Five ways technology is changing the school day (for the better)
Technology in the classroom is a hot topic in education that continues to be discussed as the presence of technology in everyday life continues to grow. In one camp, there are those who argue that technology in the classroom can be a detriment to learning; a distraction to students. In another, it’s argued that technology, when used correctly, can be a huge advantage to learning. Tablets and computers, learning apps, interactive white boards, and online study tools are just a few of the types of technology that can enhance traditional teaching methods. The uses of technology in the classroom are countless, as are its benefits. Need more convincing? Here are five ways that technology makes a positive influence during the school day.
- It boosts student engagement
An article recently published by the Timmins Press discusses how the decision made by the Ontario North East District School Board to implement iPads in the classroom has positively affected learning within the district. The article notes that “new in-class technology has rekindled excitement among previously disillusioned students,” and that “students are becoming more engaged in their education as a direct result of the board’s iPad project.” This “rekindled excitement,” brought about by new technology in the classroom, has resulted in a more engaged, eager to learn, student body.
- It levels the playing field
In an effort to better understand how technology supports the development of K-12 students, a group of educators out of San Diego began a research project called Smart Tech Use for Equity. This study, which followed teachers of San Diego low-income students of color, worked to “identify uses of technology in schools that promote learning, development, and success for all students.” The results? Researchers found that technology could be used as an equalizer in the classroom. An English teacher, Serena Pariser, used a brainstorming App, Padlet, and found that by using the tool, “every voice in the class was heard, captured, and left visible.” Similarly, middle school science teachers Alicia Johal and Melissa Foster found that the use of tech like video and audio recorders increased student ability to articulate “concepts they hadn’t been able to describe previously in classroom dialogue, traditional lab notebooks or on tests. In both classrooms, technology helped the students start to share their voices.” The positive effects of technology in the classroom are clear. Students, who before were timid, quiet, or unable to articulate their thoughts on a subject in the classroom, were better able to communicate their understanding of material using technological tools.
- It could close the gender gap
It’s no secret that the number of women entering STEM fields today is staggeringly low. In fact, only 25 percent of computer and math scientists are women, according to the National Science Foundation. Teaching Tolerance, a magazine that publishes free educational materials in the U.S. and Canada released an article in their spring 2016 edition that speaks on the absence of girls in computer science programs. The article, Cracking the Code, argues that incorporating technology into the classroom might help. It says that “Technology can help educators create a learning environment that is welcoming to all girls.” Another article, published by PR Newswire, mimics this same idea. PR Newswire says that a new STEM program created by the USC Rossier School of Education, in conjunction with the Mattel Children’s Foundation, can reduce “girls’ negative emotions about science and mathematics” when innovative tools used to teach these subjects are incorporated into the classroom. Here, technology in the classroom not only boosts learning, it also has the potential to positively effect female students long-term.
- It individualizes learning
No longer do educators expect every learner to learn in the same way, at the same time. Nonetheless, this realization does nothing to alleviate the challenges teachers face in building a curriculum tailored to the individual needs of every student. An article published by the Wall Street Journal thinks technology can help. Though the article examines both sides of the debate about technology in the classroom, it notes that “computers can help individualize instruction, which some people see as a way to help ensure that every student is getting the most out of being in school, without either being held back by the slower pace of others in the class or getting lost as the class zooms ahead.” With the vast number of resources available to educators online, finding a tool tailored to every learner is easy when technology is included in teaching.
- It helps students and teachers connect
The same Wall Street Journal article goes on to discuss the ways that technology helps students and teachers find common ground. Always a challenge, educators struggle to find the middle ground with their students; not only teaching material, but teaching it in a way that appeals to students. With new technologies that allow students to communicate their learning in a conversational style they’d use outside of the classroom, some teachers and students are better able to connect. The article explains that, “teachers are incorporating students’ love of texting into instruction. They are using texting tools to invite students to have conversations about what they learned in class that day and to post their reflections on student-response platforms. … Teachers who are tapping into students’ love of texting are helping their students increase their literacy skills, too. Numerous studies have shown that the more children text, the more literate they become.” With new texting tools, teachers are able to communicate with their students in a way that not only resonates with students, but all improves their literacy.
Technology is making such a great impact on the development of classroom learning and teaching that TeacherStep recently launched a new series of courses, called Instructional Technology courses, to ensure that all teachers have the educational tools to use and understand technology in connection with teaching. These courses will explore how to teach with technology in the classroom as it pertains to core math subjects such as algebra, calculus, geometry and more. The courses focus on the investigation of mathematical pedagogy, best practices for instruction with technology and instructional technology to teach, as well as refresh content knowledge in the subject area. Learn more about enrolling in our Instructional Technology courses here.