Each school year, students come to campus with shiny new tech tools for use in class (and recreation). Your classroom, whether physical or virtual, may have new equipment or functionality designed to make learning more dynamic and interactive. And on a regular basis—even daily—developers bring new applications to the market, many of which can enhance your teaching and spur on student engagement and learning.

Within this constantly evolving landscape, you may have a hard time keeping up with all these changes and developments. Yet maintaining a familiarity with technology tools and trends will benefit both you and your students. You: because you’ll be able to research and decide which ones might be most appropriate to your needs, and then implement them as you can within your course. Your students: because they’ll be entering the workforce upon graduation, and they need to build the relevant skill set that suits the jobs they want to have… and that skill set includes computer competency.

In today’s featured video,taken during the 2014 Course Technology Conference, author Corinne Hoisington discusses news and trends related to current and upcoming technology tools (primarily available via Microsoft). But even if you’re not the biggest techie in your department, you’ll still glean many ideas for approaching the way that you use technology in your classroom today and in the future. We’ve summarized some of the points we observed below.

1. Offer students as current an experience as possible.

Most students enter college with the expectation that their courses will prepare them for the roles, positions, and careers that they want to hold in the future. Given that technology factors so heavily into the everyday experience on the job, do your best to ensure that students receive the most timely information and experiences that you can grant them. Consider how you might teach or discuss current technology tools and trends in relation to your course material.

2. Guide students to the computer that will suit their educational needs and purposes.

What type of computer should students choose for use in college? When students ask this question of Corinne Hoisington, she responds by asking them: What are you going to do with the computer?

A student who primarily uses his or her computer for e-mail, word processing, and light gaming can probably opt for a fairly basic computer. However, the more heavily students use their computers, the more of an investment they’ll need to make. If a student builds web pages, writes code, or is an avid gamer, then a more powerful computer is in order. Students who spend a great deal of time rendering graphics or editing videos will benefit by using the most powerful, heaviest-duty computer that they can afford. (Also note: these computers will literally be heavier as well.)

Students should also consider what type of computer they’ll want to buy. Portable computers come in many more forms than the traditional laptop; encourage students to explore the versatility of the ultrabook, tablet, and convertible computers that can act as both! Also advise students to give thought to what works best for your needs within the parameters of their budgets.

3. Explore new technology that could benefit students’ experience in your learning space. 

You may also be investigating what works for you and your classroom, too. Discussing what types of computers might work best for your computer lab? Investigate an all-in-one model (with the computer in the monitor), which might be convenient and useful.

And it never hurts to check out the cutting edge. Though a brand-new, seventy-inch touch monitor may not yet be in the cards for your department, staying on top of new developments and trends will enable you to keep an eye on the tech tools that could enhance the way you teach.

4. Find, and try out, some new apps for educational purposes.

As Corinne points put in the presentation, Microsoft’s Windows Store now has over a quarter of a million apps. (You’re sure to find thousands in your device’s store, too!) From educational games, to tools that help you design apps, you’ll find any number of useful (and often free or low-cost) apps that can bring engagement, exploration, and enjoyment into the teaching and learning experience.

 

What technology tools and trends have you adopted in your course? How do you discuss tech trends in your class? Discuss in the comments.