Edtech trends: Modernising the classroom

Gary Bryant

Gary Bryant is the UK Manager of ITSI, a digital solution that empowers educators and students by simplifying the teaching and learning experience. Gary has worked in education for a number of years, introducing new and innovative technology solutions across all phases.

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Image credit: Flickr // kjarrett Image credit: Flickr // kjarrett

Last year, the pedagogical sphere witnessed some significant issues and proposed plans, including accountability measures, governance, teacher retention and the outcome of the EU referendum. Despite this, one thing has remained steady; the use of edtech within education.

We all know that today’s students are tech-savvy. Often they’ve been raised with tech all around them, so they’re not only digitally literate, but they have a natural affinity for it. Therefore, it makes sense that in order to truly engage them in the classroom and make learning something enjoyable, we need to utilise the power of edtech. The good news is that edtech is evolving all the time, and there are new trends and resources emerging that seek to enhance the educational experience for 21st Century learners. So what are the latest edtech trends? And how are they improving the learning opportunities for today’s students?

Merging old and new

While developing brand new tech ideas may seem like the only way forward, sometimes taking a step back, and looking at what’s worked in the past, can be greatly beneficial. One trend within edtech that I’m seeing at the moment is the concept of “The good news is that edtech is evolving all the time.”taking something traditional and making it relevant for today’s classrooms.

Take blackboards for example; over the years, these have been developed into whiteboards, then interactive whiteboards, and now we’re seeing classrooms with walls that are entirely interactive; learning is no longer limited to the desk. The reason why it’s been repeatedly revolutionised and improved is because it’s recognised as a valuable and effective pedagogical teaching tool that truly helps students with their learning.

Likewise, we’re seeing this with textbooks too. I’m sure when you think of this traditional resource, you recall those thick-paged, dog-eared, text-heavy books that made an appearance once-a-week during a science lesson. It’s a shame that textbooks often find themselves stacked haphazardly in a store cupboard when they are an invaluable teaching resource. But why would today’s students want to use them, when they’re perceived as old-fashioned? This applies to almost all traditional educational resources, which is why they need updating to ensure they’re relevant for today’s classrooms. I’m now seeing students using tablet technology to access online libraries filled with digitised textbooks, which is great as it enables them to engage with the text in many different ways; for example, they can read it, annotate it, and access supporting materials such as YouTube videos or news stories next to texts to strengthen their understanding, or carry out group work. Just like whiteboards are a staple in classrooms, so are textbooks, and edtech is helping bring many traditional teaching tools into today’s age.

Work of art or classroom resource?

Sometimes, edtech resources can be something akin to a work of art, but if they’re not going to address schools’ issues and improve teaching significantly, then what is the point? With schools’ budgets becoming increasingly tight, they can’t afford to spend valuable funds on edtech resources if they aren’t going to meet the schools’ needs. So another trend I’m witnessing at the moment is a heightened focus on the real, fundamental issues facing today’s educators and students, and how edtech can solve these. For example, many schools have recently been focusing on developing strong parent-teacher-student communications, as it’s “Students are using tablet technology to access online libraries filled with digitised textbooks.”well known that the more involved and supportive a parent is with their child’s education, the more likely that child is to succeed academically. Therefore, there are now edtech resources that not only monitor students’ progress, but that also make conversations between parent, teacher and student far easier to facilitate.

Technology can greatly improve the flexibility of teaching and learning, but only if it’s been developed with the 21st Century classroom and learner in mind. There is a reason why traditional resources, such as whiteboards and textbooks, have stood the test of time and evolved, and that’s because they do what learning tools fundamentally need to do: improve the learning outcomes of students. There’s no telling where edtech could go next, but one thing’s certain; it needs to focus on the needs of those that matter – the students, teachers and schools.

How do you aim to modernise your classroom(s)? Share your ideas below.

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