- While many are concerned about technology in the classroom, it’s a must-have for students
- See article: 5 ways to use edtech to engage shy students
- See article: Insights from educators: Priorities for 2023-2024
- For more news on tech tools, visit eSN’s Innovative Teaching page
The rise in popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) and access to AI tools over the last year has reignited the debate over how technology is used in the classroom. So far, discussions have been dominated by UNESCO’s recent counsel calling on schools to ban mobile phones.
Although fewer than half of all pupils have access to a tablet or laptop, and only two in five have access to a desktop computer, it’s estimated 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone.
This call for a blanket ban on phones in the classroom ignores the fact that, for Gen-Z students, tech is a key part of their learning experience. Gen-Z has grown up on technology, and we can’t simply ignore the advantages this can provide when helping them to engage with their education.
Smartphones allow students easy access to videos, interactive 3D models, and a range of multisensory educational materials helping to form stronger cognitive connections. Those calling for a ban in the classroom risk denying Gen-Z students access to the tools they need to make the most out of their educational experience.
Technology improves learning outcomes in the classroom
Of course, there are many reasons as to why people believe that banning phones in the classroom is the right approach. Economic and societal factors, such as mental health concerns over social media use, present significant challenges. But, we must be careful not to conflate some of these very specific problems with technology as a whole. A Luddite-like approach to technology will not get us very far when trying to grapple with the complex challenges of the 21st century.
Rather than encouraging teachers to ban mobile phones, institutions should adopt a research-based approach to technology in the classroom, which can power the classrooms of tomorrow.
Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) have already proven themselves catalysts for learning, rather than the distractions that many organizations and schools tend to perceive them as. This has been known for many years now. Back in 2018, a study published in the British Journal of Education Technology revealed that AR can be especially useful for students studying complicated subject matter, improving their ability to focus.
Gen-Z school students recognize the positive impact of advanced technologies in their educational experience. Ninety-seven percent of students who participated in a study published in the Journal of Science Education this year said that AR applications have a positive impact on their education. Ninety-five percent agreed that AR should be incorporated into their educational environments.
Technological progress is creating a new vision for education
Technologies like AR and VR are also rapidly improving, and the launch of Apple Vision Pro has shown that the future of learning is spatial.
In education, publishers such as Cambridge University Press and Plantyn are already incorporating the technology to create seamless experiences between physical and digital materials. This allows them to provide bespoke experiences for classrooms and allows teachers to provide bespoke experiences for their students – instead of a traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach that we’re used to.
This technological progress is improving outcomes for all students, including those with neurodiverse profiles. In fact, new research is already showing great potential to improve their educational outcomes when introducing AR. The research in particular found that AR can be a good alternative for those who prefer to learn visually and not text-based, such as students with dyslexia and ADHD.
Failing to recognize the benefits and refusing to adopt a more tech-positive approach to education will only harm children’s learning outcomes. It will also alienate students who, as has been made clear, desperately want to interact with more advanced technologies in their classrooms.
In the future, there will be a seamless fusion of the physical and digital world. The physical environment will be enriched with interactive digital content. Students will not only be able to explore this content in their educational spaces, but also create their own – improving engagement, creativity, and overall learning outcomes for all.
Authorities and educational organizations must recognize that the only way that we can prepare our students for this future is by teaching them to engage with it now. That requires them to take a step forward and adopt a research-based approach, which strikes a balance between modern and more traditional methods of learning.
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