The traditional classroom is in some ways a blank canvas, a simple room with desks, chairs and a blackboard at the front. It’s a setup that has worked well for centuries – but interactive technologies are set to transform it by taking this arrangement and adding a new layer of flexibility.
Digital technology now allows teachers and students to share their personal work on the digital blackboard; to transfer what’s written on the board directly to their personal devices; and more. The result is a more immersive classroom that helps create an interactive, personalized teacher-led learning environment.
New possibilities for teachers and students
Teachers are experts in pedagogy and most have seen any number of fads, grand claims and failed classroom and teaching ‘innovations’. But digital technology is different. It’s not something that exists only in the classroom – in fact, the classroom is exploding as it becomes simply the place where students and teachers meets, with access to limitless information from outside sources.
More importantly, digital technology is bleeding into the classroom, making it possible to offer new and often more engaging educational experiences:
- Virtual field trips: Ideally using VR technology, students following maps on which their teachers have placed QR codes. When the codes are scanned, the students see a video of the location, information about its history, and so on.
- Self-paced learning: Students are, with guidance from teachers, demonstrating mastery of subjects using technology, for example by building software, creating videos or audio recordings describing what they have learned.
- Digital creation: Art classes have changed because students can ‘sculpt’ in ‘marble’ or ‘paint’ with a software-generated airbrush. When combining the software with tablets that are pressure-sensitive, it allows imagination to run riot, without the physical and budgetary requirements for materials, workspaces and tools.
- Language lessons: Digital technology helps students by allowing them to record themselves, play interactive language games, supplement their study with mobile apps, and more.
Creating the right learning environment
Sometimes, the physical environment can make it difficult to mount equipment and install the necessary supporting infrastructure, but if it’s difficult to install a permanent infrastructure, there are some excellent mobile options.
Mobile whiteboards, for instance, can be fitted with projector mounts, audio capabilities, and document cameras. Moveable rigs also work well when a school wants to keep its options open regarding room configurations.
Laptop storage carts can also be moved from classroom to classroom depending on where the laptops are needed. They also provide a handy way to charge multiple laptops without having to provide an infrastructure for individual charging.
Equipping the modern classroom with technology is an exciting prospect, but as with any purchase there are a few things to keep in mind, including:
- Robustness: Who will be using the equipment or carrying it around? How old are they?
- Warranty: In a high-use (high abuse?) environment, a watertight manufacturer’s warranty could be worth its weight in gold.
- Adjustable: If you require equipment to be different heights, e.g. for use with different age groups, find mobile solutions that can be raised or lowered easily.
Is your classroom ready to evolve? It doesn’t take a huge investment in technology to make a difference, just a commitment to making changes that will benefit students, teachers and administrators alike.