Technology in the classroom used to involve playing Oregon Trail on one of the four available PC’s in the “computer lab.” The 21st Century has made great strides since then, and children today have unprecedented technology tools at their disposal.
Despite the positive trends towards adopting technology in the classroom, the full menu of technology is still not universally available to all students. Many schools struggle with nearly-crippling budget cuts and teacher shortages, and some have had to make difficult choices.
Using technology at school has become an important talking point across all campuses from K-12, an on through higher education. This article will explore the importance of technology in the classroom.
10 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom
1. Instructors Can Personalize the Education Experience
A PBS teacher survey found that teachers like and support technology in the classroom. Tools like websites, apps, learning games, e-books, and virtual tutoring help the student learn at their own pace. Digital materials can support classroom learning topics, and introduce different teaching methods for each student’s unique learning needs.
2. Instant Access to Knowledge
The Internet gives students instant access to answers beyond what’s in their textbooks. In fact, today’s kids are already familiar with “Googling-it” to find answers to questions. The gift of the internet to the classroom gives teachers the chance to give their students a holistic view of any given subject while still giving students the guidance to find the right sources. In-classroom internet research gives teachers the opportunity to teach their students how to assess the quality of the information they find online while removing the one-sided restrictions of a textbook.
3. Student Preference
A study by Educause found that K-12 and college students prefer to have technology integrated into their curriculum. Computers, tablets, smartphones, and the internet are the same tools that they use at home. Students are already comfortable using these tools to connect with other students, their instructors, and their institution. In fact, the Educause survey found that 54% of students would typically use at least two devices simultaneously for school work.
4. Student Workplace Readiness
One of the greatest benefits for technology in the classroom is student workplace readiness. Mobility is currently the next great movement in the workplace, and students who use technology in the classroom today will be more adapted to using it in the future. The importance of technology in the classroom goes even beyond simple digital literacy: it promotes workplace soft skills like critical thinking, independent research, and cross-technology proficiency.
5. Trend toward Blended Learning Environment
The Educause survey found that 75% of students currently have experience with blended online/on premise learning. This offers several benefits, including a cost reduction for some schools. Blended learning programs often use e-textbooks to allow their students to have unlimited access to their learning material. Blended environments also support online submission of electronic documents, cutting school costs on paper and other materials. Cost-benefits aside, students say that they enjoy the benefits of blending both online and in-class learning styles.
6. Teacher Support
A 2013 PBS LearningMedia study found that 74% of teachers agree that technology enables them to reinforce their lessons. Curriculums, learning trends, and student engagement can rise or fall on the basis of teacher support. Technology in the classroom would never flourish without the support of instructors, and an overwhelming percentage of teachers are eager to use even more technology in the classrooms. Huffington Post found that, “78 percent of Kindergarten through Middle School teachers agree that technology has had a positive impact on their classroom — and that’s just the start.”
7. Proven Student Engagement
An article by the National Math and Science Initiative shows that blended learning styles keep students focused longer and makes them more excited to learn more, especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) subjects.
8. Tools are improving at an Alarming Rate
Technology toys, like interactive whiteboards, tablets, learning apps and websites, are always improving. Even the ways students access and interact with information is always improving. Developers are conscious of the benefits of technology in the classroom, and a lot of money is being spent on developing mobile apps and e-Learning courses with proven results. Also, social tools in Web 2.0 provide a learning opportunity for students to learn about internet safety while staying engaged with their educators.
9. Website Creation and Access are Cost-Effective
According to a PBS survey, websites are the most commonly used tech resources in the classroom with 56% of educators citing the use of a website. Some teachers even say that they create websites of their own to bolster their in-classroom lesson plans. The cost to develop and maintain a website are significantly less the investment in additional textbooks and workbooks. (Web sites are also easier to update than a printed textbook).
10. The Teaching Industry is Ready for Emerging Technology
Teachers the foot soldiers of education, and they’re ready to implement technology in the classroom through was many ways as possible. Unlike in previous decades, modern teachers recognize the critical importance technology plays in teaching tomorrow’s leaders. If a school district decides to implement or encourage technology, they probably won’t experience much (if any) backlash from educators.
