The classrooms of today are far from what most of us would consider traditional. In addition to the lack of chalkboards and the abundance of high-tech devices, many classrooms even conduct their lesson plans entirely online–giving whole new meaning and accessibility to education at several different levels. This practice is often called distance learning, though the process involved is anything but distant.
With online learning media and education tech tools, learning experiences become more engaging and interactive than ever before–allowing students to be truly in control of how they send, receive and interpret information.
This practice of layered learning comes with multiple studies to support its efficacy; these studies in turn are helping propel the application of this teaching technique in schools across the country.
The Roots of Interactive Education
Minus all the gadgets, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other technological devices used in an academic setting today, interactive education has long been a part of many school curricula.
From dissecting frogs to visiting museums, this hands-on educational practice has played a fundamental role in helping students grasp basic to complex concepts at every level. Reading about cultures and concepts in textbooks doesn’t quite compare to actually experiencing these concepts yourself in a place like a museum or a lab.
One example of this is the Dallas Cultural Center, which celebrates the rich heritage of some of the first Americans: the Chickasaw Indians. The Center introduces visitors to valuable traditions that not only teach us about the history of the people themselves, but also about the ways in which they valued and improved learning within their own tribe through storytelling and exploration of the natural world. In the same way the Native Americans focused on the pure core of education, many technological media echo this emphasis on interactive experience as fundamental to learning.
Educational Apps: Learning at Your Fingertips
Want to learn Spanish, brush up on geography skills or manipulate models of atoms? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are thousands. The increased prevalence of portable electronic devices like smartphones and tablets have likewise increased the prevalence of apps, many of which are devoted entirely to educational purposes.
On top of devices designed to enhance learning, apps of all kinds improve education altogether by promoting organization along with more consistent communication and access to academic resources.
For example, school e-mails and websites like Blackboard can all be easily linked up through smartphone and tablet apps, making it easy for busy students to keep track of announcements, post to discussion boards, submit assignments and so on. Integrating educational apps into the learning experience does more than just acquaint students with the concepts addressed in each app—it also helps prepare them for the technology-dependent professional world that awaits them at the end of their academic careers.
When it comes to learning and memory retention, the overwhelming opinion in the scientific community is that we learn best by repeated exposure in an interactive environment. Today’s apps take students from the back of the lecture hall to an up-close-and-personal encounter with the material in question.
With touch-screen features and the advanced audiovisual effects of many of today’s apps, teachers and students alike have a vast range of opportunities to make the educational experience as memorable and valuable as possible.