Technology is at the center of our lives in most environments, and the classroom is no exception. The children you teach from kindergarten through high school have grown up in a world surrounded by technology. They do not know what it is like to experience life without cell phones, computers, televisions and other common tech devices.
Despite this familiarity with technology, educational environments may be slow to integrate technology into the classroom. Many schools still use analog tools, such as books, notebooks, whiteboards and posters in instructional design. This could be attributed to lack of funding. However, some school districts have invested in instructional technology for the classroom by securing grant funding or donations from community and business partners. This includes smart boards to replace outdated projectors as well as personal digital devices such as iPads or Chromebooks.
Technology has the potential to make aspects of education easier and more equitable in many ways. Let's find out how teachers and students can benefit from additional technology in the classroom.
What Are the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom?
Students who use technology in the classroom may be more engaged. When schools have a 1:1 initiative (one device for every student), students benefit because technology can be more smoothly integrated into the curriculum. Many teachers use interactive software and programs as learning technologies so that students can respond to questions and lectures digitally. In addition, gamified learning makes education and fun and engaging as they earn badges and move through competencies.
Technology makes it easier for students to collaborate and save their work. Traditionally, when students collaborated, they may have created posters or notes of their work together. However, technology allows students to create digital collections of research and ideas. They can draw and write together in the same program, creating documents and projects that are fully collaborative.
Technology allows some students to be included in the classroom in ways they have never been before. Many students who receive special education can benefit from technology that helps them write, spell, read and do mathematical computation. Word processors can point out spelling mistakes to students. Adaptive readers highlight text or read aloud to students so they can research and use websites like their peers using technology. As technology becomes more prevalent in schools, students who receive special education and use a laptop for help will not stand out or seem out of place.
Technology gives students access to a variety of programs and information sources at the simple click of a button. Teachers can find leveled readers or allow students to choose research topics that fit their interests much more easily than by going to the library where resources may be limited. In addition, teachers can assign programs to help students remediate or expand their knowledge so that students can process or investigate topics further. This work can be done during centers or group work, freeing the teacher to attend to individual students or other small groups. Using technology in this way ensures that all the students get what they need.
Analog tools need to be tended to, cared for and replaced. Using technology allows students to access what they need when they need it. They can keep calendars online, and teachers can push due date reminders in a learning management system (LMS). Word processors do not need to be sharpened and online books do not get lost. Technology allows students instant access to all the materials they need, saving time, space and mental effort.
The content available online is endless. Students who are interested in learning about arts, music, videos - and virtually anything else - can find plenty of resources. Any creative endeavor that calls to a student can be supported by technology. Tablets have the capabilities to capture students' sketches. Editing software lets students bring photos to life and manipulate them in creative ways. Technology can enhance creativity rather than inhibit it if students are given choice about what they create.
A huge benefit of educational technology for teachers is automation. You can upload lessons into an LMS for students to access on their own time. Online assessments make grading easy and parents can automatically be messaged when students receive a failing grade. Teachers are always looking for ways to find more time in the day, and technology can assist in big ways.
We do not yet know what types of jobs will be around when many of our students are adults joining the workforce, but we do know that technology is not going anywhere. Students will need strong technology skills to be successful in whatever job or career they may go into after school. Simply having a mindset that embraces the process of learning and using new technology can make a difference in a student's future.
If you are interested in learning how educational technology can benefit your classroom, join us at Grand Canyon University for any of our teaching degree programs. Many of them have a technology-focused approach that will help you learn to integrate new skills and new ways of using technology in your classroom.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.