Technology seems to saturate every part of our society. From iPhones, to netbooks, to internet-connected thermostats, high-tech gear and devices are only growing in popularity and capability. And with the constant access to content, technology has even transformed our educational system.
With kids under 9 spending 2 hours a day on screens, and their time spent on mobile devices tripling in the past four years, it’s all the more important for our education systems to continue to integrate technology in the 21st-century classroom.
Studies show that a student’s attention span is no different from 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. So, meeting them at their level of interest is important for their growing minds. While some school systems have adapted to new-age tech to allow students to explore in the classroom, many systems have not made the shift. And if they have, it was not optional.
Unfortunately, many teachers oppose an integrated classroom because they believe students cannot learn from their devices, and actual skills aren’t being taught. But this thinking is closed-minded. While using the old paper/pencil based model isn’t bad, the analog-only model caters to one style of student in a classroom. With a variety of thinkers and learners that need other outlets of learning and applying their skills, a digital approach is necessary.
Those who refuse to integrate technology into their classroom argue that it adds more work to an already heavy workload. Another idea is that schools don’t having enough access or funding to technology.
But in reality, using tech in the classroom actually makes teachers more efficient. With systems that help with grading, content and support (which are often the most tedious parts of the job), educators can have more time to apply interventions and enrichment for their students. Especially for districts and schools that don’t have enough funding, students (for the most part) have access to technology right in their pockets.
Resourcing Students and Teachers
There are countless websites, applications, videos and other resources on the web for teachers and schools seeking to enhance their lessons. And much of it is free. Sites like Khan Academy and iTunes U, for example, provide digital lessons for both teachers and students, and educators can post their own content on sites like YouTube or as a podcast.
Kahoot is another digital resource. It’s a fun, educational game that students could use on their phone/tablet. Rather than taking a test, Kahoot assesses students’s skill levels, either pre- or post-assessment. Other apps like Flipgrid and Nearpod are becoming popular with tech integration with easy-to-follow steps and ways for students to work in and out of the classroom.
Colleges and universities have adopted online technology for teaching for years now, even allowing students to take full online courses. So, what’s from stopping secondary and even elementary school districts from incorporating this system into their schools? If this system has been shown to work and improve student learning, then it should continuously be implemented into pre-K through 12th grade schooling as well.
In an article titled “The Why Behind RTI“, authors Austin Buffman, Mike Mattos and Chris Weber touch on the concept that “the core mission of every school should be to provide every student with the skills and knowledge needed to be self-sufficient, successful adults,” and allowing students to pursue learning through technology builds toward that self-sufficient adult.
Technology is not the be-all, end-all to solve the problems in our education system, but it cannot be ignored. Teachers can no longer simply teach page-to-page from a textbook and expect students to retain all that information. Students today need to be able to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, compare and contrast and manipulate and apply information in order to be successful. And implementing technology in the classroom, and preparing students with skills they can utilize in their future is the best method for teaching in the 21st century. It’s the reason why education should continue to explore and embrace technological integration now, and for years to come.