One to one devices, mobile, ipads. Clearly technology has besieged the classroom and this presents major challenges to current institutions. Teachers are struggling to adopt best practices for what types of technology should be utilized in the classroom. Funding requests are pouring into administrator’s offices. So how are schools to know what tools are best and how to many resources to invest where?
Organizations including Ed Tech Teachers work to solve these challenges by bringing together innovative educators to discuss what works and what doesn’t. One hurdle they cannot overcome is teacher adoption. For those that are willing to take the plunge into the technology abyss here are some of the strategies discussed at the conference.
As a method for rewarding teachers and students while introducing them to new technology, digital badges have emerged as a simple reward tool. The process is easy –teachers and/or students are given the opportunity to learn technologies like Google Docs, or new skills like coding. Upon completion, they receive a “badge” or a digital credential. Over time teachers and students can amass more badges and points that unlock prizes and opportunities. A large hurdle to badges is adoption. Without appropriate incentive structures participation dramatically decreases. Badges are gaining a lot of attention in STEM or project based schools. US Conference of Mayors recently adopted the badge system to measure student progress in unconventional ways. That alone makes it worth paying attention to.
VR in the Classroom
Virtual reality is forging ahead in the consumer space and only recently beginning to make a presence in education. This begs the question, Can learning take place when the brain and body are separated? Imagine teachers taking their students on a trip to Mars to explore the landscape or going back in time to the Jurassic Age coming face to face with dinosaurs of the past. This immersive experience while available is still new and minimally tested. Tech giants, like Google with its Expeditions app, are ahead of the game. Researchers are only beginning to explore the effectiveness of VR’s ability to give students an immersive experience without leaving the classroom.
Adopted from Silicon Valley start-up community, the concepts of ideation, iterative design and rapid prototyping are taking shape in schools. With innovative EdTech solutions, more schools, teachers and parents are looking for ways to evaluate results to improve delivery. Justin Reich at the MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab suggests educators to consider a few important questions when approaching new solutions: What are the goals? What does “awesome” look like? What are my resources to make this happen? Design thinking for educators is yet another important tool in the EdTech toolbelt.
As schools grapple with resource allocation one thing is certain; technology is not going to slow down.