Whether we like it or not, technology has become a major part of our lives. Everything from the way we keep in touch to how we get up in the morning is connected through our phones, computers, and smartwatches. Following the rest of the world, classrooms are becoming more and more tech-friendly every year. Smartboards and online learning forums are only the beginning; as technology improves and becomes more prevalent, it will become an even bigger component of how students learn new information in the classroom.
Not only does technological innovation benefit students, it also helps teachers. Integrating new technology in the classroom can help in every area, from lesson planning to engaging students in new and interesting ways. Teachers are experimenting with new ways to use technology in their classrooms to increase retention by making content more engaging for students. Apps like Kahoot! and Edmodo introduce gamification and distance learning to the classroom, helping students learn in new and fun ways.
Educational technology has harnessed the power of video games as a tool for learning. However, the concept of educational games is not a new one, but more and more schools are including some form of gaming into their curriculum as a way of providing an immersive, interactive way of giving lessons. The United States Department of Education’s website states that the department “recognizes the proven power of digital games for learning and is committed to fostering the broader adoption of high-quality games in schools and informal learning settings.”
Video games aren’t the only way that technology can help make lessons interesting. According to a recent study, students prefer learning with technology because they believe it makes what they are learning more interesting and fun. Subjects that students normally find boring can be made more interesting when they are presented using videos, or on their computers and tablets in the form of virtual lessons. Some teachers have even started using “flipped classrooms”, a teaching method in which students watch videos at home and do homework in class. This way, students can self-pace their learning and get one-on-one attention in class.
Aside from making lessons more engaging, classroom technology allows teachers to educate students through a medium with which the students are already familiar. Technology plays such a vital role in the student’s everyday life that introducing it into classrooms is just a way of making sure educators can reach students.
Unsurprisingly, media is more interesting to many students than traditional methods. What you may not know is that research has shown students who used interactive visual media such as PowerPoint retained information better than they did from a simple class.
Similarly, word processing programs like Microsoft Word not only make it easier than ever to write and edit notes, but they also have built-in dictionaries and thesauri, which help improve students’ vocabularies as they write (as long as students use them!).
Another advantage that comes with integrating more technology into schools is that it allows teachers to keep track of students who are learning at a slightly different pace than the rest of the class. Using an online platform for lessons and assignments allows teachers to personalize lesson plans based on their student’s needs. As these systems become more advanced, the challenges of curriculum pace will hopefully disappear.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, using technology in the classroom prepares students for the future. We live in an age where technology changes rapidly. The more familiar and up-to-date with new technologies students are, the better equipped they are to continue to thrive in an increasingly tech-dependent workplace. While tried and true teaching methods will always have their place, the importance of technological literacy will only continue to grow. Simply adding technology-related subjects to existing curriculums may provide some benefit, but incorporating those same technologies into the learning process as well will not only give students the skills they need in that particular subject, but it also allow them to become increasingly comfortable with adapting to innovation.
Even jobs that traditionally rely on technology are beginning to utilize all sorts of new programs to make their industries more efficient. Virtually every graduate entering the workforce will need to use new technology in one way or another. The learning curve for many essential technologies is steep, and if students do not possess technological fluidity, they will be at a serious disadvantage.
However, incorporating technology into classrooms does come with a host of challenges. For example, sometimes note-taking involves graphs or shapes that are difficult to create quickly on the fly. Additionally, every teacher has different technological preferences. If every teacher requires different programs for their class, students may have to learn multiple technologies to thrive across all of their courses. Finally, sometimes technology fails. When it does, it can be difficult to move forward until it is fixed. The growing pains of the technology era can wreak havoc on the classroom. Over the next 5-10 years, however, these kinks should be addressed, and students will have a much smoother experience using tech to thrive in school. At least, that’s the idea…