- Flexibility and ease of use should be important parts of decision making
- Meet today’s needs, but keep tomorrow’s needs in mind
Modern technological advancements affect virtually every area of daily life, and today’s educational institutions are looking to new digital tools to help improve student achievement and engagement while fostering collaborative learning environments for both in-person and remote learners.
To maximize a system’s effectiveness and ensure investments pay dividends for students and instructors, decision makers and school technology managers must maintain a strong understanding of all the available solutions, devices, and platforms that can meet their needs. While differences in location, age range, and budget naturally affect technology decisions and opportunities, there are several key factors central to any successful implementation.
Keep It Simple, Schools
This old adage may be a cliche, but it’s as true as ever. Ease of use is the most direct predictor of how often a classroom technology will be used, and how effective it will be. Given the strict class schedules followed by most institutions, educators may hesitate to plan lessons using a digital display or software solution if it proves to be unreliable or introduces disruptions to the classroom. It needs to work during every class, every day, without requiring special procedures or assistance that eats up class time.
Simplicity can come in many forms, including secure connections that eliminate the need to log in and out, broad support for various online communication platforms, wireless connections that reduce installation complexity, and device-agnostic compatibility that natively accommodates all users.
Solutions that offer all these attributes can help ensure consistently positive experiences for educators and students, thus promoting use of the technology and enhancing the educational return on investment.
The wide variety of designs for educational spaces has historically led to different technologies being deployed depending on the size and even the subject matter of each room. From standard classrooms and science labs to auditoriums and cafeterias, the flexibility offered by the latest education technologies is now making it possible for each room to feature the same solution and make operations more consistent and manageable for instructors and staff. This can be particularly impactful for classes that meet in different rooms or educators who move throughout the day, guaranteeing consistency for all students.
Plus, post-pandemic hybrid learning environments are still an essential component of the higher-ed education curriculum specifically. Flexibility is key to ensuring that, should students need to dial-in remotely, it’s possible to do so with the solutions already employed throughout the school. Colleges and universities especially should be considering solutions that can tie hybrid conferencing into the same system as signage and screen sharing in-person to make hybrid learning more simple.
Depending on the specific solution deployed, collaboration technologies may provide virtual meetings, screen sharing, live annotation, recordings, voice assistants and more. While different instructors and topics may leverage each function to different degrees, having a stable set of capabilities in every space offers them the freedom to develop enhanced lessons as they see fit.
Plan for the Future
The technology trends in classrooms are constantly shifting, and staying up-to-date is essential to prepare students for technologies they will likely use in future careers. Subsequently, schools that invest in technologies such as wireless screen sharing and device agnostic capabilities are setting themselves up for long-term success. Recently, the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that are designed to be regularly updated and upgraded have begun delivering long-term confidence and making it easier to ensure ongoing compatibility with future protocols or platforms.
For the near future, it’s vital to meet students and educators where they are, which currently involves mobile internet devices, instant sharing, and simple virtual collaboration. Solutions that enable students to screen share their projects to a room’s TV and make live annotations can raise engagement and excitement, while the same functionality empowers teachers to leave the front of the room without interrupting a lesson’s flow. Some systems offer additional functions such as centralized access to an entire display network for power control, campus or district-wide messaging and digital signage, and even software updates or maintenance.
Maximizing the effectiveness of any classroom investment requires careful consideration of all the available options and benefits. Through education magazines, online publications, trade shows and the help of local custom integration experts, decision makers and buyers can often gain first-hand experience to evaluate which classroom technology best fits their needs. As educational institutions and leaders continue to explore new possibilities and opportunities, technology will evolve to support their efforts and improve educational outcomes.
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