Ward's MediaTech

Educational Studies

A Technology Primer for the 21st Century Classroom

Don Zipperman - Thursday, November 07, 2013

The good news is that new classroom technologies give us the means to improve educational outcomes while reducing costs.

Recent developments in IT and AV have brought exciting ways to transform the classroom experience. All we need do is take advantage of what’s already available. It’s no longer a possibility; it is a responsibility.

The question many educators now seek to answer is: “How do we get there from here?”

Perhaps we might start with the realization that… There’s a lot we don’t know about ET (educational technology).

We’re at the dawn of a new age in classroom education, transitioning from a system designed to meet the needs of the industrial age to one that prepares students for success in a knowledge economy.

The IT/AV world has developed so quickly and become so much more complex in the last several years that few educators have been able to keep up. This trend is only increasing.

Three things we know

Let’s begin by breaking down ET into three basic components:

1) Devices e.g. projectors, tablets, etc.

2) Software that runs on the devices

3) Network Infrastructure that connects them all into a system

Each of these areas requires its own expertise. Educators should realize that, in order to deal with the complex world of ET, they need access to IT/ET information that is in-depth, comprehensive and timely. Many districts currently lack such knowledge resources and need to either develop them internally or seek them externally. ET consulting services should definitely be considered, since they may represent a more cost-effective overall solution.

Tips and ideas to consider:
  • Get the benefit of others’ ET experiences. Talk to neighboring districts (and every district is now a virtual neighbor) and interview local vendors to learn their ideas. It all adds to the knowledge mix.
  • Professional Development is not optional. You won’t succeed unless your staff is on board with new technology. PD can be expensive, but it’s necessary. Interview a number of PD providers for best results.
  • Due diligence: Learn your options and always try before you buy! It’s remarkable how many schools do not engage in product research or on-site testing before purchase. In a rapidly changing environment, today’s technology may be outmoded tomorrow. Product research and on-site evaluations can often lead you to better products at lower prices.
  • You can’t afford to wait. ET learning and planning must be instituted even if budget constraints mean you’re not currently planning to purchase gear. The accelerating pace of developments in IT/AV makes it imperative to keep up with the ET times.
  • Don’t stop until you’ve closed the loop! A landmark study by the Boston Consulting Group entitled “Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education” (2011) concludes that schools should institute what is known as a “closed loop system.” This is a system in which “objectives, standards, curricula, assessments, interventions, and professional development” are aligned and arranged to constantly reinforce each other.


This is the area of greatest complexity and excitement. Since it can create virtually any reality, there is practically no limit to software’s educational applications. But… how do we know what works best? There is currently a new proposal for a nationwide system to test and rate ET software. Dubbed “Edu-Star,” it would serve as a sort of Consumer Reports, helping educators sort through the myriad of available programs. This is another development that bears watching.

Bringing it all together

Please let us know if we may assist in the effort. This calls for an ET Action Plan. The reality is that communications technology in the last few years has transformed almost every aspect of our lives except our classrooms. An appropriate and timely organizational response requires a comprehensive ET Action Plan that brings together devices, software, and network structure into a closed-loop system, detailing responsibilities, methodologies and timetables for getting the job done.

In conclusion…

We’ve only just begun. We possess the know-how to build customized learning environments that are more efficient, more exciting and less expensive than ever. We only need to invest wisely in the physical and human resources that we know can provide our children with a better future.

Courtesy of: Ward’s MediaTech - Long Beach, California