In the early days of public education, and even in some rural areas today, multiple grades were taught in a single classroom. As challenging as that environment was for teachers, today's pedagogues find themselves in a similar situation, but now they're better equipped to handle it with the help of ed-tech tools. Teachers today may have classes full of kids with learning needs as diverse as the kids in the one-room schoolhouse, but with modern technology they can meet those needs and help children develop to their full potential.
Social Learning with Ed-tech
In the one-room schoolhouse, it was common for students of all ages and grades to help each other learn. In the ed-tech world, social media can perform a similar function by fostering information sharing among students and facilitating impromptu tutoring sessions online.
Teachers are using Facebook-like network applications to create environments where their students can connect online to study and discuss course material. Since the environments can extend beyond a single classroom, one benefit of these virtual study spaces is that activities across an entire school system can be organized online.
Teachers can also tap into general purpose apps to enrich their students' classroom experience. For example, they can use Skype to virtually bring in experts on a specific topic or even to expose students to other cultures by engaging with classrooms in other parts of the world. Teachers are also using Pinterest to post-lesson plans, projects and inspirational materials.
Social apps can also be used to create Wikis online, which allow teachers and students to collaborate on Wikipedia-type projects. Creating local wikis can also give students a hands-on understanding of why Wikipedia should never be used a primary source for their studies.
In addition to sharing and communicating, teachers are using ed-tech tools to liven up their lessons. For example, teachers can supplement their own course materials with lecture collections on subjects such as math, science and finance. What's more, these lectures are often packaged with quizzes, which can save teachers valuable time when preparing materials for lessons, and give them more time to focus on their teaching.
A number of vendors offer teachers online games to encourage their students to engage with classroom material. What's nice about these game packages is that they often come with tools for tracking a student's progress with the course material and for monitoring a student's grades.
Other ed-tech apps allow teachers or students to create learning videos on tablets and offer ways to personalize online learning content for each student in a class, which can be a fantastic way to help ensure that no child is left behind during the school year.
Ed-tech apps are quickly supplanting many of a teacher's old analog tools. Lesson planning? There's an online tool for that. Need to build a dazzling presentation that will grab your students' attention? There's an app for that, too. There are also apps for creating study aids for students, such as flashcards, and for comparing a student's performance to state and common core standards. The latter is a particularly valuable asset considering modern education's dependence on standardized testing.
There's even an online offering that helps underpaid teachers earn a little more cash. Called Teachers Pay Teachers, the website allows pedagogues to sell learning products they've created or buy products from others.
Better Apps Need Better Networks
As enriching as ed-tech apps can be, their usefulness can be greatly diminished by a poorly performing network. That's why IT departments in educational institutions are turning to network monitoring solutions to optimize the performance of their networks.
By monitoring network performance, IT pros can identify and eliminate bottlenecks, pinpoint and address network delays and optimize broadband connections. They can also measure application usage so bandwidth can be allocated appropriately, not only for the apps but for classrooms, lecture halls and athletic facilities too.
Network monitoring can also provide security for users on the network. It can identify and isolate rogue apps and "shadow IT," keep software applications up to date and perform malware and security threat analysis.
With a network running at peak performance, students and teachers will be able to fully enjoy and benefit from their educational applications.