In today’s modern classrooms, educators have a number of challenges that impact their use of technology. This article will explore some of the challenges such as Internet connectivity, classroom equipment standardization, Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Professional Development. I will also propose some possible solutions to consider. Technology has an important role in the modern classroom and as educators, we need to constantly strive to engage, stimulate and delight our learners.
Firstly, let’s begin with Internet connectivity. Educators often struggle to have a constant and secure Internet connection from which to run and deliver today’s digital courses, tools, apps, and exercises. We often face videos that won’t load and are left watching a rotating circle hoping it will soon connect. While our clients have mobile devices better equipped than the classrooms we teach in. Someday’s the Internet will not allow us to connect at all, which leads many educators to always have a paper-based backup lesson on hand for such occasions. As teaching is becoming more and more digital and online, a paper backup class is still necessary when you can’t log in to student attendance software, can’t log in to your LMS, can’t play a video or even load a web page. Days like these are not only very frustrating but also professionally embarrassing. As educators, we rely more and more on Internet connectivity and really need a service level guarantee from Internet providers.
Secondly, let us discuss the issue of classroom equipment standardization. In my experience, it is very rare to enter classrooms these days that have standardized equipment. By that, I mean the same desktop brand computer, same overhead projector and same dashboard controls. Traditionally, equipment was upgraded in stages as equipment broke which has left many institutions with classrooms having an assortment of different brands, makes, and systems that educators must quickly learn every time they enter a classroom. This wastes time and creates unnecessary stress. Students quickly pick up the message that they are “human guinea pigs” when an institution's technology is not up to scratch. It leaves educators in a difficult position of having to constantly apologize. Institutions should consider gaining industry sponsorships that allow private companies to donate, install and maintain the latest technology instead of bootstrapping.
Thirdly, I would like to explore the adoption of Learning Management Systems (LMS). Today’s LMS systems are highly advanced and continue to develop at an amazing pace. Many are open source which means they are free and they have the technology to allow educators to provide a wide variety of tasks that they have never been able to perform. Some allow you to set up a variety of assessments in different formats, customize the content, personal communication and even undertake automated grading of assessment. This technology is very exciting and has great potential. Many institutions pick an LMS and unfortunately don’t invest in using it to its full potential. Educators are typically given a shell and have to build their courses with little help, support, training or payment for the hours they invest. The productivity, customer engagement and student engagement available are unprecedented yet many institutions limit their capability. In a digital environment, word spreads quickly these days about quality. Training and support build quality which attracts students and graduates to create an institution's reputation. Institutions need to consider the life-long value of customers so that classroom educators are more supported in meeting their needs.
Finally, the topic of professional development is very important for educators to be able to keep up with the latest technology. As we know, our clients are digital natives and find it easy to use and adapt to a wide range of mobile-based technologies particularly in different languages other than English. We Chat comes to mind as an important application for educators to be fully versed in if they are teaching Chinese international students, as students use it extensively. How can educators keep up? Tailored ongoing professional development programs that target the best technology for the classroom are much needed. Scaffolded programs that add to past learning plus the chance to learn from multiple sources all help to provide educators with access, support, and skills to use the best technology in the classroom.
Technology is becoming more and more pervasive in the modern classroom. Students these days often have multiple devices and educators have to constantly improve student engagement for all their courses. When a teacher competes with a mobile phone the phone always wins. Educators have to learn to embrace technology as a way to better connect with their customers.