Today the line is blurred between the definitions of academic curriculum and academic technology. Technology is no longer a just a tool, or another topic to learn about that may provide benefit during extracurricular time, but much of the information we learn from and interact with comes to us via technology rather than traditional print mediums.
Here, we'll explore trends related to academic technologies.
• The hardware, mobile devices and other peripheral devices allow learning to be more engaging, visual, and personalized.
• Many curricular materials are available in electronic formats including features that allow collaboration and publishing to real audiences.
• Many states have moved to online tests for progress monitoring, end-of-course assessments, and standardized tests.
• Many states have a transition plan to require electronic textbooks with future textbook adoptions.
• Some states have the requirement to take at least one online course for high school graduation.
Presentation and Interaction - Classrooms today can be equipped with a completely electronic way to present content and for students to participate. Electronic white boards, there are various brands, allow teachers to present information from a multitude of sources and move from one piece of content, or source, to another with a touch of a finder at the board. Teachers and students can move from websites, to documents, to videos or software applications with a touch. This increases time on task and student attention as very little time is used during transitions.
Personal remote systems, again there are many brands, allow students to answer questions or vote on discussion topics using a remote control each student holds. Results can be displayed immediately for further discussions among students or teachers can view the data to analyze what students understand or need support in understanding.
Mobile devices and other peripherals, such as document cameras and video cameras, make learning activities engaging and personalized. Document cameras allow teachers and students to demonstrate materials, print or 3D objects, for the whole class to see. There is often software that allows and image or movie to be captured. Using video cameras allows activities and communication to be documented. Students can demonstrate their skills and knowledge through projects and performances.
Mobile devices offer engaging ways for students to practice skills and continue to work in a variety of settings. More schools are beginning to use mobile devices such as iPads or iPod Touches. The apps available cover every possible subject area and often content can be shared between computers and the mobile devices as syncing between devices and user profile-based services become more advanced.
Curriculum and Electronic Texts - Even before states began requiring publishers to provide online texts, award-winning curricular materials were available as digital products. Many companies provide online applications or downloadable materials schools can subscribe to and use with students. Often these materials allow parents and students to also log on at home. Some states are requiring, with future textbook adoptions, content to be available as electronic texts. There are concerns with accessibility and the interactivity that may or may not available.
Assessments - States are now moving to online assessments for progress monitoring, end-of-course, and statewide-standardized tests. There are pros and cons. Data comes back from online assessments much more quickly than when print-based assessments are graded. Schools sometimes struggle to ensure their infrastructure and equipment is appropriate for meeting the requirements for online assessments.
Digital Education - Virtual Schools have become increasingly popular and many students take some or much of their education through virtual schools. Some states are adding as a requirement for graduation student participation in at least one online course. There is an expectation for students to have technology skills appropriate for college or a future career.
Executive Director of Technology Services