From kindergartners to high school seniors, American students are growing up in a world defined by the internet. While Millennials (people born between 1980 and 1994) probably have distant memories of cassette tapes, VCRs, and the thrill of dial-up, the generation that followed—Generation Z—has no experience of life without the internet.
The internet has come with important advantages; unprecedented access to information, new ways of connecting and communicating, and creative opportunities when it comes to teaching and learning. However, it has also brought certain dangers, like cyberbullying, or access to inappropriate or pornographic content.
The risks can make it tempting to stay behind in the “good old days,” but like it or not, students will be swept up in the technological currents, and the best schools can do is help them navigate it safely.
To ensure your students succeed in the modern world, it’s critical to keep your classrooms up-to-date so their teachers can help them learn how to use technology, including the internet, with guidance and protection.
Here are a few ideas that you should consider equipping the classrooms in your district with, to ensure you’re staying up-to-date in this modern world.
Laptops or tablets—implementing 1:1
A laptop for every student (1:1) might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it turns out schools that provide a laptop or tablet to every student actually see increased student achievement. In one of the first studies to look at the results of going 1:1, researchers saw improved test scores on everything from English to math to science. They even saw an improvement in relationships between students and teachers.
Most students are already using these devices at home. By investing in them for the classroom, you can engage students using tools they already know. Plus, they can be used for a wide range of lessons, adapt to individual students’ needs, and provide opportunities for collaborative work. They also offer ways to monitor and control what students are accessing and to track and monitor their usage, which can be useful for identifying trends and behaviors.
While chalkboards have their charms, Smart Boards are quickly becoming the tool of choice for many teachers. Smart Boards—interactive touch screens—allow teachers an easily navigable way to accommodate a range of different learning styles and engage their classes.
Some specific benefits of Smart Boards include:
- They’re efficient—multiple students can use them at once
- They’re low maintenance—no chalk and no pens means lower costs, and they’re easy to keep clean
- They’re environmentally friendly—they reduce the need for paper
- They support technology integration—computers, cameras, microphones, and more can all connect to Smart Boards
Screen visibility & monitoring
From doodling in their notebooks to playing solitaire, students are notorious for finding ways to distract themselves. So, with the increasing popularity of laptops and tablets in classrooms, it’s likely your teachers are wondering why they should integrate tech that might just lead to more distractions.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there to help combat classroom distractions. Screen visibility and classroom content control are two of the most important options. Screen visibility allows teachers to keep an eye on what each student is doing on their computer. Classroom control allows them to identify, interrupt, and redirect off-task behavior back to the lesson. Integrating these two technologies can go a long way towards helping teachers feel more comfortable with other new technologies.
No longer a futuristic dream, virtual reality (VR) is a reality today. It’s not just for video games, either. Why fight something students are naturally drawn to if it can be harnessed to help teachers with their lessons?
A good example of VR in the classroom in action is the program Expeditions. It allows teachers to bring students on virtual field trips; a cost-effective, safe, and engaging way to enrich the student learning experience.
Modern Web Filters
There’s one common factor behind all of these other technologies—the internet. If your goal is an up-to-date classroom with modern tech, you’ll need an up-to-date web filter to support it all.
The web filters used by many districts are out of date. Not only do some have gaps allowing dangerous content to slip through, today’s filters often limit the control only at the district level. Their catch-all filters block websites or content that might actually be useful for teachers in the classroom. Modern web filters, like Linewize, allow more customization: IT admins maintain CIPA control at the district level, while passing the control of everyday curriculum decisions to teachers at the classroom level. This provides the potential to reduce the workload on both ends.
Whether you’re looking to ensure your students are learning in a modern way, reduce the workload of the IT department and teachers, or allow for more personalized lessons that accommodate diverse students, there is the technology that can help. Keeping your classrooms up-to-date can ensure your district is ahead of the curve in countless ways.