Edtech is a burgeoning field that is changing the face of education. Let’s face it, the traditional classroom is either too old-fashioned or too static an environment. Edtech takes the classroom to the next level.
Technology enables business in any environment. Now, it is more and more responsible for improving education as well.
Learning can be interactive and fun, and the Edtech sector is working hard to make that a reality in the interconnectivity of Industry 4.0.
Interactive learning stays with students by giving them new tools to help them solve the problems in their lives that they also see as new. To paraphrase Joan Didion, one of the greatest things about being a child is believing that nothing that happens in one’s life has ever happened to anyone else. Just as technology is rapidly advancing into a world of unknowns, youth will have to take ownership of unique challenges and solutions in the next generation of learning.#Millenials are familiar w/ a teacher-directed, #sitandget educational model.Click To Tweet
For those of us born before the turn of the millennium, we are familiar with a teacher-directed, ‘sit and get‘ educational model. Students come to class prepared, they sit down, and the teacher directs them to what they need to learn that day.
The problem with ‘sit and get’ teaching is that it isn’t particularly useful in today’s atmosphere of mobile devices and low attention spans.
Research suggests that traditional teaching methods don’t add to the knowledge base of students because they rely on the teacher for learning instead of their problem-solving ability. Simply put, teachers learn more from the classroom than their students, while everyone else is bored to tears.
New Edtech teaching methods are student-centered, putting knowledge at their fingertips and asking them to reach for it. The idea isn’t new, but modern technology is making it more possible to implement.
Why Non-Traditional Education is Important
Cooperative and collaborative learning put the onus on the student. Institutions fail at teaching when they don’t aim at student’s problem-solving skills, and the best way to practice those skills is to put the learning in their hands. Don’t let that make you think that teachers don’t need to be as responsible as ever.
Institutions often try to push non-traditional modes of teaching, but their efforts are wasted on older teachers that are unwilling to re-learn their profession.
I know this from personal experience in the field of instruction. Often, new programs are met with lackluster participation. The programs fail despite having objective merit.
Faculties need more training. Yet, take a survey of any school district in the U.S., and you’ll find that training is a regular occurrence.
Ironically, non-traditional methods should appeal to those teachers because they make an educator’s life easier.
For example, imagine you have to teach the same lesson to six different classes. You can use technologies like screencast to record the lesson, and instead of performing the same lecture six times in a day, you merely allow students to use their devices to access the lesson while you facilitate the next step in the students’ learning.
The Best Tools for Non-Traditional Education
Edtech is a burgeoning sector, and the gaps left by non-traditional education are quickly being filled by aspiring startups that introduce interesting new methods of learning.
Online tools such as learning management systems (LMS) give educators a hub where they can create great interactive learning content and lessons for their class.
Websites like Schoology enable interactive learning quizzes and file storage that essentially place the classroom on a mobile device. In my experience, Schoology is a life-saver for teachers that want to minimize the use of paper in their classroom, since everything can be done within the site. Discussion boards, digital turn-in boxes, and helpful links can be organized for every class. You’d never have to worry about a student forgetting their books.
Another excellent tool is ePals. ePals takes things to another level by enabling students to pair up with peers around the world to participate in teacher-made projects.
While Schoology allows students to reach their class, ePals allows the class to reach out to other classes around the world. That kind of learning platform promotes meaningful learning by allowing students to collaborate with others worldwide, which can provide a safe, immersive learning environment.
Reading every day is essential for any student, and ebooks are becoming as ubiquitous as their print-based ancestors. In comes BookScanner Pro, an app that lets students capture printed books electronically so that they can be read and referenced later, making a single trip to the library that much more meaningful because students get to keep a form of the books they want to check out.
Tools are nifty, but what really gets students going is when they get to learn by playing a game.
Games Make Learning Fun
Gamification is a proven strategy to improve productivity.
If you strip a game down to its fundamentals, you’ll find that the enjoyment factor of a game is part of a learning process. As people solve problems, they progress through the game, providing satisfaction and interactive learning in equal measure.
Apps such as Quizlet and Kahoot! are big hits in the classroom, and they are easy for educators to utilize. The apps provide simple review quizzes, but their presentation style makes those quizzes interesting and fun.
What’s more, it is simple for teachers to set up. Just use your typical questions and a projector, and the whole class can join in on their mobile devices. Games often get loud and competitive, with students achieving scores based on correct answers and the time required to lock them in. In my experience, that kind of friendly competition would cause students to do better on tests and essays.
The days where we would play Kahoot! were the easiest and most fun days for everyone.
Games don’t have to be as complicated as a quiz, however. Simple puzzle games can augment learning, such as Hexa Dots, where players have to move four dots of the same color in a line to make them disappear.
As the player progresses through Hexa Dots, the game gets more complicated. Players have to eliminate obstacles in as few moves as possible or else their path will be blocked. It may seem like fun, but it teaches critical organization skills and sharpens the mind for higher pursuits in mathematics.
The Future of Interactive Learning is VR
Our last example is still taking form. VR technology can help us learn by teaching students skills that could be dangerous or difficult in practice. For instance, there is no need to stand under a suspended diesel engine to find out how to take it apart when we can simulate that engine in VR and allow students to take apart a weightless hunk of virtual metal.
The addition of spatial awareness to virtual, interactive learning means that almost any kind of hands-on education can be far more practical during training than ever before.
Traditional teaching methods were ideal for older generations, but they won’t work for the youth of today. For that matter, older generations that have adapted to modern times will find the ‘sit and get’ method of learning outdated. For that, we look to the edtech sector to change the dynamics of the classroom.