In Depth: Five ways tech is transforming the classroom in 2014

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Most individuals know the substantial impact technology has had on houses and businesses, however what about schools?

Unless you have been a teacher or student in the last 10 years, you could be forgiven for conjuring images of wheezing halogen projectors, ticking Windows XP timebombs and VHS tapes so dusty they are practically sentient beings.

Walking around the current BETT 2014 education exposition in London reveals simply just how much things have changed. Innovation pervades nearly every element of learning, transforming classrooms into interactive, linked and interesting environments. Forget about attempting to stop children sticking chewing gum on the underside of their desks though – even expensive gadgetry can not stop that.

So what innovation trends might you see if you walk into tomorrow’s classroom, today? If your school is fortunate enough to have actually the needed funds, these would make it cooler than James Bond dropping you off at the school gates.

1. Massive, creative interactive whiteboards


Interactive whiteboards are like smartphones: you cannot choose 5 minutes in a school without seeing one and some are a heap better than others. They were out in force at BETT 2014: big ones, small ones, some developed to be pawed at by youngsters with chocolate-covered fingers and others taking the shape of fully-fledged all-in-one Computers the size of little cars.

They’ve actually been around because the mid ’90s, however more recent ones aim to stick out by providing features through the cloud and allowing real-time collaboration between classroom-based instructors and students through smartphones and tablets.

Malcolm Taylor, Item Expert for interactive big format displays at iBoardTouch, says that competition in between vendors has actually ended up being progressively intense as they’ve actually grown in appeal over the last 15 years.

‘It’s now a case of who can supply the much better option rather than who can offer the flashiest whiteboard,’ he says, including that vendors aim to cover all potential classroom scenarios. ‘It’s to do with offering teachers the right items. That could be videoconferencing software application that enables remote teaching, or the capability to tape-record trainings so that educators can prepare video tutorials and have them all set on the school network.’

Taylor likewise reckons they can conserve schools a heap of money when compared to projector technology utilized for similar functions.

He adds: ‘Our LED displays run between 150 and 200 watts, while a projector performs at around 400 to 500 watts linked to a different COMPUTER that runs at roughly the very same. As such, it would cost around ₤ 80 a year to run a common interactive whiteboard against a projector that’d be closer to ₤ 500.’

2. A 3D printer could make your next lunchbox


3D printing has injected itself into the world of consumer and company tech, and it’s now beginning to reveal its classroom capacity. In the UK, that’s partially down to education secretary Michael Gove introducing 3D printing into the nation’s syllabus back in July 2013, however making pop-out horse photos and Bono-style tinted glasses undoubtedly caters a worldwide brand name of cool.

Unlike bigger CAD/CAM solutions that sit in the corner of technology classes, 3D printers are ideal for specific age arrays. The UP! 3d’s mobile leanings makes it a good fit for more youthful students, while the larger MakerBot Replicator 2 provides itself to older ones who can develop larger and more complicated frameworks.

James Blackburn, Sales and Advertising Director at GoPrint3D, describes that 3D printing can help students discover the concept of ‘spatial awareness’ – that is, creating and producing objects in several measurements to be structurally sound in addition to looking good.

He says: ‘In item design students can build things as part of bigger kit – parts of an automobile for example. It not only needs to fit together, but the wheels need to turn and you need to check for dynamics. That can form an introduction into the bigger world of produce, and the concepts are made use of in many various markets – from automotive to aerospace and health care.’

According to Blackburn this can offer students a grounding in design, and also offers an idea into business and economics. He adds: ‘If they are producing something, the device will frequently tell you the quantity of plastic it will use so students can cost a task as opposed to simply focusing on making the physical items.’

3D printing is not all about major produce techniques though. Blokify, a Minecraft-inspired mobile app, lets individuals produce 3D structures by stacking blocks on top of each other, which can be then be printed by suitable gadgets.

3. Gamification assures to make finding out fun

Little Bridge World

Gamification is a buzzword frequently slung about in company circles to describe the application of game-like aspects to non-game scenarios to make them more appealing., for example, provides a platform that lets business reward their sales groups for finishing particular by gaining ‘levels’ and progressing up the ranks.

Being natural animals of the playpen and prepared challengers, more youthful youngsters and teenagers are considered a great fit for gamification. Spotting a chance, vendors are developing anything from mobile apps to cloud-based finding out websites that offer competitive, interaction-based knowing and discovery.

