Technology in the classroom: an opportunity within everyone’s reach
Today it is almost impossible to conceive teaching away from the digital ecosystem. The education system is facing a paradigm shift in which the main challenges are the appropriate infrastructures, the training of teachers in digital skills and the renewal of the pedagogical techniques used so far.
The way the students learn has changed. Instead of learning historical events by heart, such as man’s arrival on the Moon or the life of dinosaurs in the Jurassic period, they can now be transported to these times with virtual reality glasses. This is the case of the students at the Trabenco School, in the El Pozo del Tío Raimundo neighbourhood in Madrid, where Óscar Costa, a primary school teacher, has been one of the pioneers in Spain in bringing virtual reality to the classroom.
There are also projects that promote the integration of technology in education and seek to improve student and teacher training by introducing digital media, such as the Digital Culture in School Plan, promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and in collaboration with various autonomous communities.
The benefits of digitalising the classrooms are undoubted: greater autonomy in learning, a notable increase in attention, curiosity and motivation among students. Here we show you six technological advances of the 21st-century school:
According to the 2017 Horizon Report, as the capacity of mobile devices increases (and with it their omnipresence in our daily lives), mobile learning has become an educational strategy that allows students access to educational materials anywhere and through multiple devices.
The use of tablets in the classroom, for example, has very positive effects on students, according to the conclusions of the "Samsung Smart School" project: on the one hand, access to tablets helps eradicate the digital divide and offers everyone this technology; and on the other, they promote learning personalisation and improve academic performance and collaborative capacity.
Teachers turned into youtubers
More and more teachers manage to draw on YouTube's potential as an educational tool. Teachers like David Calle, the creator of unicoos, or Juan Medina, of lasmatemáticas.es, have become creators of digital content and transmit their knowledge in subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Technology. A different way of offering secondary and high school students the chance to resolve their doubts through these channels. "The Adventures of Troncho and Poncho", created by Ángel and José Luis González, explains this subject through funny stories.
"For teachers, the use of Virtual Reality also has important benefits"
Experiences vs. books
Teaching through emotions, according to Alicia Canellas, pedagogue and co-founder of 'All VR Education', "opens a door in education to thousands of possible scenarios and experiences in which students can become protagonists in the first person". Virtual Reality is much more than an electronic entertainment device that has consolidated little by little as a key element in new educational strategies. Canellas points out that working in this way with emotions allows students "to become a protagonist in the first person."
These immersive experiences are also "much more attractive and motivating, which makes it easier for them to become more emotionally involved and, in short, to make the learning process a much more memorable experience". For teachers, the use of Virtual Reality also has important benefits, such as "moving from a merely instructive role to an agent facilitating experiences. That is, a counsellor in the learning process who enhances critical reflection among students".
Massive Open Online Courses
The so-called MOOCs are massive and open online courses, a form that promotes collaborative learning and brings education closer to everyone. Thanks to platforms such as Miríadax, Coursera and EdX, it is possible to access a wide variety of courses from universities in other countries for free.
Learn by playing
Gamification is the use of game dynamics in non-recreational areas that has the purpose of enhancing the user’s motivation to acquire a certain conduct to solve problems. The combination of gaming and learning has found an ally in technology to transfer gamification to the digital environment. Minecraft, created by Markus Persson in 2009, has become a true phenomenon in the history of video games.
This game was acquired by Microsoft in 2015 and recently, the company founded by Bill Gates launched Minecraft Education Edition, an edition aimed at teachers and students that promotes creativity, collaboration and teamwork in a fun and imaginative environment.
STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology and Mathematics. This educational approach is considered 21st-century knowledge and is based on alternative teaching methods that encourage the use of technological tools and the development of laboratory projects. Educational robotics, for example, is a discipline that, through the use of robotic devices, empowers students to develop skills and competencies.
The objective of this learning system, which is a priority in the educational agenda of the European Union and the United States, is to get students to understand the technology around them, and to foster the development of students' scientific interest and their ability to solve real problems.