Remember back when “educational technology” meant fancy pencil sharpeners and clunky overhead projectors? Times have changed, and any visit to a school will show that.
Students use iPads at their desks, automated tutoring software complements the daily lesson plan, teachers use online learning management systems to track assignments and hand out grades, and data collection allows us to analyze and compile all of these components together.
So far, the trend seems to be positive. Classrooms around the world have bought 8 million iPads since 2010 and studies show an increase in engagement and performance.
A 2014 RAND survey of a Carnegie Learning algebra found that the blended learning (or technology-enhanced) model boosted average students’ performance by approximately eight percent.
Every teacher knows the importance of keeping a student’s attention. Nowadays the key to effective learning involves using workstations, cell phones, and iPads in the classroom.
Students have grown up with devices like these, so schools should tailor their lesson plans to adjust to how students learn best. Classrooms all over the US either use or are planning to use a 1:1 plan, (1 gadget for each student) and BYOD (bring your own device) to modernize the learning experience.
But what exactly is it about education technology that delivers such an increase in student engagement and performance? CMIT Solutions has identified the following reasons taken from industry research, and from hands-on experience working with schools to upgrade their technology systems:
Technology often makes the learning process richer
Very few people think that just giving students a tablet will automatically make their educational experiences better. But advances can occur when technology shakes up the traditional teaching model (one teacher talking to a classroom of 20 or 30) and give students a more connected, engaged form of learning.
This makes it easier for the student to get individual instruction from a teacher and benefits all types of learners, regardless of age or background.
Technology can give students a heightened sense of excitement and ownership in their education
Most studies, including an extensive one by Canadian researchers, find that the biggest benefit of educational technology is information access and portability.
But motivation and creativity routinely come in 2nd or 3rd, as technology can extend learning beyond usual school hours and give students extra incentive to read on their own, become more organized, and work at their own pace.
Of course, in instances where tablets are allowed to go home with students, enhanced security settings would be required to protect devices, their users, and their owners. Advanced security is required in instances where tablets are allowed to go home with students. That’s where the help of a trusted IT advisor experienced with the deployment of educational technology can be critical.
With gadgets like iPads for instance, students don’t have to be restricted to a PC lab. When a task is levied, students can work at it over time inside the classroom, at home, while they’re on the bus, and so on. Mobile classroom innovation nullifies any issues a student might have related to classroom and home learning.
The transition from a more traditional approach of educating to learning more modern techniques is dependent on technology. And while some may see this transition as a bad thing, the net positives far outweigh the negatives.
Technology can give disadvantaged students a significant leg up.
From impoverished cities in the United States to rural territories in Canada, and disconnected communities around the world, technology provides less fortunate students with opportunities to excel that wasn’t available before the digital age.
Look at Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ recent TheVerge.com article about a 15-year-old Mongolian student who was able to take an MIT circuits and electronics course from his home in Ulan Bator — and then get accepted to MIT the very next year, where he currently works with edX to (funnily enough), further improve educational technology for future students.
Previously, an inflexible classroom structure characterized school as a whole. Every student had a similar experience, regardless of their varying necessities or abilities. While some students can work well in this climate, others have a much more difficult time.
Computers and tablets etc. improve a school’s capability to help as many students as possible, including students who may have not otherwise had access to such a device. Similar to how working from home has made it much easier for people to create their own schedules, online teaching allows students to have a more flexible learning experience.
Technology can make schools run more efficiently, and have increased productivity
The educational benefits provided by technology are undeniable. But let’s not forget, technology can help businesses run better too — and in this day and age, more and more schools are operating as successful small businesses.
Whether it’s increased bandwidth capabilities, secured wireless networks, administrative and operational software, or integrated communications systems, opportunities are endless for helping both students and teachers harness the power of technology.
Technology has made a massive change in student and teacher roles
The increase of technology in the classroom has brought significant change in the roles of both teacher and student.
The student has a lot more agency, as they control their own learning habits, instead of mindlessly repeating information told to them, while the educator now becomes more of a facilitator than a traditional teacher.
Technology in the classroom allows the instructor to create a more customized learning experience for students. By using these methods, instructors can give students the freedom to work and dominate the learning experience at their own level and pace.
Technology is intuitive, and students learn by doing, exploring, and receiving instruction. This “intuitiveness” makes it much easier for students to get excited about what they are learning.
