Modern-day educators are placing a huge emphasis on how humans learn, not as a group, but as individuals. In the past, singling out students and teaching by a method that was effective for each was impossible. Technology, however, has made this not only possible but an absolute must. Here are a few ways technology innovation is changing the classroom.
Extending the Classroom
Image via Flickr by kjarrett
In the past, an attempt to connect with another student outside the classroom was limited to field trips in the same town or pen pals across the world. With the help of the Internet, educators are now able to make the world their classroom. From videos to action cams, students are experiencing a larger perspective of the world. Interactive graphics provide hands-on learning experiences while Skype conversations with students around the globe can offer an appreciation of foreign cultures in a way pen pals couldn’t.
Employing Independent Learning
The pace at which students learn differs by student and by course. The limitation of the classroom has always been the group mentality. The class could not move on until everyone either understood the subject matter or failed it. With educational games such as ST Math by MIND Research Institute and websites like Khan Academy, advanced students can learn at an accelerated pace while students needing more help can practice the coursework without detracting from either’s educational experience.
While classrooms have long employed the motivational tool of leaderboards and stars, gamification (using game play to incentivize a desired action) is succeeding in education. An AP Biology teacher, Paul Anderson, is using the elements of video games to do three things within his classroom: make learning fun, allow for levelled learning so everyone progresses at their own pace, and create an environment where failure is not a last measure but an opportunity to reload and try again, thus encouraging learning. This signifies a growing shift in how educators approach learning.
Another educational gaming platform is Socrative. This app works on all devices—mobile, computer and tablet—and engages the student with game-based learning.
Valuing Social Learning
While group learning has long been the norm in American education, it wasn’t very social. In the mid-eighties, group projects became popular but failed in the sense that the group didn’t learn together. A few students ended up carrying the weight of the group. Now, learning is becoming social through social media. Tools like Edmodo allows classes and teachers to connect in a Facebook-like online classroom environment for collaborative learning. Grockit allows students to study together virtually. Schoology is a learning management system (LMS) that connects educators and helps them better engage their students.
The biggest changes to the classroom are being heralded and made possible by technology. These gaming and interconnectivity tools are providing a new classroom experience, which is not limited by geographical location. Educators are on the cusp of having the tools that will help them reach every student and make sure they master the concepts before progressing to the next level. These tools are creating a new age of engaged students.