One of the greatest things about technology is that it keeps evolving and improving, and in some ways you never know what is next. Some others shutter at the idea of ever-changing technology, but that is the world we live in and the world our students are immersed in. Where that leads us in the classroom is very exciting. Here are some emerging technologies in the classroom and how they can impact learning for our students.

Virtual Reality

I would count this one as having some of the greatest impact in the classroom once it can be implemented in a sound financial way. Remember, this educator of 19 years believes nothing can replace true hands-on teaching, but virtual reality has got to be the next best option out there, especially for many of our students who never have been more than 20 miles from their home.

Imagine a class of 25 students having their different virtual reality glasses on. Now take this class through a museum in Cairo so that they could learn about the ancient Egyptians. Next let’s take an elementary class on a journey from Mars, through the asteroid belt, and then look at Jupiter’s red spot. Then let’s finish with our Anatomy class and the virtual dissection of an eye or practice open heart surgery.

The places that virtual reality can take students and give them essentially a hands-on experience are really endless and basically held back by programs that have not yet been developed and the economic crossroads of affordability and accessibility.

LCD Video Boards

Let’s take the most powerful smartboard you can think of and double and triple its capability. Some of the latest LCD video boards do all the amazing things smart boards can do; show your screen, be written on, act like a touch screen, save what you write on the board, etc. But with LCD video boards take the power of your television and combine that with your smartboard.

Right now this technology runs higher than most smartboards, but once this price point comes down some as the technology develops, the interactive options with students will increase.

Many threads on this topic discuss that video boards are more versatile in that once the projector and smart board are set, so are the teaching patterns. The video board is mobile and the front of the room can be anywhere. The video displays are much better and the combination of video and presentations is much smoother on the video boards.

This is a great example of how one technology is improving and becoming more versatile in the classroom. Versatility is something all teachers love!

Flipped Classroom

Yes, this is more of an instructional strategy, but it involves using technology as the delivery method for the class. So let’s take a quick break from the actual technology and talk instructional delivery.

In the past few years, I have had many teachers talk about this, but the frontloading process sometimes scares some teachers away. A flipped classroom is where the teacher has prepared the lesson to be viewed, watched, or studied outside the classroom, and when students come the next day or to the next class, they come ready for questions or clarifications that need to be made on the work done previously.

As an administrator for nine years now, I believe this had to be done at the right time of the year, with the right teacher, and with the right students…then it can expand.

Imagine for a minute students the night before watching the video on how to do an assignment from the unit on algebraic expressions, then they practice with a couple of problems at home. The next day the teacher can check their work, help them through mistakes that took place, and then prepare them for the next lesson and what they will study next.

The class is flipped to the students doing the work more and the teacher is more a facilitator of learning. The teacher has to do a lot of legwork to make the lesson understandable remotely and then they can refine that work in the classroom. This is a great example of how technology and instruction can work very well together.

Student Response Systems

I would consider this as emerging because the technology systems to use them in the classroom are not widespread, but most campuses I am familiar with have a set or two available.

Students can sit at their desk and instantly answer questions the teacher has prepared. Picture a teacher doing a review with multiple choice answers. Then the teacher can instantly see how answers are correct or incorrect and know whether or not the students understand the concept or not. This is a great assessment tool made easier with technology.

At my school, cell phones are not allowed out at all; however, if you are at a place that allows them out for instructional purposes, there are ways to do this with cell phones.

Other forms of this using computers for student responses are on a website like Kahoot, where students join a game and the teacher can see the entire class results instantly. Student response systems usually allow the teacher to see more individual responses as well, but the instant assessment factor works in both situations.

Flexible Displays

This one kind of blew my mind! Picture a tablet that is so thin and flexible that a student can fold it up or roll it up and still write on it and save their notes.

Beyond the ability to save their notes, I am not sure what all the benefits are for this; I guess that is why it is considered an emerging technology, but I would say this fits in the ‘wow, how cool is that’ category!

Remember, in the end with technology, it is a tool for instruction. If a person does not know how to use a hammer properly, the hammer will be an ineffective tool. Thus is the same for technology when it comes to instruction. Teachers still have to know how to effectively leverage the technology to get the maximum learning possible for their students.

Where technology and instruction merge seamlessly, amazing things can happen in the classroom, and who knows where that intersection will occur next.

*Updated April 2021