Lately, we’ve been seeing many reports of advanced technology being introduced to the traditional classroom. Mounts Bay Academy in Cornwall recently assigned an iPad to each of its 900 pupils, driving the idea forward and encouraging other schools to follow suit.
It’s just one of the ways in which technology is affecting the traditional education system and bringing fresh possibilities to students across the globe.
Recording lectures, taking part in distance learning, and performing rapid, voice-command searches are just some of the suggested possibilities for using Google Glass to assist with education. The technologically advanced eyewear, touted for release at the end of 2013, could revolutionise learning by offering users hands-free access to the web, its in-built camera, and countless other functions.
The possibility that Google Glass may soon enter the classroom is one that may alarm those who prefer a more traditional approach to learning. But it can’t be denied that, if used properly, the equipment could have a significant, positive impact on the way pupils learn.
As Mounts Bay would doubtless agree, using tablets in the classroom opens up a world of new opportunities to the students and gives them fresh incentive to learn. As an example, tablets allow schools to do away with old textbooks and use responsive, electronic versions.
However, the downside of introducing tablets to the classroom is safety. Schools have a responsibility to restrict the kind of activity that can be carried out on the devices (by creating user accounts, restricting downloads, blocking certain domains and so on) and ensure that they are only used for their intended purpose.
As for the tablets’ physical safety, investing in sophisticated, electronic storage lockers is a must, so that the equipment can be checked in and out by students and usage can be closely monitored by staff.
While technologically astounding devices are arguably dominating the immediate future of education, let’s spare some thought for learning in the Cloud. Matt Britland, head of ICT at Kingston Grammar School, argues that the potential for devices in the classroom is short-lived and that the Cloud will soon dominate.
Matt suggests that schools’ investment in advanced technology is not completely necessary as a means to safeguard against future developments. Instead, he advocates that they invest in an extremely secure and robust internet connection, providing a strong infrastructure for the future.
Many schools are already using the Cloud to set work out for pupils, collect it back in and deliver grades to their students remotely. The scope for independent learning and social lessons will widen infinitely as the Cloud becomes more commonly used in education.
Embracing the future
It’s evident that the future for technology and education is bright, and by embracing the possibilities, schools will blaze a trail for others to follow. However, in order to keep up, some considerable investments may have to be made by schools. Protecting that investment is the key to getting the most out of technology in the classroom.
Written by James Sheehan, a blogger with an interest in the use of technology in education.