The key to student success is engagement and attention, and implementing classroom technology can help make learning exciting. According to McGraw Hill’s 2017 Digital Study Trends Survey, 60 percent of students feel that digital learning technology has improved their grades, with a fifth saying it “significantly” improved their grades.
In addition, college students have definitely moved away form the textbook, highlighter and flashcard methods of studying. The survey revealed that 82 percent of students reported using laptops for homework assignments, compared to just 59 percent for print materials. And two-thirds said they used their smartphones to study.
In other words, students are more than willing to apply the technology they are already using at home in their coursework—it’s just a matter of institutions and educators embracing technology in the classroom.
Here are some ideas to help give your everyday college classroom lessons a technology upgrade that are affordable but still have measurable impact on student performance.
1. Assign media rich projects.
Future career success not only requires the ability to consume and digest lots of data on a variety of platforms, but more and more professionals in various roles must also become digital storytellers and content creators. Professors can help students build these skills by shifting away from text-only term papers and incorporating more projects that require multimedia components.
For instance, assignments might include having students create image and video slideshow presentations, record podcasts, contribute to a class blog, or take part in a Twitter chat.
2. Experiment with interactive class lessons.
If you’re able to invest in an interactive projector, be sure to use it to its full potential.
Start by selecting one that has the appropriate display size for your space. Once you’re all set up, invite students to share their contributions to a discussion or class project from their own devices, or use the whiteboard style screen to brainstorm and capture ideas.
At California State University, Fresno, for instance, Epson BrightLink Technology has helped create an active learning environment, turning traditional classrooms into learning studios. So instead of giving a one-sided lecture about a species, a science teacher can ask the class to collaborate and research it. One group of students can research its habitat, another its physical characteristics, and another how that animal interacts with other species. Then they can put each component together right on the screen.
3. Invite virtual guest speakers to class
Reading from a textbook is great, but even better is getting to engage with industry leaders to get real-life insights and different perspectives. Thanks to video conferencing technologies and social media, professors can remotely connect with people from all over the world and invite them to participate in live sessions with their classes.
Whether it’s via Skype or some other video chat platform, or via social media, students can have access to all kinds of experts from scientists, museum curators and medical professionals, to business leaders, art historians, and more.
4. Flip the classroom
Some institutions are finding success by shifting lecture and note-taking components into homework activities so that classroom time can be devoted to more in-depth discussions and hands-on group projects—i.e. classroom flipping.
Think about what part of the classroom experience can be done virtually so you can optimize for student-centered collaboration when everyone is in the same room. That way, instead of the professor going over chapter highlights, the class could dive right into a lab style activity.
5. Experiment with Virtual or Augmented Reality gear
VR headsets and smartglasses are the latest wearable technologies turning up in college classrooms, providing students with multisensory, hands-on learning. These technologies merge the real physical classroom with a virtual reality world. Especially in STEM disciplines, students can learn to solve problems within various simulations or even use gamification to enrich the learning experience.
Augmented and virtual reality has opened up new opportunities for more interactive educational experiences, and this type of innovation is only in its infancy. As it becomes more affordable and accessible, there’s no telling where this technology will take us in the next few years.
For college educators who are willing to step away from the lecture podium, technology enhanced learning can make learning a more engaging experience for all.