The 2011 report identified six emerging technologies that were going to affect education in a big way. They are cloud computing, mobile technology, gaming, open content (teachers sharing projects with their peers), learning analytics (how to, in effect, tailor make education to fit a student's learning style), and personal learning environments (while not a technology per se, PLEs are a method of teaching and learning that will radically change how we view education). A free copy of their full report is here along with reports for prior years.
I won't address all of these technologies in this post but I do want to mention a couple which we have successfully implemented at TCS. I'll cover the rest in my next post.
The first technology innovation is cloud computing. We have been moving in this direction for a couple of years starting first in the business office and, most recently, in the classroom. Cloud computing is is really the same thing as regular networking but rather than using local resources (hardware and software), those resources are located on the Internet, or "the cloud".
By taking advantage of cloud computing, we no longer need to spend the large sums of money we had to in the past to support the computers we use today. Rather than purchase file servers to store and backup data, that information now lives in the cloud where it can be accessed from virtually any location and from any type of device from a desktop computer to a smartphone. In addition, we are using software that is based in the cloud rather than on our computers.
Here is an interesting article that, while outlining five benefits of cloud computing for businesses, applies to our school as well. If you take a look at Apple's Education website, you'll see that many of the tools they discuss are cloud based. At TCS, from online textbooks, to eBackpack to many other online teaching tools, the cloud has become an important part of the school.
Mobile devices, the second innovation, may be thought of as smartphones and the like, but include, really, any type of technology that does not require you to be in a specific location in order to use it, such as a computer lab, office or desk. We are in our third year of mobile technology and the effect on educating and learning is very exciting. We use virtually every type of mobile device with your children and they seem to love it.
I'll address one more thing in this post and finish the other technologies in the next. Kids love to play games - heck, we all do. Our Spanish teacher, Ms. Stecher, uses the popular game show format, Jeopardy, to teach Spanish to her classes. A year or so ago, our 6th grade history teacher used a game for the iPad called Civilization. Her students learned more about the interdependence of cultures but; more importantly, how the decisions they made affected the progress of the game. Our former Latin teacher, Mr. Winkler, used a game show format similar to the old television show, It's Academic, with his students. These are only a few of our teachers who help make learning fun.
There is another aspect of games that is becoming an important part of education. If you want to develop critical learning skills and higher level thinking, there is nothing like writing your own computer program, especially if it's a game. I know because I did this with students when I taught computer classes. I found it interesting how involved the students were when creating their games and how much they had to use their regular classroom knowledge to successfully finish their creation. The game creation process if fun and engaging for students and you will see even more of this in classrooms in the future.
Next time...more innovations...stay tuned...