Emerging technology is no longer a novelty
The panelists emphasized that drones, robots, VR and browser-based tools can empower students to become creators by building their analytical and computational skills. These technologies also expose them to industry standard tools.
Elzen said that while VR was seen as a novelty for years because of limited curriculum-oriented content, today VR can facilitate career exploration, immersive learning, support for students with special needs, and more. Students can even earn VR-related certifications and credits.
“We have solutions where students can be the developers,” Roesken added. “They can be the producers, they can create that content and game design. They can actually create the content they watch on the VR headsets.”
Panelists also noted that giving students access to these technologies could support effective workforce planning as they would learn to master the tools they could use in future careers.
They said that while there is some concern among workers today doing demanding or manual work that these tools could make their work redundant, the industry will still need programmers to tell drones and robots, for example, what to do.
Extending digital equality with browser-based applications
Another innovation that panelists discussed was itopia, which provides browser-based applications that give students access to applications for coding, design and productivity without expensive hardware or the need to be tied to a computer lab.
“For us, it’s really about access,” Riley said. “At every school we’ve talked to, almost everyone has a one-on-one program these days. So we’re going one step further to create true equality, which means that every student, no matter where they are, can access and be exposed to all these different applications.”
Emerging technology could reduce teaching time for teachers
Recruiting and retaining teachers is a challenge these days, and Gordon said emerging technology could reduce the need for teachers to be on campus.
“CDW•G and itopia are working with a school district to see if they can take their current teacher base and create the environment, planning and programming where they can teach three days a week in person and two days a week remotely.”
Emerging technology can also help teachers with behavior management. Meagan Lumpkin with Moving Everest Charter School in Chicago says her school is working on a new program that will use a robot to facilitate student learning and emotional management.
“We needed to find a way to use our social-emotional robot in our wellness spaces, without a teacher necessarily having to talk it out for 30 minutes at a time,” she said. The robot would help teachers with time management and help students process their emotions in a safe environment.