Cutting-Edge Schools Show How Education Is Everyone's Business, Forbes
If you don't have young children in your lives, why should you care about what are the cutting edge tools in schools today? The answer is simple. It's all about you.
If you're an employer, you need to stay on top of what kind of education your employees had before you hired them. If you are planning to have kids, you need to know just how different schools look like from when you were a child. I assure you that much has changed and not all of it for the better. Additionally, if you are a parent now, you need to read about what is cutting edge in schools today to get a feel of where your child's school fits into the grand scheme of things. Are they far behind? Are they on par? Are they doing something completely different that is just as good?
In short, education is everyone's business. Moreover, as technology becomes better established in the infrastructure of schools, education has become terribly interesting. Here are my top finds for what is cutting edge in education today.
When Virtual Or Augmented Reality Is Better Than Reality
As an employer, training and continuing education should be on your mind. Consider that there are some children who are using both virtual and augmented reality as tools for learning. How will it impact the future workforce? Will it require companies to start upgrading their training own modalities?
This is a completely different way to experience augmented and virtual reality because it provides users with a handheld cube essentially allowing the child to hold a hologram in her hand. Not only can she hold it, via game play, she can learn social skills, strengthen her handwriting skills, and even view 3D models of dinosaur fossils and human skeletons. The possibilities are endless.
While hands-on learning with science is considered highly desirable, getting to be hands-on when learning about molecules has been rather difficult. In fact, except for lab work, chemistry has often looked like a math class until now. Thanks to Happy Atoms, a collaboration between video game designer Schell Games and toymaker Thames and Kosmos, students can try connecting model atoms together with built-in magnets. They can further their learning by using iPads to create virtual reality representations of their hands-on experiments. It's the best of both worlds!
Is visiting Peru while wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles better than the real thing? The answer is YES because schools can afford to send a lot more kids on a virtual field trip than a physical one. While Nearpod is a marketplace for many types of curricula, it is also an excellent provider of ready-made lessons that use virtual reality products that work to augment traditional learning experiences. Forward thinking teachers who want to be among the first teachers in the country to bring this tech to their students can thank Nearpod for not only bringing the tech but also the lesson plans that go along with it.
I'm frustrated by report cards that do not measure a child's progress in understanding how he/she learns best. Before a child enters university, wouldn't it be good to know if the child works best under pressure or needs to pace himself? Maybe flashcards for one child works wonders while for another it's pointless. Thus, I find the most cutting edge schools are schools that recognize the value in encouraging a child to learn about himself and to proactively help himself to do better. It's no different from us setting a reminder in our calendars to send a pop-up 10 minutes before a department meeting. We should teach children to be wary of their needs and to prepare themselves accordingly.
LearnFit by Ergotron
The absolute best part of these desks is that the children can adjust the height of their desks by themselves as well as move their desks anywhere they want. I have seen adjustable desks in schools and offices but this is by far my favorite because it gives students many freedoms. That said, a school that gives kids unlimited freedom is not the mark of a good school, rather, students must choose schools that give students freedom with support and structure. This requires a school to be very competent in teaching students how to learn how they are most productive.
Wouldn't it be great if you had an invisible friend come up to you every once in a while and gently remind you to stay on task? Some of us are born drifters and that can mean that we are rather creative. That said, most gifts do come with a price tag and staying on task is definitely a challenge for creatives. For kids with a learning and attention issue which is estimated to be 1 in 5 children, this wearable can help level the playing field. By using silent vibration reminders, young wearers are reminded to stay on task.
In the office, we play games to get to know one another and foster community spirit. However, employers should knows that schools are now taking games to a whole new level by using technology to do what games do best: grow a child's executive functioning and interpersonal skills. Classcraft uses tactics often found in role playing board and video games to encourage children to make positive decisions by specifically labeling desired behaviors and tactics and assigning point values to them. Just as you would have in a game, a player's status is always available and this makes for planning future strategies on your own and with classmates more easy and more fun. I highly recommend Classcraft.
The Future Is Maker
What is the answer to save a society of children whose digital nativity makes them less socially adept and increasingly dependent on technology? The answer is making. By learning how to make everything and anything, kids can increase their opportunities to learn problem-solving and self-sufficiency. Moreover, if it involves group work as making often does, then children can also learn to communicate and collaborate better.
Mouse.org students create things using technology to try to solve real life problems. The organization also has a very committed focus on closing the diversity gap in STEM training by working with many under served communities across the country. I had the opportunity to observe Mouse.org students as they were trying to design a wallet that would allow users with limited motor skills to access the contents of their wallets without zippers or tight slots. At the end of the school year, they presented their projects to hundreds of peers and teachers. You don't have to be an expert educator to understand just how much a child can learn from doing a project like this. Students are not just learning tech but their are learning to work with purpose. Programs like Mouse.org belong in every school.
MakerState believes that STEM and Maker education is the best way to develop the 4Cs in children today. What are the 4Cs? The Partnership of 21st Century Learning which includes voices from industry, government, and education collaborated to create a framework for educating children to prepare them for the future. The framework is centered on the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity. No matter which class a child takes in a MakerState afterschool or even a MakerState class during school, you can bet that via activities such as Minecraft coding, Robotics, or Arduino programming, students are building those critical skills. Disclosure: This writer was contracted by MakerState to create a guide to help parents start STEM and Maker programs in their schools. The How-To-guide can be accessed here.
Is design thinking something new or is it something to which non-designers are now paying attention? Either way, it's trending and that is a good thing. Design thinking is not so much about grooming the next Frank Lloyd Wright or Vera Wang. Rather, it's about learning how to solve a problem, crafting your prototype and then making that prototype better and better. When it comes to 3D printing, design thinking is almost a built-in concept so it's easily adopted by schools, especially when you use reliable low-cost 3D printers like the MOD-t.
Making Tech Truly Transform The Way We Teach
As parents and employers, we must prepare for a generation who are so used to being tech consumers to the point that the tech should really to be reassessed. We need to wonder if this generation and their educational leaders are using technology efficiently. Are they thinking outside the box with it? Are they making it more affordable for everyone to access education? Are they uncovering new problems brought about by the tech and are they collaborating with industry to get those solved as soon as possible?
Touch-type, Read, And Spell (TTRS)
As the internet has transformed the way we communicate, we need educational technology to transform the way students learn and teachers teach. One of the best examples of this type of transformation taking place is with the use of technology to teach students with disabilities. TTRS (Touch-type Read and Spell) is doing just that as their method uses typing letters (instead of handwriting them) to learn how to not only read and spell but also learn to touch-type. Their method relies on teaching correct finger position, repetition, along with audio and visual instruction. I predict that children without disabilities will also find this program useful as typing is introduced in increasingly younger grades.
While you wouldn't want your supervisor to see the screens of everyone in your group, we must all admit that the thought of possibly being watched can be a little helpful. It's similar to having a police car parked at the corner. However, the technology of sharing is ever increasing in the workplace and now students and teachers are able to use ClassHub to use their screens to be break down walls and be closer together as partners in learning. With ClassHub, pushing content to students, seeing student content, and sharing student's work can be done faster without anyone ever having to leave their desks. The possibilities ClassHub present in reducing student anxiety, keeping students on track, and saving time are tremendously exciting.
This device turns any screen or screen projection surface into an electronic whiteboard in which the writing can be shared with the other screens in the classroom or with screens with students who may even be home. While this may be achieved with other more elaborate tools, few come with such a powerfully small pricetag. It's just $99 and it fits into your pocket.
Jenn Choi is the founder and editor at Toys As Tools - a site dedicated to uncovering the best educational toys and tools for children today.