Technology has proven to provide excellent benefits for students, and while more schools are gaining access to these new tools, many are searching for new ways to find the funding for these often expensive items.
Technology in Schools
In 2011, 14 U.S. Senators, calling attention to the critical role technology in education can play in strengthening students' learning capacity, came before the Senate Appropriations Committee to bring funding to the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program. Federal funding is finally available for technology in education.
The Importance of Technology in the Classroom
Technologies such as computers, coupled with appropriate software and applications, can support instructors in building a learning environment that develops necessary skills, such as communication, collaboration and the ability to adequately research and study. Students who are able to work in technology-rich environments have access to a wide variety of resources and a great deal of learning opportunities. The benefits of technology in the classroom include:
- Simple Research - Fast accessibility to vast amounts of information found online. Research becomes simpler and enjoyable.
- Motivation - Motivation builds when students are interested in learning, accomplished by the implementation of new, exciting technologies. Learning can be fun, and the student's motivation is reflected.
- Communication - Communication skills are polished through global communication. Technology, such as email, chat rooms and discussion forums, allow students to reach out to peers, whether from their own class or from classrooms halfway around the world.
- Better Testing - Technology allows for better assessment, whether through easier standardized testing methods or through immediate in-class answer-systems, such as response clickers. Teachers can quickly see which students require more assistance, and programs can be tailored to the individual needs of the students based on the responses received.
Such learning environments, however, come with a price. Funding options are available for these types of technologies, whether through government grants or creative fundraising methods.
Gaining Funding for Educational Technology
When a school district board or other educational governing body begins its planning for school funding, it is important to consider the following:
- The undertaking of technologically equipping a school is pricey; school boards and administration must often incorporate several means of funding to cover all expenses.
- Technology in the classrooms is not a one-time expense, but rather a financial investment that will require purchases and updates in the future. Technology will continue to advance, and the importance of advancing with it can be seen in the progress of the students.
- Thorough staff training should be employed following the installation of new technologies. Innovating classroom tools are ineffective if the educators lack a full comprehension of the capabilities and use of each new technology.
The best plan often involves a combination of several funding means, including:
- Bonds - Bond initiatives have the ability to carry a large amount of funds for applying technology in large-scale projects, such as implementing a networked computer system into a school. However, projects of this scale require system maintenance and regular updates. A bond is a one-time funding option that may not fully support the ongoing expense of keeping up more advanced technological systems.
- Fundraising - Recruiting the assistance of a school's community is a viable way to build funds towards technology, and fundraising is a faster and less complicated method for doing so. Communities thrive when the youth have accessible opportunities for advancement, and a thorough explanation of the benefits of technology can lend a hand to convincing citizens of the community to donate their money.
- Government Grants – One notable attribute of grants is that they can often be matched by local contribution, specifically in the instance of ongoing expenses. For this reason, if applying for a grant towards technology within a school system, it is crucial to indicate when local funds are available for matching. Many grants are available for educational technology purpose, both at the state and federal level.
- Equipment donations –Many businesses make a habit of donating outdated or older model equipment when new technologies are purchased. Even technology that is only a few years old will be replaced by larger corporations, and this provides an excellent opportunity for schools. However, schools should be cautious of accepting old equipment that requires significant maintenance to become operational. While outdated technology may be better than none at all, schools realistically require modern and functional technologies to be utilized at full potential.
Earning your higher education with an Online Master of Science in Education in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University Online can offer a valuable step towards a successful career in education technology. Purdue is known around the world for scholarly excellence and its online programs offer a flexible schedule, convenient for the working professional.