Smartphones and portable devices may one day invade the classroom; this idea was one of the central themes of the Frankfurt Book Fair considered as the world’s largest book fair. The exhibit this year which featured 7,000 international exhibitors, and 3,200 eventsprovided the experience of how a classroom of the future would look like complete with 3D glasses and remote controls.

Yes, the digital world is slowly making its presence in the classroom with the advent of high-tech audio-visual facilities, but it will not only entail shifting from paper to screen, or so pundits say.  Educational experts and interactive producers warn that schools will not switch to digital overnight and that any transition would not be without growing pains.

According to Ron Reed, US consultant on education and digital matters, there was “a precious limited number of minutes in a day” when meaningful interaction occurred between a teacher and a student. “So there is a requirement that the content or the tool must contribute, and it must be more than a ‘nice to have’, it must be ‘must have’ and replace something with greater efficiency and power,” Reed said.

He likewise warned against overlooking the way children learn and focusing only on a digital transition.  He says that education is about methodology and practices and not just tools.

Experts believe that with the advent of new technology in the classroom, the role of the teacher will not slowly disappear and will still be essential to learning; though enhanced with a digital backup.

Linda Zecher, chief executive of school book publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) put it this way, “You still need supportive teachers and good teaching… without that, technology would become nothing more than a distraction in the classroom,”

Zecher said that four schools in California used a program developed by HMH to teach algebra on the the i-Pad, and students’ results increased markedly when it was correctly implemented.   She likewise observed that no improvement was seen when it was poorly put into practice.

Espresson Education – a company offering interactive content to teachers and schools, however stressed the need to follow up once the devices were in schools. It is said that, “Commercial companies which sell products to schools have the responsibility not to just sell and walk away, but to help the teachers implement the products that we sold them.

Smartphones and other portable devices will one day aid teachers liven up discussions in classrooms of the future. (Photo courtesy of fastcompany.com)