The nature of education has changed with the rise of technology. Long gone are the days of rote memorization and blackboards. Education technology—or EdTech—seeks to make classrooms more accessible, diverse, and relevant to the future.
These days, classrooms are awash in technology, either by choice or due to the reality of the digitized, hyper-connected world. Likewise, the pressures of teaching in a modern society have also inspired teachers to turn towards digital tools to better manage their students and enhance their lessons. EdTech seeks to support both of these goals by putting tools into the hands of teachers that enhance both the learning and teaching experience.
However, with schools also facing budget cuts and the challenge of doing more with less, introducing technology into the classroom may seem like an impossible goal. Read on to discover how EdTech keeps the classroom modern by introducing common, free, and accessible technology for teachers and students at every level.
The Low-Cost, High-Impact Internet-Based Classroom
Broadband internet has opened up worlds of possibilities across every industry and education is no exception. From plagiarism detection tools to YouTube lectures and online tutorials, teachers have been leveraging the internet to enhance teaching for years.
A new trend in K–12 education is the use of Google Classroom. Free to access and possessing an intuitive interface, many classrooms leverage the powerful cloud capabilities of Google Office. With it, students and teachers can:
- Access assignments, notes, and lesson materials in a centralized location that’s accessible online anywhere, from any device.
- More easily turn in homework by simply copying Google documents to a shared folder.
- Collaborate between classmates and teachers in a virtual environment.
- Integrate with campus technology such as printers and scanners.
The New York Times has named the trend towards the use of Google for education as the Googlification of the classroom, calling it the most profound shift in education since public education became standard practice. Indeed, like the implementation of compulsory public education, the use of Google unlocks access to education at unprecedented levels. Unlike most other EdTech, it’s free and it doesn’t need any special devices or knowledge. That alone sets it apart from other technology.
However, not everyone is on board with the high-tech learning environment which Google seems to envision for classrooms. The use of powerful, web-based tools like Google Office raises significant questions about security and privacy, both for devices and the children accessing them.
Keeping Kids Safe in a Digital World
The introduction of technology in the classroom is exciting, but it’s not without its risks. With Chromebooks gaining popularity in schools, it’s also opening up more opportunities for malicious actors to target both the schools and the students. Likewise, the use of Chromebooks or tablets by elementary school students raises questions about whether kids that young can truly keep data (or passwords) safe.
Fortunately, these are concerns EdTech has addressed and there are many ways to improve classroom cybersecurity. Some of these methods include:
QR Code Login Badges
It’s not realistic to expect young students to remember passwords or know how to store them safely. However, many schools do already use a security feature that is easily adaptable to a Google classroom: badges.
Last year, tech company Clever developed a way to use QR codes to log into Chromebooks, eliminating the need for passwords. Each student is given a unique QR code on his or her school ID badge, allowing them to unlock computers, printers or other school resources.
Native Chromebook Security Features
Chromebooks are uniquely positioned for classroom use because of their array of built-in security features. Google uses an innovative approach called “defense in depth” to create multiple layers of protection. These layers include things like sandboxing (running programs in their own restricted environment) and data encryption.
Best of all, Chromebook security features and updates are all automated. They don’t need upkeep from teachers or students. They bolster the school’s network access protection by reducing the opportunities hackers have to access devices.
A third grader with a Google account may seem like a frightening concept, but that doesn’t mean he or she needs to have access to the full smorgasbord of Google products. With parental controls, unnecessary features like Gmail or Hangouts can be disabled so kids have access to the tools of Google Classroom and nothing else.
EdTech: Modern Technology for Modern Classrooms
Introducing new technology into a classroom is exciting, but it’s a point of concern for schools and parents alike. Parents worry about safety, while schools worry about safety and budgets. Even with funding programs like E-rate—which provides supplemental funding to help schools access technology resources—EdTech can seem unattainable.
That’s what makes things like Google Classroom so great. Free, secure, and requiring no special devices, this cloud-based service allows schools to enhance the learning environment and help set up students for future success.
CDS helps schools acquire the technology they need to deliver a superior educational experience. Contact us today to discover how we can help your campus modernize.