Remember the days of chalkboards and banging erasers for the teacher while in elementary school? These days, modern technology has invaded society, as well as the local school districts. GPS (Global Positioning System), smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers have all contributed to the world’s insatiable thirst for knowledge through surfing the Internet. No longer do students need to flip through an outdated encyclopedia; they simply search a keyword through an Internet search engine. Information is up-to-date and practically endless. What are some key technologies that are revolutionizing the classroom? Let’s take a look.
This technology is a hybrid of a common laptop computer and a small smartphone; the flat screen is usually about 5 or 6 inches tall to make text easier to read. Tablets can be used as book readers. For younger children, the tablet can be programmed to “read” a book. The book’s pages will appear on the screen, normally including both the text and illustrations. As the story is read out loud by the tablet, the text will be highlighted each time a word is pronounced so children see the relation between the word’s sound and written shape.
Older students benefit from tablets as well; teachers can install almost any book into the tablet for a group study. Whether it is a novel, short story, or even a textbook chapter, students can read and follow along as the teacher analyzes the particular text. Interactive portions are available as well, such as multiple choice and true/false questions.
Smartphone and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) are normally used by the teacher, rather than the students, since they are relatively small. Gone are the days that teachers kept an essential paper ledger of all the students’ progress during a school year. Handheld electronics allow teachers to keep grades organized and the teaching day on schedule. They can also function as a graphing calculator for higher grade levels; a teacher can automatically show a graph on the PDA as a teaching demonstration.
Interactive White Boards
Basic whiteboards replaced the common chalkboards years ago, but current technology in the classroom has brought in the revolution of the interactive white board. This seemingly passive board connects directly to the classroom’s computer and projection system; a teaching program from the computer is projected onto the white board. Students can write or translate on the boards, based on the image projected there. The images and text from the computer can be saved for future reference. Teachers can even record a lecture and teaching program onto the computer for projection across the board at a later date.
GPS devices allow students to learn about the world around them, including coordinates, longitude, and latitude. Remember learning about the lines on the globe or on a printed paper? Now children can play “hide and seek” with a GPS device. Students are given a GPS unit to find a hidden object. By applying the knowledge of coordinates, students can find a treasure while learning and having fun at the same time.
As technology continues to evolve, more classroom enhancements will be available. The key to integrating these devices is training; both the teacher and students need to be well versed in using each electronic. In the end, the teacher and students will benefit with a well rounded education.