Now and then. How technology has changed…learning.
The most iconic image of school is probably the teacher stood in front of the blackboard, chalk in hand, while the pupils copy down everything into their exercise books.
Those days are well and truly in the past. The classrooms of today and the ways children learn have been transformed by technology. Today, tablets, laptops and smartphones all connect seamlessly to online learning resources that create a new and exciting learning experience for today’s “digital age” students.
In today’s highest tech classrooms, one of the first things parents notice when they enter is no more blackboard. Instead, there’s an interactive whiteboard onto which teachers can project computer images and then manipulate them using their finger as a mouse directly on the screen.
This powerful new learning tool allows for collaboration and interaction in lessons at a new level, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Everywhere is a classroom
With every child in class now having a tablet they are becoming empowered to learn. These hi-tech learning tools also help blur the lines between where the classroom starts and finishes. They allow students and teachers to work together not just in the school, but also outside of it just as easily. By breaking down the boundaries of just learning in the classroom, students are being empowered to take control of their learning experience. Lessons can take place absolutely anywhere be it a traditional place of learning like a museum, once a student gets home or even when travelling on the bus.
Tablets, laptops and even smartphones give students access to the Internet and all the educational benefits it offers. It is here they will turn rather than textbooks to research a subject. Then, there are websites that offer interactive textbooks. These bring learning to life with animations and videos, additional material around the subject and assessments of the content you’ve just been interacting with.
There are also e-books which mean students no longer need to carry around a heavy backpack filled with bulky textbooks. Instead, they can take an entire library of information with them wherever they go with ease. Homework and assignments can also be held online ready to be downloaded as and when needed. No more excuses that you lost it, or the dog ate it.
The changing role of teachers
The use of technology in learning has had a knock on effect of changing the way teachers teach. Rather than relying on information to be absorbed then repeated, teachers have gone from being a dispenser or information to a facilitator of it. It allows them to teach in a way their class finds more interesting, so in turn they are more likely to remember what they’re being told and enjoy the whole experience.
As well as changing a teacher’s role, technology is also helping make their life easier by making it more efficient. A range of software is now available to aid in lesson preparation. This support gives teachers to ability to plan interactive and multi-media laden lessons. They can also aid in creating assignments which are multi-platform so that they can be used both in and out of the classroom.
Full marks for assessments
Another way that technology has changed teaching is in assessments. It can give schools and colleges the power to design assessments which use a flexible range of criteria based on their students varied skills and abilities.
It can also allow teachers to carry out real-time assessments and feedback so that they have a clear and up-to-date view of just how much of their lesson a class actually absorbed. They can even do this on a one-to-one level, looking at individuals who they might have a concern with so that they can assess whether anything needs to be re-explained so that the student fully understands what is being taught.
Technology doesn’t just allow teachers to assess their students individually. It also gives them the power to teach them individually. Students can learn at their own pace thanks to customised lessons provided through learning tools that ensure that what’s being taught is set at the right level. This gives the opportunity for each and every pupil to work at a pace that suits them so that they are not left behind or feel out of their depth.
The most vital part of any modern classroom
Of course, what has to be remembered is that no matter what the technology and how it is used, the most important part of a classroom is the teacher. Technology gives them new and exciting ways to teach their students, but it can never replace their enthusiasm for teaching and dedication to their class.
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