Do you realize that without technology, imparting education in this pandemic would be an impossible thing to do? The more advanced your educational technology software is, the more convenient it will be to teach your students remotely.
The relation between technology and education is very unique. Today, the two actually cannot exist without each other. That’s because without education, you cannot understand or develop technology. At the same time, without technology, you possibly cannot impart education to students, especially during times when going to school has become a risk for your health.
Even when you’re teaching in a real classroom, gone are the days when all you used were blackboards and textbooks to complete your syllabus. The internet has allowed us to go beyond the bookish knowledge and get practical with learning. With the help of 3D educational videos and activities that you can design on software, you can help students learn in a much better way.
What is Education Technology?
Also known as EdTech, education technology refers to the combination of hardware and software that helps you teach students in a more practical style. Students tend to remember what they learnt in a better way when through visuals and activities. Here’s what EdTech allows you to do:
- Demonstrate through pictures, videos and presentations
- Design activities and games that can enable practical learning
- Facilitates remote learning
- Promotes collaborative or social learning
- Helps teachers maintain a more detailed record of students and their performances
The Role of ICT in Teaching
Information and communication technology have a key role in making distance learning possible. At the same time, it has introduced new methods of learning in the classroom too. With the help of interactive software, students can learn things in a more practical manner – one that allows them to register what they learn better than merely listening to lectures.
Basically, ICT comprises of a set of learning software and a hardware device through which kids can learn. For distance learning, you would need a laptop or a tablet. On the other hand, for using technology in the classroom, interactive smart boards prove to be useful. The software allows you to organize learning activities, show demonstrating videos and make presentations.
Briefly, here’s how we apply ICT in teaching:
- Interactive white boards in classrooms allow to display images, videos and make your notes while presenting in class.
- Using e-readers that are portable and hold plenty of books that students can read from.
- Tablets or laptops installed with reasonably-priced or free learning software. These enable interactive distance learning with a practical approach to all subjects. The same can be used within the classroom too.
- Laptops installed with educational management software that helps teachers track and maintain students’ records in detail. In short, it allows teachers to improve the method of student evaluation.
Using Instructional Technology for EdTech
The term “instructional technology” is more specific towards creating learning resources – mostly software and perhaps some hardware that enables us to learn with the help of technology. To be precise, it is the tool used for implementing education technology.
The purpose of instructional technology is to make learning more engaging and interactive for students. Several software and websites enable you to do so. Here are some examples:
- Apps like Google Drive help you share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and many other files.
- Zoom has become a popular app for most institutions that enable live online classes. The feature of screen sharing and interactive whiteboard further enhances teachers to implement innovative techniques.
- Games like Minecraft, World of Warcraft and Economics-games are useful for teaching in a fun way.
- Education City is a software that enables interactive distance learning. You can create assessments here, analyze data for every student and track their progress.
- Google Cloud provides free learning modules, online courses, labs and other training materials to teachers for online education.
- Even Facebook and Twitter are now being used as means of learning for students by creating groups on these platforms.
What is a Smart Classroom?
If you want to implement education technology in your institute, your classrooms need to have some equipment. That’s precisely what a smart classroom is – one where you can impart interactive learning with the help of instructional technology.
Here’s what it usually comprises of at the most basic level:
- An interactive whiteboard or smart board
- A projector
- Learning software installed in the device
- Internet connection
When projectors were initially introduced in classrooms, they were mostly used for making presentations and showing videos. For that, a regular screen can also suffice. However, a smart board helps you do a lot more than that. For example:
- Use the markers to highlight something important
- Save notes, take screenshots and record an entire lecture
- Use interactive learning software for teaching and assessing students
- Allow students to share their own elements and resources to enhance learning
- Download and use interactive flip charts, images, videos and games for fun learning
Equipment Needed to Create a Smart Classroom
As we discussed earlier, a smart classroom mainly consists of an interactive whiteboard or smart board along with a projector and a computer. If the classroom is really big in size, you’ll be needing a microphone too. If you have more space, you can even add a podium. A smart podium would in fact be more convenient here than having a separate laptop and a podium.
