The Technologies of K-12 Smart Classrooms

The digital evolution means changes at the classroom level – these technologies help make classrooms smart.

With the evolution of the digital classroom, we are seeing a restructuring of classrooms to reflect new ways of teaching and learning with the aid of technology. No longer do we see digital tools simply replace pen, paper or textbook, pedagogy itself has shifted toward more collaborative, immersive environments.

A “smart classroom” is a space where this new form of learning is reflected. As Chris Whittaker noted on eCampus News, “In these classrooms, students come together in a shared space to construct, manipulate, and negotiate meaning around a canvas. The environments become immersive—learning happens on walls, desks, tables, and in conversations.” While this statement was made of a college campus, we are seeing “smart classrooms” pop up in K-12 as well. In K-12, the concept of a smart classroom focuses on inquiry-based and individualized learning, interactive lessons, collaboration, and technology-enabled learning spaces.

Some of the technologies we’re seeing in K-12 smart classrooms are:

  • Interactive whiteboards and/or tables that support student and teacher interaction, group activities and quickly incorporating audiovisual elements. Full video walls are a next step in some classrooms.
  • Projectors or document cameras to allow for standard or 3D display of objects
  • 1:1 devices or BYOD programs to support individualized learning
  • AR/VR programs and simulation spaces are changing education. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is starting to become more accessible, with many new applications being targeted specifically to K-12 classrooms or being offered for free, such as Google Expeditions.
  • Makerspaces that support hands-on critical thinking as a foundation for digital learning with tools, supplies, and equipment. Maker education can span a wide variety of opportunities, from cardboard and loose parts to circuits, blocks, and coding games. Some activities will include mobile devices, such as stop motion videos, Bloxels, LEGO robotics or even 3D printing.
  • A “smart” lectern for the teacher to make it easy for the teacher to control the technology in the classroom. Technology-first classrooms can become a distraction and a burden if they are not easy for the teacher to use and manage.
  • Classroom management systems that reflect the need to reduce distraction and encourage engagement. Teachers need to be able to send messages to individual students, direct attention to specific apps or documents, send polls, and mute devices as needed
  • Support infrastructure such as wireless networks, remote control lights and multiple charging stations make it easy to reconfigure classrooms to suit the needs of each lesson without infrastructure restrictions.

Teachers must believe in the technology and its potential to improve outcomes, shifting the foundation of pedagogy. That shift begins with assessing how technology can support what teachers are trying to accomplish. “An important philosophy… is that technology should support the program — don’t just purchase ­technology for technology’s sake,” notes Bullis School STEM director Faith Darling.

If you have more questions about how to ensure your technology investment delivers a positive return on education, we’re happy to help. If you’re interested in the challenges that come along with managing EdTech, download our free ebook Making Technology Work for Education below.

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