Melissa Lim

Fancy Gadgets – Cool and Useful or Just Cool?

Visioning for the future of education and technology is hard. We talk about getting ahead and then go back to our daily routine involving a lot of reactive approaches to technology. Then we wonder why it doesn’t feel like we’re making forward progress in teaching and learning. Our discussion on October 15 was about innovation in devices. Of course, the conversation always bleeds into how we shift teaching and learning and what needs we have in relation to hardware and apps. Here’s a quick summary.

As we modernize buildings and plan for future structures conversations ensue about equipping classrooms with the things teachers will need today and tomorrow.

Mobile Devices  Apps and devices that reflect an image from a tablet are what everyone seems to be looking for. We are attempting to recommend multi-use devices like tablets through district 1:1 initiatives like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and bonds to supplement current technology. The tail shouldn’t be wagging the dog, though. Discussions about devices need to be lead by curriculum departments. Once instructional initiatives are determined, the right technology can be chosen.

Furniture to Enhance Use of Devices  Arms for holding tablets and stands that encourage them to be used as mobile document cameras are on the market. As a cognitive consumer, the prices are a bit difficult to swallow. I believe in research and development, but it’s difficult to justify such ridiculous markup. We expect prices to come down with a larger variety of stands up and coming. Keep an eye out for innovative solutions. It might be great to kick ideas around in our high school engineering classrooms. I bet they could build us something brilliant.

Mobile Device Management  These solutions are advancing quickly. Prices and functionality run the gamut. If your networking and sys admin folks like to lock things down, these solutions can do that. Apps and different content filters have challenged thinking around the best ways to deliver quality content and waste the least amount of instructional time. The answer seems to be to open as many resources as possible and teach educators about how networks operate. Many of us don’t have context for these shared online spaces so we can’t teach kids about bandwidth and server space. Education is the key.

Peripherals  Projectors, amplification systems, and other enhancing hardware may be a thing of the past when school becomes a student-centered place where kids come to collaborate with peers and get extra help. For now, these types of hardware should be used to scaffold learning as we shift teaching from stand-and-deliver to inquiry-based.

Digital Content Our curriculum departments, parent communities, and administrators are all thinking about the future of textbooks. Open resources are being used more broadly. Our group hopes the conversations around curating and aggregating resources to be used by students leads to students collaboratively creating their own resources. Assessment isn’t in the final product, but in the process for learning new content through production. As we adopt new devices, the future of content needs to be noted. Again, the tail shouldn’t wag the curricular dog. Teaching and learning as a new process needs to be recognized.

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