Why schools must embrace technology in the classroom

Why schools must embrace technology in the classroom

Man has made incredible and some would consider unfathomable strides in technology over the last 60 years.  We went from having a computer the size of a large room to having one in our phones.  The classroom has been no stranger to the advances of technology.  The Encyclopedia Britannica was replaced by Encarta which was later made obsolete by Wikipedia.  Chalkboards have been taken over by projectors, tablets, laptops, interactive boards, and even smartphones.  Students are constantly connected during class and teachers often have time getting them to disconnect.  Sure, schools put policies in place to control how much technology a student uses in the classroom, but students are clever and quite good at bending and breaking rules.  It happened in the 60s and it happens today.  It’s part of academic life.  So, what if we as teachers stopped trying to curb and prohibit the use of gadgets in the classroom and started using it to our advantage?  If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em goes the old adage.  Let’s take a look at some of the points in favor of the use of technology in the classroom.

  1.    It provides students with a comfort zone.

School can be a difficult place for students to spend time in.  The constant need to evaluate them can be a lot of pressure to handle.  Students feel comfortable dealing with technology.  It seems as if they have an innate ability to manipulate it at their will.  Allowing children to use their tablets and smartphones in the classroom can take the pressure off of being in a space that is out of their comfort zone.  In other words, allowing technology in the classroom gives students familiarity and thus less pressure to handle the tasks which are assigned to them.

It’s worth clarifying that students should not use technology in the classroom however they see fit.  Teachers and school officials have the responsibility of teaching pupils how to make an adequate use of technology for educational purposes.

Image courtesy of US Department of Education at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of US Department of Education at Flickr.com
  1.    Technology provides a customized learning experience

If Howard Gardner has taught anything, it’s that every person has a unique set of intelligences that determine the most effective way for him or her to learn.  Teachers can have difficulties in reaching every child and adapting to every student’s learning style.  Technology can help them adapt the class to every child’s needs.  Teachers can implement a number of technological aids that can easily fit different learning styles.  More now than ever, children are different from each other and they cherish that difference.  The use of digital aids can give them a sense of being unique and that the learning experience is tailored to them.

  1.    It encourages reading

Rarely do we see a child reading a physical copy of a book.  This can be for many reasons.  For example, they have an environmental conviction of not wasting paper or they don’t have the resources to buy the book.  E-books have become the go to choice for many students who want to or need to read something.  It’s practical and relatively cheap.  E-books usually cost way less than their physical counterparts. Teachers can and must start taking advantage of this by sending students digital copies of class texts or by recommending the course book in digital form.  Once again, students work better when they are comfortable with the tools at their disposal.  This has an added bonus, having children take command of their learning process involves them becoming disciplined and dedicated to working.  Two very necessary traits in any student.

  1.    Prepares them for life outside of academics

School has always been the place that prepares us for the real world.  Yes, parents and friends teach us the core values that will dictate our sense of morals, but school is where we learn the qualities and skills needed to work and interact with the real world.  One of the skills that we need the most nowadays is to be competent in the use of technology.  It seems as if technology is all around us nowadays and a lot of are tasks are carried out using some form of technology.  Schools must take this into account and teach students how to include different technological tools aimed at productivity, into their lives.

Teachers need to get with the times and understand that children will use technology and that it’s perfectly fine to do so.  A teacher’s responsibility lies in helping his or her charges learn how to use technology to improve their academic performance.  Traditional teaching methods will not apply with today’s youth.  They want to be different and it’s through digital tools where they feel they can be set apart from the traditional ways.  Finally, teachers need to have basic knowledge of what students are using (devices and software) to understand how they can include them in the class and enrich the learning process.  A classroom which does not embrace technology is doomed, simple as that.