“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so the Staples commercial goes.

It’s back-to-school time, as students change gears from the lazy days of summer and shift back to hitting the books. Today’s classrooms are equipped with the latest technology to enhance instruction. Here are some favourite student and teacher gadgets for use in day-to-day learning:

1)      Smartphones – Smartphone use in the classroom is still somewhat controversial, but the Calgary Board of Education actually encourages it as a learning tool. In an interview with CTV , Queen’s University National Scholar and Associate Professor Sidneyeve Matrix compared the situation to when calculators were first used by students in the classroom. “We had a whole new level of computational skill, and now we’re going to have a whole new level of mobile digital skills when we turn to mobile learning on the handhelds.”

2)      Laptops and tablets – Technology users are moving towards being more mobile, and teachers and students are a significant part of that trend. Last month, Lenovo, the world’s top PC vendor reported that they sold more smartphones and tablets than PCs for the first time ever.

3)      Interactive whiteboards – Calgary-based SMART Technologies ’ SMART Boards are popular with both teachers and students. Teachers can project presentations onto the SMART Boards and they can write, touch and interact with their content.

4)      Document cameras – Document cameras are a fun way for teachers to show students new and interesting ways of looking at objects. Whether they are zooming in on the smaller details of a 3D object, or observing science experiments, students can share an equal view of the lesson – without crowding the teacher’s desk.

5)      mp3 players – Whether a student is listening to his own music while studying, or a teacher is playing an audio book to her students, mp3 players are an increasingly common sight in schools. Both teachers and students can make full use of mp3 players in their school activities.

While the best learning models still involve personal communication, technology can be introduced in any number of ways to enhance student learning and make lectures more interactive. What are some of your favourite educational tech gadgets.