Teachers Need the Right Tools for Students of the Digital Era

Akhil Pawa October 22, 2019
Dedicated and enthusiastic teachers play a significant role in shaping the lives of our future generations. They have done so through the years, despite significant challenges. Although technology has disrupted practically every sphere of our lives, it has been late to make its mark on the education sector, leaving teachers at the mercy of antiquated instruction methods. But, teachers from different grade levels are increasingly realizing the benefits of technology in the classroom. In 2017, over 63% of K-12 educators were using technology in classrooms daily, according to a survey by the University Of Phoenix College of Education. This number increased in 2018, with 75% of teachers in a survey, published in The Journal, stated that technology has had an “extremely positive” impact on education.  Drastic changes are being made in instruction and assessment methods. Even the physical environment of classrooms is being changed to make learning more collaborative, engaging, intuitive and relevant, with a special focus on the current generation, born in the digital era. Moreover, educators are facilitating an ecosystem of immersive learning experiences, one that enables students to bring textual concepts to life, while providing insight into real-life applications of knowledge gained in school, through the use of interactive experiences.. Immersive learning helps students access interactive digital environments. It equips them to understand complex concepts in a simple but engaging and interactive  manner. Teachers are able to create compelling and memorable learning-based stories within the classroom, while simulations and gamification offer an effective way to not just learn new concepts but apply them to real world circumstances. Listed below are a few media and modes that have enabled the use of immersive learning tools in today’s learning experiences  
Learning Experience Platforms
Learning experience platforms (LXPs),like MagicBox™, fulfil a vital aspect of the learning process, providing students a certain level of autonomy over their learning process. While previously, teachers were at the helm of creating, distributing and assessing learning content, now students can choose to get instruction in the content format they are most comfortable with. These platforms can make relevant content easily discoverable, while offering a wide range of formats, such as interactive eBooks, PDFs, videos, audio lectures and more, to help them grasp concepts at their own pace.   In addition, universal availability of learning platform allows students to have the choice to access learning anywhere, anytime and on the device of their choice. Most importantly, the platform provides a cohesive ecosystem, where students, teachers and parents can all collaborate to build learning paths for positive outcomes.  
AR/VR Tools
Imagine a history teacher trying to describe life in Ancient Rome or how the early Homo Sapiens lived. Rather than simply reading out of a dry textbook, with a few faded pictures to tell the story, it is now possible to walk the students through these places and excavation sites, without ever leaving the classroom. Both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools are helping to create a digital simulated imitation of the real world. Applications in Math and Chemistry are already proving to be beneficial for learning and improving academic performance with the use of these immersive techniques. For instance, students can interact and manipulate chemicals or compounds in a virtual environment and see the impact for themselves, without the risk of the chemistry lab blowing up!  
Mixed Reality
The idea of combining VR and AR in educational tools has been much anticipated. Physical and digital objects can co-exist for students with the use of head-mounted displays (HMD) and motion controllers. They can touch and manipulate objects to develop a better understanding of tough concepts, such as chemical equations or mathematical formulae, which are difficult to understand with only verbal instructions. It is not only fun and engaging, but a highly effective method of teaching new concepts.  
Gamified or Simulated Learning Experiences
Research has long proven the benefits of gamification for cognitive development and functioning. However, traditionally, we’ve always believed that education and games don’t gel well. This belief is being challenged with the use of gamification and simulations in K-12 education. When education is made fun, students develop a positive attitude towards it. Even subjects that tend to evoke fear in many students, such as Math, becomes phobia-free. Gamification has proven effective in building interest among students for even subjects that they used to consider boring. The rapidly depleting attention span, something that we’ve been lamenting for long now, can also be stemmed with gamification. Simulations and games not only capture attention, they help with independent learning, building self-confidence. They have even been found to be helpful for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Most importantly, including these aspects in K-12 education has proven to help with better and easier understanding of concepts and improved learning outcomes.
Teachers Can Provide a World of Endless Possibilities
Indeed, schools are moving away from traditional computer labs. In 2014, over three million Google Chromebooks were used in US classrooms, according to an article on EdWeek Market Brief. The rise of school-issued computing devices is clearly visible. But, teachers and school principals need to ensure that these technologies truly take off, and are used for meaningful academic purposes. With effective guidance and facilitation through simulation processes, teachers can help students build connections between theory and practice.

According to the World Bank, there is an ongoing global learning crisis, part of which is due to the lack of understanding of teachers’ needs by educational institutions. Adaptive technologies can help teachers facilitate immersive learning, helping prepare students for life and professional careers.

Akhil Pawa

Management expert and the service line owner for solutions and delivery of all Digital Interactive Content offerings in Magic. He has been associated with Magic for more than 8 years and has handled several digital transformation projects in Education domain.