It’d be difficult to argue that technology hasn’t had a huge impact on almost every aspect of our lives, but sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much things have changed over the past decade or so.
The education sector has experienced a particularly significant transformation at the hands of technology, having moved from a complete reliance on paper (and chalk!) to integrated education technology in a matter of decades.
Here are the 10 most game-changing technology developments in the education sector.
We couldn’t call ourselves edtech experts without discussing the enormous success of touchscreens in the classroom. Replacing the soon-to-be outdated interactive whiteboard, touchscreens offer a fully immersive learning experience via software and apps.
This technology has made it easier than ever to connect pupils and teachers to shared digital workspaces, while encouraging collaboration and participation from even the most detached of pupils both in and out of the classroom.
Our favourite touchscreen for 2017 has to be the CleverTouch V Series. With 10-point touch, it allows a group of pupils to get involved and work together on the same project. Excellent connectivity solutions and the option for teachers to control the device remotely further add to its practical use. In-built apps also make it easy to annotate any document, while the Snowflake MultiTeach software includes apps that have helped take lesson plans to the next level.
Televisions certainly have no fear when it comes to the home market, but in schools they are losing ground to high quality professional display screens. Combining the benefits of computers and TVs, displays enable teachers to deliver engaging presentations and they also help deliver a better learning-environment experience as they are used for signage around the school and in reception.
The ViewSonic CDE6502 is a great example of this in action. With an inbuilt media player, USB and wireless connectivity, as well as easy remote control via vController software, this screen is perfect to showcase student achievements across the building or campus. Its Flicker-Free technology and Blue Light filter also help reduce eye strain. So that’s one less possible excuse for not paying attention in class.
Of course, one of the benefits of installing a touchscreen or display screen in the classroom is the fact that pupils and teachers can easily share materials from their own personal devices, like iPads and tablets, on the larger classroom screen.
Who would have thought we’d be sending our children off to school with an iPad in their backpack?! But these devices have transformed how many schools run things on a practical level, offering a portable point of access to learning materials that pupils can use at school and at home.
Back in our day we were lucky if we had an overhead projector in the classroom. Nowadays, advancement in connectivity solutions and the massive array of digital learning material available mean that professional projectors are a common sight in schools across the country, even down to reception-age levels.
Projectors are now considered among the leading education technology options thanks to huge improvements in connectivity and image quality and reductions in price.
The BenQ MH741 is a great example of how a projector can transform a classroom, offering immersive Full HD images in almost any light conditions. BenQ has even created the device with SmartEco Technology built in, optimising lamp life by placing the projector in standby mode whenever it’s not in use – great for the total cost of ownership calculation.
When it comes to edtech, it’s all about low maintenance and high performance.
4K is still something of a newcomer in the education sector, but those who have made the jump are seeing incredible results. If full HD images are immersive, 4K resolution images are impossible to ignore. Delivering crystal clear, crisp visuals, 4K technology is starting to make its mark on the education sector.
In 2014, Brian Hesketh, head teacher at Fairfield High School for Girls in Manchester, decided to introduce 4K technology into his school and discovered that the results were noticeable immediately.
“By investing in the latest 4K touch screens we have equipped the school to be ready for future technological advances. The teachers and pupils are very happy with the displays, as they are Ultra HD. This adds real clarity to the lessons, without the need to switch off lights and close blinds, which is sometimes still necessary with the lower resolution screens you would normally get from a projector or interactive whiteboard.”
Advanced hardware is useless without the software to back it up so let’s take a quick look at the leaps forward in education software since our time playing Minesweeper on the IT room PCs.
Touchscreens are king here; there is a huge range of software packages available for touchscreens in particular, but one of the most successful is the CleverLynx suite.
A form of annotation software, CleverLynx makes it easy to import just about any document and then allows you to edit and annotate it, saving it automatically as you go.
There are other options out there too that aren’t tied to manufacturers and can work with display screens and personal devices too. Google Classroom, for example, has really helped streamline the day to day operation within the classroom. It integrates with Google Drive and Calendar and is designed to provide a central point for all assignments and associated files.
Blackboard is a similar but more expansive service for higher education organisations, keeping reading material, homework and extra materials all in one easy to track digital location. It also provides the option for online collaborative learning and a communications solution for things like emergency updates and notifications.
For lesson planning and management, these practical developments have been a huge help for teachers. But the enormous range of digital learning material created by experts has also been a big boost to the learning experience itself. Software, games and even video and reading material is all now available digitally, helping teachers deliver an extra level of engagement and interest. Speaking of which …
Children now play games and use mobile devices on a near-daily basis. There are certainly some downsides to this, but on the plus side it means this generation is more in tune with technology than any before. Young people are so used to playing games on their smartphones and other personal devices that it’s second nature to introduce them to an educational game at school.
Education touchscreens allow teachers to capitalise on this with app stores offering all sorts of learning material. Much of this is particularly useful for younger classes, with basic maths and motor skills playing a large part, but other supporting graphics, video and information are available on niche topics for older children too.
They may not be the newest kid on the block, but online courses are another very popular and successful means of teaching lessons. Educators can make use of many affiliated options to help move their class forward, including the BBC’s highly impressive Bitesize courses, which run from KS1 to GCSE and beyond.
These resources have been around for some time, but improvements in the technology available to deliver these materials have made them increasingly well used.
While some people are trying to perfect the art of delivering an engaging education environment in the classroom, others are pioneering distance learning.
Distance learning is growing in popularity across schools and universities, as technology makes the world a smaller place. Advancements in video conferencing technology have made it possible to deliver the high quality images and impressive audio needed to provide an effective learning experience outside the classroom.
It’s more common in higher education as university networks host lectures and stream them live. But in remote areas, schools are looking into this approach with their classes too in a bid to share resources and information.
Finally, textbooks may have been king of the classroom, but now there’s a new royal in town thanks to the growth of eBooks. We’re used to reading fiction and our own books on our Kindles now, but eBooks are making a move into the classroom environment too with more and more material being provided in in digital format.
For schools, this is a trend worth embracing. To start with there’s the reduced impact on the environment and an increase in cost efficiency if you’re careful with managing your licenses. Then there’s the impact on learning itself. Pupils can annotate and highlight their work as they read through, even sharing what they’re noting with teachers and other pupils.
If you’d like to find out more about how education technology can help transform your school please call 0800 073 0834 or send us a message.