Technology has ruined teachers.
Well, this isn’t quite accurate. Instead, let’s say technology has ruined the nearly timeless image of a teacher lecturing in front of a blackboard.
Instead, the teacher of today or tomorrow may stay put at his or her desk, but still communicate with their students who have electronic devices. Or, in the cases of remote classrooms, he and she may be in a completely separate physical space than the pupils, but still can interact via a webcam.
The profession of teaching still seems to be safe, especially at the elementary level, when instruction in basic life and social skills can be just as important as academic curriculum.
But the business of teaching has also changed, especially with greater access to more resources than teachers of the past could possibly imagine. Teachers sometimes often need to switch into the role of students to learn all the ins and outs of these new gadgets.
Here’s a look at some challenges and opportunities ahead.
- Devices. In the perfect classroom of the future, every student would have their own mobile device which they use to follow along with the teacher. Everyone’s devices can also sync so they could all visit the same site or run the same application. While this situation sounds ideal, there are still limitations – schools must decide which device is required, such as an iPad or another brand of tablet. They also would have to decide whether to purchase and register them all, which could be a big hit to the budget, or have students/parents supply them, which may be a challenge to parents with limited means.
- Other computers. Some schools may have separate labs of desktops, others may have a certain number of machines in each classroom. This amount currently varies nationwide – the National Education Association said the average ratio is now 3.8 to 1 for students sharing a computer. One type of machine that really is beginning to catch on in classrooms is the Chromebook, Google’s stripped-down laptop. It lacks a hard drive but otherwise is a useful and inexpensive tool for interacting in the classroom and connecting online. And, as PCWorld points out, it has two advantages over iPads — a keyboard, and also doesn’t require the complicated registration like Apple products.
- Support. Though technology-oriented teachers like to say that the sky is the limit in terms of what type of learning will be happening, a more accurate limitation is going to be how well the hardware performs. Schools will not only have to make sure that the staff is familiar with the devices they work with, but a plan is in place to fix them when, not if, they break. While teachers may be able to help students with basic assistance like how to power the device and get to the proper screen as part of the lesson, they may not be able to assist with more serious problems. Schools may want to consider outsourcing help desk functions.