Technology has changed nearly every industry, and education is no exception. Within in the last decade, there have been many new and specific programs, apps, and devices designed for the classroom and higher education. And, they have been implemented somewhat unevenly throughout different regions and school districts.
Of course, technology isn’t the ultimate solution to all problems in education. Implementing technology for the sake of technology may not deliver the return on investment that educators want. Technological systems are just tools, and they are only as effective as the pedagogy lesson plans behind it. Often, educators use the technological revolution as a justification for the necessity of bringing these new systems into the classroom without having specific goals in mind.
Don’t Count on Technology to be the Band-Aid You’ve Been Waiting For
Many educators find it harder to reach modern students and see technology as a way to open the door. Yet one of the biggest misconceptions when implementing technology into the class, especially in K-12, is viewing students as digital natives and relying too heavily on technology. Many educators find it harder to reach modern students and see technology as a way to open the door. However, handing them devices and expecting students to do the rest of the work is rarely effective. Educators need to have an understanding of how these systems work as well.
Your Faculty and Staff Need to Trust in Tech, Too
In addition to the lack of knowledge about new technology, educators can have a distrust of new developments. Technology adaptation is often seen as being in the same category as privatization of education, for-profit charter schools, and vouchers. Implementation is complicated because many parents and other stakeholders feel that the current educational model is out of touch with the needs of the modern world.
Although today’s students have grown up with mobile devices and the Internet, they still need structured lessons that are supplemented by technology. However, the sheer number of tools that have popped up in the last few years has made it overwhelming for decision-makers. Some schools give students tablets or laptops, but just handing over a device doesn’t create a meaningful change. The method of teaching rather than the medium is what matters most.
If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Apply Technology
Some skills are best taught with a traditional approach. For example, whiteboards are still a common and effective tool in many classrooms. Other types of learning are well suited for online learning. Critical thinking and self-regulation are considered far more relevant skills in today’s world, and education needs to prepare students. However, it isn’t just about meeting the student’s needs. Although there are a variety of solutions on the market today, teachers need to be served by technology in the classroom or it won’t succeed. Programs that benefit students may not always be suited to what would make educators’ lives easier.
“Well-designed platforms tend to solve administrative headaches for educators, those saving them time,” said Josh Leven of NoRedInk. “Curriculum offerings tend to live somewhere on a spectrum from entirely student-guided, to entirely directed by the teacher. As an industry, I think we’re learning that in order to get the best adoption, it’s important for teachers to have some control over what students are doing and how long that activity will require. Teachers also appreciate transparency in those student activities: usage metrics, student performance, mastery scores, etc. In addition, it’s helpful to give teachers something they can use as a grade.”
Ultimately for technology in the classroom to be successful and boost educational outcomes, educators must consider the problems they need to solve while implementing new systems. Technology needs to be part of the lesson planning process, rather than being treated as a separate entity. The best classroom tech tools bring people together rather than placing the bulk of the responsibility of learning on the individual.
About this post
This is part two of a series of posts about our Education Sector. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring how best to engage with students of all levels using technology. This originally appeared in our whitepaper “Four Things You Need to Understand to Get Students to Engage with Technology in the Classroom.”