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Top Five: Digital Innovation in the Classroom

image via SMALL Labs By Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl) Gone are the days when students sit in straight rows, listening to a teacher drone on and on about what they “need” to know but probably don’t find very interesting. As part of our week long look at Top 5s in all things digital, today we’re looking Read more

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image via SMALL Labs

By Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)

Gone are the days when students sit in straight rows, listening to a teacher drone on and on about what they “need” to know but probably don’t find very interesting. As part of our week long look at Top 5s in all things digital, today we’re looking at how digital innovation is affecting the modern classroom.

My Top 5 are below. Add yours in the comments section.

One Laptop Per Child

While it may seem less than innovative to make sure the world’s children have access to laptop computers, think about it this way: With the mission of making “education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege,” OLPC is bringing digital innovation, in it’s most basic form to everyone. OLPC is a Massachusetts based non-profit with the simple goal of giving a very rugged laptop to school children in the world’s poorest countries. The best example of this non-profit as a digital innovator comes from their own website:

While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we’re also helping these countries develop an essential resource—educated, empowered children.

SmallLAB

Housed at NYC’s Parson’s the New School for Design, SmallLAB uses interactive games and mixed media to teach kids “thinking, wellness and math”, proving that there is more to learning than a classroom and desks.

The “learning architecture of games”—rule systems, patterns of interaction, goals, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and work in teams are all key components of this research. As a mixed-reality, game-like learning tool, SMALLab’s platform is primed to play a significant role in the school Quest to Learn’s future, targeting changes in the way kids are learning, constructing identity, making decisions, participating, and creating.

Interactive Whiteboards

While not exactly new, interactive whiteboards combine a projector and computer to a large display area. Not only can teachers get the children involved in a way that’s deeper than a chalkboard, the whiteboards often have programs that enables the instructor to digitally record their lesson for students to access at a later date.

This can be a very effective instructional strategy for students who benefit from repetition, who need to see the material presented again, for students who are absent from school, for struggling learners, and for review for examinations. Brief instructional blocks can be recorded for review by students — they will see the exact presentation that occurred in the classroom with the teacher’s audio input. This can help transform learning and instruction.

Virtual Universities

While virtual university or distance learning may bring to mind TV ads from the 80s, where you could send away for materials to get certified as everything from a CPA to a Private Eye, virtual universities have come a long way. Not only are their the for-profit models like University of Phoenix that have built their entire educational/business model by offering lectures and materials via the internet, but some of the most respected universities in the world do the same. Did you know that you can take classes at Harvard and Stamford online? Via iTunes? Perhaps you miss out on the ivy covered walls and the atmosphere of the Harvard/Yale game if you take your classes on your laptop in Iowa or Ibiza, but you can still say you attended classes at Harvard!

LEAD21

Newly launched McGraw Hill/Intel collaboration LEAD21 “is a comprehensive literacy and language arts program offering students and teachers full print, digital and professional development resources. Through this collaboration with Intel, LEAD21 offers integrated content and hardware solutions as well. The program provides every learner with easy access to digital tools, such as an Online Coach, ePractice activities and more, which help students manage and extend their own learning. In the coming months, McGraw-Hill also plans to introduce additional programs and software created to work specifically with the classmate PC.”

While newly launched, this kind of classroom integration offers endless possibilities to a whole new generation of learners.

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