We’ve all heard the rants bemoaning classroom use of calculators, the impending death of analog clocks, and the addicting power of video games. Whether we like it or not, technology is changing nearly every aspect of the world we live in–including the way our children learn in the classroom.
In his article, “3 Ways Technology Is Changing Higher Education,” Carole Oldroyd reminds us of “the transition from black and white photographs to color photographs and that, not even five years ago, many households still had a large, heavy, prominent TV in the living room.” Technology has enhanced our personal lives in countless ways. And, educators and students seem to agree that, for the most part, technology can greatly enhance the learning experience when used properly. Here’s how.
Technology as a Teaching Tool
The days of dusty chalk and smudged black boards are fast disappearing. Thanks to the fusion of technology and teaching, students are now being presented with vast amounts of information in entirely new ways.
The use of more interactive media allows students of all learning styles to better understand and absorb new concepts. Furthermore, the interactive nature of many technologies allows students to learn by actually doing. For example, role play can be used to teach a child how to solve problems as a city planner or manage a family budget. Middle school students can experience parenting responsibilities through spending time with high-tech baby dolls – an endeavor that, according to “Babies Help Teens Think About It,” can dramatically reduce teen pregnancy rates. And virtual manipulatives can allow children to better understand math ideas.
Technology as a Student Tool
Enabling children to use and adapt to the latest technologies at a young age will not only give them skills with that particular tool, but will also give them the confidence to master new technologies throughout their lives. This is a huge advantage in a fast-paced world with never-ending changes.
In addition, technology has paved the way for students to demonstrate their learning in new and creative ways. Goodbye boring poster board collages, shoe box dioramas and lifeless monologues. Thanks to the power of educational software, the Internet, PowerPoint, and more, students can put together lively and polished presentations. And they will probably be very excited about showing off their goods in front of their peers.
During the effort to create the best presentation possible for their classmates, they will also learn valuable lessons including addressing the needs of their audience, deciding which medium best fits their message, and identifying the most succinct way to communicate that message. Not to mention the benefits of carrying a lightweight e-reader or iPad over carrying a hernia-inducing backpack maxed out with binders and textbooks–activities that “Heavy Backpacks Stretch Kids’ Spines” states can cause back injury and pain.
Technology as a Source of Information
Undoubtedly, advances in technology have made it easier to access information on almost any subject matter imaginable. Students no longer have to rely on out-of-date library books for research–and overly sprawling school systems don’t have to invest sizable financial investments into their library holdings. Plus, digital libraries don’t require physical space.
Plus, students can now meet other students across the country–or even the world–to exchange ideas and learn new global perspectives from each other. And according to “M-Learning: Where Technology Meets EducationClasses no longer need to reside within the hot, sticky confines of physical classrooms thanks to technology that allows teachers to move lessons out into the wild.
One caveat is that educators need to teach students how to evaluate Internet information sources for accuracy and reliability.
Technology as a Problem
One of the main concerns with using the Internet as a research tool is the temptation for students to commit academic fraud by copying someone else’s work entirely or “cutting and pasting” different sections to create work that is perceived as “new”. There is also a problem with students simply regurgitating concepts found on the web and not formulating their own ideas or opinions.
Yes, technological progress has given us many tools that we now take for granted. The Keurig in your kitchen, the airbag in your car, the furnace in your basement, and the laptop on…your…laptop are all made possible by technology. And, according to experts, it will also give your children a better education.
What do you think about technology in class? Why?