Teach English in Danba Zhen - Yan'an Shi

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Technologies are constantly evolving and improving. There are literally dozens of new technologies that can be applied to the modern classroom in 2019 that have not yet made their way into mainstream usage. New tech changes the way subjects are taught, how students learn and the way teachers and students communicate with each other. Everything from new types of interactive whiteboards, classroom response systems, use of social media, tablet computers and classroom websites to the more exotic and potentially cost-prohibitive techs such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality(VR) or even holographic projectors are commercially available for use in the classroom. Students in ancient Babylonia and Sumeria inscribed their lessons on clay tablets with a stylus (predecessor to the pen and pencil) in cuneiform writing. These could be used wet then erased to be used again or baked to create a permanent document. In India in the 11th century, teachers used something similar to personal blackboards in their lessons. By 1801, the rather obvious solution to the problem made its debut. James Pillans, headmaster and geography teacher at the Old High School in Edinburgh, Scotland, is credited with inventing the first modern blackboard when he hung a large piece of slate on the classroom wall. (The Room 241 Team, 2012) Although still used in older schools, the venerable blackboard is becoming a bit long in the tooth in 2019. Once an instrument central to the modern classroom, the blackboard started to be replaced in the 1980s by the whiteboard(a less messy and easier to maintain solution), which by the 2000s has begun to see it's replacement by the interactive whiteboard. In 2019, the expensive but amazing Microsoft Surface Hub 2 offers an 84-inch high-definition(HD) display that serves as an interactive whiteboard with HD video conferencing capabilities built in. It uses the popular Windows 10 operating system. The instructor's in-class notes can be instantly streamed to a class website or to a student's portable device and stored for future reference. The tablet pc in its modern form has been around for about 10 years. It is generally defined as a mobile device with an operating system, a touchscreen display, and a rechargeable battery. Typically WIfi or cellular connectivity is incorporated. The introduction of Apple's iPad pushed tablets into the mainstream but its usage in the classroom is still developing. I think the tablet pc stands out as a potentially revolutionary educational tool that may conceivably achieve mass adoption. It is especially useful in underprivileged areas of industrialized nations or in developing countries where access to high quality, low-cost learning material is not available. The continued decrease in cost should make ubiquity in the classroom possible. The use cases are abundant and diverse. Interactivity is rich. Connectivity between teacher, students and when applicable, the student's parents can be higher than ever before.No more outdated textbooks, the need for notebooks or the pencil sharpener. First class teaching materials can be made available to everybody. Just a sample of the top free or low-cost education based software apps available for the iPad in 2019 include: Epic( a library of digital books, intended for kids under age 12 or under, which boasts unlimited access to 25,000 high-quality ebooks, audiobooks, learning videos, and quizzes), Kids Academy(more than 13,000 educational games designed to teach your child in a fun way),Endless Numbers( an app designed to teach children numeracy including number recognition, sequences, quantity, numerical patterns, and simple addition). Similar apps are available for the Android operating system. One of my favorite new educational tools for language learning that I use on my Android tablet pc is called Duolingo. It is free of cost and designed for learners of all levels. As of January 2019, the language-learning website and app offer 85 different language courses in 24 languages. The app has about 300 million registered users across the world. (Wikipedia 2019) The number of educational resources and software applications available for the tablet pc are numerous, often free or low cost and will continue to grow in number for the foreseeable future. Two technologies for the classroom not likely to achieve mass adoption anytime soon: Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) have great potential for teaching. Augmented Reality(AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory(Huffington Post, 2016) Virtual Reality(VR) is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment. It incorporates mainly auditory and visual feedback, but may also allow other types of sensory feedback. This immersive environment can be similar to the real world or it can be fantastical. (Wikipedia, 2019) Unfortunately, they will generally require the use of specialized tech similar to Microsoft's excellent HoloLens 2 AR eyewear($3500) or Oculus Rift VR headsets ($350) which are too expensive for most schools. The prices(especially VR headsets) are coming down but the software is not yet prevalent and it may be some time before these revolutionary tools can be used by everyone. Some of the more interesting and engaging technologies for the classroom may not be practical or affordable just yet but hopefully, trends in education will facilitate the implementation of currently available, clearly useful, free or somewhat affordable technologies not in widespread use today. REFERENCES The Room 241 Team (2012) The History of the Classroom Blackboard from https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/the-history-of-the-classroom-blackboard/ Wikipedia (2019) Duolingo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duolingo "The Lengthy History of Augmented Reality" Huffington Post (May 15, 2016) Wikipedia (2019) Virtual Reality https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality