Technological advancements are changing the way teachers educate their students faster than ever before; opening up whole new dimensions of learning both inside and outside the classroom that were unthinkable just a decade ago. Even dedicated computer labs are becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the availability of portable devices. Technology allows for a sharing of information and pooling of resources that means students can become part of global conversations on all manner of issues. Here are just a few of the latest ground-breaking gizmos that are currently shaking things up for schools.
Although the price bracket for 3D printers puts them out of reach for much of the home-printing market at the moment, many schools will soon be equipping their design and technology departments with them. The printers work from digital models to create three-dimensional solid objects from a variety of materials. Clearly they will have a significant impact on the technology and manufacturing industries, and giving students the skills needed to operate the devices should provide the next generation with a vital head-start.
Projectors have been used in schools for years to help display information clearly on screens and blank walls, but in recent years the technology has advanced to the point that a mini projector is now an essential piece of kit in most classrooms. Being compact, light and sturdy makes them very portable, and prices have dropped to the point that every school can afford a high-performing model. Not to mention they’re compatible with most media devices, so there’s no limit to the type of content that can be shown.
The music industry is constantly evolving, and has seen plenty of innovative and sometimes controversial technology development in recent years. There are all kinds of programs out there which will allow students to edit files: looping sections; using samples; slowing down or speeding up the music. For budding musicians, producers and djs, an introduction to these applications is invaluable. Best of all, some of the programs that come as standard on new computers are actually pretty sophisticated, so a little inspiration will go a long way.
The rise of tablet computing has had interesting ramifications for learning outside the classroom. Since free WiFi is now available in all kinds of places, teachers are able to bring education into the real world much easier. Imagine, for example, an art teacher taking her students around a gallery, and a student notices a piece that intrigues him. He can use his tablet to find out more about the artist and their technique, their other work and where it is displayed, all at the touch of a button. Tablets also allow students to complete assignments wherever they are, a massive time-saver.
The uses to which Geography teachers can put Google Earth are endless. Students can be creating management plans for historic sites or tourism destinations; studying the effects on landscape of mass migration, or plotting suitable destinations for new windfarms. Data is constantly being added and used in different ways, making this possibly one of the most exciting tools for educators of all time.