With the way technology has pervaded every part of our lives, children quickly lean on technology to help them find the answers to everyday questions. Educators are keeping pace with this societal shift to tech-focused living by making classroom learning more engaging and effective with the use of the latest educational technology.
Technologically Savvy Educators
It’s becoming less and less of a surprise to adults when a small child navigates a smart phone or computer intelligently. Technology has saturated our culture, and children are learning early on in their developmental years how to use technology for entertainment and education. Some educators and parents worry about the way kids’ brains are becoming dependent on technology, from early exposure to constant electronic stimuli.
The trick, experts are finding, is to take the youngest generation’s addiction to technology and use it as an educational advantage. In response to the advent of technology into every aspect of daily life, the modern classroom has become a high-tech computer center for online learning and electronic standardized testing. Superseding what was previously a simple room full of desks, writing utensils, and a chalkboard, technology is transforming the way students are educated. Some states’ school systems are even spending more on technology despite budget cuts to other highly important areas like construction and educator employment.
The way children can learn concepts that only required a pencil and paper in the past have expanded by the introduction of portable, integrated technology. Educators have kept pace with changes in the way children entertain themselves and learn. By designing, developing, implementing and evaluating their instructional designs and educational plans to utilize these efficient and environmentally friendly ways, children have begun to learn using modern technology.
Technology-based learning provides a multitude of benefits to students, and it allows some autocracy for students. They can move at their own pace, gain technological literacy and vocational skills that can be used beyond school and into the real world. Students with disabilities who were traditionally underserved can now learn at the rate of their peers thanks to dynamic Braille displays, voice recognition systems, talking books, speech synthesizers and the like. Students with low motivation or attention deficit disorders are more engaged with the sounds, images and interactions of a computer or tablet. With these advancements, students have become more academically motivated because of technology.
Some of the benefits of incorporating technology into the classroom include:
- Acceleration, enrichment and deepening of basic skills related to use of hardware and software.
- Motivating and engaging students to learn.
- Relating academics to today’s workforce.
- Diversifies teaching methods.
- Contributes to modernization of school’s instructional designs.
- Connects schools to the technological world.
While there are advantages to electronically based learning, there are also considerations and concerns to be taken into account by administrators and teachers.
- Computers have an increasing role in classroom learning - Computers continue to evolve in aesthetic, functionality, and efficiency, giving educators more of an edge in the way they implement instructional plans. From desktop computers to tablets and mobile devices, these machines let students work at their own pace and conduct research for projects. Applications, games, word processors and other educational programs supplement coursework, and standardized testing is often conducted through computers. Games can help develop students’ motor skills and strengthen mental response timing. Remotely controlled computers allow instructors and students to contribute to classroom discussions and activities from outside of the classroom. For example, students who are home on a sick day can still participate in class work.
- Guarded access to the Internet takes learning experiences from good to great - The Internet allows students to develop autonomy and self-confidence in research, as they wade through raw data and information found in web searches. Also, teachers can easily create a website or blog using content management software so students can access assignments and participate in study groups. While instructors will appreciate the ease of using computers to administer tests and complete coursework, they will also need to maintain a stricter supervision of what children are doing on their computers. While certain website blockers will ensure that children cannot view inappropriate content, teachers also have to monitor students to make sure they are not distracted.
- Robots and simulators are becoming friends of the special education classroom - Students with special learning requirements are reaching new levels of education through the use of robotics in the classroom. Children with autism are learning communication and social skills, students with developmental issues and attention disorders are learning focus and students with severe physical disabilities are offered a constant companion and health monitoring system - all through the use of robotics. Robots can be programmed to suit an individual child's needs, offering special education in a much simpler, easy accessible format. Simulators offer students with special needs an introduction to real-world scenarios in a non-threatening environment. Everyday lessons can be taught at a comfortable pace, including subjects ranging from basic self-care to stay-safe techniques in emergency situations. Simulators have also provided a way for special education educators to see the world from their students' perspectives, including hearing-impaired or blind simulations.
- Mobile devices continue to be everyone’s best gadget - Smart phones and mp3 players with Wi-Fi capabilities can serve many purposes in the classroom, and the popularity of mobile learning continues to rise. Not only is mobile learning accessible from almost anywhere, but they share many applications that computers do, allowing students to access academic content from their mobile devices. Instructors can use certain applications to communicate with students about coursework, as well.
- Gone are the plain chalkboards of yesterday - Modern smart whiteboards function like giant touch screens, allowing both instructors and students to draw, write and manipulate images with a pen or even their finger. These whiteboards come in various sizes to accommodate different learning settings, and some can be used by more than one person at a time. Most are electronically powered and can save previous work for future sessions.
- Digital microphones make it easier for everyone to hear a teacher - Endless noise is typical in most classrooms, especially for the younger grades. So that teachers can save their voices, digital microphones transmit their words over loud speakers so that everyone can hear clearly. These small sound systems don’t typically strain a school’s budget, so microphones are a fiscally friendly option for classrooms. Students can also use their classroom sound system to ask questions and participate in live activities like debates and presentations.
- Online media and study tools offer a wealth of out-of-classroom learning - Learning about active volcanoes? Watch one erupt online on websites like YouTube, which have free, engaging, real-time video examples for students. Online study tools on academically reliable websites offer students creative, interesting ways to study and use skills imparted by their teachers. Diversifying instructional design with media like videos, equation tools and interactive learning programs keeps students’ attention up, and ultimately, their grades too.
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 excellent and its online programs offer a flexible schedule for the working professional.