Screens and the Classroom
There is a disruptive, seismic shift taking place in the classroom. Literally, the walls around classrooms are being obliterated by modern technology. Due to the nature of this shift, the name given to this form of learning has been wide and varied; disruptive learning, blended learning, assistive learning technology, adaptive learning technology, flipped classroom, blended learning, classroom 2.0, interactive learning, adaptive learning, and the list goes on and on. But the underlying disruptor remains the same, screens. Screens are knocking on the doors of brick and mortar schools, and the level of disruptions are being felt far and wide.
This change is not recent, but the fairly recent widespread use of the internet has really accelerated the rate of adoption, with the mobile web being at the front of this metamorphosis. Many experts are debating whether or not it is healthy to have students sit in front of a screen and essentially learn through a series of algorithms programmed to automatically identify gaps within a student’s learning and adapt to the needs of the learner.
Traditional learning involves a teacher in front of a group of students, while e-learning involves students learning through electronic media. On the other hand blended learning is a combination of traditional face to face instruction and some form of electronic, usually web based, learning through technology that are designed to supplement or enhance what is taking place within the walls of the classroom.
What Forms of Technology Are Involved?
The lay person may be thinking about students fixed on a particular learning technology that has some learning component. However, technology has now advanced to include complex algorithms that are able to predict what a child or learner may need to successfully advance their learning. This form of technology is usually referred to as assistive or adaptive technology. In recent years, technologies such as Dreambox Learning and i-Ready have blossomed on the scene to enhance instruction and fill a need in the market for schools and families who are willing and able to invest in the learning of children. However, the good news is that the cost of the technology is decreasing. With more states adopting the Common Core, more technology companies are now faced with a potentially larger market as the curriculum becomes uniform across the country.
What Do These Technologies Have in Common?
These powerful learning technologies available in classrooms make it easier for teachers to rapidly determine the deficiencies and strengths that students have. With this wealth of information, teachers are able to improve their classroom instruction, assessment and curriculum by effectively utilizing the data provided by such learning software. For example, teachers can effectively diagnose a student’s learning to determine their current level of academic development. After their levels have been determined, teachers and administrators can then obtain data that can increase the effectiveness of the level of differentiated instruction students may need to be successful. Since the passing of the No Child Left Behind Legislation, many schools have been scrambling to develop measures that will allow them to effectively and efficiently identify students that may be at risk of not passing rigorous state-level assessments. Therefore, these technologies will allow schools to better serve the needs of all students by adapting to their level of development. Therefore, students who are high performers may be able to partake in activities that will both challenge and advance them at the same time. Struggling students may benefit from the technology by accurately identifying learning deficiencies that may be impeding their performances.