The digital classroom is already here and every student soon will be provided a device, or so you might think judging by the wealth of solutions presented at BETT, an annual trade show in the United Kingdom that showcases the use of educational technology.
E-learning exhibitors offered hardware (whiteboards and devices), ancillary equipment, software, and services – all aimed at simplifying the move to digital education. Solutions spanned from ICT broadband, cloud and school information systems (LMS), and data security software. Also featured were especially-designed carts to store, sync, and charge multiple tablets.
Content providers, such as BrainPOP and Twig, offered short videos or animations, and other tools to enable teachers to create and distribute their own blended learning content to students. Microsoft introduced its newly acquired Minecraft gaming platform as an adaptive learning tool for educators to engage children to learn complex concepts through collaboration.
Intel presented Education Content Access Point, a portable solution to allow teachers to store, distribute, and access all digital-driven content from any platform or device, which is a practical solution for educational establishments with low connectivity.
Many platform providers are now emphasizing the collection and review of student data in a real-time environment as an essential component to their LMS or information systems for improving learning efficacy and performance outcomes. However, real-time class management is still a challenge for most teachers and some exhibitors offered the old “clickers” or electronic voting systems for a lean real-time class management solution for schools that do not yet have a device for every child.
Mr. John Couch, VP Education at Apple presented the company’s vision for the classroom of tomorrow. “Technology”, he said, “cannot be a substitute for better pedagogy.” According to studies conducted by Apple, the future classroom teaching methodology should emphasize creativity, collaboration and mutually agreed upon goals to positively challenge each student. Another objective is to successfully engage a technologically-savvy generation of kids, so as to ignite their passion for learning. The passive classroom, where the teacher lectures to students, must be recognized as a relic of the past. Indeed some studies found that brain wave activity for kids in a traditional classroom are the same as for kids who are watching TV. To improve brain activity, learning goals must be personalized to fit the student’s individual level.
Couch shared Steve Jobs’ vision for the future of education, by quoting him, “All books and assessments must be digital and interactive, tailored to each student and providing feedback in real time.”
ITunes University now has become an educational publisher, offering 10 thousand public courses and 2 million books. Apple invests in empowering individuals to become educational authors by creating their own learning materials and distributing them on the ITunes platform.