The Next Big Thing(s)
Technology solutions for schools today ... and tomorrow
School Technology Grows Up
After the dot.com bust and well into a lingering economic downturn, the novelty of educational technology has worn off. Schools are lucky these days to find the money to keep their existing network and computer systems up and running. But despite the current economic realities, education technology is alive and kicking. It did, after all, transform education—just not as quickly as those in the industry had hoped. The new generation of ed tech is all about solutions.
The Broadband Buzz
For schools, broadband is the difference between the Internet being a throwaway supplement or a fundamental classroom tool. Districts basically have achieved a mid-1990s goal of providing Internet access to all schools. Now, the challenge has become providing high-quality Web access that is powerful enough to play video and audio tracks and fast enough to keep the attention of elementary school students.
A Foothold for Handhelds
Handhelds have gained a strong foothold in districts across the country. Hundreds of handheld computer programs designed specifically for educators and students are available. Some teachers, share their handheld lesson plans on the Internet. Handhelds are routinely touted as a must-have education tool—an inexpensive option that benefits students, teachers, and administrators.
The Data Trek
New tools make sifting through mounds of information easier. Whether through enhanced use of existing databases, more technically savvy methods of testing, or sound purchasing practices for future data management tools, technology has the potential to increase student achievement. It also may give some of those 40.5 million reporting hours back to schools and students.
No Strings Attached
Wireless networks allow for greater mobility and the opportunity for what educators and others call anytime, anywhere learning. Computers connected wirelessly still share resources, and they're still networked together. But instead of using cable to communicate with one another, they use radio signals, just like a garage door opener. Even in older schools, it often is cheaper to install wireless radio transmitters than to run multiple access lines to every classroom. And a wireless network is a particularly cost-effective way to bring Internet access to portable classrooms.