Guest Blog by Rick Delgado
We live in a dynamic world surrounded by almost endless amounts of information. Riding the coattails of information is all of the technology we have at our fingertips. For as prevalent as technology is now, is it replacing real lasting education? Does technology have a place in our classrooms?
I think any level-headed educator would agree that children must be able to use technology to be competitive in the workplace after graduation. With all the trends and advancements in technology, no one can argue that we will go backward from here. I don't foresee technology replacing passionate teachers educating their students. I simply see it as an important tool to help the education process and prepare students for the future.
From the studies I've read, teachers want to use more technology in the classroom. The kids seem to really enjoy it and are excited about using it. Those interested in embracing technology need to educate themselves on what's out there. Here is a small sliver of the advantages we gain from using technology to educate people.
Equality: School districts across the country are not created equal. There is so much disparity in educational resources depending on the wealth, or lack thereof, depending on certain areas. Students using technology in low-income districts gain significant skills and advantages in the learning process. Using the same technology is an equalizer for disadvantaged students.
Future: The world is moving towards technology at a breakneck pace. Educators have a responsibility to introduce, encourage, and help students master technology, as well as subjects, as it applies to school and the future. Technology will be used in every aspect of the professional lives of current students. So upon graduation, whether the next step is college or career, technology will be used daily. Why not use it daily in school?
Mobile: Using technology the classroom can be taken anywhere. With all the knowledge and resources contained and deliverable on demand on a mobile device, students can learn at home or in the “field”. Mobile technology allows for greater collaboration between students promoting strong foundations in group work.
Motivation: Technology tracks and reports student's progress instantly. What fun is running a marathon if you don't know how long it takes. Runners can get instant feedback from hundreds of data points as to their condition. This feedback provides instant motivation to improve performance.
Similarly, students who use technology are motivated to improve performance. Just like they do at home on their gaming consoles. Trying to beat high scores at home and trying to beat high scores in math use the same psychology.
Social: This runs along the same lines as motivation. Creating a social element to educational technology can allow for healthy competition amongst peers both in the same classroom or across the country. Performing well and earning badges to gain virtual social status is at the heart of many social applications today. Personal identities do not have to be used, instead, students could use avatars to hide possible confidentiality breaches. Using technology to make education have social elements can make learning very addictive.
Savings: The savings which result from using technology can come in many facets. On a basic level technology can replace infrastructure. Desks, books, lab equipment and other items are a heavy cost burden on schools everywhere. Technology and devices can help save on these costs. In addition, geographically isolated or economically disadvantaged children can benefit from access to online software or resources which would be cost prohibitive without technology.
Updates: I recently read an article that reported students using 10-year-old textbook in school. Updating textbooks can cost lots of money and do significant damage to budgets. On the other hand, updating software and educational content are not as expensive or cumbersome. With the help of technology, course curriculum can reflect real world data. In some applications, students can be exposed to real-time information.
Assessments: Assessing students performance can be done instantly with technology. It's more than just test scores, simply understanding students grasp of the subject in real time can be done on tablets in classrooms. A classroom could be questioned with a multiple-choice problem. Students could then input their answer and the feedback score is instantly given to the student and teacher. Corrections can be made long before examinations.
Global: Students and classrooms or even schools can be connected to anyone in the world instantly. Devices coupled to the Internet can allow for a free way to communicate globally. The chance to understand international or different cultural perspectives on the same topic is incredible.
Convenience: Having children carry heavy backpacks, textbooks, and binders isn't very efficient. A new lightweight laptop weighs less than 5 pounds and can have an internal storage capability of more than 2 million illustrated pages. In addition to an internal hard drive, access to the Internet can provide an almost unlimited source of information. Ergonomic issues and back pain are a real problem in children. These conditions can lead to chronic problems throughout adulthood.
Education coupled with technology is overall a very positive thing. It's still in relative infancy and progress will continue to move forward making better systems. Teachers will still retain control over learning.
The school of 10 years ago looks very different from schools today. Also, students are being inundated with technology at a very young age. The transition has already begun. Education of the future will be delivered with current information delivered through traditional teaching methods and fantastic technological tools.