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Immersive Tools Are Poised to Change Communication in K–12 Schools

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Mixed-reality and automated classroom tools create opportunities for students to develop connections with their peers and build essential soft skills.

New educational technology is revolutionizing how K–12 students and teachers engage with each other in and out of school. 

Online communities are certainly not new. For decades social media, online forums and messaging boards brought people together around common interests and shared goals. 

The explosion of new digital solutions, however, ushered in new possibilities for immersive experiences that challenge traditional notions of school communities. 

Augmented and virtual reality and voice-activated technologies are not only helping schools meet current, prevailing social expectations but also are allowing K–12 communities to expand beyond real-world limitations. 

VR Adds New Immersive Elements to Videoconferencing

Schools are a place to foster leadership, empathy, problem-solving and communication skills. When used appropriately, classroom technologies can promote the development of these competencies while meeting students where they are. 

Virtual reality brings a dynamic layer to the student experience, teaching students critical social skills in engaging and interactive ways. Immersive programs can open rural schools to the global community or make collaborative problem-solving and communication more fluid and intuitive. 

For example, students can now give their best friend a hug or high-five, compete in a soccer match or harmonize in a virtual band even when separated by an ocean. Teachers can take classes to far away locations, and regular school programing and activities can include students from anywhere in the world.

Virtual Tools Promote Inclusivity in Schools

Digital avatars put students on an even playing field, which can boost their self-confidence and help them learn to accept the differences in others. 

In a virtual world, students are also not limited by their physical abilities, language proficiencies or resource availability. Students can join in collective cultural experiences, such as dances and performances, with schools from all corners of the globe. 

Together, these technologies blur the line between the digital realm and the physical one—redefining how students talk to each other and think of social bonds. 

K–12 Schools Can Use Digital Spaces to Gamify Events

At the beginning of February, as many as 10 million gamers logged in to Fortnite, one of the most popular games right now, for a live virtual concert with performance artist DJ Marshmello. 

Participants celebrated stageside with other avatars as the DJ cheered them on. Others floated through the air, thanks to altered gravity in the virtual world. The performance, complete with real-life stage visuals, lasers and oversized holograms, transported concertgoers to an exclusive experience only possible in a digital space. 

Those who tuned in to the concert were more than spectators; they were active participants, present in the crescendo of a new kind of virtual community.

The growing popularity of interactive, collective technologies also calls into question our traditional notions of place — from what boundaries define the campus to assigned seating, individual desks and lockers. 

Activating the classroom through technology integration lays the foundation of a more expanded, global classroom that empowers students to better relate to themselves, each other and the modern world around them.

posted Mar 27, 2019 by Boupha

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+1 vote

AI integration offers new potential to improve student outcomes and security.

Over the past several years, artificial intelligence transitioned from the movie screen to reality, and soon it will be everywhere.

The ubiquity of AI across industries leads to two key points for K–12 schools

First, K–12 schools should use current AI solutions to help with everything from classroom performance to network safety and monitoring. Second, students need to start learning how to design, manipulate and work alongside AI machines in order to build the foundation they need as they prepare to enter the workplace.

Organizing a successful AI integration and education plan will take collaboration and proper planning on the part of school decision-makers.

“AI may hold the potential to personalize instruction and learning. Yet its use in educational settings will require educators and school leaders to develop an understanding of how it can be implemented safely and smartly,” Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking said in a recent statement

AI Can Act as A Multifaceted Digital Assistant

Artificial intelligence offers a helping hand to K–12 educators, staff and administrators, easing the burden of daily tasks and extending constrained resources.

Personalized learning, for example, is being rapidly adopted by educators as a key pedagogy. However, one of the most difficult parts of personalized learning is finding the time to give each student the attention he or she needs. 

AI-enabled teaching assistants and mobile applications help educators meet that challenge, using input from students to adjust course materials through educational apps, leaving teachers time to conduct the interpersonal aspects of their curricula.

AI-enabled content monitors also improve student safety. Putnam County School District adopted GoGuardian’s new content monitoring software, which uses machine learning to add context to flagged internet searches.

For example, the automated filtering solution would be able to identify a student searching about self-harm, prompting appropriate mental health intervention. 

K–12 Teachers Need to Bolster AI Curriculum

recent Gartner report predicts one in five workers will have some form of artificial intelligence as a coworker, and Forrester predicts by 2021, automation technology will account for the work of nearly 4.3 million humans worldwide. 

