The Case for Tech in the Classroom

Kivuto’s Kelly Smyth talks barriers, benefits, and timeframes for change. 

INTERVIEW | by James O’Brien 

CREDIT Kivuto Kelly SmuthThe time for classrooms to bring powerful learning technology to students is now, if you ask Kelly Smyth, vice president of business development at Kivuto Solutions.

In advance of Simplified Summit 2015 —  a leading ed-tech conference, presented by Kivuto and headed to Los Angeles on October 6 — Smyth discusses barriers, opportunities and what the future holds for technology in the classroom.

When we talk about technology in the classroom, how might we lower costs and barriers so that students from families of all income types — and schools in all kinds of districts — have a more level footing when it comes to hardware and content? 

Kelly Smyth: Whether you’re in higher-ed or K–12, you know the cost of hardware, the cost of software, the cost of content, and, at the higher-end models, certainly the cost of tuition — these things are always significant. But that cost is going to come down. It’s really just

Based on the data, students having these resources on the first day of class means they don’t get behind, and if they don’t get behind, they’re less apt to drop out.

economics. Certain hardware companies are competing, as we know, to develop low-cost devices, and you’ve probably seen some of them yourself … And they’re building things to serve international markets — India and Brazil are examples — where the nature of volume is going to have a really significant impact. Those impacts will make their way to the North American market for sure.

If the results of putting tech in the classroom already exist in an empirical way — student success, higher scores, greater district standing, these sorts of things — can they serve as a further argument for funding, that being one way of lowering barriers?

Smyth: Yes, absolutely. We know this can make an impact on retention and student success. Schools have seen an almost 6 percent increase in retention and they’re seeing a much higher level of students with As and Bs. Based on the data, students having these resources on the first day of class means they don’t get behind, and if they don’t get behind, they’re less apt to drop out — and they’re much more capable of keeping up with their homework.

What kind of timeframe can we talk about, when it comes to lowering barriers and getting this technology — and the results we’ve just talked about — to students in the classroom?

I think it’s absolutely within the next three years, I would say we’ll see significant growth in that timeframe. And I think, over time, within 10 years, we will see between 50 percent and 70 percent of institutions going this route because it just makes sense. They need this technology to be there.

James O’Brien is a technology and business writer with articles appearing in Mashable, Marketshare and other publications. To learn more about education, technology, and the future of the classroom, join Kelly and other leaders at the upcoming Simplified Summit in Los Angeles on October 6, 2015. Note at the time of this post a select number of complimentary tickets have been released courtesy of EdTech Digest for a limited time only.

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