The Importance of Technology in Education
If students, parents, and even teachers are convinced of the importance of technology in the classroom, what obstacles are standing in the way of implementing them?
The National PBS Survey found that 63% of educators say that the cost of technology is too high to successfully implement technology in the classroom. However, there are still cost-effective solutions that can help educators get the technology they need and deserve in their classroom.
Partner with an IT solutions company that already works with school districts throughout Texas and Louisiana to learn about your options for mobility, VDI, 1:1 deployment, and more. Contact Centre Technologies for more information about our education technology solutions today.
Nowadays every school has to have computers. I don't refer to legal requirementbut to perception. Schools are judged on how many computers they have. It would be more to the point if they were judged on their computer-savvy.
I'm a fan of computers; my computer is a vital part of my work. I believe computer literacy is as important for our children to acquire as any other "basic skill". But I'm not a fan of the wholesale introduction of computers into our schools, particularly the junior ones. How many computers a school has is not the issue - the issue is, how do they use them?
In many cases, the answer is: poorly.
The reasons are simple enough. Foremost, the teachers have insufficient training and experience with computers. Relatedly, computers are not yet an integrated part of the school curriculum, and every school and teacher re-invents the wheel, trying to find good software, trying to work out how to fit it into the classroom curriculum, trying to work out schedules to make sure every student gets a fair go, struggling with the lack of technical support. And of course, in many cases (perhaps most), the computers are old, with the associated problems of being more likely to have technical problems, being slow, limited in memory, incompatible with current software, and so on.
The most important problems schools have with computers:
- lack of financial resources (to buy enough computers, up-to-date computers, enough printers and other peripherals, licenses for good software, technical support)
- the inability of teachers to know how to use the computers effectively
- difficulty in integrating computers into the school / classroom curriculum (problems of use, of scheduling, of time)
Using computers effectively is much more than simply being able to type an essay or produce a graph. Parents and educators who deplore the obsession with computers in schools see computers as eroding children's basic skills and knowledge, because they only see computers being used as copy-and-paste and making-it-pretty devices. But computers have potential far beyond that.
Computers can be used to help:
- extend the scope of searches
- retrieve precisely targeted data with greater speed and accuracy
- increase the amount of data held ready for use
- sift relevant data from irrelevant
- turn data into information
The true value of a computer isn't seen until the user can use it not only as a presentation tool (for making work attractive), and as a productivity tool (for producing work more quickly, effectively, thoroughly), but also as a cognitive tool.
Using computers as cognitive tools
A cognitive tool helps you think.
Many people thought computers would revolutionize education by providing individual instruction in the form of tutorials. In particular, as a means of drilling students. Drilling can be helpful to overlearn a skill to achieve automaticity, but it doesn’t help transfer to meaningful problems. That is, you can learn a skill, you can rote-learn facts, but drilling doesn't help meaningful learning - it doesn't teach understanding.
Although computer tutorials have become somewhat more sophisticated, they still only present a single interpretation of the world - they don’t allow students to find their own meaning. They don't teach students to reflect on and analyze their own performance.
“I do not believe that students learn from computers or teachers — which has been a traditional assumption of most schooling. Rather, students learn from thinking in meaningful ways. Thinking is engaged by activities, which can be fostered by computers or teachers.” (Jonassen, p4)
So, the computer itself isn't the issue - the issue, as always, is what you do with it. For example, when the Web is simply used as a source of material that can be downloaded and pasted without thought, then no, it is not of value. But when the learner searches the Web, evaluates the information, finds the gold in the dross, uses that to construct a knowledge base, to develop meaning, then yes, it is a valuable resource.
Computers can support meaningful learning by
- reducing time spent on mechanical tasks such as rewriting, producing graphs, etc
- helping find information
- helping organize information
- making it easier to share information and ideas with others
Related articles/sites on the Web:
A recent news articles on the subject of compulsory laptops at a Seattle school
New York Times articles about computers in education: Technology critic takes on computers in schools ; Making the most of the Internet's potential for education
An Atlantic monthly column: The computer delusion
A Boston Globe column about computers for young children: Computers, software can harm emotional, social development