The Grade School of Tomorrow: What Role Will Technology Play?

The rapid advance of technology is changing the face of education at all levels, including K-12. Today’s K-12 teachers are already making increasing use of laptop and desktop computers, e-readers, tablets, online educational modules and social media.

As technology continues to evolve, so will its role in the classroom. Mobile technology and e-books will soon be ubiquitous in the K-12 classroom. Emerging technologies that could take a prominent place in the classroom of tomorrow include augmented reality glasses, multi-touch surfaces and biometrics. When you go to school online to get a Master’sin Instructional Design and Technology, you’ll learn the skills you need to train tomorrow’s teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms to the benefit of both them and their students.

K-12 Teachers Are Embracing Technology

Most teachers and students feel that technology enhances learning. Seventy-one percent of teachers say that educational apps enhance the learning experience; 65 percent say technology helps them illustrate concepts to their students. Three out of four students say that technology helps them reach their goals in the classroom. Mobile technology and apps allow teachers to personalize their lessons to the needs of each student and encourage students to take a greater role in their own education. Students who listen to lectures at night using the Internet and do their homework during class time with the teacher’s assistance get better grades.

In the very near future, mobile devices— already present in 35 percent of classrooms — are expected to be in the hands of every student. Mobile technology and connectivity will make it possible for students to do their work, collaborate with one another and interact with their teacher from home, the school bus, the cafeteria at lunch time — anywhere. With the increased use of e-readers and tablets in the classroom, print textbooks are expected to go the way of the dodo bird. The switch to e-books will save schools money and give students access to more accurate information in an interactive format.

The Future of Classroom Technology

Increased access to e-books and mobile technology in the K-12 classroom is a given — but which emerging technologies might soon find a place in our schools? Augmented reality glasses could soon give K-12 students the opportunity to view individualized educational presentations. These glasses could soon create an immersive educational experience; for example, students could view scenes from history or receive lectures directly from noteworthy figures, like Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincoln. The glasses could also demonstrate concepts that can’t be easily explained due to limitations of the classroom setting.

Multi-touch surfaces, already common on tablets and smart phones, are growing more affordable and more advanced by the day. The school desk of the future may well be one large multi-touch surface, where students can collaborate with others in the class or around the world in real time and work with virtual tools on their desktops just as they now do with tablets. Such desks could put millions of resources and tools at students’ fingertips and change the very nature of the K-12 classroom.

Perhaps more controversially, advances in biometrics may soon play an important part in the classroom. This technology could allow teachers to monitor the emotional reactions of children doing lessons, measuring physical signals including heart rate, facial expression, body odor and skin moisture. Biometrics technology could even be used to monitor typing speed and rhythm, tone of voice or gait. All of these data could let teachers know when students are feeling confused or need extra help, and they could also be useful to help teachers develop personalized educational strategies for each of their students.

Technology is already playing an important role in the classroom. A significant portion of teachers are using desktops, laptops, interactive white boards, tablets and e-readers to enhance the learning experience for their students. Those students who have access to mobile technology, learning apps and online course materials have been found to do better in school.

The students themselves report being better able to achieve their own academic goals with the help of educational technologies. The classrooms of the future may well incorporate emerging technologies like augmented reality glasses, multi-touch screens and biometrics to help teachers identify students who are struggling in class and develop personalized lesson plans.

Contributing blogger Renee Alicea holds a Master of Instructional Design and Technology and has more than 15 years of teaching experience.

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