Education technology is a rapidly growing industry dedicated to improving the way children learn, effectively monitoring student progress and increasing teacher accountability. There has been explosive growth in education technology over the past decade. Perhaps no other field better illustrates the rapidly changing world that we live in. This guide explores some of the emerging trends in learning technologies.
From Software to Web-Embedded Technology
One of the leading trends is web-embedded technology, which allows children to access a particular set of education tools that are constantly updated and improved by the vendor. This is a major revolution in technology, as most computer-based learning tools in the past were software based, requiring expensive upgrades and often becoming obsolete by the time they were put into widespread use. The main benefit of these web-based programs is that vendor staff can constantly monitor how the students use the technology and make real-time improvements to maximize program effectiveness. Look for the programs that are run by educators with their teacher certification program.
One popular web-based program is ASSISTments, which focuses on math education and is created in association with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Carnegie Mellon. This program gives students sets of math problems, helps them through the steps if they have trouble, prompts them to show their work, and encourages the children to think in a logical way as they go about problem solving. The greatest benefit for the teacher is that it gives instant results as to classroom and individual performance, allowing her to use time that otherwise would have been spent grading to help struggling students and encourage thriving students to achieve more.
The University of California, Berkeley has created a similar program for science education called The Web-based Inquiry Science Environment, or WISE.
The iPad is revolutionizing education for millions of children, both in classrooms and at home. The Apple website lists thousands of apps that are being used across all age levels to teach both the fundamentals and the arts.
Top apps for use at home include:
- 3D Brain, which explores all the physical parts of the brain and its inner workings.
- Early Jamestown, which brings America’s first settlers’ experience to life with interactive features, textbook excerpts, videos and more.
- GarageBand, which teaches children about rhythm and counting while letting them make music.
- History: Maps of the World, and
- Frog Dissection, which allows users to virtually encounter the age-old rite of passage that made boys giggle and girls squirm.
Many school districts are incorporating iPads into the classroom. A large market for interactive textbooks has emerged, headed by industry juggernauts Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill, and Pearson. Interactive textbooks allow students to supplement their readings with audio and video that let them hear the sounds and see the pictures of nearly any subject. Apple keeps a comprehensive listing of available textbooks.
Social media is also being implemented in the classroom and at colleges and universities across the world. Teachers use Facebook and Twitter to post supplemental materials, make class announcements, answer questions and take class polls. Following the feeds of politicians and reporters has become a regular component of current events instruction. Writing instructors have also been known to use TwitLit, which confines students to the site’s 140 character limit to write a poem or short story. It’s sort of a pop-culture haiku.
Free On-Line Courses
Many top universities are making single lectures or entire on-line courses available free to the public through the Internet. iTunes has a popular site called iTunes U, which posts video and audio lectures, but the Internet leader in this field is Open Culture. These sites provide course instruction from places like Yale University, MIT, UC Berkeley, Stanford and more. There are a wide array of subjects available from graduate-level courses in science and economics to introductory courses in history, psychology, political science, art history and more. If you can think of a university subject, there is bound to be some content in that field that is available to the public for free.
The Internet has also made it possible to get tutoring for your child anytime, on your schedule, and at your home. There are a wide variety of services available that include everything from video conferencing to interactive exercises, chat support and more.
The Internet has made homeschooling easier than ever before. With between two and three million children being homeschooled each year, this is a sizable demographic with big needs. Numerous services exist to give parents-turned-teacher the resources that they need to ensure their children get a quality, well-rounded education. Industry leader www.homeschool.com is the number one on-line community for this area offering everything from advice articles to accredited online curriculum.
Author info: This is a guest contribution by Kara Taylor. Kara is a professional freelance writer who is pursuing her early childhood education degree at Kendall College in Chicago.