Technology in the Classroom: Embracing the Era of Digital Learning

By: Arthur Cole| - Leave a comment

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Technology in the classroom is becoming more complex and difficult to manage, and this trend is accelerating rapidly. For today’s students, the idea of learning without apps, tablets and similar digital tools — which were practically nonexistent in school five years ago — would be a strange and unwelcome prospect.

It isn’t just a matter of keeping students happy, though. With the economy and the broader culture increasingly driven by digital processes, it’s not only natural that education follow suit; it’s imperative.

Technology in the Classroom Driven by Innovation

The prevalence of “smart” classrooms around the world is being driven by rapidly advancing technology. According to MarketsandMarkets, EdTech is set to grow at an average pace of 16.7 percent through 2020, more than doubling in size from $43 billion in 2015 to $93 billion in 2020. The field encompasses a wealth of technologies and applications, ranging from tablets and interactive displays to web-based collaboration and specialized learning management software.

Smart Classrooms Produce Impressive Results

When schools adopt these tools, education is said to become more effective, more tailored to the individual and more fun in the process. Technology evangelist Holly Chavez explained to Tech.Co that despite early resistance from some school districts, tablets have been shown to decrease the time it takes to meet learning objectives by 80 percent. The effect is most profound among disabled students and those who don’t respond as well to traditional teaching models.

A key advantage of technology in the classroom is the near-instantaneous access to current information — a far cry from the difficult process of gathering data (most of which is out of date) from aging textbooks. At the same time, technology allows educators to monitor an individual student’s progress much more closely and manage a wider variety of educational experiences both during and after school.

Managing In-Classroom Technologies with MDM

Implementing this type of technology is one thing, but monitoring and managing it is another. Just like commercial enterprises, education systems around the globe have embraced mobile devices only to realize later that mobile device management (MDM) is critical to the success of a mobility program.

As Craig Mathias, principal analyst at mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group, points out to EdTech Magazine, most MDM platforms only provide basic services like provisioning and security. This leaves many school systems on their own when it comes to application and content management, integration with legacy IT systems and network visibility. Therefore, it’s important for educational systems to recognize that MDM is only one facet of an overarching data and infrastructure regime that reaches every layer of application and information.

Next Stop: Cognitive Classroom?

Tablets and fun learning apps aren’t the only technology being adopted in the classroom. As IBM and Sesame Workshop are out to prove, advanced cognitive computing can strengthen the substance and effectiveness of the learning process dramatically. The pair has entered a three-year agreement to use Watson to develop targeted educational platforms and products around the workshop’s early learning expertise. The aim is to apply Watson’s natural language processing, pattern recognition and other capabilities to create educational experiences that are highly personalized, and to provide complementary support for parents and teachers.

At the same time, the group will reach out to leading teachers, academics, technologists and even gamers to devise new ways of honing the power of cognitive computing for educational purposes.

Like any tool, technology in the classroom can be used properly or improperly in a given situation. It can’t replace certain aspects of human instruction, so over-reliance on gadgets is not likely to be conducive to student development. However, there is an ideal state in which educators and technology can work together to prepare the next generation for a world that is increasingly defined by digital experiences.

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About The Author

Arthur Cole

Freelance Writer

With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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