Feb 05 2024
Digital Workspace

TCEA 2024: Immersive Ed Tech for the Modern Classroom Engages K–12 Students

Presenters and exhibitors highlighted tools to capture students’ attention and make teachers’ lives easier at this year’s TCEA event in Texas.

What makes an educational technology tool suited for the modern classroom? K–12 educators, administrators and IT professionals want students to have access to the most modern and educationally beneficial technologies, but identifying those products in a sea of solutions can be overwhelming. Add to that the challenge of limited school budgets, and K–12 leaders literally can’t afford to make the wrong choice.

At this year’s TCEA convention and exposition, presenters and exhibitors debuted tools that combined efficiency, interactivity and trending technology capabilities. They shared how the solutions could be integrated into K–12 classrooms to aid educators and encourage student collaboration and future-focused learning.

A mix of hardware and software products, many of the technologies showcased are iterations on existing tech. Exhibitors stressed the importance of creating tools that work for today’s teachers and classrooms. Others, including artificial intelligence platforms, are entirely new, as tech continues to rapidly evolve.

From those designed for teachers to those built for a student user base, these technologies are primed to accelerate education spaces.

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New Educational Technologies Encourage Student Interaction

Technology built with interaction and collaboration in mind dominated the landscape at this year’s TCEA conference in Austin, Texas. Attendees had the opportunity to experience this technology firsthand Sunday in the session “Experiencing the Immersive Classroom of the Future Today,” hosted by CDW education strategists.

Using the natural cycle of water as a sample lesson plan, the session allowed participants to rotate between different stations, each featuring a different interactive solution to try.

The technologies immersed the users in the water cycle lesson in a visual or tactile way, encouraging them to use their creativity and imaginations. At the start of the session, CDW education strategist manager Wendy Jones asked attendees to see each technology through three points of view: that of the student, that of the educator and that of the facilitator.

Tools included artificial intelligence-driven products such as Adobe Firefly and Merlyn Mind’s Merlyn Origin, as well as hands-on gadgets including 3Doodler pens, Makey Makey and Kai’s Clan.

Session attendees even had the chance to explore virtual reality versions of the lesson with ClassVR’s software and headsets.

Down in the exhibit hall, ClassVR demonstrated more of the company’s new offerings, available to all users. These include a library of 360-degree photographs of cities and locations around the U.S., as well as new interactive lesson plans aligned to state standards.

Chris Klein, the company’s head of education U.S., showed how students can work together as virtual avatars in these immersive lessons. He also explained that the software now works on any internet-connected device, so schools don’t need VR headsets for all students in every classroom to facilitate equitable learning opportunities.

Modern Classroom Technologies Enable Educator Efficiency

Another trend among this year’s exhibition and featured presentations was ease of use for K–12 educators. This includes both tools that have been redesigned with educators in mind and those that can be used to save them time.

Remi Del Mar, the senior product manager of digital experiences, AR and commercial display solutions at Epson, shared in the exhibit hall how some of her company’s newest products are designed for the modern classroom.

READ MORE: Epson BrightLink 760Wi revolutionizes interactive classroom displays.

The Epson PowerLite 770F, for example, can be integrated with a mobile cart for dynamic classroom use. Additionally, this plug-and-play solution has all its controls easily accessible on the top of the device, so teachers can quickly engage it for a lesson.

In keeping with the trend of immersive experiences, Del Mar also showed off Epson’s interactive exhibit display. Taking cues from popular attractions like “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” Epson showcased how its own projectors could be used to create a similar educational experience for large or small spaces in K–12 buildings.

Meanwhile, in the Sunday session “Supercharge Your Teaching with AI Tools,” two digital learning coaches from Frisco Independent School District, Alissa Hopkins and Sara Isbell, shared AI tools to improve educator efficiency. Some of these tools include:

  • Google Bard: This prompt-based AI tool curates informational responses from all of Google’s offerings, including Google’s suite of tools, YouTube and more. Teachers can use it to translate content, find resources and help write anything from test questions to professional emails, Hopkins said.
  • Magic School: This platform features more than 60 tools that help teachers save time on repetitive tasks. It can create rubrics and work examples, scaffold assignments, and even pull questions based on YouTube videos.
  • AI: Isbell lauded this generative AI tool, noting that she typically always keeps it open on her second monitor for quick queries. The program responds to questions in a conversational tone and can even help teachers brainstorm age-appropriate jokes based on class material.
  • Brisk: Isbell and Hopkins noted that educators in their district love using this Chrome extension because it works with Google Docs and most websites. The tool helps teachers identify and change the reading level of resources and generate content.

To ensure you don’t miss a moment of TCEA event coverage, keep this page bookmarked and follow @EdTech_K12 on X (formerly Twitter) for live updates and behind-the-scenes looks.

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