By Paul Bartrum – Academies Partnership Manager, Avocor
With new educational technology tools developing every day, the ability to create an interactive classroom is becoming easier than ever before. It may still be some time before we see the likes of interactive whiteboards in every classroom, or individual tablets on every student’s desk. However, an increasing number of schools are making use of interactive technology to revolutionize the way their students learn.
Let’s take a look at what the future could look like for schools that embrace interactive technology.
We’ll have more flexibility with teaching methods
Interactive display technology can allow teachers to think outside the box and integrate more of their creative ideas than ever before when lesson planning. These tools can allow teachers to create lessons with mixed media, gamified elements, video clips and more, all with relatively minimal prep and planning.
My experiences working with schools and academies have taught me that teachers want software that’s familiar and intuitive. Open platform solutions tend to be the most successful, because they give teachers the flexibility to switch between a variety of familiar applications with ease during a single lesson. Then, with teaching software like Avocor’s Qwizdom OKTOPUS, which allows legacy teaching content to be incorporated into new presentations, teachers can combine old and new resources into unique lesson plans in minutes.
By making teaching strategies more flexible, teachers are better able to adapt their lessons to suit the learning styles of different students or classes. They could also switch up their lesson styles periodically to ensure students remain engaged throughout the school year.
We’ll have more engaged students
When students can take ownership of their own learning, they become significantly more engaged in the learning material at hand. Eric Mazur, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard School of Engineering, discovered this while lecturing his university students. He established that when students learn actively, they can no longer switch off from a lesson because they’re forced to engage with the learning material.
Mazur believes that we can take inspiration from kindergarten classes, in which very young students have a greater ability to control their own learning through play. As kids grow, traditional classroom environments dampen this ability to play and interact with the learning material at hand. Kindergarten classes often feel loud and chaotic, but this is a sign that students are actively engaging with the learning material. By using interactive technology in the classroom, we can encourage students to be active in their learning via quizzes, games, polls, video content, and other media.
We’ll boost student communication skills
Interactive technology can help students improve their ability to communicate both with their peers and their teachers. Students could be encouraged to share ideas or concepts on the interactive whiteboard, for example, or they could even give short lessons or presentations of their own.
Communication could also go a step further with the use of video conferencing in the classroom. Students could connect with other classes, either in the same school or in different schools, to work on collaborative projects – which encourages kids to communicate and make connections with new people. Alternatively, teachers could invite guest speakers to give presentations about a recent study topic via video conferencing, and have students take control of the discussion by preparing their own questions.
We’ll be able to offer additional learning resources for fast learners
Interactive technology for education can make independent learning easier in order for teachers to support the fastest learners and workers in their class. This is ideal for classrooms in which students have varying abilities.
If students have access to their own devices – a tablet or laptop, for example – teachers can provide additional learning resources, presentations, or quizzes for students to work through. Students could be encouraged to explore these materials in their own time if they’re particularly interested in a topic. Alternatively, they could turn to these resources during lessons if they complete an in-class assignment sooner than their peers.
We’ll enhance students’ technology knowledge and skills
We exist in a world in which our lives are influenced by technology every day, so it makes sense that we teach our young people how to use technology safely and effectively. One of the biggest benefits of interactive technology in the classroom is that it can allow us to enhance students’ knowledge of technology through active, daily use of it.
For example, teachers could demonstrate how to use the internet for research, to demonstrate how to find reputable online resources, and how to differentiate between reliable and unreliable information. These types of activities also lend themselves brilliantly to discussions about staying safe online.
Addressing a Classroom’s Unique Needs
Interactive technology is evolving all the time, and I see developments in the industry every day while working as Avocor’s UK Academies Partnership Manager. Benefits of interactive technology are vast, but it’s important to remember that each school is very different.
I work with many Multi Academy Trusts, and each one has a unique set of goals, challenges, and budgets to consider. Investment in interactive technology is certainly important, but it shouldn’t be rushed, and it must be tailored to each individual education provider.
Decision-makers need to establish exactly how interactive technology could benefit their own students and teachers. This article gives only a general overview of how the future of education might change with new technology. It’s down to individual schools to take charge of their own futures and transform the ways in which their students learn.
About Paul Bartrum
Having spent 24 years within the Audio-visual sector, Paul Bartrum has witnessed first-hand the dramatic change in classroom technology: From dusty chalkboards, to projection based technology, to the interactive, large format displays of today. This background insight has proved invaluable in his current role as Academies Partnership Manager at Avocor, where he engages with Multi Academy Trusts to position how solutions from Avocor can help improve engagement and attainment in the classroom.