Technology has changed our world and it will continue to change in ways that we can’t even imagine. It has become a part of our work and home lives, but it has become especially pervasive in the classroom. Computers are in 97% of classrooms each day and teachers are having to adapt teaching techniques. The big questions involve understanding how best to use technology and whether it has a place in the classroom at all. How do we teach digital natives? In class, we have discussed some of the benefits of technology in the classroom—and some of the negatives.
We have been told that today’s students are digital natives; that they thrive on being able to engage with tech and are naturally adept at doing so. With a curriculum that promotes 21st century learning and being prepared for “college and career readiness,” tech in the classroom can help prepare students for the future. I’ll be the first to admit that when I came to graduate school after being out of school for almost 14 years, I felt like there was a huge learning curve. I spent plenty of time teaching myself to use programs that my school aged children work with on a daily basis. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to google and figure things out—or I can ask one of my children! But having a good understanding of technology can provide students with a solid foundation in something that isn’t going anywhere.
Technology can provide students with a way to explore and learn in ways that we never thought possible. But technology can also become a burden. Teachers are responsible for learning how to use the tech and maintain it. Some schools choose to utilize BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which may save on the bottom line, but requires families to pay for technology. Technology can also be a status symbol for some students. Having access to technology all the time can be a distraction for some students, so teachers have to be mindful of monitoring and keeping students on task. What if students forget their devices? Or what if they are all on different platforms? And what if the teacher is resistant to learning or teaching with tech?
Students are probably most comfortable with their own devices, so having them bring them own can be advantageous. Technology can engage students and creates enthusiasm for learning–particularly if it’s something that students are used to having. If having 1:1 technology isn’t available through the school, the school budget could be used to provide rental tech for kids whose families can’t afford it. Technology might also be used to personalize learning and develop a greater sense of responsibility. It provides teachers with the opportunity to teach children how to be responsible with technology and social media.
But what is the role of the teacher? I think that teachers need to provide children with opportunities to understand and learn about how to use tech. Teachers need to reconsider and structure of teaching with technology. Making sure that technology is beneficial rather than detrimental in the classroom environment is essential to making it work. Technology can be great, but it can also eat up valuable class time and fixing hiccups can be a time sucking nightmare. Teachers may need to take on a new role, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to learn how every new tech works. This could mean taking a step back and allowing students to figure out how the tech works. Most importantly, teachers and administrators need to make sure that technology compliments the classroom and curriculum. Students are going to be surrounded by tech for the rest of their lives; learning to use it in a way that helps them grow as learner is essential.