How to Optimize Your Classroom for Technology – and Vice Versa

Is it simply too expensive to optimize the classroom to use today's modern technology… or will it be too expensive not to, in the long run?

December 29, 2015 by Alex Collins

Education_Technology_BlogMore and more students now use digital technology to get ahead in the classroom… and the same goes for the teachers. This puts school administrators and education stakeholders in a bind: how do they address the increasing role of technology in education? Is it simply too expensive to optimize the classroom to use today's modern technology… or will it be too expensive not to, in the long run?

Most analysts agree that educators need to plan for future technology requirements. They can't afford not to: “Technology is a powerful tool that gives teachers, students and others new ways to address problems like chronic shortages of time, materials and professional development,” explained the late Jan Hawkins, former director of the New York City-based Center for Children and Technology. “Technology enables learning to be limited by only one thing – imagination.”

Planning for a more technologically-advanced classroom can't be done willy-nilly. A smart project plan takes into account the latest technology standards and hardware life cycles, among other things.

(Not sure where to start? Check out this outline by the Wired Teacher that shows how to judiciously introduce technology into the classroom. If you're looking to take the plunge, advisers - like the ones we have here at All Covered - can study your specific needs and produce a cost-effective but powerful project plan that meets all your objectives.)

What should your plan aim for? Beyond basic propositions of cost and sustainability, bringing your classroom into the 21st century should aim for a more enlightened outcome, as per Hawkins' advice: “Instead of asking, 'Should schools have computers?' we need to focus on a more productive question: 'How are technologies best used in education to help students achieve and prepare for the world outside of school?'”

Aim for the following outcomes:

Putting cutting-edge information available at everybody's fingertips. Students viewing Shakespeare plays on their tablets. Biology teachers incorporating the latest paleontological discoveries in their classroom discussions. With the right technology, students can get access to digital resources that are more current and compelling, with visual and audio support that expensive paper textbooks can't even hope to have.

With BYOD (bring-your-own-device) moving from the boardrooms to the classroom, educators need to incorporate students' personal devices into the learning process, enabling personalized individual learning via school- and student-owned Android, iPad, and other operating systems.

Beyond the classroom, technology-enhanced back office and student information systems can help administrators run the school more efficiently, transitioning away from paper and into digital systems that allow teachers to route student information where it's needed; increase productivity; and rev up cost savings.

Getting more engagement out of students. BYOD allows students to learn using their own devices – but it also allows them to have a greater stake in the outcome as well. A technologically-advanced classroom tends to have more engaged students: they're more excited to use technology, they participate more, and they take greater control of their learning.

As the right tech can provide more rapid feedback on students' work and visualize abstract concepts in a more powerful way, students begin to think about the lessons in a different way. Roles shift: teachers become more like coaches and advisers than like the traditional instructor. Everybody wins.

Results like these can be replicated with a redesigned curriculum that works in concert with instructional and interactive technologies from providers like Promethean, whose teaching software, student-response systems and line of interactive boards, screens and projectors keep students absorbed in the material.

Students prepared for a real-world environment after graduation. With business and after-school employment requiring a greater grasp of technology from graduating students, it's clear that tech-savviness needs to begin in the classroom.

“When students have access to powerful mobile devices and digital resources that are continually updated, they realize that learning doesn’t stop with the last bell of the school day,” explains Jim Shelton, deputy secretary at the US Department of Education. “They become accustomed to learning being an integral part of all aspects of their lives, which establishes ongoing learning habits lasting long after graduation.”

Yes, introducing cutting-edge learning technologies to a traditional classroom can be quite a leap. Advisers like All Covered – banking on years of experience introducing instructional technologies and IT services to educators – can bridge the gap, helping helping you leverage modern technology to advance your curriculum.

The outcomes listed above can be yours, if you make the right call.