Technology Enthusiast: How can technology help our students?

In our ever changing world, we as citizens and educators must combat the ever-evolving modernization of technology. Over time, technology has become an integral part of society and synonymous with communication. As younger generations emerge, technology becomes a more important piece of their language and culture. As a member of the millennial generation, I find myself immersed in the technological age and its evolution. I remember when the internet first became accessible to general populations and find myself maturing with the technology that constantly emerges. As an educator, I work to ensure that the students I work with become well-informed citizens that are able to navigate the world around them and being technologically literate is a large part of this. I consider myself a technology enthusiast, especially as it pertains to the classroom.

As our world evolves, younger generations need be technologically literate in order to be successful. Over time, over world is becoming more digital, to include the high stakes testing students are participating in. While many younger students are exposed to a lot of technology, many of their experiences are limited to phones, social media apps, and T-9 lingo. When it comes to using a computer for academic purposes, there is a huge learning curve for a number of students. Typing, grammar conventions, and using a technology without a touch screen has been a challenge for these students. It is important to integrate technological literacy skills into school so that as students progress in their academics and into the professional world, these skills are going to be essential.

Integrating technology into classroom has a large number of benefit. It allows for learning to be largely student driven and widen the amount of information students have access to. When students are given interactive technology access, they are able to communicate with the world in a quick and easy way. This allows for students to engage in a new age globalization and widen their world views. Technology within the classroom can allow for increased communication skills, development of student leadership, investment in learning, and globalization among younger generations.

As Herold discusses in their article, “Technology in Education: An Overview” (2016), schools are pushing for a one-to-one computing model, largely due to standardized testing moving to being computer based. However, the challenges of cost and vision are highly prevalent, especially in urban schools. Working in a one-to-one school, I notice these points of friction, especially as computers break, given that cheap models are being purchased, and how haphazardly technology is integrated into classrooms. As it stands, computers are currently being used for testing, essays, and websites like Khan Academy. Students are not given the full benefits of the opportunities that being in a one-to-one school can bring. I have seen classrooms in which this is a successful model, where students work diligently in stations while teachers can provide individualized instruction or where whole class technology, such as Mimio boards, are integrated into the large class lesson. When there is a clear vision for what the role of technology is in the classroom, students will be able to get much more out the experience.

Another point Herold (2016) mentions, that I find to be essential, is the idea of the allowance for increased individualized education and differentiation. For students with disabilities, assistive technology can be an effective tool for accessing the world around them. With a disability, a student could have a number of barriers keeping them from accessing the academic world, as well as their immediate community. By providing access to features such as text-to-speech, dictation, video/audio recording, and more, they can more easily express themselves and communicate to the world.

Technology in the classroom opens a number of opportunities for students to communicate with the world around them. With greater access to information and helpful tools, students have the potential to make incredible progress in their knowledge and skills to be better prepared for the future. While there are a number of barriers currently in place, such as cost and vision, there will always be resistance to the evolution of technology as it develops. I am a technology enthusiast because I believe that, if utilized effectively, technology can prepare the upcoming generations for the ever-changing world and contribute to globalization.

For other educators, how have you seen technology effectively used in classrooms and what factors do you think contributed to its success?

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2 Comments

  1. Hi, Mykayla. I appreciate your enthusiasm. I agree with you that in this age of technological advancement it is necessary for students to develop technological literacy. I see this falling into two categories – digital media literacy which embraces the social-emotional aspect of learning how to function within the world of social media and to use digital media for learning without becoming distracted by the myriad of opportunities available when digitally connected as well as the ability to develop networking skills to further enhance technological learning. As an early childhood educator, I am in the process of figuring out what this means for me and my students.

    During scientific explorations, working with 3-5 year olds, I spend most of my time working with students to develop skills with materials other than through the use of technology. However, one of the uses of technology which has been highly influential in my explorations with preschool children has been the use of IPads and ITouches for observational studies. Children are able to take photos of items that they are attracted to and are keenly interested in what these photos look like once printed. The students want to replicate what they observe in these photos through other art media such as clay, wire, tracing paper, ink and pen, and paint. I have used IPads to have children collect images that they observe on nature walks as well as during social activities. The students often ask to have their photos projected onto a large piece of paper on the wall so that they can trace and paint on the items – examing shapes and lines and movement with the items that they are observing. The connections made and the conversations had during these explorations are invaluable to the social-emotional and developmental growth of these children.

    Another new use of technology in my students’ explorations is the use of a small, flexible digital microscope that they can use to observe more in-depth as magnified items are seen on a laptop or viewing screen. The magnified image offers a new world-view for these children which would have been unavailable to them at their age without the use of technology.

    I am now becoming interested in how I can use the IPads as more than just a tool but as more of an integrated part of the students learning so that they can further embrace observational study and share their work as part of their science explorations. Student work is shared with their families and friends through a school website but I would like to implement the sharing of information among the children themselves within the classroom in a safe and viable manner.

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  2. The only teacher that I have ever encountered who had seamlessly integrated technology into the their classroom was a former colleague of mine from TFA. She did an excellent job of utilizing her Smart board and all of the tools that it offers. She went above and beyond merely using the touch screen features. She gave each of her students a multiple choice “clicker” so that she could do live CFU’s where students would answer the CFU multiple choice questions with their clickers and then she could see the entire classes answers, allowing to her to determine when to reteach a topic or when to progress to the next. She also used Ed Dojo, which pairs very nicely with Smartboard tools. Finally, she created a class Facebook page where students and her parents could interact with her page, see class/school updates and even submit forms to her. It goes without saying that her students were always highly engaged with her lessons. What I think made her classroom so technologically advanced, was not the tools that she had access too, but rather the fact that technology was a hobby of hers. She spent hours attending PDs outside of school, watching online webinars and playing around with her tools in her free time.

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