As in business, technology has become a foundation for education. More classrooms are adopting online teaching strategies and encouraging students to use the Web for research and homework. Today’s educators find that they are teaching a new generation of tech-savvy students and that to engage their interest, they need to apply the same technology these students use for communications and entertainment. Personal computers, laptops, and tablets have taken the place of textbooks as more teachers turn to online teaching tools. When properly applied, technology can be an invaluable asset to schools.
The latest study from TES Global shows that technology adoption in the classroom has become universal. The study of 1,000 U.S. and 2,000 international teachers in 25 countries shows that 94 percent of international schools are using technology in the classroom. U.S. teachers report that 83 percent are using computer technology in the classroom, 78 percent are using technology to communicate with parents, and 69 percent are using “open resources” more often than textbooks and traditional teaching tools. The growing adoption of computer technology in the classroom is a testament to the fact that technology really improves teaching.
Here are six ways to consider how technology is helping students, and schools, thrive:
1. Access to more Teaching Tools
Access to the Internet has changed education. Teachers no longer have to rely on the same textbooks year after year. Fresh content and online instruction tools are readily available from the same publishers that provide textbooks, in addition to a plethora of free resources. There also are more interactive teaching tools such as virtual field trips that can take you anywhere from the Vatican to the Moon. Creating an exciting classroom teaching experience is easier when you have the Web and a vast digital resource library.
2. Updated Teaching Materials
One of the great things about using virtual classroom resources is the content is continually being updated. Teaching history and social science is more relevant when the materials are up to date and you have access to the latest current events. In addition, digital textbooks and materials can be updated instantly instead of having to wait for new printed materials.
3. Better Collaboration
The Web is collaborative, making it easier to work with students and connect with other educators and parents. Teachers can exchange ideas and even prepared lectures online. Sharing student progress reports with parents is easier with Web portals (no more cases of Johnny losing his report card). And students can collaborate with classmates and teachers online. Many classrooms are using websites and wikis as part of instruction. Teachers also are posting homework to shared Web portals for easy access and grading. The entire classroom experience is evolving thanks to online data sharing.
4. Personalized Instruction
Technology also promotes more personalized instruction. Equipping students with their own laptop or tablet enables self-paced learning using interactive lessons. Many teachers are adopting a flipped classroom approach, where students view prepared lectures as homework and use classroom time for special activities and to reinforce the lessons. The flipped classroom also makes it easier to work more closely with students who need extra attention.
5. Better Student PerformanceUsing technology to engage students improves comprehension and engagement. Research shows that kindergartners who use iPads score higher on literacy tests; more than two thirds of students study more efficiently and do better in class with tablets; and students’ math scores improved 20 percent in one year by using iPads in the classroom. There is some controversy over whether or not technology in the classroom actually raises test scores, but having access to technology does improve test preparation.
6. Better College and Career PreparationUsing technology in the classroom helps prepare students for college and a career. Basic computing skills are a prerequisite for success and technology in the classroom promotes digital literacy from an early age. Computer literacy also provides a foundation for lifelong learning. Once students understand how to apply technology to find the information they need they can apply those skills to any situation.
The only impediment to success is having sufficient access to technology in the classroom. More than 60 percent of teachers surveyed by TES Global say they don’t have enough computers or tables in the classroom. Another 35 percent say connectivity is a barrier and there is insufficient Wi-Fi.
For technology to have a positive impact in schools you need the proper infrastructure. There has to be adequate computing hardware, network bandwidth, and the right software in place. In addition, you need to have the right computer infrastructure, security systems in place to protect the network, and the proper controls to track mobile devices and manage Web access.
Many school systems are adopting pilot programs to develop the best strategy to bring technology into schools. We have been working with schools throughout Connecticut to help them define their technology needs and develop implementation strategies that suit their educational requirements, and their budget. If you want to harness technology to help your school thrive, we can show you how.
What are some other ways that an improved technology experience could help your local school?