Technology in reading instruction is almost inevitable with today’s push for technology use. When I was graduating high school in 2012, all classrooms were being equipped with Smartboards as part of a technology grant in my county. The teachers at the time were indifferent to using these Smartboards as mode of instruction, and many spent more time trying to figure out how to work the board’s functions rather than using the boards to amplify lesson plans. With more and more technology being integrated into middle and high performing schools, it is questionable to whether or not the technology is actually benefitting anyone, or how technological instruction is better than traditional instruction methods. Another problem that lies within utilizing technology is determining what schools are allowed to have such privileges. Mostly well performing middle or high socioeconomic background schools are given the funds to purchase technology to be used in classrooms. When I was in middle school we performed reading comprehension tasks through computer programs, and when there was not enough computers for each member of the class, problems arose that may have potentially impacted that student’s performance. Although using technology makes checking progress incredibly time efficient, it is undetermined how beneficial utilizing that technology is overall based off of which students have technological access.
A benefit that I did find supporting technology in classrooms, was technology provided for students with “special needs”. According to the National Center for Technology Innovation, reading instruction through technology is all about finding the right program. One of the most interesting programs that I read about was a program called Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic. This type of program is allowing blind and dyslexic students to learn to read, and keep up with reading requirements of students of similar ages. They are then able to keep up with texts that the other students are required to read, therefore removing them from any type of “special needs” designed classroom.
Technology is a malleable force that allows expansion and revision of current processes relate to reading instruction. Although computer program based technology was not used very often in my own reading instruction, I find it astounding how far programs have come that can fine tune the needs of the individual while teaching a whole classroom. However, although there are numerous benefits, I am still skeptical on if a push towards more technology is the best way to go. Keeping students focused has always been an issue for instructors, and it is why some feel teaching to sometimes be a babysitting job. Teaching students how to behave with technology is a trivial matter, not only because they can get distracted, but because technology is so much more expensive to teach with than traditional textbooks and worksheets. When I was in Biology honors in high school, we used laptops as supplemental instruction materials to complete lab assignments. The programs worked great and allowed for adequate interaction with the program and the lab that we were performing in class, but the laptops were in terrible condition. Normal wear and tear on items was to be expected, but these laptops were missing keys, would not stay charged (possibly due to being dropped), and many had cracked screens. It was a shame to see such expensive items geared to helping students learn, in conditions as if the students could honestly care less.
This brings up the issue on what population of students should use technology? The laptop scenario was in a class of high school freshman. Fourteen and fifteen year olds who often missed out on chances to use technology because of how poorly their peers had treated the property before them. As of 2014, I personally know at least four 7 and 8 year olds who own smartphones and laptops of their own, all that take better care of that technology than the 14 and 15 year old peers from my high school years. Many people would respond by saying, “just make the students use their technology at home to complete assignments”. This is not a reality for all people. Many people do not have internet connection, advanced phones, or even computers. It is necessary for schools to provide technological materials for learning, as well as for school officials to make sure that this property is maintained and kept in good condition.
There are so many potential problems with technology use in the school and home environment, that at this current point in time I do not see it as a feasible option for everyday instruction. Students can go to school and learn the old fashioned way, and learn just as well if not better than students completely immersed in a world of technological instruction. Technology should be provided to those who would benefit more from it than traditional learning environments, but not be forced upon all students to move towards learning through technology. What are your thoughts on technology in education, particularly in reading instruction?