Opinion

iPads, Smart Boards, Social Media: Using New Technologies at Colleges and Universities

The immense impact of the recent devices on learning and teaching is impossible to estimate. Both students and teachers were forced to adapt to the new rules the pandemic had set and radically change the way to cooperate and study. Hence, more gleaming screens and chirping Twitter notifications from classmates and professors. 

Whether one participates in a live lesson via Zoom or learns the tricks of the most amazing homework help on Studyfy, there is always a respective device and application involved.

iPads Equal Flexibility 

Speaking of devices, an iPad, or another smart portable device, is indispensable for convenient studying on the go. Its purpose is to boost your learning with engaging visuals, gamification elements, and elaborate tests. Regardless of the application you choose for studying, an iPad allows you to gain skills without living in your coziest spot.

Without such a gadget, you won’t be able to use education software or access one of the numerous online services for students and teachers. On the contrary, with iPad, you can download as many apps as you would like to make lecture notes, write essays, and watch TED talks online for your sociology or gender studies class. 

Here is a list of the most popular and widely used apps that drive progress in education these days. Most of them are free, and you can download them on your iPad in a few click-clacks. 

  • Google Drive. How come something so obvious is on the list? But Google Drive has earned its spot! They say, if you want to hide something valuable, hide it in plain sight. Google services are exactly this: an underestimated gem that has been out there for so long, we have forgotten to appreciate it.
  • Zotero. When it comes to academic writing, Zotero is particularly useful. It is a free tool that aids in collecting, organizing, citing, and sharing the research. And it’s cross-platform! Academic paper writers would be especially delighted with automatic citation creation for their favorite word processor: MS Word, LibreOffice, or Google Docs.
  • Coursera. Hundreds of online courses both from universities across the world and companies wait for you on the Coursera website. Some of them are readily available for free. As for the paid ones, students may still take a chance and apply for a zero fee. It is possible if such a student proves their harsh economic situation and explains the importance of the course for them.
  • Canvas Network. Canvas creators claim to put ‘open’ back into ‘open online courses’. As you’d notice on the front page of the service, all of the courses are free. English is not the only language of the courses, so Canvas is truly an international project.
  • MathWay. Dealing with algebraic equations or formulas gets tiresome from time to time. How does MathWay take part of the load off your shoulders? Make a photo of a formula or an equation with your iPad and have the app analyze or solve it, explaining the steps it used. Handy? You bet!

Smart Boards: A New Player in the Old Field

Smart boards are getting more popular nowadays. With its user-friendly design and the form imitating the good old blackboard, smart boards are already familiar to the user. Such a device is not a must-have for every student, and there are some more useful devices for individual use at home. The device is more relevant to the teacher’s experience, since smart boards are used while presenting the class material to students. 

Have we mentioned that smart boards are also extremely user-friendly? Most smart boards have an already installed operating system with basic applications ready to use. Add a few more apps, and you are the coolest college teacher!

So, how can smart boards add fun and effectiveness at the same time?

  • A smart board has an interactive touch screen and thus removes the need for markers and chalkboards forever. You can show the schemes and presentations quicker without wiping the board. No time is wasted.
  • The number of special education apps for smart boards grows day by day, sparing teachers the trouble of making presentations on their own. Creating a genealogy tree of all characters from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez never seemed easier!
  • Visual representation of a subject is extremely important for efficient learning. Students better absorb information this way. Especially if the information is organized in schemes. 
  • Being able to engage with a smart board to solve a practical task contributes to better memorization as well. For instance, students can easily solve math equations right on a smart board. 

It looks like such an amazingly interactive experience among all the most helpful tools is exactly what we lacked in schools, colleges, and universities all along.

Social Media: More Pros Than Cons?

It is kind of ironic that a predecessor of the largest known social network, the Facebook, was used exclusively among Harvard University students (and created by a student, of course). 

Though the mass use of social media is the next pandemic next to coronavirus, sometimes Facebook and Twitter are not that bad as most parents and teachers depict it. More than that – social media can be really useful. How exactly? Check below.

  • Closeness. A modern student, especially an international one, uses social media to stay in touch with friends and effectively collaborate with classmates (or alumni) as well as teachers. 
  • Build a pool of career opportunities. Applications like LinkedIn or Facebook allow a student to show their projects to the world. Meanwhile, the greatest companies can reach to the most talented by accidentally noticing their work. In such a way, a novice can subsequently build a network of job connections.
  • Brings value to the campus. As a common knowledge, social media is all about connectivity, and sharing news and class materials, while learning in a competitive mode. Any problem is solved faster when the community works on it, as opposed to a single person. 

Final Thoughts

Technology improves the educational process if used right. While iPads allow a modern student to access endless resources for studying, smart boards add fun and efficiency to traditional education. Even social media is a great way to broaden one’s opportunities if one knows how to properly use it and avoid distractions.

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