8 Technologies Making Classrooms Better Than They Used to Be

Sometimes when we walk into schools today, we don't recognize annnnything. What happened to the blackboards of the days of yore? Or encyclopedias? Or cursive? Things have changed. But if we're being honest with ourselves, most (if not all) of the changes have made school better for our kids.

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It can be hard to get behind the idea of personalized laptops when we were raised to write out essays with pen and paper. But some of the technologies available to students these days are truly incredible, and more studies than not prove that upgrading tech in schools is the right move. Here are 8 technologies common in classrooms now that have really made schools better, whether we're ready to admit it or not.

  1. Online portals with homework and lesson plans. As timeless as old-school agendas are, online portals make keeping track of assignments easier for kids ... and make keeping track of kids easier for parents and teachers.

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  2. Digital books, journals, and magazines. Not only are online resources exciting for kids to work with, but when using them, kids learn how to properly research topics online -- an essential skill they'll need their whole lives. Ingraining good practices early on will make everyone happier in the long run. Plus, you can't deny that carrying laptops and tablets to class is easier than lugging heavy books.

  3. Computer-based standardized testing. Swapping No. 2 pencils for computers enhances the standardize testing program in almost every way -- it streamlines the distribution and grading process, and it allows for questions that require more in-depth answers and real-world problem-solving.

  4. Smart Boards. Smart Boards might be one of the most visible symbols of the changing classroom, and their contribution to the new learning environment is no less significant. Mainly, they allow for a more dynamic lesson that involves seamless transitions between text, video, games, illustrations, and more. But they also cater toward more learning types than traditional black or white boards -- visual, audio, and tactile learners can all interact and learn from smart boards in a way that benefits them.

  5. Online grading. While report cards have a certain old-school charm to them, online grading allows students immediate access to their progress, and the opportunity to self-monitor and self-correct at any time. It also provides a level of transparency between teachers and parents -- tests with a D can't get lost in the black hole of a 7th grade backpack anymore, and that keeps everyone on the same page in regard to how the student is doing in class.

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  6. Paperless communication. We'll never forget how messy our three-ring binders and backpacks were, and thankfully, schools are transitioning away from that crumpled paper and broken pencil system. The clean organization of laptops and tablets keeps students, teachers, and parents on top of everything that's going on, and we can't wait to see more schools transition over to this system.

  7. Assistive tech. Assistive tech -- technologies that help kids with attention or language issues learn and communicate better in the classroom -- comes in a variety of forms. For example, there is text-to-speech recognition software for kids who have trouble reading. It's actually really incredible what some of this stuff is capable of, and we love seeing the way it makes learning a little easier on many kids.

  8. Extended classroom communities. More and more teachers are taking advantage of online communities, which provide students with direct support after class has ended. Students have the online space to pose questions to their peers or teachers after they've left school, and the community forum encourages discussion and a collaborative atmosphere.

Image via iStock.com/dolgachov
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