Robots, drones and the tech needs of your classroom.

January 17, 2017    Ann Clarke     ,

The IT curriculum underwent a significant shake-up in 2014 when coding became a core component of teaching. Although a new and exciting area of learning for children, it’s also presented challenges for teachers, many of whom are not savvy in all things IT.

Too soon for the full implications of this curriculum to be felt, it’s interesting that UK’s teachers feel they do not have the IT skills they need, not only in the teaching of computer science but other subjects too. Some of the data cited in national newspaper articles at the time, suggested that only 15% of teachers were ‘totally computer savvy’ and 40% said they were just ‘good enough to do what I need to do’.

This seems very much at odds with the arrival of robotics, drones and VR in some classrooms and suggests an interesting paradox regarding IT provision and understanding by UK educators.

While there’s a clear need to ensure teachers have the right skills and confidence, there’s also a requirement for tech-savvy teaching spaces. It’s hard to believe there would be any ‘tech free’ classrooms in 2017, but not all educators have been able to blanket roll out in-room technology due to increasing budgetary pressures.

Here are three key technology considerations for today’s classrooms:

Think flexibility

In the 80s and 90s IT classrooms were full of bulky, fixed computers which meant those rooms were dedicated to that subject alone. Now, with space limitations and growing class sizes, educators need to make spaces work for multiple subjects and uses. Flexibility can be achieved with foldable walls to open up spaces as required and mobile furniture (think stackable chairs and tables on wheels) so that classrooms can be reconfigured with ease to support that day’s learning. Group VR projects will require big open spaces, coding tasks might require collaboration round tables and lone tasks will need individual desk spaces.

Collaboration technologies

This can span a whole host of things from sharing work on individual devices by casting, through to teaching on the big screen as well as including light and sound or even interactive floor projection. While it’s likely to be cost prohibitive to have all of this in any one classroom, investment in systems that support IT teaching, not to mention other subjects, will pay dividends and also help in the deliver of 360 degree and flipped learning.

Power provision

If the use of mobile devices and other hardware is integral to teaching, make sure classrooms have adequate power provision or secure charging. Don’t forget that integrated audio visuals systems can be hardwired into classrooms.

As IT teaching expands to include a plethora of new applications and skills, classrooms really must have the right infrastructure if they are to deliver the best possible teaching and learning outcomes for children.

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