6 steps to creating a digital classroom

The introduction of technology to the classroom has to be managed in a very careful manner.

Unlike commercial sectors, where competition and disruption are natural, technology cannot be allowed to quickly uproot education for obvious reasons.

It has to have real, tangible benefits and must be introduced steadily to maximise its effect and avoid it having a negative impact on development.

With this in mind, there is still a need for education and guidance to temper the implementation of the digital classroom.

Here are six steps that educational organisations should consider when integrating technology into the classroom.

>See also: How mobile technology in education is shaping the next generation of employees

1. Education, education, education

While technology is integral to everyday life, introducing it to education will take time and is not yet widespread. Therefore, organisations should invest time in educating everyone, from students and staff to stakeholders, on how to use technology correctly and its associated risks to make sure it is put to best use.

Educational organisations should also consider acceptable usage policies as a good way to define expectations. The policy will outline rules and aims, and ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how to interact with technology provided.

Closely linked with education is awareness. As mentioned, the digital classroom is a fundamental shift away from the old way of teaching. So, communication is vital, and everyone must be fully invested into the idea. Only then can the transition truly begin.

2. Digital and physical security

Security is paramount to the success of the digital classroom. Children are not out of bounds for hackers – take the V-Tech attack, a clear example that internet-enabled devices can pose a real threat in a school environment.

Schools, colleges and universities have a responsibility to their students to ensure the technology they introduce to the classroom is safe, and so tight controls are a necessity.

This includes imposing context-aware access controls to only allow verified users to work on certain devices; blocking non-verified websites, apps and services; preventing access to unknown internet networks; and preventing files from executing that are not approved.

However, cyber security is only one part of the security equation. Organisations must also remember that devices need to also be physically secured.

Storing them in safe locations and password protecting them to prevent those that shouldn’t from gaining access is a good starting point.

3. Physical risks

Technology also poses a real physical risk within a classroom. Of course, this may seem obvious, but it is an issue that is often overlooked and it must be considered due to the sheer amount of devices that an organisation such as a school will house.

Therefore, schools need the right storage solutions positioned in the right places to avoid any accidents to both the devices and more importantly the users.

Locating stored devices away from communal areas will avoid threats such as falling devices and tripping hazards. Device storage must also be constantly monitored to ensure that all elements are intact.

For example, cables should be stored correctly and not be fraying – and if they are then they should be replaced immediately to avoid any risks.

4. Feeling the heat

Another potential risk to consider is that of overheating. As mentioned, schools will be aiming to store and charge dozens of devices together, which of course can lead to difficulties.

Therefore, organisations should also ensure that their storage solutions have temperature-monitoring capabilities and temperature limiters. These will shutdown chargers if overheating does occur and restore a safe temperature, meaning staff are not constantly needed to monitor the solution. Alongside this, any storage solution must have fire retardant materials housing all electrical components to mitigate the risk.

5. Safety certification

Educational establishments also have a responsibility to ensure that the devices and device storage solutions they are introducing are certified and safe. The default stamp of approval is generally considered to be the universal marker of the Declaration of Conformity (CE).

However, the CE does not take into account the environment of a school or the fact devices will be stored and charged together. Therefore, schools should demand more stringent certification to ensure the highest level of safety.

To obtain this, organisations should look instead to independent test houses such as TUV, Intertek and SGS. These certificates take into account the environment in which devices will be stored and test them accordingly. Ultimately, they scrutinise devices more intently and are a true mark of safety.

>See also: Why cloud, mobile and the education sector make a perfect match

6. Fit-for-purpose technology

As the ratio between students and devices reduces, storage will be paramount. Schools, colleges and universities will be housing dozens, if not hundreds of devices – and their storage solution has to be able to cope.

To ensure it is fit for purpose, organisations can assess a number of questions. Can it store the number of devices you need it to? Can it charge a selection of different devices? Does it have a weight limit? And can it scale as more and more devices are introduced and the student-device ratio decreases?

If a solution cannot store the amount of devices needed, charge and sync correctly or scale in the future, then it needs to be updated.

It is undeniable that the digital classroom is now a reality. But of course there is still progress to be made and each step needs to be carefully considered.

It needs to be a measured process, so by ensuring the above factors are considered, technology can be successfully enrolled in the classroom, for the benefit of future generations.

Sourced from Chris Neath, head of new product development, Lapcabby

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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