Technology in classrooms has always been a bit controversial. But as our society advances and attitudes shift, technology is quickly becoming an essential part of the educational process, especially when it comes to engaging students.
Technology: Invasive or Helpful?
Many of us remember a time, not long ago, when technology in the classroom was considered a huge distraction. The world has changed a lot in the past few decades, though, and as teachers themselves become more comfortable with technology, and society's dependency on it increases, some educators now see how technology can work to engage students, rather than disengage them from the classroom
When we think of technological advancements in teaching, our minds tend to go to higher education. The fact is, technology is not only present, but highly valuable at all levels of instruction. Children are growing up intimately familiar with computers and the use of the Internet. Some children even start learning how to use laptops, smartphones, and tablets before they can talk!
Student Dependency on Technology
Today's students don't just enjoy technology - they depend on it. It's an integral part of how they experience the world, whether it's socializing, playing, making memories, or learning new skills. Catering to that natural impulse can benefit both educators and students.
For instance, today's students expect to be able to connect with counselors, teachers, other staff members, and fellow students. They also want to be able to access records or seek assistance like tutoring and additional resources. These expectations speak not only to our current culture but also the direction our society is taking.
Student Engagement and Technology
Apart from the obvious - research, writing papers, and organizing notes - there are many unique and interesting ways educators can use technology to help their students become more engaged in the classroom.
Technology Enhances Communication
One notable benefit of technology is that it makes it easier for teachers and students to communicate with each other. With email, chats, forums, and online portals, teachers and other students are now more accessible than ever. This can make interaction much more doable for shy, socially anxious, or introverted students.
Technology Personalizes Learning
Technology also creates more opportunities for personalized learning, allowing for reading assignments, video lectures, and interactive programming that cater to students who learn in different ways. Things like video lectures, online notes, forums, and chat systems allow students who fall ill or miss class due to an emergency to stay caught-up with the class. Technology can also allow students who might have learning disabilities - such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, and processing deficits - to review information at their own pace.
Technology Promotes Autonomy
Utilizing technology in the classroom, with a plan on how to incorporate it at home, allows students to acquire a whole new skill set: autonomy and self-awareness. Empowered students learn how to monitor their own academic progress, self-correct, and ask for assistance when there's an issue. The ability to conduct research, construct projects, and submit work is an integral part of today's educational landscape.
Technology Facilitates Direct Guidance
Another benefit of technology in the classroom is that it gives educators a way to directly guide students on how to best expand their academic horizons and knowledge. While students are no doubt versed in more casual uses for technology, the more professional elements might be unfamiliar to them. Additionally, classroom technology ensures that it's available to all students, and guarantees that those who don't have access to such devices at home can still learn how to use them.
Providing useful computer programs in the classroom, as well as training on how to use them, will not only make the education process more efficient (since everyone is using the same system), but also equip students for the modern workplace. In the classroom, teachers will also have the chance to see what technical difficulties students might be facing when working on an integrated system.
Technology is a 'Common Language'
Finally, students are generally fond of technology, and interested in using it to its fullest extent. This means that using technology in the classroom is a method of 'speaking their language'.
Key Points to Remember
It's important to remember that, no matter how far technology advances, it will never replace the power and importance of real human interactions. While technology can play a huge part in how we improve the classroom environment, teacher-student interactions and student engagement will remain the most important aspects of the educational process. A dedicated, caring, and engaged educator is key to classroom success, and how that teacher interacts with students on a real and personal level is critical.
Technology can never replace the effectiveness of a talented teacher, and it's important to never lose sight of that. The digital age can provide a plethora of tools to improve and increase learning. However, only in the hands of a competent teacher can those tools be used for the good of the students.
There are so many amazing possibilities related to how technology dependency can be an asset to teachers, students, and administrators alike, if only we're willing to get creative and explore the options opening to us every day. If we empower our students with a deep and intimate understanding of technology, we give them the tools to use these powerful systems for good and to positively change the world.