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Classroom Technology: What’s New For 2017?

The invention of new technologies and improvement of old ones has shown no signs of slowing down for 2017. Cutting edge teachers will want to ensure that they’re up to date on all the latest trends and innovations so that their students are learning with the best technology available.

Many recent trends are expected to continue in 2017 and find their way into the classroom. From inexpensive virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses to better mobile device operating systems, educators should know what to expect in 2017.

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Technology in the Classroom

The number of devices and uses for tech in the classroom has been steadily increasing over the years. According to a recent survey of 2,500 educators, 60% of teachers expect to use more technology in the classroom than in the past this current school year. Three out of four say they use some sort of technology each day in class, with as many as 80% reporting that technology is a positive in the classroom.

The most popular technology used in classrooms has been small laptops and tablets. Apple iPads and other tablets were adopted early by many schools because of their easy interface and touchscreens. Tablet apps can allow for fun learning in young students and has found many new uses with disabled students.

In recent years, Chromebooks have become the go-to classroom device due to their low cost, various hardware options, and simple Web-based operating systems. These small laptops also provide educators with control over students activities and can be preprogrammed with education apps. Students are able to use Chromebooks for everything from group collaboration on spreadsheets and documents to research opportunities. Chromebooks can be especially useful in schools where students have limited access to devices and Internet at home.

Tech-savvy teachers have also been adopting SMART Boards in the classroom in recent years. These computer-connected white boards use a projector and specialty pen sensors to allow writing on computer programs such as AutoCAD or PowerPoint as well as recording all written notes. Teachers can explain a concept on the board during class then save the lesson plan so that students can rewatch it later at home. It’s a great tool for students of all ages and a number of disciplines.

Some educators have been experimenting with virtual or augmented reality. Students can use high-end tech, such as Google Glass or low-end Google Cardboard VR headgear, to enter to three-dimensional locations. History students can visit far off locations via free apps or explore current events with new software from The New York York Times. Cardboard headsets can cost less than $10, use free apps, and only require a smartphone for operation.

Using technology in the classroom dates back nearly 100 years when radio stations began broadcasting on-air classes, according to Purdue University. Since then, innovations such as the overhead projector, the calculator, desktop computers, CD-Roms, and countless other inventions have transformed the teaching landscape.

Although these technologies have provided boundless opportunities over previous generations of students, they also produce myriad distractions and much higher costs. For example, access to Chromebooks can lead to wasted time on social media, and buying a SMARTboard for the classroom is a significant expense for many schools.

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Looking to The Future Classroom

It’s easy to see the trend continue in 2017 and beyond, with technology becoming a more important part of the everyday classroom. Aside from the adoption of more classroom devices and teaching aids, like the SMARTboard, many of the future technologies are software and apps.

As Common Sense Media reported, cloud computing and online learning look to be some of the biggest trends going forward. Cloud computing allows for easier sharing of data between peers as well as students and teachers. Students could upload an assignment to specific software, online apps, or free software such as Google Drive for simpler review and grading by teachers. Cloud hosting of homework assignments and additional resources has already become popular in many schools. These online tools also provide analytics and other metrics for measuring student success and progress.

Online learning from free massive open online courses (MOOCs) from top universities such as MIT or Stanford allow students to pursue passions at a college level or provide teachers with top-quality teaching tools for free. There are a wide variety of online learning opportunities teachers can use. These technologies may help classrooms connect with other classrooms hundreds of miles away for more diverse learning.

Another major technology that could soon be in every school is 3D printing. These computer-programmable devices can work with a wide variety of disciplines from computer science and math to traditional vocational subjects. This technology is constantly evolving and may be cost-prohibitive at the time being, but its educational limitations may be close to limitless. Wearable technology may also have a place in the classroom in the near future.

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Technology That Probably Won’t Happen

More online learning? More mobile device with educational apps? More nanotechnology?? Not every cutting edge technology will find its place in the classroom. Some of the newest inventions that are finding success in medicine, science, engineering, and technology are not likely to be teaching aids soon.

Some technologies–such as nanobots, quantum electronics, molecular sensors, and universal translator devices–may have teaching benefits but are too costly and impractical for schools to own. New inventions in the worlds of DNA hacking, cyber warfare, drone engineering, and many of the other technologies frequently in the news will likely stay out of the classroom in the near future for their dangerous possibilities.

Students would love it if fun, new tech such as magnetic hover boards, water jet packs, electric skateboards, and autonomous, crash-proof cars were part of the typical school day. However, these rare, extreme cost, and wild distractions will keep students from hoverboarding down the hallways… for now.

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