Power up: learning with technology

Research by BESA shows that children are more likely to bring a tablet to class than a pencil case

By Tony White, Sales & Marketing Director, ViewSonic Europe

The global e-learning market has grown significantly, with forecasts estimating it will surpass US$243bn worldwide by 2022. Digital tools like websites, apps, e-learning games, e-books and virtual tutoring have all been successfully implemented in schools across the UK. Audio visual hardware – such as interactive whiteboards and projectors – now act as a central hub in the classroom environment and are used to power these software tools.

The positive impact of technology has been felt throughout the UK education system – but what does 2018 have in store?

Tech-powered learning

The education AV market is long established; schools have been using touch-based panels for the last ten years. In the last few years there has been a definitive product shift away from projector-based solutions to more collaborative Interactive Flat Panel (IFP) systems. IFP displays – embedded with tools such as wireless mirroring and content sharing software – enable teachers to plan for different types of learners (visual, auditory, read-write and kinaesthetic) by integrating web, video and photo resources into their lesson plans more easily. This content can be shared from a portable device (such as a mobile or tablet) and edited remotely. Teachers no longer have to stand and deliver lessons from the front of the class but can move around the room and interact more freely with pupils.

These technologies have provided students with an engaging multimedia learning experience, with access to knowledge and support via the internet, enabling teachers to diversify teaching methods and enhance learning outcomes.

Despite significant investment in tablet computing in some schools, interactive panels still promise to be the most effective technology in the classroom in 2018. However, this year will see their influence extended with the introduction of InGlass™ technology – a new optical technology that provides a much more intuitive experience by improving the precision and responsiveness when writing or drawing on an interactive panel. With a panel that reacts better to multiple users touching it at once, teachers can harness the power of group work to improve collaboration and engagement with the curriculum.

There is a wealth of academic research that suggests group assignments directly improve an individual’s ability to learn and retain new information – known as socially shared cognition. We expect this type of technology to become a key feature for schools and universities looking to invest in interactive displays going forward.

Education 2.0

It is essential that the display of digital content is effectively supported by modern AV solutions capable of meeting the needs of both schools and students. In recent years, the ‘flipped’ education model is becoming much more prevalent – especially in secondary education and distance learning schools.  IFP displays have created fluidity in the way people learn, with more emphasis being put on sharing and accessing content offline and outside of the traditional classroom environment.

For this to work effectively, education technology needs to be ‘open’. Hardware should have the ability to work in tandem with software from several suppliers and not be restricted by expensive licenses or subscriptions. Barrier-free technology makes it easier for schools to invest in the latest interactive displays – they do not have learn or install new software – and ensures teachers can continue to do what they do best.

The most effective IFPs now come with embedded software that can record lessons, share lesson plans, and access content remotely – significantly improving the way both students and teachers engage with the curriculum. Now absent students or those with long-term illnesses can reap the benefits of the technology and not miss out on important aspects of their education.

An AV future

2017 reinforced video as one of the core components of educational content in the modern classroom, showcasing the important role it plays in aiding student development – especially for visual learners. Propelled by faster internet connectivity in schools and an uptake in digital learning, the use of digital content in classrooms will continue to rise and by the end of this year 4K content will have a bigger impact in everyday teaching.

The recent evolution of academies and trusts has seen the education system in the UK grow more competitive with both private and state schools using AV technology to enhance the learning experience and attract the brightest students. There is already a demand amongst schools for larger displays with higher resolution: 4K IFP displays are being steadily rolled out by manufacturers. Although, many schools have concerns over the pricing of hardware and availability of content, as production increases, hardware and installation costs will continue to fall, making the switch to 4K in education a real opportunity in 2018.

Prepare for impact

The bottom line is that students can and do benefit from technology. Incorporating new innovations has proven to increase student engagement – right through from pre-school to university. Students at all levels can use assistive technologies to extract the most from their education, ensuring every pupil can achieve their full potential. Over time, technology will continue to help diversify teaching methods, transforming how students learn and engage with the curriculum.