Technology use in schools is increasing every year, dominated by the introduction of iPads, tablets and netbooks to the classroom.
Technology is not intended to replace teachers in the classroom; instead, most educational tech is designed to increase efficiency and improve the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods.
In a recent survey, more than half of all teachers said they have a one to one ratio of students to devices in their classrooms, meaning that the majority of learners have access to at least one device – if not multiple.
With more and more teachers exploring tech with their students, what are the biggest educational technology trends we’re seeing this year?
Technology isn’t just making changes to the way students are learning; it’s being built into the assessment process, both for testing and for marking student responses.
Currently, pilot programs to administer the annual NAPLAN tests via internet-enabled devices will begin trials this year. All students undertaking NAPLAN exams can expect to complete their tests online by 2019.
While the HSC is expected to continue in its paper form, online marking was introduced for more than half of all HSC subjects last year, and this is expected to increase for this year’s HSC.
Apps in the classroom
With more than 75 percent of teachers saying they regularly use technology in the classroom, the possibilities
to use mobile applications are endless. Some of the top educational applications include:
- Study organisation and classroom apps like My Study Life and StudyBlue. These kinds of apps let teachers post homework to their class online, provide study tools like flashcards and assessment reminders, and allow students to simultaneously collaborate on documents.
- Note taking apps like Microsoft’s OneNote and Evernote, which let students use multiple devices to record their notes, and sync to one central account – meaning they can login on a desktop computer at home and access the notes they made on their tablet during their classes, without needing to transfer them manually.
- Open education offering free video lectures like Learnist, TED Talks and edX. These websites provide videos of experts discussing every topic imaginable – ideal for motivated learners seeking to complement their classroom lessons with independent study.
Other apps that teachers have found a useful place in the classroom for include the language learning app Duolingo, the interactive Periodic Table, and CamScanner, which converts a photo of words on a page to a text script.
3D printing has been around since the 80s, but it’s only in the last few years that advances in technology have made them more compact and refined. As a result, they’re becoming more affordable and accessible as they become ubiquitous across all industries.
This is great news for schools, as there are many ways 3D printing can be used in the classroom. For example, students can print hyper-realistic models for biology and chemistry, or design and print scale models of their own prototypes to test their functionality.
Augmented and virtual reality
Augmented reality took off last year, when it was first introduced to most of us with the roaring success of Pokemon Go. There are endless possibilities to use augmented reality technology to overlay text, images and diagrams on real world images for the purposes of education. For example, apps can bring historical sites and anatomy diagrams to life with supplementary information, and even label the night sky for those studying astronomy.
Since 2014 we have seen the rise of virtual reality, thanks to low cost VR platforms that use simple headsets in conjunction with downloadable smartphone apps to enable the virtual reality experience. The low cost of these headsets and the simple compatibility with smartphones will see the popularity of VR continue to grow, especially among students.
With ever-increasing access to digital technologies growing not just in the classroom but in every aspect of our lives, it’s important for schools to be open and accept the changes and demands that come with implementing new technologies in the classroom.