Saving Schools

Why open-technology mobile platforms are critical for 21st-century classrooms.

GUEST COLUMN | by Steve Rokov

CREDIT splashtop imageRadical changes in mobile technology have created seismic shifts in the way schools build out the 21st century classroom. With many maintenance and operations budgets being slashed, and with classroom sizes spiraling upwards, an increase in technology spending is favored to improve overall student performance. Not only are these new technologies more cost effective to existing alternatives but they are also shown to boost interactivity, student engagement, and curriculum delivery.

At play are a number of market forces:

Continuing Budget Pressures. With budgets increasingly scarce, there is a need to do more with less. New, cost effective, open, user-friendly technologies will win the day.

BYOD in the Classroom. teachers and students are using the latest technologies at home and on the road. This consumerization of IT is a reality, especially in the face of budget constraints.

Ever Changing Curriculum. Integrating technology within the instructional model – for example using iPads and eBooks – is a great to adjust to changes in the curriculum.

Availability of Open, Standard Mobile Platforms. There’s an app for that! Personalizing or re-purposing a mobile device to support different tasks is as easy as downloading apps from the appstore.

The Flipped Classroom. Flipped classrooms describe changes to instruction whereby students read or research a topic as homework. Back at school, teachers then work with students to demonstrate concepts and help answer questions so all students have a good understanding of the topic.

Transition to Digital Textbooks. The LEAD commission reported that the FCC evaluated a Project RED study and released new side-by-side cost models of traditional learning versus “new” learning, illustrating a savings of $250 per student each year if schools move to digital textbooks.

University administrators, school superintendents, principals, and heads of IT realize that it is much more affordable to provide iPads or Android tablets than expensive alternatives like smart boards in every classroom. Now that educators are embracing the

The days of educators standing in front of the board have dissolved like a white cloud of chalk dust.

transformation of the education within a technological context it is important to consider the benefits for building a 21st century classroom.

The benefits and capabilities of a digital classroom seem limitless. Educators have increased mobility and are able to maintain control of the class without being at the front of the room. They can annotate documents and images and access school resources like printers, video cameras and servers via mobile devices.

Teachers are now able to greet their students at the door and take attendance applications on their devices. Mobility is also helping enhance the special education experience for students. Visually impaired or disabled students can control the classroom computer without even moving from their desk.

With the evolution of the classroom come greater opportunities for engagement and collaboration with students. No matter the stage of education, students are excited to use a medium that they are already familiar with. They love being connected and having the ability to take control and present their ideas from their own device. The need for common educational tools like dictionaries and calculators has been eliminated, which proves to be another cost saving proof point.

Having the ability to use applications that are already active on desktop or laptops and buying application licenses in bulk for the entire school allows for additional reduction in costs and risks. The days of educators standing in front of the board have dissolved like a white cloud of chalk dust. Even whiteboards are on their way out. Students are now encountering an enhanced educational experience where they learn in more collaborative and interactive environments. Welcome to the 21st-century classroom.

Steve Rokov works at San Jose-based Splashtop, delivering cross-screen productivity and collaboration experiences, bridging smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and clouds. Write to:


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