Check some of them out:
Smart Boards for Classrooms
For starters, you need to replace that blackboard or green board with a smart board – one that can be used as a traditional whiteboard, a screen as well as an interactive board. Check out some of these:
Equipped with surface light wave touch technology, this interactive board has a refresh rate of 200 frames per second. Having a high touch resolution, it has 10 simultaneous touch points recognition. You can write with your fingers and erase using your palm!
Dimensions: 159 x 120 x 4 cm
Record each and every one of your classes using this interactive board’s voice and text recognition. Equipped with infrared sensor technology, it has a 10-point touch, supporting annotations and editing of files.
Dimensions: 165.7 x 13 x 128.6 cm
Without a projector, your whiteboard can’t be smart. It’ll be just a traditional board where you could only write with markers. To display your presentations, graphics and videos, you’ll be needing your projector and computer. Only then does your smart board become an interactive screen. Here are 2 good projectors you can check out:
Providing a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 4:3/16:9, the projector provides you with a crystal-clear view of your graphics along with theater-level sound quality. It has an LED lamp that uses less energy and lasts or approximately 50,000 hours. Your investment behind a smart classroom will be totally worth it if you combine it with an interactive whiteboard of a good quality.
Designed especially for a smart classroom, this projector works with finger touch and in fact has 16 touch points. Compatible with all Windows OS devices, this projector helps in providing an HD view on the smartboard along with absolute clarity of sound.
Computers, Laptops and Tablets
It’s more convenient for every classroom to have a computer than for a teacher to carry her laptop or tablet to every classroom. Isn’t it? For this reason, we’ll help you check out some computers for schools – those that come with a good deal. Check it out:
The best part about this desktop is that the CPU is pretty tiny – which takes up a lot lesser space. At the same time, you’re getting 8 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD and preinstalled Windows 10 Pro with MS Office 360. The mouse and keyboard are wireless too, which makes your setup super convenient.
If you have a podium in class, the best type of computer you can have is a foldable laptop that has a touchscreen. That way you can use it as a laptop or a tablet – at your convenience. This Chromebook by HP has a 12-inch HD display, 4 GB DDR4 RAM, 64 GB eMMC storage, an HD camera and an inbuilt microphone.
If you think you’ll never need a keyboard for any of the subjects, then having a tablet is cheaper and more convenient. You could place it on the podium or hold it in your hands with ease while you’re presenting to your class. You’ll be getting this one with 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal memory and a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels.
Tablet Holders, Laptop Stands and Podiums
If your classroom is big enough, then having a podium can actually help you with making a better presentation. However, if you don’t have that kind of space, you can opt for a tablet holder or laptop stand – depending on the device you’re using. This helps you operate your device with ease while you’re standing and teaching.
Check these out:
Having a sleek and elegant design, this podium will take the least possible space in your classroom, making it a perfect purchase. It is durable, easy to setup and spacious enough to keep a laptop or a tablet. Moreover, it’s one of the cheapest ones in the market too.
The height adjustable laptop stand takes even lesser space in the classroom and can actually prove to be more convenient if there are multiple users. Since you’re getting 2 shelves, you can actually use one to place the laptop or tablet and the other one to place the projector.
If your table is all you have to place your device, it’s best to have a tablet along with this holder. This will save you both space and money, as you’re getting a sturdy and flexible stand you can place on the table. The stand is flexible enough to hold both tablets and smartphones securely, while you can rotate 360ᵒ as per your convenience.
Now that’s something you need only if your computer doesn’t have an inbuilt microphone or if your classroom is way too big. It helps in making our class recordings clearer and be loud to the last bench of the class too. Here are some that you can place on the stand or just wear it:
Superlux Dynamic Gooseneck Flexible Table Top Conference Podium Microphone Mic PRA618 L-18″ Inches Microphone
If you’re getting a podium or laptop stand, then might as well have a mike that you can place on it too. This one will hardly take up any space and will be extremely convenient to use when you’re teaching a big class. You can install it easily and adjust it according to your height when you want to speak.
This is the easiest to use microphone as all you have to do is clip it to your shirt and speak. Its noise cancellation feature will make your class recording super-clear and all you have to d to connect it is plugging the jack in your laptop or tablet.
Want to look cooler? Then check out this wireless headset microphone. It comes with a receiver that you need to plug into your laptop or tablet and then you just start speaking. You can fulfill both purposes of reaching out in a large classroom and recording lectures that are free of disturbances.
