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The Top Classroom Tech Trends for 2022

How to support Your student’s use of ed-tech

Technology can advance learning far beyond the typical textbook. When we were young, a special visitor to the classroom to speak about a topic or bring “show and tell” was exciting. Today, while learning a subject, students can virtually travel to the subject’s environment. For example, in a science lesson, students can see and hear from a marine biologist testing water quality samples at an ocean tide pool, learn how to assess coral health by seeing live examples in high definition, and discuss some of the human impacts on the natural environment.

Education, along with other sectors of society, is predicted to become even more tech driven post pandemic. PEW Research surveyed 915 innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists about their view of post pandemic life. Their nearly universal view is that the human/technology relationship will deepen, and growing tech savvy students will become increasingly important. 

We learned how technology can quickly be distributed to underserved populations during the pandemic, and how education can effectively reach into the home. Parents and caregiver’s role in ensuring quality access to technology will continue, even after students are back in the classroom.

Current state of technology in the classroom
Promethean, a leader in interactive displays for education, surveys educators annually. Their latest State of Technology in Education report contains input from more than 8,000 educators. While educators want children back in the classroom, a hybrid approach, where the classroom remains the nucleus, would create the flexibility for students to grow and thrive with technology. Primary findings of the report include:

  • Maximizing tech to boost learning engagement and attainment, along with online safety are the two top priorities for schools surveyed.
  • Tech for engagement is now a strategic priority for almost 40% of schools, up 29%. Yet most educators struggled to engage pupils remotely during the pandemic, highlighting the importance of the classroom setting.
  • Almost 8 out of 10 educators agree technology helps them do their job better, and even more identify it as a great way to improve engagement. However, providing tech training for teachers has dropped in priority by 23% over the past five years.
  • Although 81% of IT managers say there’s not enough money for tech, 13% more than last year say it’s invested in the right tools.
  • Nine out of 10 educators believe teaching and technology will be seamlessly combined, and 25% believe it will positively impact students’ education. Forty-six percent say front-of-class tech is the future, and overall confidence in it has tripled in five years.
Child using a laptop in a classroom

What can parents do to help support their child’s use of ed-tech?
Parents, or at home care-givers, are essential partners in all aspects of education, including the safe and appropriate use of technology. Nonprofit organization Connect Safely recommends having early conversations with your child about his or her use of tech both in school and at home, and continue these check-ins as your child grows. By learning about what technology your child uses at school, you can encourage the positive and productive uses of tech at home. You may also be alerted to any issues you need to address with the school so you can be an advocate for your child.

When my daughter was in fifth grade, I was contacted by her school because she was able to successfully hack past the school’s protective firewall to access prohibited websites. While I couldn’t help being just a little bit proud of my child’s tech skills, this bad act did pave the way to have a serious conversation with school administrators about how they were protecting student privacy, data security and personal safety when using the internet, and how they plan to improve to well above a fifth-grade hacking level. In addition to asking your school about these IT protocols, also ask teachers what apps they are using and how ed-tech is being used in the classroom at each grade level.

Student technology needs at home
Students will need access to a computer and high-speed internet at home to keep up with school assignments. In some areas, equipment such as a small laptop, is provided by the school. If not, there is help available for lower income families to have these resources at home.

The Federal Communications Commission’s subsidy program, the Emergency Broadband Benefit, can be used for $50 monthly discounts on broadband internet plans for individuals on SNAP or Medicaid, recipients of Pell grants, and families with children on free and reduced-price lunch plans. Low-income households on tribal lands can apply for $75 in monthly broadband subsidies. The program also allows for a one-time $100 subsidy for a laptop or tablet.

Arvig is one of the 825 broadband providers nationwide that have agreed to offer the internet service discount. For a complete guide to applying, how to sign up and the program qualifications, visit this resource page.

Parents and caregivers can also help by providing a supportive environment at home, including a quiet place for your student to work. However, it is not a good idea to have a computer in a private place where you cannot monitor online activity. If the home is not suitable, check into having your child use a local library or a community center media lab.

To be able to recover lost or stolen student devices, learn how to set up “Find my laptop” on each portable computer. Here is how to do this on a PC running Windows 10. You can also lock the PC remotely, essentially disabling it. For Apple users, learn how to set up Find My Mac here, and how to find a lost apple device here. Once set up, parents can also detect if a laptop is not where it should be, even if it is not lost.

Be aware that kids can access the internet on a variety of devices, including their phone, Xbox and other game consoles, iPads, portable music devices, Smart watches and more. Make family technology rules that can grow with your child, starting with no secret accounts or passwords when they are very young. This Kids Heath website has a primer on setting up family technology rules for both younger kids and teens. 

You don’t have to spend a lot on student technology
Student computers generally don’t need tons of bells and whistles. They do need reasonably fast processors to speed online access, and have good durability. When deciding how much to spend, consider that the machine will get harder than normal use, may be lost or stolen and will eventually become outdated. A budget-friendly Chromebook, like this one from Samsung is under $200, and has military grade durability. 

If your student is transporting the laptop to and from school, an inexpensive water-resistant padded laptop sleeve can be a lifesaver. A sturdy backpack is important too, but that doesn’t mean giving up style. Pottery Barn Teen’s Gear Up backpack comes in a variety of colorful patterns and includes an interior padded laptop sleeve and roomy pockets. Other cool features include a cell phone holder with a port for headphone wires, two front zipper pockets with an ID holder and a spot for school supplies, two D-rings in the front and back to attach keys or lunch bag, a front bungee cord for holding a coat and mesh pockets on each side is for holding water bottles. 

Final Thoughts
The most concerning take away in the “tele-everything” future is that those students who are highly connected are likely to pull further ahead of students with less access to digital tools and training. Parents should ask about their school’s ed tech plans and ensure students have access to technology at home as well. Learn how to monitor children’s online safety. 

Be diligent about checking in on your student’s use of educational technology as they grow, and they will be better prepared to continue on in our tech-oriented world as adults.

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