5 Up-and-Coming Technology Trends in the Classroom

Modern technology has forever changed the way education is delivered to college students. Instead of college students taking meticulous notes by hand during lectures, you will find most of them typing away their notes from class on laptops and tablet computers. Those ancient slides you see professors using in older movies have been replaced largely with PowerPoint presentations and sometimes even interactive whiteboards. Not only has technology allowed students to earn a degree entirely from home through online learning technology, but course management systems even accompany most traditional, classroom-based courses, providing supplemental online material to students. Here, we will explore five up-and-coming technology trends in the classroom that could once again change the face of higher education as we know it.

  1. The Use of Clickers. A handful of universities have begun using clickers, or student response systems, to promote engagement and active learning in the classroom. These handheld devices are provided to each student in a given class and can be used by professors as part of a system that quickly assesses the learning atmosphere in the room. For instance, in the middle of a lecture, an instructor can ask, "Is this concept making sense to you?" and can take a quick poll to see how many students in the class are grasping the material. EduCause Quarterly discusses clickers in the classroom more in depth here.
  2. The Use of SMART Boards. Some faculty are starting to use SMART Boards, or interactive whiteboards, as a means of presenting lecture material. Instead of using a traditional PowerPoint presentation or a traditional whiteboard with dry erase markers, SMART Board technology lets professors use special tools to write on the presentation software screen, save all of their hand-written notes for future student and personal use, and erase them seamlessly. Thus, faculty have a more technologically functional whiteboard. Learn more about how SMART Boards have been used in the classroom in this blog from Emerging Ed Tech.
  3. Streaming Lectures from Guest Speakers. Nothing livens up a college course like bringing in an expert guest lecturer to explain a topic from a different angle, but this can be difficult if the speaker lives far from the university. There are travel costs and the guest speaker’s busy schedule to consider. Now, a professor can easily "bring in" even the most high-profile guest lecturers to his classroom using Skype or other video conferencing technology. See how Wheaton University uses this technology to connect students to other students and allow for guest lecturers here.
  4. Using Facebook in the Classroom. By creating a Facebook group for a course, a professor can send messages to every student in the class at once, and even answer their questions via instant message. And since certain students are more likely to check their Facebook than, say, their online course management system, this is yet another way professors can help keep students engaged and focused on the class, not to mention connect students to one another. This student-made video posted by Columbia College Chicago better explains how this works.
  5. Issuing iPads for Courses. Ever since the iPad was first released, educators have wondered about its possible educational uses in the college classroom. Many universities are currently experimenting with issuing iPads for students for the duration of a course. Culver-Stockton college, for instance, issued iPads, power cords, and chargers to its students, encouraging the students to use them to take quizzes, access textbook materials, use the camera to photograph lecture notes from the board, and read material using searchable text and annotations, according to the Press-News Journal.


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