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Exploring the classroom of the future

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As consumers, technology is ever-present in our daily lives. And now, according to The State of Technology in Education 2019/20, almost 90% of educators believe that tech should be just as present in education. What’s more, almost all teachers, SLTs and other school staff believe tech is an ideal way to engage students in the classroom. That’s a huge leap from just 32% in 2017/18. 

With this in mind, what will tomorrow’s digitally-rich classroom look like? Will new tech be deployed thoughtfully and appropriately in schools, or will technology be incorporated for technology’s sake? 

Which technology will see the most growth?

Currently, our statistics show that interactive panels/whiteboards and tablets/iPads, together with apps, have seen their highest use rates yet.

At the same time, according to the educators surveyed for our report, the top five technologies expected to see the biggest growth in the next 1–3 years are:

  1. Cloud-based lesson planning and delivery tools 
  2. Online assessments 
  3. Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR & AR) 
  4. Robotics/coding 
  5. Remote learning technology for distance learning

Bringing the world into the classroom

Today, teaching is rarely a one-way exchange. Thanks to collaborative teaching approaches and interactive technology, many lessons are centred around shared learning, experiences and hands-on projects in the classroom.

But what about tomorrow? It’s possible that our pupils will collaborate through interactive technology, not just with their classmates, but with students from all over the world. Your pupils could exchange knowledge on world history or geography with students from anywhere on the planet. Pupils in the UK could help those studying English in places as far away as China or India, as well as deepening their own soft skills like communication and collaboration.

What’s more, tools like VR and AR will increasingly bring hard-to-reach world experiences to life. Today, VR is often used to teach pilots how to fly planes, or to prepare soldiers for combat. In the future, there’s a good chance it will be used to deliver an array of learning materials to children. Google, for example, already has over 600 AR and VR learning experiences in the Google Expeditions tool, including trips to the Australian outback and the North Pole. 

A focus on tech-efficacy 

According to our report, established tools are just as likely to take centre stage in tomorrow’s classroom. With this (and ongoing budgetary issues) in mind, there’s likely to be increased focus on how teachers can make better use of existing technologies rather than the constant introduction of new tools. 

When it comes to current training budgets, there’s certainly room for improvement. According to our State of Technology in Education 2019/20 report, around a third of all teachers, IT managers and SMT members agree that insufficient funds are currently allocated to training. 

A BESA report, ICT in UK maintained schools indicates that in 2017/18, 42% of ICT budgets in secondary schools were allocated to physical devices, whereas only 13% was allocated to ICT support. According to Education Technology, however, investing in new hardware will take a back seat in the future, with costs like training and support taking a larger piece of the pie.

Will edtech go too far?

Despite the constant development of consumer tech, and dystopian concerns around robot teachers, statistics suggest that tech in the classroom is unlikely to go too far any time soon. Almost all education experts recognise the vital role of teachers—not only to pupils’ learning but also teaching soft skills for their personal and working lives.

The classroom of the future will certainly be technology-rich, but schools aren’t necessarily under-equipped today; they simply don’t always have the resources to maximise their existing tools. With better IT support and budget for training, there will be more scope to craft immersive, holistic learning experiences from the technology already in situ. These experiences will serve only to complement and enhance the role of the teacher, not replace it.

For more insight into the views of classroom teachers and educational leaders, visit the latest The State of Technology in Education 2019/20 report.