The modern classroom has opted for digital over print, virtual over reality and innovation over tradition. Twenty-first century technology has revolutionized our classrooms, giving educators more teaching tools and students more ways to engage in the learning process. How we teach and learn will never be the same.
Implementation of Tech Tools
iPads and other tablets are now being used in the classroom as a tool to get students excited about learning. In fact, a PewResearch survey found that nearly 45 percent of teachers and students already use tablets in the classroom for assignments. Furthermore, allowing students to have the Internet at their fingertips encourages exploration and research, says the National Math and Science Initiative. Because the learners of today have grown up with computers, tablets and smartphones, letting them use these devices in the classroom is a natural extension.
Choosing E-Books Over Print
Getting students to read has always been a challenge for teachers. Fortunately, with the advent of e-books, reading has become a highly interactive experience. Seen Magazine explains that reluctant readers engage more because they can define, highlight and take notes on the e-book itself. An increase in attention span is just one of the many reasons e-books are becoming popular in the classroom. Digital textbooks and supplemental materials have also made sharing easier for teachers and given the busy student the ability to read when and where he or she wants. Both these benefits streamline the learning process and improve the quality of education.
An Increase in Digital Classrooms
The classroom's evolutionary story wouldn't be complete without mentioning online education. According to a Pearson study, online education in the U.S. has been on a steady increase. And it's no wonder, since online classes often offer more flexibility and involve less financial investment. Penn Foster, for example, is an accredited college that offers online programs for in-demand industries; the flexibility this school provides -- as well as 24/7 access to its online community -- makes it ideal for the "always on" digital environment.
Virtual Role-Playing and Simulation Learning
PBS says that "epismetic games are the future of learning" because they allow students to think like professionals. These computer games focus heavily on role-playing and involve critical thinking, innovate problem solving and real-world scenarios. These games break the mold of rote memorization and lectures and get students excited, once again, about learning. Epismetic gaming also improves many skills employers look for in college graduates. For instance, in the game "Urban Science," students play the role of planning interns whom must redevelop a pedestrian mall in Wisconsin. This game helps students strengthen their decision-making skills and justify their choices based on an in-game budget. Knowing how to make monetary decisions is a skill employers are always actively seeking.
More Multimedia Interaction
Teaching difficult concepts through the use of multimedia has turned the classroom into an organic learning space. Computer technology now allows animations, images and sounds to be added to lectures, promoting student interaction and engagement. Additionally, encouraging students to communicate an idea to their peers through technology reinforces recently acquired knowledge and allows for deeper learning. Poster presentations have become outdated now that multimedia projects can take the form of digital comics, podcasts or even a mini-documentary.