Technology in education changes with the needs of students as well as with those of the teachers and school administrators who shape the learning experience. Mobility is one area that’s rapidly evolving to meet those needs, something that Ben Thacker, global VP of enterprise business at Belkin, understands. In the following interview, he shares what he sees in the present and future of education IT.
How can a growing emphasis on mobility and mobile devices help K-12 students, teachers, and school districts? What challenges can technology help them overcome?
Mobile technology can help teachers develop and deploy tailored learning experiences. Curricula must be effectively designed and supported by teachers and administrators to best utilize the plethora of applications and tools available today.
Technology rollouts in education — no matter how powerful the devices and programs — will only be as effective as each individual teacher’s implementation.
The greatest opportunity presented by mobile devices in education is always-on, location-agnostic learning. Enabling the extension of learning beyond the boundaries of a structured classroom allows schools to tailor learning experiences and promote collaborative and cognitive skills. Technologies like tablets extend and enhance the learning process by making learning multi-dimensional. Videos, online collaboration tools (like Edmondo), and immersive game-based assignments are all enabled by mobile technologies.
This challenge will be met by satisfying three goals: enabling access to resources, engaging students in rich learning experiences, and empowering students to become lifelong learners.
What does the future hold for technology in education?
Blended learning and the digitization of textbooks
E-books not only provide unfettered access to text, but often present the information in a richer format. In the case of tablets, e-books can include features like embedded videos, interactive workbooks, and immersive digital note-taking features. Even simple e-readers provide word look-ups and rich reference materials.
Blended learning also includes “flipped classrooms” by Khan Academy, YouTube, and TED talks and portals that promote learning beyond the classroom. Mobile learning also extends worldwide, including such programs as SchoolSMS (schools sending bulk text messages to parents, teachers, and students) in Kenya and Akash (touch-screen learning tablets) in India. Content plus mobility is a game-changing combination.
Mobile learning infrastructure
Reliable connectivity is the keystone to mobile learning, but infrastructure demands present an ongoing challenge. School budgets are strained not just by the economy but [by] the ever-present need to implement a new technology or upgrade systems. Additionally, cross-compatibility continues to be an issue. Students and schools are presented a wide variety of tools, all requiring increasing bandwidth, electricity, and the staffing to help students when the devices do not work.
Infrastructure solutions that help tie together systems and help support reliable and easy-to-support networks are critical to mobile learning objectives. Scaling Internet access beyond the school and into the home will become increasingly pertinent.
How is technology aligned to meet the future of education IT?
We think accessories should expand learning opportunities by enhancing technology to boost student success. We strive to help schools apply the full potential of technology in their connected classrooms and enable educators, administrators, and IT leaders to engage and empower student-centered education.
Today, we offer a suite of products to serve growing needs in educational environments. Solutions include cases that enrich student interaction while giving tablets the best protection. Keyboards and stands that can make the best multitasker even better. And cables and chargers that help you share, stream, and connect seamlessly.
As we look forward, educational establishments will use what we learn from our partners in education to deliver solutions and support connections between students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the community.
What other effects do you think mobility will have on education? Are there other challenges and opportunities?