Sep 15 2022

Teaching Emerging Technologies Empowers K–12 Students

In an episode of Focus on EDU with Douglas Konopelko, K–12 teacher Sean Wybrant shares how advanced tech opens doors for his students.

Teaching emerging technologies to K–12 students today not only sets them up for success as future citizens in the workplace, but also furthers diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Sean Wybrant, a CTE teacher in Colorado Springs District 11, shared what this looks like in his classroom in a recent episode of Focus on EDU.

Wybrant, who previously worked as an English teacher, found his way into teaching tech thanks to a misconception.

“When the job opened up to transfer from teaching kids about English literature to teaching kids about computer science and video game design, I thought, ‘I’m never going to have to grade an essay again,’” Wybrant recalled in the episode. Then, when he started working in the new role, he quickly realized “it’s really hard to make something that doesn’t already exist.”

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Throughout the video, Wybrant shares anecdotes on how his students are using emerging technologies and integrating other subject materials to think creatively and solve problems.

Augmented Reality Tools Help Students Apply Skills and Knowledge

One of the technologies Wybrant uses with his students is the Microsoft Hololens 2. Within that augmented reality space, students can see virtual objects that are spatially aware and interact with their real environment.

“You can put a virtual hologram on top of a table, and it will stay there. And if you knock it off the table, it will knock off just as it would have if it were a real object,” he explained.

In one lesson, using virtual lasers and lenses, it wasn’t long before students were using calculus to determine the angles at which the beams of light needed to be redirected. In another, they used real rulers to measure a life-sized Mars rover replica that only those with the Hololens smart glasses could see.

Watch the full episode to learn more about emerging tech in K–12 classrooms.

Wybrant’s goal with class projects is not to teach students the math or science skills they’ll need, but rather to teach them to become learners.

“I still don’t know calculus, but I don’t need to,” he said. “My job is to help students understand that the calculus you’re learning in math class, we can apply that in real ways.”

Emerging Tech Challenges Traditional Barriers to Equity and Access

In addition to empowering students to be stewards of their own learning, introducing emerging technologies in the K–12 classroom also gives students more equitable opportunities in the future thanks to the tech skills they’re gaining.

“The longer we put off giving them access and opportunities to learn those skills, the longer it takes them to get into the field,” Wybrant said. “By the time they get into the field and realize this is what they want to do, some of the stuff will have already been done … It may have been done by the people who have always historically done things. But software only gets made by the people who know how to make software. ”

Giving students access to this tech and the opportunity to learn these skills creates a more equitable and diverse workplace.

Another benefit of working with advanced technologies is that it eliminates barriers that may have existed in the past. Wybrant shared how, while giving a presentation in New Jersey, one of his students in Colorado was able to participate because the technology connected the presenters in real time.

Breaking down these barriers will allow people who may not have had the opportunity in the past to work with others around the world to solve problems and share experiences.

“It’s going to have a dramatic impact on our lives,” he said. “The earlier we get kids to understand what stuff like that looks like and how it works, the more likely it is they see themselves in those spaces in their future.”

UP NEXT: Why is gamification trending in K–12 school districts?

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