At eight of the premier K–12 educational technology trade shows around the country this year, CDW•G is inviting educators to try out a number of different stations with the latest options for K–12 modern learning environments. (MLEs are spaces that combine student and teacher devices, advanced audio and visual tools, and flexible furniture to boost student engagement and learning.) The stations include a “device bar” where teachers and IT decision-makers can try out the latest tablets and laptops, as well as new collaboration tools.

While many schools are already investing in devices and collaboration tools, other pieces of the modern learning environment are sometimes overlooked, or else considered extravagances that are less critical to student learning. But when educators stop by and test out our virtual reality, esports and flexible furniture stations, they frequently see the value in these less-traditional classroom components.

Here’s why these emerging solutions have us excited about the evolution of the modern learning environment.

VR Opens Doors to New Educational Experiences

It’s not an overstatement to say that, when educators try on the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset, they step into another world. While VR has long been a pipe dream in education, the technology has finally caught up with teachers’ visions of leading their students on adventures around the earth and throughout the solar system.

The solution comes in packages with a mobile cart and an enterprise-grade wireless access point. These packages also include an instructor-controlled tablet that connects to the VR headsets, allowing teachers to guide instruction and keep students focused. With the free Google Expeditions app, students and teachers can take more than 1,000 virtual field trips without ever leaving the classroom.

Esports Get Kids Involved

A rapidly growing number of schools across the country are starting after-school esports clubs, where students can indulge in their love of video games in a competitive and controlled environment. Not only do esports give kids a chance to get involved and represent their schools, but educators also report that the programs help to promote skills like collaboration, communication and leadership. Schools in Orange County, Calif., have even developed curricula for English language arts classes centered on aspects of video games and the gaming industry, such as storytelling and marketing.

When educators visit our gaming station, they get to sit in a specialized gaming chair, fire up an Acer Predator gaming PC and see what all the fuss is about.

Flexible Furniture Fosters Active Learning

The Hierarchy Enroll Tablet Chair from MooreCo is a flexible, ergonomic update to the desks that most people are familiar with from their own schooling. The chair features a movable desktop that can accommodate both right-handed and left-handed students, and the desk surface is large enough to support both a laptop and a notepad. A swivel seat allows students to easily shift their focus to different areas of the room. The base is large enough to store a backpack, and the chair even comes with an optional cup holder.

Educators shouldn’t underestimate the importance of furniture in the classroom. Research shows that up to 70 percent of students report benefits like better grades, better attendance or improved creativity in newly designed active-learning environments.

The educators who visit our MLE stations are getting just a sampling of what’s available. And, of course, we don’t expect every school to put ergonomic chairs, gaming systems and virtual reality headsets into every classroom. But we do hope that the experience gets teachers and K–12 IT leaders thinking about what’s possible. Technology is constantly evolving, and so is the workplace. Classrooms need to keep up.

Contact a CDW•G education expert at 800.808.4239 to start transforming your classroom.

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