Educational technology is a key talking point on just about every school campus these days—from colleges to grammar schools. That's no surprise. Several years ago, this discipline involved playing “Oregon Trail” on one of the school’s computers. But educational technology has evolved since then. Today, it includes electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, social media, whiteboards, tablets, learning apps, websites, and more. These tools provide numerous benefits to both students and teachers alike.
Despite these benefits, educational technology still fights to find its way into some of today's classrooms. That's because many schools struggle with near-crippling budget cuts and teacher shortages. Plus, school boards, parents, and politicians want to see a tangible return on all they money invested in educational activities. Thanks to these circumstances, schools often need to make hard choices when it comes to how they spend their money. Too often, it's at the expense of educational technology.
Below are ten reasons why we need it in our schools. The first five look at things from a teacher’s perspective, like making a teacher’s job easier. The second five looks at things from a student’s perspective, like how technology can boost learning.
1. Automates tedious tasks — As with many professions, teaching includes numerous time-consuming, tedious tasks, like grading students, track student performance, and answering common questions. Technology tools like Top Hat can automate many of these tools, freeing teachers to focus on higher priority tasks.
2. Prepares students for digital future — A recent study by CompTIA, a trade association, shows that 9 out of 10 students say that using technology in the classroom prepares them for a digitally-driven future. Many jobs that never had a technological component have one now. So, students need to have the digital skills to compete and succeed in a brave new world.
3. Accommodate different learning styles — Technology like website apps, e-books, virtual tutoring, and so on, can help teachers adapt lessons to the different learning styles that students have. Doing so enables students to learn at their own pace. Technology also supports different teaching methods for a learner’s unique needs. And it can do all this cost-effectively.
4. Improves retention of information — CompTIA’s study also shows that students believe that technology helps them retain information better. Other studies would seem to bear this out. Another study shows that 16 of 18 second grade students remembered more facts about animals after creating a PowerPoint deck on them. Clearly, using technology helps students learn better than not using it.
5. Helps cut education costs — Technology helps teachers and schools reduce education costs, like when teachers substitute e-Books for printed texts. For example, the use of pertinent websites is the most commonly used tech resource. Often, teachers create their own websites, the cost for creating and maintaining this resource is a lot less than investing in textbooks and workbooks.
Whether it’s doing something dramatic, like using blended learning, or something simple, like using Pocket, educational technology can help students increase their productivity and boost performance. More importantly, it makes learning more effective and fun. Here are five more reasons that we need educational technology:
1. Boosts the feeling of responsibility — Control of learning is a big issue in education. Technology can help students take more control of their own learning experience. Doing so increases self-esteem, encourages students to think for themselves, and teaches them how to make their own decisions.
2. Helps students stay engaged — Technology helps break the passive learning mold of traditional classrooms. It also makes it a happier place for students. Being happier fosters better student engagement. Students are enthused about learning and more inclined to learn the material presented to them.
3. Provide students access to the latest information — Printed textbooks aren't updated for years, so some of the information they carry can become outdated. But digital textbooks are constantly updated, so students have access to the latest information, which is critical in the sciences. Many websites are also updated daily.
4. Makes a variety of courses available — For many students, traditional classrooms aren't an option. Maybe they're single parents, they work or their homebound because of illness. Whatever the case, they need another way to attend classes. Technology can provide access to a variety of instructions, including IB classes, AP, GED classes, and even credit recovery classes.
5. Help Deepen Students Understanding — When technology is integrated effectively into a classroom, it can help students gain a deep understanding of a concept or a subject. Exploring the Internet about a topic goes far beyond the traditional chalk and talk method popular in many schools. This type of activity makes learning far more interesting for the student.
Put simply, educational technology not only makes a teacher's job easier and makes learning easier and more fun. It also reduces educational costs, increases productivity, and also boosts learning—all while cutting costs. With school boards, politicians, and parents looking for the highest return on investment possible, educational technology can be just what the doctored ordered for schools nearly crippled by budget cuts and teacher shortages.