Both in and out of school today, children are consistently engaged via interactive digital displays in every aspect of their lives. As increasingly tactile and visual learners, students in the classroom are expecting to be engaged and challenged as they would in the outside world. Nearly all research indicates that yes, interactive technology will improve learning outcomes – but it’s not a silver bullet. This new paradigm of engagement is also very dependent on teachers understanding how this happens and evolving their practice accordingly.
At the same time, so many of the schools we speak to are in flux, experiencing a high level of uncertainty about where technology is going. Also, many products recently implemented in classrooms have missed the mark, with the focus on technical specifications often coming at the expense of what translates to real benefits in a collaborative learning environment.
Anecdotally, a lack of support and training have also been critical issues affecting success with classroom technology. We now know reliance on suppliers for ‘free’ training with product purchase doesn’t work in the long term – there’s no real commitment from either party and momentum nearly always drops off.
So Where to Now?
The approach we’ve seen achieve the most success is to look at classroom technology holistically and strategically. Start with your teachers – best practices are the lynchpin. Many of our partner schools now engage us for a five-year, on-site training and support commitment with a classroom refresh. Our user group events help educators share their content and build a culture of innovation. If your teachers are motivated and equipped with the right skills and mindset, you are well on the path to success.
For technology, we look to brands with a proven commitment to education and integrated, turnkey solutions.
Take SMART Technologies – walk up and use simplicity, software built in the classroom and connectivity for the devices you use every day. These guys have been ahead of the curve on this for more than 20 years. A solution like SMART Kapp iQ with the bundled SMART Learning Suite package (including SMART Notebook 16) ensures there is a seamless transition between teacher-led instruction, student-driven collaboration, and co-creation in any pedagogical or subject matter context.
Our team of education specialists works with schools to build achievable, cohesive technology roadmaps that factor in the needs of educators and learners, not just pixel resolutions and signal inputs. Taking the time today to map out the next few years is likely to save you some headaches down the track. Finally, make sure you engage a technology partner that understands education and how technology can enhance student learning outcomes, not just electronics.
Ben Daffy is Director for the Learning Technology Group, Unified AV.