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Did you know that the average American student spends 1025 hours in the classroom each year? And of that, 308 hours are lost to interruptions! That’s about 1 out of every 5 minutes are spent consumed by “anticipated interruptions” – transitions, materials distribution, and starting or ending class.
What if new tools could help teachers get these hours back? Each minute teachers spend managing large group procedures takes away from time they could be spending on the hard work of teaching, such as differentiating instruction or developing students’ socio-emotional skills.
Connected devices, an emerging trend in computing technology, may offer the potential to relieve teachers of some of this administrative burden, allowing more time to focus on students’ learning needs. By embedding internet connectivity in everyday devices, the “Internet of Things” connects our physical and virtual worlds, enabling computers to provide real-time insights without requiring user input.
As students take their seats, for example, attendance could be logged automatically using a device such as the Nymi, a wearable “smartband” that uses ECG patterns to authenticate identity. A beacon might push a warm-up exercise directly to students’ smart surfaces. Teachers, freed from managing many classroom procedures, now focus more fully on students—and perhaps focus more incisively too. Neurosensors, akin to InteraXon’s Muse, could provide insight into students’ cognitive activity using EEG technology that measures brain activity like one might measure a pulse. Identifying which students are expending a higher amount of cognitive energy on an exercise would allow teachers to dedicate attention to students who need it—not just those who ask for help the loudest.
Incorporating just a few connected devices could allow teachers to tap into the capabilities of personal computing or the mobile web to more quickly or naturally address anticipated interruptions—without their attention buried in a screen. By shifting processes and procedures to the background, the teacher would have fewer responsibilities as an active manager and more time to craft the learning experience.