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4 smart classroom tools that can take teaching to the next level

4 smart classroom tools that can take teaching to the next level

These days, if it’s not showing up on a screen, kids aren’t interested in it. While some adults tried to get adolescents to move away from this behavior, many are now adopting a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude. This is especially the case in schools, where administrators and teachers are realizing that new high-tech gadgets can not only hold students’ attention for longer but can actually improve their ability to learn. So many school districts are deploying educational technology, in fact, that the market for smart classroom devices is experiencing dramatic growth.

According to the report “Education Technology and Smart Classroom Market” published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ed tech market is estimated to be worth nearly $60 billion over the next three years. The market has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent since 2013, with North America poised to be the biggest regional market for the technology. Currently, cloud computing is expected to be the largest platform for smart classroom devices.

“The concept of a smart classroom stems from the incorporation of the latest advancements in the education technology and solutions,” the report stated. “Ed tech engulfs innovations that help educational institutions or universities employ the large amounts of data and interactions across various students engaged in different systems such as Learning Management Systems, Student Information Systems and Student Response Systems. Recently, numerous new tools have been developed which help educators and instructors to keep a track of the progress of the students and advise them when needed.”

With so much new ed tech being created at such a rapid pace, teachers can have a hard time deciding what will be beneficial in their classrooms. Even after a specific device or program has been chosen, cost can often be prohibitive in a school environment, making it difficult for smaller districts to access the same advantages of larger ones. To help sort through all of the noise and find the best tools at the lowest price, we look into four of the most budget-friendly pieces of technology that can benefit classrooms:

1) Document cameras
A budget-friendly device that can help to more actively engage students, document cameras allow teachers to display worksheets on a screen or to individual devices much like an old-school lamination projector. Group exercises and quizzes can be displayed with the camera instead of on individual sheets of paper, helping classrooms become more environmentally friendly as well as technologically savvy.

2) SMART boards
Interactive whiteboards, or SMART boards, offer a benefit similar to that of a document camera, but taken up a notch. Presentations are made more robust and given more depth. When a picture or document is displayed on the board, teachers can write on them with an Internet-connected stylus that provides a trove of additional information to the lesson, such as definitions, extra images or accompanying video. Instructors are also able to archive and share any lesson that has used the board, and past lessons can be revisited to reinforce new topics being covered.

3) Cloud-based communication systems
One of the most beneficial aspects of adding technology into a classroom environment is its ability to broaden the scope of what students are exposed to on a daily basis. With Internet communication services like voice-over-IP and Web conferencing, teachers can arrange for virtual field trips to places they wouldn’t be able to take their classes otherwise. Experts in specific topics can give a talk through Skype and students can collaborate with one another on projects online.

4) Tablets and ebooks
Like laptops and smartphones, tablets and e-readers are becoming increasingly popular with students outside of school. Harnessing familiar technology inside the classroom can help to engage students and help them feel more comfortable with the material since it is being presented in a format they are used to. Providing electronic copies of textbooks also allows students to go into the lesson more in depth, as links to additional material can be provided inside the text. Key concept summaries can also be provided at the end of a section, as well as digital flashcards that cover the lesson plan.

After you deploy, manage
All of these devices can help teachers and schools greatly improve learning experiences for their students, but all of the benefits offered by the technology would be for nothing if it can’t be managed effectively and kept secure. Faronics Insight classroom management software offers teachers a program through which they can not only eliminate classroom distractions, but also limit Web, applications, print, and drives and maintain control over what students are surfing online during class time. Technology is becoming an increasingly vital part of education, so help maximize IT investments with Faronics.

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.