Class in the Clouds
Technology is everywhere in our world today. Wherever we look, it's in our homes to our workplaces, it is our main connection to the world today. We share our resources with Getaround and Airbnb, market our services and belongings with Craigslist and Uber, and communicate with the rest of the world through social media. The technological era is taking our world by storm, and honestly speaking, we love it.
It's the same way with smartphones nowadays.
Technological advances are what majority of our world looks forward to; it promotes research in every industry and field and most definitely is why we are where we are today. The biggest names in the world come from or affiliate themselves with the tech industry, and people all over the world clamor to find out what is the next big thing. Today's tech industry is advancing at a rate that is almost exhilarating to think of, and I cannot think of a better place to invest this technology in than our schools.
Schools have been integrating technology into their curriculums for a number of years now. But majority of the effort before had been focused on teaching students the basics on how to develop already existing tech. Over the past couple of years, elementary schools have begun to use technology as a tool, rather than a subject of study. Some institutions now supply their students with iPads to use in class and at home. There are many educational apps on Android Play Store and Apple's App Store that are available for free. For example, CK-12 is an application that can be used in companion with their website and also provides students with interactive objects, videos and more, to study and learn with. The app can also allow teachers to keep their kids engaged during classes and to find supplemental material for classes as well. With the assistance of apps and gadgets, teachers can spend less time preparing physical material for their classes and make sure the children don't misplace handouts, and instead, spend more time with them learning their strengths and weaknesses; the advantage of saved time and more resources allow teachers to tailor curriculum to better suit each student.
Just a few days ago, Google launched their Expeditions Pioneer Program, which is offered for free to schools that sign up on the website, with their Cardboard virtual reality headset. Expeditions allow students to take virtual tours to places that would otherwise be near impossible to fund for students to visit, ie. an airplane flying through a storm, or deep diving to the bottom of the ocean. When studying the history of an ancient city, would you rather explore the ruins in virtual reality, or look at images on paper? With this, students are able to be much more involved and willing to learn about otherwise less interesting topics; and all you need is a smartphone.
Technology is definitely going to be more and more integrated into children's learning now and in the future. The advantages that come with using gadgets in the classroom include providing students with more resources and experiences, that would otherwise be only open to a small handful. There are concerns with having children continuously exposed to screens and supposed reduced social interaction; these are worries that all come down to how the children are taught to handle technology. If the social norm is to stare at our phones, tablets and computers all day, children will learn to mimic these actions regardless of whether technology is used in schools' curriculum. The best way, like in all areas of life, is to ensure good balance and make the most out of what we have.