The world of education is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. The days of picking up a book, turning to page –whatever- and beginning the lesson may still be here, but schools are beginning to get more connected with technology and e-learning. There are many gadgets that are used for e-learning –some that were designed specifically for that purpose and others whose benefits are incidental- and some are more effective than others.
The main goal when it comes to e-learning is that gadgets should make the process of learning simpler, more convenient, and cost-effective. If these goals can’t be achieved with a particular device, then the gadget shouldn’t be considered effective.
The Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goals with any gadget for e-learning is to engage students. When a student is engage, then he or she is more likely to understand the material and improve his or her overall educational position. When a gadget fails to engage the student, then it doesn’t matter how much it cost or what it might do … it will simply be just another token of failed opportunities.
Students today are surrounded by technology. Parents are able to log in online to their student’s school’s portal and keep up to date with their grades, any homework assignments that they missed, and even if their lunch card needs to be reloaded. Students can also be engaged with their classes outside of school through special portals, groups, and online access to a virtual classroom.
What they are used to when it comes to learning is significantly different than what their parents had to deal with, yet even with all of this technology at their fingertips, isn’t it amazing that children require wheels for their backpacks, that some are going to the doctor because of back problems having to lug so many books back and forth to school?
Technology is supposed to make the process (and the burden) of learning easier, and that’s where the best gadgets make a difference.
Top 5 Gadgets for e-Learning:
- Smart Phones. No matter how you slice it, smart phones are here to stay. These little devices are both a blessing and a curse for teachers and the parents the world over. Some decry their existence, saying that they are cutting kids off from each other and the social structure and skills that they need in order to grow into productive, strong, and confident adults. However, smart phones also connect students to e-textbooks, online groups, videos that teachers can have them view for educational purposes, and much more. Smart phones are compact and are usually taken everywhere the kids are, so they are one of the best gadgets for e-learning.
- Flash Drives. Those small thumb drives (or flash drives, if you will) come in a variety of designs and styles and can actually look like anything, but they can store a wealth of information. Students can go over a lesson in the classroom, download their notes and other information onto the thumb drive, and then head home where they can open it up on their own laptop or desktop, never missing a beat. Unless they lose the flash drive, they have no excuse for ‘forgetting’ their homework at school.
- Speech Recognition Software. Programs like LiveScribe and DragonSpeak have revolutionized the way adults and even students alike can make notes and have them transferred to a word processor. When used in a classroom (with teacher permission, of course), the student can focus on the lesson, rather than trying to take notes, and then go home and have those notes transcribed for them from the audio recording. This allows a new way for students to focus on the material, rather than just trying to keep up.
- Reading Pens. Using a reading pen can be a great tool for students who have trouble learning how to pronounce certain words or simply don’t know the definition. Of course, going to the bookshelf and grabbing a dictionary isn’t a very tough process, but when reading with a reading pen, the student can simply pass the pen over the word or words that he or she doesn’t understand and can hear what the word is and find the definition easily.
- Tablets. Similar to smart phones, tablets differ in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is their size and speed. Tablets are ideal for reading and watching videos that won’t create eye strain for the student. Another benefit to tablets is that most of them feature an in-board camera that allows the user to connect through a video conference option. This can allow students to be engaged with a classroom while not actually being there, as long as there is an accommodation in the classroom.
These are just a few of the gadgets that make education more promising for students of all ages around the world. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that with every technological advantage, there may be risks. One of those risks with these gadgets may be that students don’t learn how to research or conduct independent thought in a reasonable manner. However, there are sure to be gadgets or apps that address those ‘novelties’ sometime in the future as well.
Sameer Bhatia is founder & CEO of ProProfs.com which is a leading provider of online learning tools for building, testing, and applying knowledge. Through its eLearning Software, ProProfs offers trainers and educators powerful-but-simple features without requiring users to download or learn expensive software. Sameer has a background in technology with a Masters in Computer Science from USC (University Of Southern California) and is an ed-tech industry veteran. You can find Sameer on Google+ and Twitter.
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