7 Educational Technology Concepts Every Teacher Should Know About

Since the Information Era began some decades ago, it has dramatically changed the way we educate our children. We live in a world of rapid change and the resemblance to yesterday is fleeting. Above all, communication has changed, and an enormous variety of information is now accessible to almost everyone at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger.

We have seen a lot of advancement in education technology designed for the classroom, and to be effective, teachers need to stay abreast of these new technologies and concepts. The summer is the perfect time for teachers to receive retooling in the area of education and several innovations and concepts are available to help teachers familiarize themselves with important concepts.

Here, I will discuss ten education technologies and concepts that every teacher should know about:

1. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): As a kind of movement within education, BYOD has already gained momentum in many districts across the country. In places like Chesapeake Public Schools, students are allowed to use privately owned electronic devices to access the wireless network on the school system’s filtered Internet. In Chesapeake, as in the other public and private schools where BYOD policies exist, students must sign a responsibility form that says they will only use the mobile device for academic enrichment while on school property. Students who bring their own devices into the classroom eliminate the initial costs and are also already comfortable with the technology. The downside is that not all students can readily afford such technology. Many must look for schools to develop technology financial assistance programs for families to help offset the full cost and maintenance of school-owned devices.

2. Customized learning experiences. Self-directed learning experiences are based upon the needs of individual students. The traditional way to look at learning is via the creation and assignment of work by teachers in a one-size-fits-all approach for every classroom. Customized learning, however, allows students to direct focus on feedback techniques that provide strategies for improvement during the process, instead of waiting for a given test period see if the methods are working. 

The idea of personalized learning is often met with hostility, especially as teachers must relinquish some classroom control for this trend to really work. On the flip side, though, customized learning has the potential to incorporate a variety of resources, such as virtual learning, to aid in the learning process while allowing teachers to moderate one-on-one learning experiences in practical ways. I think that the idea of handing control to students is frightening to some educators and administrators but once attempted, even on a small scale, it is easy to see the benefits of personalized learning.

3. Online learning. Virtual learning is certainly not new to the K-12 scene, but its increasing popularity is difficult to ignore. Once, only the world of distant learning embraced the process of online learning. Today, though, online learning is increasingly part of more traditional learning experiences. It is no longer all or nothing. Distance learning has become mainstream and will continue to transform in-classroom learning. Virtual learning also makes it possible for parents, teachers and students to have access to information they may need regardless of their actual physical location. In essence, it expands the classroom and gives students more time and space to complete and comprehend their lesson.

4.Virtual Laboratories. Virtual laboratories are popping up in school districts and online learning curricula across the country and making it easier and less expensive for students to do experiments remotely. Perhaps the most often cited benefit of any online learning is convenience. The same is true of virtual laboratories if the experiments are on the student’s own time. In some cases, a virtual lab may be used during regular class time but still, in such instances, there is flexibility for the teacher who is not limited by using resources within a strict timeframe.

Another benefit of virtual laboratories is instant feedback. Students can redo experiments on the spot if needed. All the results are recorded automatically, making communication between teachers and students more efficient too. Experiments no longer have a “one chance” option and students can analyze what went wrong immediately and critically. There is a fee associated with using virtual labs, but the capital and maintenance costs are drastically reduced. Instead of one school footing the bill for resources, the cost is split among the clients of the particular virtual lab. This allows schools to provide a better learning experience for students at a fraction of the cost.

5. Autism and iPads. Depending who you ask, the iPad has varying effects on children with autism – but most parents and teachers would say that the device has made in-roads in their students’ attitude towards learning. Experts at Apple say that iPads “cure” sensory overload and give autistic children control, along with opportunities for effective communication. Using less extreme language, researchers at Vanderbilt University say that speech-generating devices, like iPads, can encourage late-speaking children with autism spectrum disorders to speak. In other words, the basic technology that is readily available in classrooms and many households may also support learning initiatives for children with a specific disorder that impact traditional learning.

6. Online Tutoring. The supplemental education services industry is expected to make over $10 billion per year annually in North America by 2017, and it’s no wonder. As students face higher pressures in classrooms, companies like Sylvan and Kumon make millions every year by encouraging parents to bring in their students and pay a premium fee to have them tutored one-on-one.

However, tutoring outside school hours is inconvenient for both parents and students who already have tight schedules. After a day in school, kids are not keen to head back into a traditional learning environment, which can mean a lot of extra tension between parents and kids that surrounds an already-anxious experience.

But what if the same flexibility that is afforded to regular K-12 and college classes was extended to tutoring too? Of course, many online tutoring options are already available but as an industry, online tutoring lacks the sophistication of the larger-scale academic offerings. As demand for this form of flexible learning rises, though, tutoring in remote ways will see a spike in popularity and availability.

Students are already native online learners and virtual tutoring could open the doors for a lot of breakthroughs – and at a greater convenience and lesser cost to students. These emerging companies just need to look for ways to set themselves apart from the outdated model of in-person tutoring to provide the most help and succeed.

7. Cloud computing. When it comes to greater educational collaboration, cloud computing has unlimited potential. This is true for teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-parent, and teacher-to-student applications. By using a common location, academic expectations can be better accessed, along with actual student work. Instructors can also share learning materials and experiences through the remote opportunities that cloud computing provides.

Simply put, cloud storage saves space, money, and time for teachers, parents, students, and administrators. A report by CDW Government found that over 40 percent of schools use cloud applications to store their data. By 2016, schools are expected to spend 35 percent of IT budgets on the cloud. The savings add up though. Right now, K-12 schools report that their cloud initiatives are saving them an average of 20 percent on IT costs. By 2016, those savings are expected to reach 27 percent.

We are living in the midst of a tremendous upheaval in the fields of technology and communication. There is so much to look forward to when it comes to K-12 classrooms. The seven concepts and technologies that I have discussed will allow educators to better prepare students for the rest of their academic careers and for lifelong success.

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