The massive technological advances of the past decade – faster computers, smaller cell phones, cleaner cars – seem to have infiltrated and revolutionized every aspect of our lives. That is, except for education. Still stuck with dusty chalkboards and dried-out Expo markers, education has fallen behind as everything else marches ahead. But a few promising tools have been developed to nudge our classrooms onward and forward into the future. The question is, are our classrooms ready for the push?
The SMART Board, an interactive whiteboard, has already found its way into more than 900,000 classrooms worldwide, according to Texas’ The Katy Times. The SMART Board projects the teacher’s computer screen onto a large surface and responds to the touch of a stylus, much like how a computer responds to the click of a mouse. The touch technology can turn learning into a game, such as allowing students to drag state shapes onto a blank map. One teacher uses it to give her students a virtual tour of Verona when she teaches Shakespeare. Lauded for its ability to capture the attention of restless students, the SMART Board undoubtedly makes a fine addition to any classroom. But each board costs $3,000 to $3,600, and teachers have to be trained to use them. Although a welcome addition, it is a costly one.
The game show-inspired clicker has also sprung up in many classrooms. The University of Texas in Austin uses them regularly for large lab classes, and even handed out 600 of the i>clicker devices to high school honors students to demonstrate the technology, according to THE Journal. The clicker allows students to confidentially click in answers to questions, and the teacher can see in real-time on his or her computer screen what concepts need further explanation if there is a popular incorrect answer clicked in. Even the shyest of students can receive the help he or she needs without having to raise a hand.
In making learning more interactive and inclusive, teachers have found that students are more interested in lessons. Unfortunately, the available technology will not be able to make its way into every American classroom. With low funding for the poorer districts in the nation, many schools can barely afford to install a single computer in each classroom, never mind a $3,000 SMART Board or clickers for every student. Luckily, the technology also shows that students respond to novel new ways of learning lessons. While not every teacher can have the latest in educational technology, he or she can still engage students with interactive and innovative lesson planning.
This post was contributed by Donna Scott, who writes about the online colleges. She welcomes your feedback at DonnaScott9929@yahoo.com
Original image: 'GHCA's Computer Lab Running Gentoo Linux' http://www.flickr.com/photos/27315689@N00/408727666 by: Michael Surran