Interactive tech in the classroom; it’s all about engagement

Devices which promote engagement and collaboration bring huge value to the learning environment, says Martin Large, Steljes, CEO

Interactive technology has become almost commonplace in all areas of our lives — from choosing the way we watch television at home, and how we collaborate with colleagues at work, to how we learn and participate in lessons in the classroom. While the debate about technology in the classroom continues, there’s no denying that the use of devices and systems that promote engagement and collaboration bring tremendous value to the learning environment.

Improving the learning experience

In recent research, commissioned by Steljes and carried out by survey company Censuswide, we found that teachers were in agreement — almost all of those surveyed (97%), both primary and secondary school educators, said they agreed that interactive technology in the classroom delivers an improved learning experience.

Whether that’s the interactive whiteboard or panel, interactive touch screens, or laptops, tablets and interactive tables, technology-assisted learning can deliver benefits to both students and teachers. The research found that interactive whiteboards were the most used technology (82%), followed by laptops (64%), tablets (49%) and interactive projectors (42%).

The benefits of interactive technology

The overall objective of having these types of technology in the classroom is to make the learning process more encompassing — interactive technology unites students in the classroom and caters for different learning styles — more collaborative, and more engaging. Students are not just engaging with the teacher, but also with each other. The teaching process has changed dramatically over the years and students are no longer linear learners, taking in a one-way flow of information from the teacher. Instead, there’s a strong focus on team work and participation. While technology is not solely responsible for this shift, it is playing a definitive role in supporting and enabling this approach.

In fact, according to the research, teachers identified specific benefits that technology use brought to the classroom — 58% said it increased engagement with students and 53% said it helped create a dynamic learning environment.  Other benefits included: creating a positive learning experience (37%) and encouraging interactivity and collaboration among students (31%). 

The use of technology in the classroom makes sense. Firstly, it encourages behaviours (like teamwork) that are much needed in the workplace and other areas of life, and secondly for the so-called generation of millennials or digital natives, the presence and use of technology is standard.

Not all smooth sailing…

There are of course barriers to the use and increased adoption of interactive technology. These include limited budget, insufficient preparation time, and lack of understanding of how the technology works. However, the main barrier uncovered by our research was 75% of teachers felt their students were more tech savvy than they were. And, as a result, 72% of respondents felt they weren’t using interactive technology to its full capability.

Going forward

The good news is that given the pace of change within the education technology market, and the scope of products, systems and expertise available, these barriers can be successfully overcome. From using innovative funding methods like “as-a-service” models to pay for technology, to ensuring teachers receive extensive training on new technologies, working through these obstacles will ensure schools and students can fully benefit from the use of interactive technology in the classroom.

Martin Large is CEO, Steljes

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