Today’s students have my deepest sympathies. Back in the Paleolithic days of education, when chalk choked the air and gargantuan sized text books roamed the earth; slackers, the uninspired or just general rabble rousers had a powerful weapon at their disposal – the teacher’s line of sight. To speak more specifically, these miscreants could always find a way to procure the seats that were out of that line of sight, whether taking peripheral vision positions or slouching behind the more eager learners in the classroom.
Smartphones & Tablets – A Rabble Rousers Worst Enemy
Now, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, whether student owned in a Bring Your Own Device Program (BYOD), or offered by the school itself, there is nowhere in the classroom for students to hide. Education engagement Apps like Learning Catalytics (recently acquired by learning tool juggernaut Pearson) have empowered educators in K-12 all the way up to higher Ed with a 360 degree periscope view of the classroom.
“Submit” to Never Raising Your Hand Again
We all remember the one student whose angelic hand would shoot up like an Apollo 11 rocket at even the most complex conundrums thrown out by teachers and professors, now that student will have to settle for gold stars at home with this leveling of the playing field. Interactive engagement Apps produced by the likes of Pearson coupled with the power of the touch screen can now make every student go the chalkboard at the same time without ever leaving their desks. Multiple choice questions, geometric manipulations, even the attachment of images for “Name that President” moments can be delivered to all students instantly.
While there is woe in this new world of classroom transparency for some students, there is nary a downside for teachers. With controls from their iPad or Android devices, teachers can now see every single answer every single question…every single time.
Taking things to the next level, once the answers are submitted teachers can then do pairing exercises to match the accelerated students with others to foster collaborative peer learning.
Can IT Meet the Challenge? If Armed Correctly, You Bet!
With any new technology, IT can take two paths. There’s the ostrich system of letting these new technologies permeate the school with no controls or security. This would be a fine approach assuming the institution has a student base of less than twenty; a reality that only occurs in Walnut Grove inside Laura Ingalls class.
The practical and pragmatic approach is of course for IT to manage these devices; yes including the student-owned Bring Your Own Devices (assuming you don’t have the budget to buy every student a laptop or tablet). With Mobile Application Management (MAM), IT can distribute Learning Catalytics and any other App to all or select groups of students and teachers. Taking things a step further, IT can also ensure that every moment is used for learning time with Secure Browser control to ensure only sites that are learning focused will be accessed during school time. Tomorrow’s classroom is here for the school districts ready to embrace it.