When people not born in this generation hear the phrase "technology in the classroom," they might conjure up images of kids playing "Oregon Trail" on an Apple 2G in the corner. If you're of my generation -- that is, ten years out of high school -- you still remember how exciting it was when those gigantic laser discs showed up in school one day.
Well, the excitement was short-lived. Whereas it used to be that technology was a curiosity in the classroom, schools are now acknowledged as (or at least aspire to be) the vanguards of new resources. In 2009, the ratio of computers to students was roughly 5 to 1 in American classrooms [source: NCES]. But aside from just adding quantity to the classroom, how is the rapidity of technological change affecting the way classes are taught, students are engaged and teachers use material?
Before we get into some of the technology that could become an everyday part of the educational system, let's first discuss what educational system we're talking about. Because let's be honest: Not every classroom has the means to take advantage of the technology of the future -- or even the present. And not just third-world nations; remember how even three years ago, there were roughly 5 computers to every 1 student in the American classroom? Well, let's just keep in mind that there are schools like the Bronzeville Scholastic Institute in Chicago, which this year has only 24 computers, shared among a thousand students [source: Pandolfo].
While we can't ignore the fact that these technologies are simply not going to enter some schools, we do need to acknowledge that we're going to be discussing resources that will likely be available to those educational systems that have funds to support them. In other words, we're by and large talking about cutting-edge educational systems and districts.
With that said, let's go to the next page, where we'll explore some ways technology is leading the educational experience to change.