That means most of today’s K–12 students will enter the workforce by the time AI is well established. In order to compete, K–12 schools will need to create curricula around artificial intelligence. 

At the Montour School District in Pennsylvania, students use tablets and smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to explore the mechanisms of machine learning.

“It’s the people that program artificial intelligence and technology that will change the future,” Justin Aglio, Montour’s director of academic achievement and district innovation, tells The Tribune-Review.

Experts realize planning AI-related curricula can be challenging, so organizations are forming to help drive K–12 education around artificial intelligence. 

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Computer Science Teachers Association recently formed the AI for K–12 Working Group, which recently drafted a report, “Envisioning AI for K–12: What should every child know about AI?” The report outlines five important ideas around the AI concepts that K–12 students should know, from how it functions to the ethics of using it. (Access the full report here.)

“It is just as important now to think about what AI education should look like in K–12, not only to ensure a more informed populace that understands the technologies they interact with every day but also to inspire the next generation of AI researchers and software developers,” the report’s authors write. “For many in this generation, AI will be an often overlooked, magical force that powers their lives much as electricity, the internal combustion engine, and networking technology power ours.”

+2 votes

Technology distracts students, right? Keeps them from focusing?

One solution is to ban phones and computers from the classroom. Another solution is to harness their tech-savvy and engage students with online tools that will help them complete assignments while still engaging them electronically. Whether they’re working on a research essay, a presentation, a science project, or a math report, there are ample tools available to make the process more engaging for students.

Think about it–if students are growing up in a world that requires them to be tech-savvy, then shouldn’t tech play a big role in their classroom experience? Here are 9 of my top picks for a tool to engage students in the classroom.

9 Technology Tools To Engage Students In The Classroom

1. White Noise

Depending on what you want the students to engage in–you, one another, content, an assignment, etc.–they need to be able to focus, and the classroom isn’t always the easiest places to do that. Background noise cannot only drown out excess noise but more helpfully as students concentrate, there is less noise because they’re concentrating. Neat trick, huh?

2. Cold Turkey

Students probably won’t love this one but it’s a useful tool you can use to mitigate the number of multitasking students can do on their computers. Cold Turkey is a tool that allows you to block certain websites or the internet in general so that students can focus on their tasks. Even having students turn it on for half of a period for some focuses in-class writing

time will make a difference in terms of their productivity.

3. Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a handy tool that students can use to create in-class questionnaires and quizzes. This is handy for obtaining data for graphing assignments, data for research essays, and feedback from their classmates. Kahoot! is compatible with multiple devices and has a game-like feel that will help keep students interested.

4. Venngage

With so much focus being given to data analytics these days, data literacy is a useful skill for students to learn. Whether your students have collected their own data or they’ve collected it from other sources, being able to visualize their data in an infographic is a highly useful skill. Infographics appeal to both visual learners and textual learners. Venngage offers a selection of infographic templates that students can customize.

5. Trello

Because so many students are in the habit of multitasking, a good skill to teach them is how to organize and streamline their assignments. Trello is a free and super easy-to-use tool students can use to create workflow charts. Multiple students can be added to the same board; great for collaboration on projects. 

6. Plickers

This is a tool for teachers, to help assess students’ understanding of concepts and their engagement with the material. Teachers can project questions onto their screen using while students answer them in real time. Students’ answers show up on the teacher’s phone screen, and teachers can see which students got answers right and which didn’t. This gives teachers an accurate picture of how students are following the information, and adjust their lessons accordingly.

7. Nearpod

Create interactive lessons, assess students on the fly, and see data and student response in real-time. Students that can ask questions and receive feedback at any time are more likely to be engaged.

8. Prezi

Presentations are a core part of the curriculum but let’s face it, PowerPoint isn’t terribly engaging. Prezi allows students to create presentations that are more creative and exciting than was PP has to offer. Not only will this make the presentation creation process more interesting for students, but it will also make watching presentations more interesting as well. Plus, Prezi presentations are published publicly on students’ accounts, so their classmates can access them later to check their notes.

9. Class Dojo

This is a fun tool to gamify the classroom. Students make their own avatars, gain and lose points based on classroom behaviour, discussion approaches, and other soft skills agreed upon by the teacher and the class. Teachers can also use Class Dojo to take attendance and create graphs that breakdown the information for teachers. Not only will this tool encourage students to uphold class values, but it will also provide key metrics to help teachers adjust their teaching tactics accordingly.