless hotspots, has allowed students to access the internet while at home. Access to gadgets has provided students with the tools they require to meet their learning needs both at home and in the classroom. Using these programs, students can also learn on their own and at their own pace, improve their technological literacy, do away with cumbersome textbooks, submit their assignments online, and learn independently by exploring information on their own. Access to computers also improves feedback and communication among students, their instructors and their parents.

Improving Communication with Parents

Online access has allowed teachers to utilize social media, websites and email to share classroom information, send reminders to parents regarding upcoming school events and inform them how their children are performing in school. If parents cannot come to school for parent-teacher conferences, teachers can even use screen sharing and video chats instead of personal meetings.

Performing Testing and Assessments Online

Real-time feedback is critical in helping teachers determine the efficacy of the lessons they teach. It is also important for helping teachers assess the progress of a student. With technology, teachers can now perform these tasks using online assessment programs and modify lesson plans to help students with topics in which they have difficulties.

Promoting Blended Learning

Teachers can seamlessly integrate computer-based programs and tools into traditional in-class lessons to improve the learning experience for students. For example, teaching students about the Egyptian pyramids can be improved by enhancing the classroom lecture with a virtual trip to the ancient structures.

Using the Home as an Extension of the Classroom

Teachers can teach students at home through online instruction using videos, screen sharing and audio podcasts. Students can also communicate with their teachers and fellow students using online messaging. They can then apply their knowledge in hands-on laboratory work and projects.

Technologies to Look Forward To

Technological advances will provide exciting changes for educational enhancement. The potential for presenting information to students in new ways will be tremendous. Some of the most important innovations to look forward to include:

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality allows students to learn using different layers of virtual information with real-world images through a smartphone or tablet app. An app such as Star Walk, for example, teaches students about stars and constellations using their smart-device cameras. The app provides labels to help in the identification of objects in the sky and a time feature that allows them to explore how the sky appeared in the past.

Flexible Displays

OLED-based displays combine the digital capabilities found in tablets and a thin, flexible characteristic that allows them to be rolled for storage. These displays do not require as much energy as LCD displays and provide crisper, sharper images with quicker response times.

3-D Printers

3-D printers can be used in classrooms to illustrate concepts to students in a manner that they can clearly see and even touch. 3-D printers can help them test different design techniques and theories. These tasks can range from simple experiments, such as creating cellphone cases, to more complex concepts, such as determining the structural integrity of architectural designs.

Biometrics

Teachers can use eye-tracking technology to understand how their students learn. They can determine how students absorb information when they view it and which types of information they find most interesting. Teachers can then use the results to design lessons that best suit the learning styles of the students. Mirametrix’ S2 Eye Tracker can track the spots that students look at during online learning sessions.

Artificial Intelligence

AI can be an indispensable tool for teachers to obtain feedback about the progress of their students. AI can even be used as a companion to enhance students’ educational experiences by helping them cope with educational difficulties and challenges, and identifying their learning habits and interests.

Virtual Reality

Google’s Pioneer Expeditions have allowed students to explore far-off places, including China’s Great Wall and Mars, with the use of Mattel View-Master and Google Cardboard viewers. Companies such as Alchemy VR and zSpace are also offering content and curriculum that teachers can use to share more immersive learning experiences with students.

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