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Oct 27, 2021

What the Future of Tech in the Classroom Means

Screencastify Squad

Without technology, learning successes during the 2020-2021 school year would have been impossible. So it’s unsurprising that nearly every single education trend for this 2021-2022 school year and beyond is dramatically impacted by — or impossible without — technology. 

Teachers quickly learned to embrace educational technology during pandemic-related school shutdowns. Now it's time for a retrospective — and to think about the prospective changes. 

What will these EdTech trends look like as some schools return to in-person instruction, states and school districts actively invest in tech, and teachers have new tools at their fingertips at every moment?

Here’s our guide to the future of education technology and what to expect as we move forward into a continuously unpredictable environment. And listen below to hear Kyle Niemis discuss how tech in the classroom gives students choice on EdTech Heroes.)

Technology in the classroom: A story of inequities

When we talk about the future of education technology, we have to start by acknowledging that it will look drastically different based on each school’s financial resources. It’s no secret that the educational technology available to teachers and learners varies tremendously from one school or district to the next. 

The technology gap between students from low-income, middle-income, and high-income families is well-documented. Research shows that this achievement gap starts growing as early as kindergarten and widens as time goes on.

It’s not just about schools having the budget for enough laptops or tablets. EdSurge warns that many schools aren't wired for classroom technology or lack high-speed internet in the first place. In 2018, only 21 states had state funds that could be used for digital instructional materials or devices, according to the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

Schools that are able to put the resources behind EdTech are seeing results. The School Library Journal highlighted one librarian at Glacier Point Middle School in Fresno, CA that had already created rich digital programming, like 3D printing, coding, and online storytelling resources. When the school went virtual during COVID, the structure was already in place and students thrived.

These factors are creating a widening gap between the schools that have the funds and the infrastructure for tech and those that don't. One way to bridge that gap is with more affordable and accessible tech solutions, such as Screencastify, for those schools that lack big budgets.

6 ways classroom tech of the future will change schools for the better

Technology is here to stay, and while some schools and districts are embracing it more slowly, it's coming. Tech privacy and accessibility, for example, featured heavily in the top education trends for 2021-2022. Tech and virtual learning topics were also front and center at the ISTE 2021 sessions, which had the theme of "Designing a New Learning Landscape."

Here are the ways technology will change the future of education for the better ⬇️. 

1) Schools will have 1:1 student-to-device ratios with the ability to take those devices home 💻

Before COVID-19, many schools were striving just to have one device for every classroom, or every two to three students, much less a 1:1 ratio of mobile devices or laptops. COVID-19 lockdowns spurred schools into action, forcing them to get creative with how to supply students with the EdTech they needed and fight through supply delays. 

Months into 2021, we're nearly there. EdWeek reported that before the pandemic, about 66% of educators said they had a 1:1 ratio for their middle and high school students, and 42% said the same for elementary students. By March of 2021, that had jumped to 90% for middle and high schools, and 84% for elementary, with tools like Chromebooks and iPads to take home.

Benefits of this future trend

  • More interactive learning experiences in the classroom and at home
  • Hands-on practice not limited by lack of access to devices
  • Smaller tech gap between students across grades and school districts

2) Parents will demand technology that gives them better teacher-parent communication 📱

Notes home, signed permission slips, telephone calls, face-to-face parent-teacher conferences — these have been the hallmarks of teacher-parent communication for years. 

But in 2020 and 2021, parents were hearing their students' teachers at home every day and getting used to flexible, convenient communication options, like text and email. Technology has also become widespread, with most parents having access to a smartphone or computer. 

Now parent-teacher communication is shifting to digital platforms that allow them to send messages, video chat, or record and share quick videos. Digital tools like Google Classroom and Screencastify keep parents connected with the school without adding more to teachers’ plates.

For example, Screencastify lets you record yourself or your screen (or both) and talk parents through assignment instructions or quickly go over a student’s grade and provide positive feedback with a more personal touch.

Benefits of this future trend

  • Better parent-teacher relationships
  • More parent involvement in meeting students’ needs
  • Easier workload for teachers who can communicate with parents securely and quickly using these tools

See how you can introduce new technology with Screencastify in the video below!

3) States will start offering completely virtual school options 🏫

While virtual learning isn’t perfect, it’s ideal for some schools and students. Flipped classrooms and hybrid learning structures are popping up in districts across the country as schools are giving parents these options. 

In fact, the RAND Corporation reported that one in five U.S. school districts were considering, planning to offer, or had already offered fully online learning after the pandemic ended. These programs rely heavily on emerging technologies to keep students engaged and reaching academic goals. However, it will take some changes to maintain this momentum.

First, most districts receive funding based on the number of students in physical seats each day, otherwise known as a point-in-time headcount. With virtual schools, districts are still figuring out how to count students in order to provide fair state funding. In one example, some online schools were accused of “gaming the system” by counting enrolled students who weren't active all school year.

Second, funding is needed to ensure school devices and software are safe and secure. Hackers breaking into Zoom classrooms at schools and universities showed that dedicated education technology with better safety protocols is absolutely essential. 

