Technology is increasingly becoming a more important part of education. Both software and hardware are becoming ever more important to improving the education process. Thanks to mobile phones and tablets, teachers can now deploy a range of technologies in the classroom, including augmented reality technology. However, mobile devices themselves act as powerful computing devices these days. Teachers should also look to innovative ways of integrating technology that students are used to using, such as social media networks. These technologies, in addition to virtual reality, 3D printing, and cloud computing, lay the groundwork for creating enhanced learning environments that are engaging and effective.
More than ever, students have access to powerful computing technology not in the form of desktop PCs, but the form of mobile technology. Phones today are internet browsers, personal computing devices, calculators, and more. Tablets serve much the same function of putting powerful computing technology into the hands of students in a way that keeps them mobile.
Today, mobile technology can be used in numerous ways to enhance the classroom. On a basic level, it can be used to fulfill basic needs like making calculations, recording classroom lectures, and taking notes. However, this barely begins to scratch the surface of what mobile technology can do. This technology can be taken out during science field trips and used to document natural phenomena. Similarly, history field trips can be enhanced by taking photos of historically significant structures.
Teachers can use online polling services to test their classrooms at the end of a lesson. Teachers can project a question onto the wall and then have students text their answer to the teacher using a multiple-choice format in which they choose A, B, C, D, or E. The software then compiles the answers and displays the percentage of students who chose what answer using a graph. This can help establish just how much the class has learned. Afterward, a teacher can respond to the responses by judging whether they need to go in-depth with the material again or not. If a large percentage missed the question, then it might be necessary to go over the lesson in detail once again. If not, then it may be necessary to simply review the material.
The power of mobile devices also makes it easier than ever for students to research in the classroom. Instead of needing to have a computer available for every student, teachers can now rely on cell phones to link students to the internet, where they can track down information about a topic that they’re studying. There are also apps that teachers can have students use. These apps can fulfill multiple roles, including providing demographic data or specific bits of history on certain topics. However, teachers need to clear the software they’re going to use with their administrators before having it installed on students’ phones.
Mobile technology is also important because it can allow students to collaborate using social networks in the classroom. Indeed, social networks are increasingly being valued for their ability to enhance the learning experience.
Learn more about how to use mobile phones in education.
For many teachers, the mere mention of social networks conjures the image of distracting software that prevents students from learning. This can be true, but it’s also possible to harness the power of social media and use it in such a way that it benefits students. However, each form of social media has its own set of strengths. These are just a few of the ways that teachers are taking social networking and using it as a way to enhance the education process.
Facebook can be considered a ‘hub’ social network since it allows teachers to create group pages that students can join. These pages can be used in several ways to keep students up to date on what’s going on in the class. Teachers can write up important announcements and pin them to the top of the group page. Or, they can announce reminders in the normal group feed to alert students when homework, quizzes, and tests are coming up.
Facebook groups can also be used by teachers to encourage conversation between students. Questions can be used to encourage responses and students can discuss materials on the group page. This is an easy way of encouraging participation among students.
Twitter is less of a hub than Facebook because there is no way to create a dedicated page that students can join and work from. Where Twitter derives all its power from is its use of hashtags. Hashtags can be created by teachers and used to encourage group participation. For instance, a teacher can create a hashtag like #PhilsHistory. Then, every student who uses that hashtag in their tweets will be discoverable when the class searches for the hashtag, #PhilsHistory.
In class, teachers can use this to get questions or responses from students. A projection of the Twitter feed can be projected onto a wall and teachers can go through their lectures. As they do, students can Tweet using that hashtag to ask the teacher a question in the middle of their lecture. The question will come upon the Twitter feed as long as the class has already searched for that hashtag. The same process can be used to get responses to class-wide questions the lecturer might ask. This can help encourage participation even from shy students.
Instagram is much like Twitter except with a much higher emphasis on taking and sharing photos instead of writing and sharing Tweets. Using Instagram, students can take photos and label them with a hashtag. Using the example of #PhilsHistory once more, students on a field trip to a historic site can take pictures of interesting parts of the site and then tag them. When the class gets back together in the classroom, a search for the hashtag will reveal all the photos that the class took during the trip. Afterward, the teacher and students can discuss what pictures were taken and why students chose those photos. The teacher can then launch into a discussion about the importance of structures or locations that students captured in their photos.
This is just one example of how social media can be used to enhance the classroom. Any class that is going to be engaging in hands-on projects can use photography to enhance the experience. Science field trips can capture interesting animals and plants in photos. Students working on engineering projects can photograph each stage of what they’re building and then walk their peers through the process in a class discussion. Teachers can also use Instagram as a basic way of capturing classroom memories. A year’s worth of work can be better remembered when students capture each moment in photos and share them using the class’ hashtag. This is also an easy way of encouraging parental participation since they can search the hashtag themselves and see everything that students are doing in the classroom.
Learn more about how to use social media in education.
Immersive technologies refer to technologies that alter the reality and space in which an individual interacts. These technologies can be entirely immersive, or they can be only partly immersive. Entirely immersive technology takes the form of virtual reality while partly immersive technology takes the form of augmented reality. Both types of technology