We discussed a combination of equipment that you need for a smart classroom. If you have that kind of space and budget, here’s a more convenient option – a smart podium. A podium that comes with an inbuilt tablet and a microphone, making things easier for you when you wish to connect it to your smart board. They’re surely expensive, but something worth considering:
You can consider using this as your desk as well as a podium. It comes with a 19” interactive monitor, a microphone and a speaker. All you have to do is connect it to the smart board to set it up, which will hardly take a minute of your time.
This one comes with a better height if you always prefer standing. Moreover, you’ll also get a 21.5” monitor, a wireless mike and a 200-watts amplifier. It’s ideal for bigger classrooms as well as auditoriums in the institute to address a larger audience.
Applications of Educational Technology in Various Institutes
We’ve seen different ways in which we can impart EdTech in your institute. Now, let’s check out some examples on how different types of institutes around the world are already using it to teach students. From Montessori schools to technology colleges like a radiologic technologist school or surgical technologist schools, every kind of institute applies EdTech for teaching in some or the other way.
- Replacing text books with e-books using digital readers and tablets.
- Showing demonstration videos, 3D graphics and presentations using projectors and smart boards.
- Using learning management software that helps teachers keep track of students’ progress in greater detail.
- Organizing activities, fun games and assessments on various EdTech apps that encourage interactive, practical and collaborative learning.
- Using 3D printers in class for making and understanding objects.
- Sharing reading material, worksheets, assignments and syllabus on a cloud storage platform.
- Using AR and VR technology for virtual tours.
- Conducting live online classes through video chatting apps like Skype and Zoom.
Online Schools and Digital Classrooms
As EdTech was introduced to the world, so were online schools and digital classrooms. This is because digital content can be shared and viewed from anywhere you want. The student only needs access to the course material – which can be made available through email or a cloud sharing platform.
A digital classroom is one that doesn’t have a physical existence. It is made entirely on a virtual platform, where students, teachers and the course material are all present. This virtual platform – which is usually a website or an app, from where you access virtual classes is an online school.
Plenty of institutes have been rolling out their courses online to increase opportunities for students. Since there are no restrictions on the number of seats and fees can be reduced to nearly half the amount, they’ve been working well for plenty of students. Usually, those who wish to work along with their studies also prefer taking up online courses as you get flexibility of time.
During the time of the pandemic, plenty of institutes around the globe have been operating online only. Students are using their laptops, tablets or mobile phones to attend classes on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. Course materials are usually shared through EdTech apps and software, email, WhatsApp or other cloud storage platforms.
Following are the benefits of studying through an online school:
- Flexible timings
- Practical learning
- Reduced course fee
- Can learn at your own pace
Software Packages for Students
With increased use of EdTech in all kinds of schools and online courses, there are many software companies providing their products at reasonable prices for students. Some of them even have free packages just for students. These include:
Adobe Creative Cloud
This package consists of more than 20 software apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Lightroom and Premiere. Basically, if you’re interested in Multimedia, the adobe creative cloud student pricing is 60% lesser than the actual price.
Office 365 Education
For students, the core Microsoft Office software like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and OneNote are free of cost along with 1 TB storage space in OneDrive.
For multimedia students interested in 3D, Autodesk is providing free licenses for Maya, 3D Max, Revit, AutoCAD and Inventor.
The Pro Bundle by Apple consists of software like Compressor, Logic Pro, Motion, Final Cut Pro and MainStage that are available for a discount of 70% for students.
GitHub Student Developer Pack
For all tech and computer engineering students out there, GitHub is providing free plans as well as discounts on plenty of their software. Some of them include DigitalOcean, Canva, Typeform, Jetbrains, BrowserStack, DataDog and Algolia.
Are You Ready for Introducing Educational Technology to Your Students?
Whether you choose to go online completely or incorporate technology within the boundaries of your classrooms, there will be some investment that you have to make. Institutes in developed countries already look way different as students there don’t use textbooks anymore.
There are plenty of EdTech resources out there that are available even free of cost. All you need to do is start looking into them and train your staff. With time, you can start investing in equipment to change the learning atmosphere in your classrooms.
So, when it comes to the presence of educational technology, where does your institute stand at the moment?