The Future of Classroom Technology Tools
Predicting the future of classroom technology trends empowers teachers and school districts to stay at the forefront of “the next big thing” in education. When you have an idea of which trends are sure to increase in popularity and functionality in the upcoming years, you can make informed decisions about the tools you should invest in and the trends that are likely to lose momentum.
In terms of classroom technology tools, there is a rich history of technology in classrooms that predates the Internet era. As the bulky computers of the past 30 years have been replaced with sleek laptops, tablets, and smartphones, affordable options and increased accessibility for the general population has allowed more and more schools to place technology in classrooms and integrate it into daily learning activities.
In fact, as technology develops and becomes more accessible in the public space, technology in classrooms tends to follow suit. For example, as the Internet developed and became widely used in the 1990s, students began accessing it for schoolwork. Thus, as technology continues to progress, develop, and decrease in price, classroom technology tools will continue to support learning as options become more advanced and accessible in every school district.
Now, let’s look at predictions for the future of classroom technology tools. What roles will these tools play in the education of future students? How will they improve the learning process for teachers and students alike? A closer look at some future trends will help us answer these questions.
Technology Will Increase Student Accountability
When students have increased ownership over their own academic performance and progress, educators will see better outcomes, increased engagement, and enhanced learning experiences. Classroom technology tools can be used to support students by increasing the accountability and responsibility they have over their own education, enabling them to reflect on outcomes, set goals for future progress, and take ownership over their learning experience.
Setting and Tracking Goals
Classroom technology tools provide insight beyond a final letter grade. For students, the ability to have a more transparent view of their progress increases the ownership they will have over their own learning experience and will help them self identify what they need to improve upon, and it will increase their confidence as they can track their own improvements.
Here are a few examples of how technology increases student accountability:
- Learning management solutions that allow them to log in and see their most up-to-date grades, monitoring their own data.
- Students have discretion over their assignments, choosing areas of particular interest.
- Students can create their own online portfolios or blogs to track progress throughout the school year.
As with any integration of classroom technology tools, the teacher will still be the main driver and encourager of technology usage. Students will need to be supported as they begin to increase ownership and independence. In fact, this is an area where some of your best students may struggle, as they are likely accustomed to following rules and directions to the letter. However, with encouragement and mentorship, teachers are sure to see an increase in self-reliance in their students.
Technology Will Enhance Collaboration.
Collaboration around a single student can drastically change how teachers engage with him or her. However, in the past, gaining a level of visibility into a student’s performance across all disciplines was difficult and tedious. Rarely can teachers all be gathered in the same place to discuss a collaboration strategy for a single student, let alone the dozens of other students who would benefit from that level of time investment, as well.
Now with classroom technology tools, teachers have access to accurate, real-time data that can inform their instructional decisions. Consider this example. A teacher recognizes that a student who is normally strong in math is suddenly struggling to keep up. What is the cause for this new weakness? The teacher looks to data for this student in other subjects and notices that the student has regularly struggled with reading courses. Recently, they have moved to a new section in math class – word problems. The teacher now knows the source of the student’s new challenges and can consult with the student’s other teachers on how to best support them in every subject and personalize their teaching approach to better meet the student’s needs.
With data and student performance tracking tools, teachers can work together to identify patterns, strengths, and weakness for their students. This data can inform their decision-making process about each student, choosing the approaches to instruction that will yield the best outcome for each student.
Teacher collaboration isn't the only positive outcome in terms of collaboration. With classroom technology tools, students can work together to generate better outcomes for themselves. New programs on computers or tablets can connect students both with those in their own classrooms and with other students around the world. Students can complete projects, contribute to the same documents or presentations via the cloud, and have a more robust personal experience as they work toward common goals.
Technology Will Become More Powerful and Intuitive.
As technology constantly develops, so do the potential benefits it brings to classroom settings. Ten years ago, it might have been hard to imagine a tool like tablets being used in classroom settings. Now, as technology develops in the consumer space, it’s sure to become more powerful and intuitive in the classroom setting, as well.
While there is no single tool that educators should look to as having specific transformative powers over their classroom, there are some themes that are growing in popularity in the technology space that are likely to be found in more and more classrooms over the next months or years.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has been the stuff of science fiction until recently. With greater accessibility to smaller devices like smartphones, technology companies have found ways to make virtual reality fun and accessible with specialty headsets. Some top names in technology like Google and PlayStation have invested in developing these virtual reality headsets.
In a classroom setting, the possibilities for using virtual reality are nearly endless. You can take virtual field trips to see the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge, or the North Pole. Classrooms could be immersed in crucial moments in history, like learning about a Revolutionary War battle from a virtual George Washington or going to the moon with Neil Armstrong. As virtual reality technology develops, the only limitations for the application of this technology will be educators’ imaginations.
Augmented reality, or technology that superimposes digital images onto real-world sights, is another area that holds exciting possibilities for educators and students. (If you’re not familiar with augmented reality, think of games like Pokémon GO.) Using augmented reality technology, students can explore subjects like science or engineering. Imagine using augmented reality to do virtual science experiments or engineer 3D virtual buildings. These interactive possibilities provide safe, exciting, and engaging classroom technology options for students.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more common, from the Amazon Alexa device in your house to having a smart assistant like Siri on your phone. This year, and for years to come, artificial intelligence will empower personalized learning in classrooms.
Think of tools like math tutoring applications that can identify students’ strengths and skill sets, and provide them with exercises best suited to their needs. Perhaps teachers will soon be using artificial intelligence to gather student data and then apply algorithms to create personalized learning paths. Artificial intelligence will only develop greater opportunities as the technology itself develops.
One of the most exciting prospects for teachers may be the potential for supplemental instruction that artificial intelligence can offer. When artificial intelligence tools can support students in areas like regular course work, teachers can focus their efforts on high-value endeavors like mentoring students or increasing one-on-one interactions with students.
As technology develops and becomes more intuitive, teachers and students alike are sure to benefit from greater functionality and a more personalized learning experience.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that classroom technology tools will always be just that – tools. These tools will never replace teachers but instead will support teachers in their efforts to deliver positive, personalized learning experiences for every student. Classroom technology tools work alongside the teacher to better support students’ needs through remediation, practice, extension, and activities that demonstrate knowledge authentically.
Thus, teachers should be adequately prepared and trained in using these technology tools in their own classrooms. Without proper training and a cohesive direction for your educators, you may see technology tools fail. It’s important to invest in training efforts upfront if you want to see a positive return on your investment in classroom technology.
As you consider future investments in classroom technology tools, keep these trends in mind. With strategic investment and support for teachers and students through the technology adoption process, you’re sure to see an increase in positive outcomes in your classrooms.
Learn more about how using classroom technology tools supports learning. Download this free guide now.