In 1985, ACOT (Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow™) was initiated to find out if readily available technology—computers—can make an impact on the education sector. They collaborated with several school districts and selected the classrooms for the pilot program. Apple provided computers to both teachers and students—one at school and at home—and logged their observation. At that time, the researchers wanted to know if a technology-driven classroom can affect the teaching and learning experience. Although, some experts feared that teachers are “too old for technology” and students will turn into “social isolates,” the experiment itself was a success. Teachers and students learned to collaborate more effectively, and became independent learners and self-starters. ACOT proved that if technology is used properly, both educators and learners can develop a positive orientation for the future.
Thanks to the initiatives of the ACOT project, we’re slowly building better technology-centric schools. In an interview with O2, Ronan Dunne, Telefónica UK’s CEO said that “digital literacy is fast becoming a minimum standard in the same way as English and Maths and UK millennials are in a unique position to capitalize on the opportunities the digital economy presents." With schools adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and 1:1 Technology programs, how can we build a student and tech-centric classroom?
4 Tips To Build A Student and Tech-Centric Classroom
- Understanding the 21st Century Workforce
Most businesses today are requiring their employees to be 21st -ready. However, MathMovesU’s study revealed that only 42% of new graduates were adequately prepared by their schools to join the current workforce. Entrepreneurs believe that students should develop skills like problem-solving, critical-thinking, work ethic, collaboration, and being socially responsible. Aside from these skills, another area of concern is STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math), which poses as a serious challenge for educators. To date, 67% of manufacturing companies are experiencing a shortage of qualified workers, and it may increase within the next 5 years. Several Fortune 500 companies have initiated programs to help train the future workforce. Programs like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and Engineering is Elementary are geared towards encouraging the next generation of innovators to turn the tide. Leaders, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and educators must work together to help train the 21st century workforce.
- Making Education More Personalized
With almost 51% of students using their tablets to search the Internet, educators must be ready for a more personalized approach to teaching. Learning isn’t limited to the school’s academic goals, rather, it should be holistic, and it should be universal. UDLs (Universal Designs for Learning) was designed to meet the needs of every type of student: from the critical-thinkers to the kinesthetic learners. To add a personalized touch to their lessons, some teachers include songs, embedded vocabulary, large prints, or even videos to engage the different types of learners. This also helps teachers connect with students from different cultures. Once they feel that these lessons are relevant to their own culture, they begin to engage and participate in class. As long as the students feel that their teachers are meeting their needs, they will excel and strive to understand what they’re learning in class.
- Adopting the Flipped Classroom Model
Flipping the classroom is an innovative way of teaching and learning. Departing from the traditional vein of teaching, students learn their lessons through videos or social media, and work on their “homework” inside the classroom. Now, teachers can create videos, post them online, and let the students watch them. Then, students come to class, discuss the online lesson, and do their activities in class. This benefits both teachers and students: teachers can focus on creating lessons and focusing on their students, while students learn at their own pace. It also challenges teachers to create innovative content for their students.
- Teach Them to Create & Let Them Innovate
The future workforce is expected to innovate again and again, within a given environment. Now, the challenge for educators is to create an environment which will nurture creativity, innovation, and learning. Although, some experts believe that new technologies can disrupt the learning process, the next generation of workers must be tech-savvy for the digital age. We need to encourage students to create and innovate. Give them the necessary tools, devices, and best practices to foster these skills. On the other hand, teachers should train them to think critically, make complex decisions, and explore radical ideas. This will also help them become confident and tolerant of failure.
The evolving nature of technology requires all teachers to become lifelong learners with the ability to change in order to design and deliver a curriculum that prepares students not only to survive but also thrive in the classroom and in a globalized world.