The System Update
We’ve all heard it before. From elementary school and junior high to our later college years, someone has glanced over your homework or responded to your plea for help with, “Oh, I remember learning that.” Now, while there’s nothing wrong with learning the same subjects and concepts as the students before you — most of these ideas are building blocks for higher learning — there is something special about learning in a new, never-before-seen way. And, let’s be honest, apart from the instructor a few years from retirement, most teachers don’t mind the curriculum switch-up either.
So, what’s actually changing when new learning techniques enter the classroom? It isn’t the learning, the concepts and building blocks stay as solid as the day they were invented. It’s how they are being learned. From innovations in the curriculum to the introduction of technology, we’ve chewed-up and spit-out thousands of different ways of teaching the same thing to centuries of students.
For most of the early classroom years — the chalkboard and inkwell days — learning remained fairly stagnant. Everything and anything you could discover was poured into you from books and repetition. Sure, there were little innovations here and there, but for the majority of early education, the game plan didn’t change. That is until technology entered the classroom. Like the wildcat offense, technology was a game changer, forever altering the path of education. While the debate still rages on whether or not the introduction was a prosperous one, one thing is for certain — just as technology continues to evolve and change, so do our classrooms. From laserdiscs to DVDs, we’re locked in a proverbial game of cat and mouse, and like Tom, it’s our job to catch Jerry — or, at least, keep pace.
The Case for Tech in the Classroom
It’s hard to deny the impact that technology has had in the environmental sector. Audiobooks, Youtube, class websites, social media, robotics, even the technological innovations in how we write on our boards has changed in the last twenty years. Think back on what your classroom resembled in middle school, then look at what today’s 12-year-olds are learning with. It’s night and day, and that isn’t a bad thing. As Ed.gov says:
When students are using technology as a tool or a support for communicating with others, they are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher, textbook, or broadcast. The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information. Technology use allows many more students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons. Moreover, when technology is used as a tool to support students in performing authentic tasks, the students are in the position of defining their goals, making design decisions, and evaluating their progress. The teacher's role changes as well. The teacher is no longer the center of attention as the dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator, setting project goals and providing guidelines and resources, moving from student to student or group to group, providing suggestions and support for student activity. As students work on their technology-supported products, the teacher rotates through the room, looking over shoulders, asking about the reasons for various design choices, and suggesting resources that might be used.
But, those aren’t the only positive benefits of implementing new technologies in the classroom.
According to Capella University, the introduction of technology in the classroom:
- Engages students and creates active learners
- Encourages individual learning and growth
- Facilitates peer collaboration (facts backed by a US Dept. of Ed study)
- Prepares students for the real world
- Creates more engaged and successful teachers
It was debated at first, and while each classroom is different, it’s hard to deny that technology has an incredible impact on learners and teachers. But, whether the impact is a positive one is up to the instructor and the classroom itself. Along with ensuring that the technology is being used, and being used well, it’s also up to the instructor to make sure their room is keeping up with the times. Like Rome conquering the less developed tribes surrounding their ever expanding empire, in the modern age, one of the biggest fears a classroom should have is falling into the shadow of the technology train. And today, the latest classroom innovation comes in the form of unmanned aerial robotics, otherwise known as drones.
Drones Innovate Learning
From drone races on ESPN to news stories about their use in search and rescue missions, drones have clawed their way into the attention of the mainstream consumers. With tiny, indoor drones making their way onto wish-lists across the nation, educators, robotics programs and learning solution specialists across the globe have started recognizing drones for what they really are — an opportunity.
On the surface, drones are a fast-paced, hand-held thrill ride. But beneath the pinpoint turns and high-speed maneuvers, there is a lot of science going on. From the physics of flight to the engineering principles of a multirotor vehicle, drones are a STEM gold mine.
Drones are multifaceted, high-speed, learning powerhouses.
As the educational website Tynker says:
Students are naturally curious and excited about experimentation, so drones offer a chance to learn by solving concrete problems and experimenting with hands-on activities. The exciting thing about STEM is that you’re teaching a new way to understand and interact with the world around them. Drones make STEM learning relevant and fun by allowing students to become creators of technology and by allowing them to collaborate, build off each others’ creative ideas, and share enthusiasm. They show students they can use the sometimes abstract concepts they learn in class to engineer solutions to real problems. Students come away from these experiences having engaged more deeply with the STEM concepts from class and inspired to continue learning.
To put it simply, drones provide students with a complete, hands-on STEM solution.
Today, drone programs are popping up all over the nation, and Idaho happens to be leading the drone revolution, along with the Technology Student Association and MultiGP Drone Racing.
After many, many sleepless nights and closed-door brainstorm sessions, the three leading minds in drones, STEM and technology are ready to show the world exactly how drones are going to revolutionize the learning sector — and you have a chance to get in on the action. Hosting a completely free Webinar, Flying into the Future: Drones, Careers and Competitions, PCS Edventures, Idaho’s TSA Advisor and MultiGP’s Vice President are giving you a front row seat on the innovation express. All you need to do is punch your ticket.
Capella University. (2017, May 23). 5 Reasons to Incorporate Technology into Your Classroom [update]. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.capella.edu/blogs/cublog/benefits-of-technology-in-the-classroom/
Ed.Gov. (n.d.). Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html
Tynker, A. (2015, December 10). Tynker. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.tynker.com/blog/articles/ideas-and-tips/coding-at-school/accelerate-stem-learning-with-drones/