Most students today are Generation Z — born between 1995 and 2010. They’ve been raised exclusively around technology and are familiar with devices and social media. Because of that, the way to teach them has to change in order to be effective.

“[Today’s students] are social learners with an entrepreneurial spirit, and the way teachers leverage technology in education needs to address their needs,” says Heather Breedlove, technology consultant with Tech2Inspire, about what’s driving the tech transformation in education.

“The ability of technology to promote student engagement is huge.”

Game time

“The ability of technology to promote student engagement is huge,” says Brian Louderback, director of sales for Insight Enterprises, which focuses on informational tech. “You put a book in front of a fifth grader, and [they] have no interest in it. Digital devices drive a more meaningful development. Like in video games where you do something right and advance to the next level, there’s an attempt to bring gamification to learning to improve performance.”

Louderback stresses the importance of understanding that children learn at different paces. “Technology is the gateway to bring personalized learning to the student,” he says. “Some kids learn differently than mainstream students.”

There’s never been a better time to level the playing field for students. “In Google Classroom, teachers assign students varying levels of the same assignment without other students [noticing],” Breedlove says.

“Things like Makerspaces are opening up learning opportunities to students who might struggle with traditional subjects or students who struggle socially. These same students can sit next to each other and create things like 3–D printed glasses, where otherwise that opportunity might not have existed.”

Classroom hurdles

“The number one impediment to successful IT integration is a school’s budget, followed by the faculty and leadership’s ability to adopt and support technology,” says Louderback. As the classroom grows to depend on technology, its IT department (if a school has invested in one) must ensure a downed device doesn’t potentially impede a day of learning.

“Our role at Insight is to work with schools’ IT departments to help manage their technological capabilities,” he adds. He wants to promote the transformation all schools must undergo: a supported faculty and a more personalized learning experience for students.

“When the right curriculum meets the right medium for the right student, magic can happen.”