It's an exciting time for education and technology. Educational technology is consistently improving and more common place in the classroom. Google "21st Century Classroom Presentation." You'll find schools moving to a different kind of environment. Is this good? Are there problems with adding interactive and engaging materials in the classroom?
These questions will not be answered in this article. This article is going to focus on educational technology. Technology that is consistently demonstrated at conferences for teachers and administrators. This article is intended to educate you on what technology is currently available for schools. We're also going to stick with the 21st Century Classroom theme.
Document cameras, projectors and computers are becoming common place in the classroom. Document cameras are an incredible piece of technology used in education today. The ability to show a page in a text book or a worksheet up on the board without making a transparency! Many schools still use transparencies and overhead projectors. Overhead projectors limit the freedom to adapt to the class and create real-time learning experiences based on student responses.
Projectors and interactive whiteboards are a must ever since the Internet became available. Multimedia, simulations, videos, maps, research, etc … Projectors allow for whole class learning and engaging discussions that extend from a specific topic or skill. The interactive whiteboard technology allows the teacher to stay in front of the classroom notating and controlling the mouse.
Another important educational technology piece are computers. Computer labs have been common in schools for sometime. The real concern has been actual "computer access" the students have throughout the week. Having sufficient computers and creating a consistent schedule for the entire school has always been a challenge. An answer to this challenge has been mobile laptop carts. Imagine a large cart with 25 laptops shelved, plugged into outlets within the cart. Only the cart needs an external outlet to power all laptops. This cart is moved from classroom to classroom and students are assigned a computer number. Instead of scheduling computer time to the computer lab, teachers are reserving these laptop carts … bringing the computer lab to them!
Classroom Response Systems or Voting Response Systems or clickers are becoming a common trend as an added piece to their educational technology plan. You will be sure to find more information when you Google "21st Century Classroom Presentation". These devices allow for true interactivity and engagement within the class as a whole.
The last piece of any educational technology plan is the software. Blogs, wikis, games, curriculum software, reading and math intervention software, etc. are all things students do on the computers. Once hardware is in place, the question is, "What do the students do on the computers?" Educational software is such a broad term, schools are constantly researching software specific to a target group of students: high school credit recovery, homebound students, before / after school programs, supplement content to the school's curriculum, state test prep software, etc.
One thing is for certain, educational technology is constantly improving and classrooms are moving closer and closer to the 21st Century Classroom.