For instance, they may be interested in geology or zoology, subjects that typically don’t get a lot of attention in school. With technology-based learning, instructors can reinforce these interests rather than forcing students to regurgitate information.
You might ask, then what role would teachers have if learning was done primarily online? Educators, instead of forcing certain types of work, can take a step back, and guide student exercises as mentors do.
They give input and instruction to the class so students get the proper information and preparation for the “real world,” offering assistance in skills like critical thinking, examination, and social interaction.
Technology encourages discussion and debate boards and forums
By utilizing the Internet or programming devices, students can make online gatherings, Web pages, and virtual networks that connect them with other students and educators from anywhere on the planet.
They can get input from their instructors, and ask questions about their exercises. Additionally, being in an online space incentivizes more honest criticism, forcing students to refine their reasoning and craft better arguments. This higher standard allows for more impactful discussion and pushes students to learn by doing, rather than just listening.
Technology allows for coverage of real-world issues
Education is tied in with connecting students with the information they may not be aware of. Instead of viewing computerized gadgets and Internet spaces as a threat to job security by being replaced, teachers should see them as a powerful tool for supplementing their lesson plan.
By using Internet-based sources, students can explore current world issues, and how they affect people on an individual level by listening to interviews or even reaching out to people directly from around the world by use of social media. These are options simply not available when a student’s learning experience is tied to a textbook.
Technology aids in the assessment
Utilizing technology for assessments offers various options and can generally upgrade a school’s evaluation process. Take a look at the program ClassFlow.
It gives instructors a means to view a student’s answers in real-time, allowing them to see how well a class is understanding an exercise, and catch any issues as early as possible.
Technology breaks down boundaries
The use of tablets and other devices by schools allows for the learning experience to continue even when students are at home. Schools are enabling educators and students to assume greater responsibility for their learning, using the new level of connectivity to meet and work together.
Now, students can connect to other students or teachers either in another classroom or in an entirely different school. If nothing else, this allows students to interact with people from a massive variety of backgrounds, teaching them important social skills and nuances they wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.
While course readings may still have a place, students will have a far superior experience by using a PC, tablet, or cell phone to help enrich the lessons they’ve already learned throughout the day, and encourages students to explore other subjects, share thoughts, and improve already existing talents.
The fact that a lot of schools offer access to downloadable material and other peripherals, shows that moving to a more technology-based learning experience is entirely possible.
Technology encourages desirable skills
One of the top abilities asked for on job applications is critical thinking. Employers prefer not to invest much time explaining how to perform a task, answering the same questions over and over again from a new hire.
The use of 1:1 teaches students from a young age how to avoid such a scenario, and trains them in a similar environment to the job sphere allowing for an easier adjustment in the future.
Additionally, the increase in agency allowed to students by the 1:1 model, allows them to appreciate what they are seeing even if they have a hard time understanding the subject.
As a student searches for new information and answers to questions, they build up a propensity for exploratory learning. This furthers the strength of critical thinking skills and makes someone that much more desirable to a potential employer.
Innovation and technology increase access to information and assist in creating content.
One of the greatest technological advancements in recent memory has been the improvement of the tablet, a gadget that allows us to store and access multiple libraries worth of information in one place.
With a tablet and digital sources, anyone can have instant admittance to any reading materials they need, materials that are being expanded upon by people uploading new information across the world every minute of every day.
Therefore, whenever students are working on essays or reports, they can connect to sources directly and get the most accurate and recent information available for their project.
Technology promotes availability.
Before, both students and instructors would have to be in the same place.
How has technological advancement changed learning? In higher-level education, people are now able to get a college degree without ever leaving their house.
While most schools offer only a portion of their courses on the web, more and more schools are offering online-only options.
Another modernity is web-based tutoring, which eliminates geographic barriers for students and adults who need extra assistance, but can’t ask their teachers directly for help.
Technology represents a great investment for the future — for students, teachers, and administrators
The world is changing rapidly, with technological advancements influencing and upgrading our everyday lives in a variety of ways.
Technology can help students learn better, teachers teach better, and schools operate better, investing in tech-based learning a no-brainer.
If your school is looking to update its teaching capabilities, consider contacting CMIT Solutions. We help educational facilities put technology to work for them to increase efficiency, productivity, and the overall learning process.
Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.