Over the past few years, there has been a huge influx of education technology (EdTech) resources available to schools – from tablets and robotics to online platforms and digital whiteboards. While there are always new products being introduced into the market, schools have started to become wiser in the ways they make their decisions.
Rather than simply buying the latest and greatest technology because they look exciting or are the latest fad, staff members are focusing on what will really cater to their specific requirements and provide value to both the school and students.
Finding the right digital education solutions provider is a major investment. Education institutions will inevitably want to invest in EdTech that will not only be beneficial to but also effective when it comes to enhancing students learning experiences and opportunities. However, with the sheer amount of technology available, it can be challenging to identify those resources, products, or tools that tick all the boxes.
Check out the seven-point checklist below to help bring you one step closer to selecting a digital education solutions partner that suits your needs and the needs of your staff, colleagues, and students.
1. Evaluate IT Infrastructure
Before you invest in any technology, it’s important to check your IT infrastructure. For example, it’s no good investing in iPads for the school if the broadband bandwidth and Wi-Fi connectivity aren’t up to scratch. So, before you do anything, check connectivity. It’s important to think about the long-term strategy; don’t stick with your existing infrastructure because it’s too big of a challenge to change things. It will cause problems in the long run. With the right supplier, this can be altered with minimum disruption or impact to the running of the school. With the right IT infrastructure in place, schools can be assured that they have the flexibility to grow and evolve with the changes and updates to EdTech.
2. Determine Hardware & Software Compatibility
Building on making sure you have the right IT infrastructure in place, it is also really important to make sure your software and hardware are compatible and work in harmony to make teaching as easy as possible. Teaching large classes and distracted students can be challenging at the best of times, which is why you need fluid, accessible software that makes your job much easier. To prevent the lesson going off-course, make sure the technology you invest in has compatible software that is up-to-date and made to work with your hardware, which is intuitive and easy for you to use. With this in mind, there are three main compatibility features to focus on.
First is the ease of transition. From personalized learning to student interventions, many educators have already taken steps to enhance the learning environment by integrating technology resources into the classroom. Ensuring you can still reap the rewards of these EdTech applications and guarantee a smooth transition, make sure the new technology is compatible with existing software.
Second, consider how open and agnostic the new technology is. This is an important aspect of digital education solutions as some are more flexible with compatible file formats than others. Digital whiteboards like the ViewSonic ViewBoard check this box while also supporting the most prolific platforms in education including Microsoft, Google, and Apple operating systems and education services.
Lastly, as technology is rapidly evolving, it is important that EdTech resources can keep pace and are compatible with the changes in the industry. Additionally, sourcing digital solutions that can undergo upgrades without having to re-purchase the product or license is also a bonus.
3. Buy Tech That Ticks All the Boxes
Being a teacher is so much more than just delivering a lesson to a class. The planning, preparation, marking, and feedback that goes into the job is just as important as the actual delivery of the lesson. Therefore, you need the tools and resources to assist.
In an already saturated market, there is an abundance of resources to assist with lesson planning. However, it is important to use platforms that are easy and efficient to use. For example, using digital whiteboards ensures that content created on your PC can be easily replicated and presented to the whole class; or connecting all devices together means that you can plan a lesson wherever you are – classroom or not – and then simply connect and deliver it during the lesson. Look for those technology resources that not only deliver effective and impactful results but also minimize workloads and make the process a lot simpler and intuitive for you.
Quite often, software options have a lot more capabilities than you might be aware of, so it’s important to spend a little bit of time training yourself and getting to grips with all the features and functions. A good example of this is interactive whiteboard software. Whiteboard software has a wide array of tools to choose from and besides the obvious features, teachers now have the ability to appeal to the visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic learners in their classroom by creating lessons that both engage and appeal to everyone in the classroom.
4. Keep Software Up-To-Date
Students come to school to receive the best education possible – therefore it is a school’s responsibility to provide an educational experience that integrates the latest EdTech solutions that empower teachers to deliver engaging and interesting lessons. However, as with any technology resources, stringent data protection and security measures should be a key consideration.
A good checklist to reference when assessing the security of digital solutions should include the ability to:
- Encrypt data and guarantee authentication on network communications
- Provide unique user and device IDs to ensure privacy
- Provide the ability to protect passwords from other websites and cloud storage systems without hindering authorized information sharing
Pupils deserve the best chance at school, and an essential part of contemporary pedagogies is reliant on the integration of the latest technological resources. Technology is developing at such a rapid rate and is becoming integrated within every part of society, which is why having responsive technology that can adapt to this rapid evolution is a smart and secure investment choice.
5. Engage Students
Keeping students engaged is one of the most important aspects of teaching. Ensuring that your class is actively listening and enthusiastic about what they are learning can be a challenge and using the right resources and incorporating new tech can be a great way to recapture and maintain your class’s attention.
Look for resources that have multiple benefits including built-in tools and games, and other functionality that assists teachers in lesson delivery. It’s also important to consider technology that can be used across subjects and curriculums; for example, robotics kits that can not only be used to teach core STEM subjects but can also be used in English, geography, and history lessons to help bring subjects to life.
6. Encourage Collaboration
Collaboration is one of the most crucial skills that children can learn in school, and it’s one that is universally teachable. All subjects can include a team or group-working element, allowing pupils to discuss topics and solve problems together, helping them to become more confident and rounded people.
By working in a team in huddle spaces, pupils can combine their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. For example, some pupils may be more able to get their heads around theoretical concepts, but less confident in public speaking, whereas others might need support with the content, but are happy to stand up and present to the rest of the class. Bringing these pupils together will help them to draw upon the confidence of their peers, and this also means that students of all abilities will benefit from the outcomes of the lesson.
So how can we leverage this with technology? Software like Google Docs means that groups of pupils can work on the same document from different devices, which can then be presented to the rest of the class. This opens the door for some fantastic, unguided research projects, where pupils can delve into a topic that really interests them.
Students can also work on tablets linked to the front-of-classroom display. For example, you can brainstorm ideas on a topic, and students can use their tablets to send information and feedback up to the digital whiteboard. This can also be done anonymously to support those children who might be worried about speaking up or fear that they might be incorrect. For the teacher, this increases classroom engagement, as well as retrieving answers from multiple students at once in a more streamlined process.
There are additional technologies that allow for collaborative workflows. For example, the enhancements present in touchscreen technology and flat panel displays now mean that multiple pupils can work on one board simultaneously. Multi-touch technology means that pupils can either all interact with the same content, or even work individually on their own area of the screen, without disruption.
7. Simplicity is Key
Most importantly, make sure to keep things simple. You can now invest in technology that is modern, logical, and intuitive and can be used by everyone in the classroom. Ideal for groups, individuals, or teachers – of all ages and abilities – this tech can be used by anyone while making learning fun and engaging.
These are some of the different things that your tech needs to provide so that you and your students can reach their full potential. Used effectively, these resources can transform the education experience and, as a result, ease teachers’ workload and enrich every students’ learning experience.
Summing It All Up
Choosing the right digital education solution provider for you should be customized to your classrooms’ particular needs. If you are ready to begin implementing EdTech and digital learning spaces into your classroom, contact us to get started!