When it comes to instructional technology our thinking tends to focus primarily on how we integrate software into the learning process. Whether we use Google Docs to engage students in group projects or Voicethread to encourage discussion among students, our sense of what counts most as edtech tends to lean towards software, web or computer based.
Sure, we make use of hardware in our instruction, but it’s far more limited – and probably in more of a supporting role. Personal response devices are fairly common. Many classrooms now have smartboards, but they are often used as glorified projection screens. Some librarians may have students use their own hardware, encouraging them to use their smartphones, laptops or tablets to perform research activity or engage in learning games.
Hardware’s role in instructional technology may be changing soon as a new wave of more edtech-friendly gadgets begins to come to the education market. Leslie Fisher, an edtech specialist, provided a look at some of these gadgets during a presentation at ISTE 2015. It may take some imagination to see how they might be used in or out of the classroom, but there are definitely some cool tools that may help to get students engaged in learning.
I’m not quite sure how I might use a drone in a library learning class, but a few of the gadgets that Fisher mentions could be of interest.Wearable technology that allows for more direct interaction between instructor and students could offer some real possibilities for better learning engagement. I could see some challenges with respect to Universal Design for Learning. Are these gadgets designed for use by learners with disabilities? Will other types of gadgets emerge that eliminate learning barriers for disabled students?
When it comes to emerging edtech, I’ll be paying as much attention to tech gadgets and other educational hardware as I do to software solutions. What gadgets are you using in the classroom?