One certain website demoed to us, Little Bridge World, is a moderated online neighborhood with over 5 million young members. The only language allowed is English, a move imposed to assist them connect with others all over the world while playing games to discover, enhance grammar and address troubles.

Emma Rogers, the company’s co-founder and CEO, says that gamification is catching on with students and teachers due to tablet produces such as Samsung (with its Galaxy Tab 3 Kids) blurring the lines in between exactly what kids are doing in your home and at school.

She states: ‘Youngsters are suddenly a fascinating market for tablet manufacturers. The next phase is that companies do not wish to just offer games and apps for no reason – they wish to offer ones that have value where kids will find out something.

‘Also, educators are recognizing that kids aren’t going to bear with the quality of products developed for education. They’ve to look good, feel great and work like the items that children naturally decide to carry their tablets or laptop computers.’

That rules out a Tamagotchi resurgence, then.

4. Everything is moving to the cloud


Cloud computing’s effect on elearning has actually become more noticeable in recent years as educators, governors and students get linked with internet-based services and sites.

Many services intend to change free open source-based community web applications (such as Moodle), but schools have to consider aspects such as necessity, cost and complexity, in addition to whether they’ll incorporate into existing Management Details Systems (MISs).

They enable moms and dads to pay school costs online, view their children’s work, complete permission kinds, view letters and messages and perform various other adult engagements by going to through a browser.

eSchools, which offers a cloud-based virtual knowing environment (VLE), provides endless file storage to instructors who can access information about pupils from any internet-connected COMPUTER and can set jobs and gain access to calendars.

Additionally, guvs can store documents in the cloud, exchange messages and view school participation and other data. The business’s platform is paid for on a per-pupil basis (prices is based on a two-tier primary and secondary school system), with teacher, moms and dad, guv and workplace accounts thrown in free of charge.

Jon Coleman, Business Development Manager for eSchools, states that moving to the cloud gives developers of VLEs an opportunity to regularly react to feedback from schools and plan upcoming features.

He says: ‘I have spent many hours dealing with schools for many years and have tried various finding out platforms, however never had the chance to get every educator engaged – the cloud allows us to do that.’

5. Mobile elearning apps give birth to a brand-new battleground


Schools, just like companies, had little selection but to welcome the mobile revolution due to the appeal of smartphones and tablets (and difficulty in banning them). Many in the United States and Europe operate ‘bring your very own gadget’ (BYOD) policies that permit students to bring their own gadgets into class.

Dell’s education profile includes its Venue 8 Pro and Place 11 Pro tablets, in addition to its just recently revealed Chromebook 11 that pairs with a web-based management option to enable school IT divisions to configure, load and handle applications for students and teachers.

According to study by Futuresource Consulting, Chromebooks accounted for one in 4 devices shipped into the United States education market in the fourth quarter of 2013. Margaret Franco, Executive Director of End User Computing at Dell, says that having a broad option of gadgets on the market enables schools to pick and choose based upon the educational program it follows.

‘It depends upon the learning experience that the teacher is looking to provide,’ she says. ‘If the educational program dictates interactive finding out with hands-on discovery then a Venue 8 Pro or Venue 11 Pro would fit. Other educational program may determine finding out with test taking, in which case the right answer is a tablet plus a detachable keyboard.’

Keeping kids ‘appy

Of course, mobile devices – even those created for elearning – are only as vital as the apps that operate on them.

James Guinevan, Elder Learning Designer at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, developer of the Curious George apps, stresses that apps made for younger kids have to be particularly engaging in order to survive.

‘When it comes to engagement, which is a vague term, the important things to bear in mind are characters, idea and afterwards reusability or replayability,’ he says. ‘It’s important that those are done correctly as a great deal of development houses commonly come from PC backgrounds where there’s a particular method of doing the user interface.’

According to Guinevan, developers can evaluate the success of elearning apps through sales, downloads and ‘efficiency’, which is measured with feedback provided at the idea phase and throughout the development process.

‘There’s a great deal of expectation from iOS users – specifically those that spend for apps – so you need to make sure they work and creative,’ he says. ‘You likewise need to make sure that your business’s apps lock-in with your various other products, so your app made for a house tablet ought to feel the same as the version of it that’s utilized at school, which can be tough.’