Embracing Technology in the Classroom

shutterstock 72615370 reduced 1024x682 Embracing Technology in the ClassroomLast night, as I was watching a movie, I found myself referring to “the VHS player.” Even though I made the switch to DVDs years ago and haven’t had a VHS player in years, not to mention the movie was actually being played on the Blu-ray player.

Later in the evening I found myself in a discussion of the merits of records vs. CDs vs. MP3s/digital copies. Personally, I only have digital copies of all my music. It wasn’t that long ago that I had shelves full of all the CDs I had ever bought, but I never listened to any of them. So I made the decision to get rid of all my physical CDs in order to save space. After converting my music collection into digital format, I find myself listening to all my old music more often. So not only was I able to free up some space, I am actually utilizing what I have.

All this change in how music and movies are sold got me thinking about how much technology has changed in the last few years.

When I started college, laptops were the greatest thing. You could take them anywhere you needed to go – class, group meetings, or even home for the weekend. Of course their weight meant that they were typically nothing more than glorified desktops. Only the most studious ever brought them to class for note taking and impromptu meetings often involved finding our way to the nearest computer lab to use the computers provided by the school.

However, my cousin, who just started college, now has a tablet. And she takes it with her everywhere she goes. She takes notes on it in class, uses it to look up information whenever she thinks of it and even does her homework on it. Other than typing essays, I don’t think she ever uses her laptop, and I’m not sure she even uses it for that. The tablet has become for students what the laptop was intended to be.

One thing all of these developments have in common is a reduction in size. With each new version of technology, the goal is to make it smaller, lighter and easier to use.

Whether you pine for the days of records and room sized computers or eagerly await the next release of the latest and greatest, there is no escaping the changing world around you. As technology changes, we can either keep up with it or be left behind in the dust.

While often slow to adopt new technologies, many schools are starting to see the wisdom of embracing the tools students are using outside of the classroom. Did you know that when the iPad was first released, a few colleges across the country actually banned it from being used on campus? As you can guess, this ban was quickly removed as more students adopted the tablets and schools began seeing how useful they can be.

Since the iPad was announced two and a half years ago, over 130 schools, school districts, and colleges/universities have adopted it and other tablets, many of them providing the tablets to students. With the current push towards digital textbooks, schools are turning towards tablets as a way of providing their students access to quality resources.

However, with all the new devices around campus, schools need a way to manage content delivered to student devices. The MediaCAST Mobile Learning Content Manager allows teachers to easily distribute digital materials (including etextbooks) to an entire class. Perhaps even more importantly, the iPad App guarantees materials are returned once students no longer need them, thus ensuring the materials are available for the next group of students.

For those schools that have yet to embrace technology, it is important to know that many of today’s students would rather lose their sense of smell than their mobile device. Students are growing up with mobile devices; they encounter them everywhere they go – except in school. It is time more schools become forward thinkers and embrace mobile devices. For schools that cannot provide every student with their own device, there are options – BYOD programs, carts that travel around the school or having students share devices.  Instead of requiring students to ignore the tools they know, it is time for schools to embrace them.

Does your school use mobile devices? Do you wish they would?

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