By now, it is almost axiomatic that new technologies such as tablets and laptops improve classroom performance. A good portion of those performance gains are due to the following:
- internet connectivity
- better note taking
- a higher degree of engagement
- multimedia learning tools, etc.
But that only tells one part of the story. The overlooked benefit of new technology in the classroom is increased organization.
Since time immemorial, organizers and three-ringed binders have been a part of the back-to-school shopping tradition. But to be useful, those devices have to be toted in a large bag, or bundled under the arm in an unwieldy manner. They have to be carried everyday, everywhere, from one class to another, remaining in reach at all times. The implements of organization can get heavy, bulky, and tedious to deal with. Technology replaces all that with something easier and more fun.
The more discrete items a student is forced to carry, the more likely at least one of those items will be left behind or lost altogether. The organizational tools will be one of the first to go. According to the New York Times, the backpack of the average 6th grader is 18.4 lbs. Some of those 6th grader packs tipped the scale at 30 lbs. No wonder kids “lose” their binders and organizers so frequently. One 3 lbs. laptop can fully replace almost everything in the backpack, including the organizational tools. By converging everything into one small, lightweight, and convenient package, it becomes impossible to lose or leave behind any one thing. It also greatly reduces the incentive.
Convergence eliminates the need to remember to pack all 32 items needed to get through the day. If your class organizer is automatically a part of your calendar, which is a part of your contacts list, which is a part of your text book, then by carrying one thing, you automatically have everything you need.
The average laptop comes preloaded with everything a child needs to stay organized. That said, having specialized tools for the job can make the task easier and more fun in the same way that an organizer with lots of categories can be more useful than a blank sheet of paper. Student Planners by Meridian Planners is one such tool. It is a vertical solution that connects students, teachers, administrators, and parents, assuring that everyone is quite literally on the same page with regard to the education program.
With a tool like this, everything from class assignments to school events are automatically pushed to the student’s device be it laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The process is completely transparent to the student. The information is just there. Students can keep up with an ever-changing schedule. Teachers can keep up with a student’s progress on a per-assignment basis. Parents can keep in touch with teachers. Specialized tools like this eliminate some of the biggest pain points of the education process.
At the end of the day, two of the biggest challenges faced by all kids in their academic career are organization and time management. Let’s face it; they are all lousy at it. Classroom tech helps students bypass both these issues. It may well be the greatest benefit technology has to offer for students. Reducing the backpack from 30 lbs. to 3 lbs. definitely deserves an honorable mention.