There is an argument that having more technology in the classroom has a distracting effect, with students being more invested in virtual worlds than their lessons.
However, digital classroom technologies and teaching methods arguably have the potential to enhance the modern classroom, and can also lead to better community collaboration and information delivery via virtual learning spaces.
Getting students engaged with digital technology in the classroom also extends, in this context, to encouraging creativity, boosting special needs provision, and increasing employability through a new ICT curriculum.
In terms of how digital technology can impact on the classroom, its important to remember that new virtual additions don’t necessarily change traditional learning approaches.
Additions like whiteboards, where laptop content is projected onto a screen, can lead to much more diverse lessons; Power point presentations can be included in lessons, video clips played, and a more visual approach taken as a whole to presenting facts.
Moreover, digital aids like lesson recorders, or access being provided to lesson slides, can extend the experience of the classroom into personal use for students.
Building a Stronger Teaching Network
It’s possible for students and teachers to participate in virtual learning space, which can take the form of private school or college networks.
These networks can include chat rooms and discussion boards, as well as spaces for uploading assignments, and links to reading lists and other resources; as a monitored resources these networks can also be used in order to maintain contact between students and a school, which might include information on timetables, school trips, and digital copies of school handbooks.
Another important benefit to integrating digital technology and the classroom, and one that doesn’t position virtual learning as a distraction, is online creativity. This creativity might take the form of writing blogs for English lessons, or producing and editing art projects; getting students engaged with the process of responsibly studying online is also important to teaching them about the benefits and the dangers of Internet research.
Getting students comfortable with using social networks as a form of creative collaboration, whether by posting photos to Flickr, or by creating a Twitter account, can also mean that they move beyond using these networks as passive entertainment.
As well as previously noted classroom aids, it’s possible for schools to integrate revision apps, digital versions of books, and iPads that allow for more intuitive note taking and learning into lessons; tablets can be particularly useful for encouraging visual learning, and for presenting information in dynamic ways to students with learning difficulties – this might take the form of animated books, prompts for remembering information, or structured apps that organise a student’s time.
Making digital technology a key part of the classroom is also important to accelerating plans for UK schools to have a more advanced ICT curriculum – this curriculum involves a shift away from out dated teaching methods and information about the Internet and programs, and instead focuses on computer science, and getting students engaged in programming and app creation at an earlier age.
In this context, being able to combine traditional and virtual activities can work around using technology to enhance existing teaching methods, while also providing the tools by which students can make the most of larger teaching networks and transferable ICT skills.
About the author: CJ is a technology professional who has recently made the switch from the boardroom to the classroom – she’s a passionate tech advocate and is currently showing everyone the advantages it can have on an education from direct learning to pre-exam revision.