How Emerging Technology Has Changed the Definition of Back to School

Like every cool ‘90s kid, my back to school shopping was not complete until I picked out my Trapper Keeper. I changed styles every year; from Lisa Frank to Sonic the Hedgehog and, regrettably, that one time I was really into kittens.

A typical awesome Trapper Keeper design.

But my favorite Trapper Keeper, the pièce de résistance of my collection, was my “Year 2020” folder. On the cover a young man hovered in space, downloading a paper from the comfort of his futuristic living room. My 10-year-old self thought “This is so cool, but no way will this happen in 23 years!” I officially stand corrected.

Aside from the antigravity element, that Trapper Keeper was fairly spot-on in its prediction for the future of education. When I bought the “2020” Trapper Keeper, computers were slowly entering students’ homes and classrooms, and no one really knew how pervasive this new technology would be. Nor did we anticipate the changes digital technology would bring!

Digital Classrooms are Here

Over the last two decades, digital media has become a staple in most educational environments. As reported in the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Institute of Design’s research project “Schools in the Digital Age,” interactive textbooks, on-line homework, environmental simulations, and learning games are all innovations currently in use.1 The mass adoption of digital methods and media in education is nothing short of a technological revolution—and the United States school system is closer to the beginning than the end of this revolution.

In a recent Yahoo article entitled “What Will a New York Classroom Look Like in 2020?” (another nod to the alliterative future), ubiquitous digital technology is reaching even the youngest of students. First-graders from an elementary school in Suffolk County, New York participated in a scavenger hunt that involved using iPads to scan QR codes and find clues. According to the article, “Other tools involved in the hunt included e-readers, an interactive lesson plan, and an online stylus that is expected by some to be part of the wave of the future for technology in the classroom.”2 The integration of everyday digital devices into classrooms is not only affecting the way students learn, but also how teachers work.

Tech-Savvy Teachers Bring Innovation to Education

As the newest generation of teachers enters the workforce, they are looking for ways to utilize technology to simplify and improve the teaching process. Already tech-savvy, many are developing their own solutions to inefficiencies in their workplace. Tools like the WISE app, developed by Denver, Colorado teachers and Co-Founders, Lee Wise and Dalton Ying, allows “a teacher to create, scan, grade, and organize multiple choice tests all from their iPhone without the need of analog grading machines.”3 Someday in the not too distant future, Number 2 pencils and Scantron machines may be as obsolete as the floppy disk.

Every year as teachers and students go back to school, the classroom environment changes a little bit. Once upon a time, T9 calculators were the highest form of technology a student would carry. Now, back to school shopping involves picking out laptops and iPads that are increasingly becoming necessary tools in the classroom. It will be interesting to see what items are essential to students and teachers by the year 2020. As for me, I will always love my now “vintage” Trapper Keepers.

By Caitlin Rahter, Account Executive







About Caitlin Rahter

Caitlin Rahter is an Account Executive for Star Life Sciences. With almost 4 years of diverse advertising experience, her specialties include pharma, healthcare and social media. She is also addicted to Instagram.

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