Students today are fully immersed in technology from how they play to how they socialize and they expect the same from their learning experience. The old days of a lecture and notes on a chalkboard are no longer enough to engage the newest generation of learners. Educators need to stay ahead of the game to keep them focused and awake. Here are some ways to take advantage of current technologies to keep things fresh and stimulating in the classroom.
New active learning spaces are providing innovative environments for students and instructors to collaborate. At Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis a specially designed classroom houses 16 collaborative tables, each equipped with a PC, microphone and 40-inch flat panel that can also connect to a laptop. A 20-foot media wall allows students or the instructor to share work or material for the entire room to see at once. Interactive flat panels, such as the SMART Boards can display content simultaneously on mobile devices that allow the class to engage in collaborative activities to enhance learning.
2) Social Media
Social media can be used as a platform for debate outside of the classroom and with today’s flat panel displays that are being installed in many classrooms, educators can display comments onscreen to discuss in class. Collaboration on projects can be facilitated using Facebook groups. Students work comfortably in these spaces and will be more engaged if they are able to work and learn using these familiar apps that are already a way of life for them.
3) Virtual Reality
A newcomer on the scene, VR offers an immersive and interactive experience that is unavoidably captivating. Google Expeditions provides hundreds of experiences such as a visit to Mayan ruins or swimming with the Galapagos Sea Lions where students wear headsets that allow them to look around the site as if they were actually there while the instructor guides them with information displayed on a tablet that they can convey to the students as they explore.
4) Flipped classes
A reversal of the traditional classroom format where an instructor lectures in class and students are assigned homework, a flipped class is where students watch the lecture portion at home and have an assignment, project or discussion in class. Educators have the opportunity to create lecture content that is interactive and much more engaging than the tired PowerPoint presentation. Software allows instructors to include questions and activities between lecture topics. Northwestern University’s iLab allows remote access via web browser to laboratory equipment for use in experiments that students can now perform at home, providing instructors more time to cover difficult topics in class.