As soon as schools start acquiring digital devices, they sometimes feel they are almost there. After all, it was a fight getting the budget approved, choosing the right device, setting up the internet, getting teachers on board, and so on.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. What you do with all this, directly affects your changes of success.
We will define the Digital Classroom as a Classroom that is technology-empowered. This means ALL of the following:
- Much of the content you use is digital (which may be third-party content or your own).
- There are enough computing devices in the classroom, such that each student can use one at least 50% of the time.
- You expect students to a complete a big part of their work using a computing device.
In other words A Digital Classroom is not a classroom that is JUST using an LMS See: What is an LMS
Are Digital Classrooms functional today?
Well, they could be.
Unfortunately, very often, hardware is purchased before any thought is put into how that hardware is used.
Just because your have iPads or ChromeBooks in your classroom does not mean it's a Digital Classroom (even though, it is technically, Digital and it is a Classroom, but separately).
- Have you found good digital content that relates well to the way you are teaching?
- Are your students able to complete their assignments on their computers most of the time or do they still need the good ol' fashion pencil and paper more often than not?
You need an application to manage your digital classroom. Often the LMS is slated for that (even we contend it is not the right tool). We have written a couple of articles about LMS' such as this one
If like us, you believe the digital classroom deserves more than JUST an LMS, be sure to sign up for a trial of our application ZeSchool.
Hardware & Network
A major challenge not to be discounted, is the multitude of devices (and device versions) that are available. Sometimes that need to be supported simultaneously (an interesting case is a classroom with ChromeBooks, Windows and Mac devices). BYOD (Bring your Own Device) is here to stay, especially given the low-cost of (bare-bones) modern computing devices (unless you are talking iPads, which are bare-bones but cost twice as much).
Be sure to visit This article which goes through the selection process of classroom computing devices and addresses the network concern.
Now it gets interesting. You really have two parts to instruction, if we simplify modern teaching. The first is when you give out instruction. The second is when students react back (e.g. assignments, papers, exams). You can chose to deploy either or both of them using your digital classroom.
For example, you may find assessments to be more efficient with technology, but want to keep using your favourite books to teach. It's really up to the teacher (and school / district with their guidelines).
Our opinion, is to first look at the digital content that is out there (much of it is free, especially for STEM, or you can purchase digital material from publishers) and mix it with your favourite non-digital resources. We have another article which goes deeper into the most common digital material. This will reduce your learning curve, and the risk of failure.
This was a short introductory article about the digital classroom. We looked at the most important aspects when starting your own.