Benefits of this future trend

  • Accommodates the needs of students with different learning styles
  • Supports students who have physical needs that keep them out of the classroom
  • Offers top-quality instructors regardless of where a student lives

4) Students will experience more VR opportunities in the classroom 🙋

Virtual reality is quickly becoming mainstream. By 2024, the market should be worth over $12 billion. While much of that is in the entertainment industry, virtual reality and augmented reality have a place in the classroom, too.

With augmented or virtual reality, students can attend class anywhere in the world. It’s a great way to expand the modern classroom experience while keeping the connection between student and teacher. 

Imagine a classroom where a student can strap on a visor and go on a virtual field trip to Paris, rather than just looking at pictures of the museums and statues!

Consider Sky Map, an app that lets students explore the night sky in real-time to search for constellations, or VR headsets that eliminate the need to hold a device while exploring something virtually. 

Benefits of this future trend

  • Opportunity to explore more of the world without leaving home 
  • Ability to replicate hands-on experiments without risk or cost 
  • 3D modeling helps different learning styles 

5) Teachers will have access to more real-time data on student engagement, behavior, and performance 📈

With online learning tools in the classroom, teachers can see real-time data about how their students are doing. For example, many platforms show the time it takes each student to complete a project or the number of times they view certain lesson videos. This helps you provide personalized learning to each student while also giving you more chances to course-correct if students aren't catching on. 

You can use tech to track behavior as well. Behavior management programs like ClassDojo make it easy to communicate behavior expectations and reports with students and parents, so you aren't stopping your classroom instruction as often to deal with one-off problems.

Another aspect to tracking performance data is that district leaders and educators can make data-driven decisions about which classroom technology to try, keep using, or retire. They can understand whether it’s worth the spend or delivering the return on investment (ROI) they expected. If it’s working, schools can invest more heavily and build the classroom of the future faster. 

Benefits of this future trend

  • Ability to track and project student engagement and performance
  • Fewer classroom disruptions to deal with behavior problems
  • More opportunities to get feedback from students
  • More personalized learning with real-time performance data

6) Students will have more opportunities to take classes local districts don't offer ✅

Budgets and teaching staff often limit the number of classes that a local district offers. You might have a handful of students who want to take an advanced computer science or mathematics class, but there isn't enough staff and technology to offer it.

Virtual learning and education technology opens the door to these opportunities. In the future, if your school doesn't have the funds for a particular class, you may be able to connect your students to an online class or ask the district to set up a virtual option for interested students.

Until that system is in place, Screencastify can help! Our easy-to-use video sharing technology allows teachers to record and edit their lessons and create a database of helpful videos that can be used school-wide or even districtwide.

Benefits of this future trend

  • More personalized learning opportunities
  • Unlocks more learning experiences for interested or advanced students
  • Ability to offer remedial instruction to struggling students

Hurdles to future school technologies

While all of this technology in the classroom sounds great and has many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider as well. Rather than thinking of these as "cons," think of them as hurdles to understand and overcome as we make the shift toward more tech-driven classrooms. 

Virtual schools can’t provide a space away from home, meal service, or the social services that families need

In many communities, schools are where students get nutritious meals, social service checks, special education, and social connections with their peers. These benefits aren't something a virtual school can fully replicate yet.

Technology is sometimes blamed for widening the gap between teachers and students

Many students thrive with one-to-one interaction with their teachers. Placing technology in the middle of that can widen the gap between staff and students if it isn’t carefully implemented.

The technology generation gap is also a concern, as students are more tech-savvy than many of their teachers. Seasoned teachers are often "digital immigrants," which means they learned the tech as an adult, while students are "digital natives," which means they were born with the tech or exposed to it from childhood. 

Schools will have to train teachers to stay up to date with the latest tools and trends and understand how to connect with students.

Data capture comes with increased focus on privacy

Some parents are less than thrilled about having more of their children's data collected by schools, especially with regard to privacy. 

There’s also concerns around data breaches, which could give cybercriminals access to everything from a child's medical records to their address if schools don’t have the proper safeguards in place. Parents, teachers, students, and tech tool creators will have to find a balance that keeps sensitive information protected. 

Classroom and school technology can be a huge financial investment

In many districts, purchasing tech is difficult. Not only do you need funding to buy the devices themselves, but you also need to set up the infrastructure (systems, staff, etc) to support it and manage updates and technical problems. As tech in the classroom becomes more normalized in the future, states and schools should begin to expand budgets accordingly. 

Enhance your classroom with Screencastify’s low-cost software

Thankfully, not all secure, top-notch education technology comes with a high price tag to match. Screencastify offers a low-cost software solution that lets students and teachers create and send videos in the classroom. 

See how Screencastify is changing the face of education, and check out our post on 10 reasons to use video in the classroom this school year to see how Screencastify can help you take the next step toward the classroom of the future!

Screencastify Squad

Helping educators accomplish more, create visible success and inspire new ways of teaching.