Gone are the days of paper and pencil, chalkboard, and overhead projectors: the modern classroom has gone high-tech. Here, the technology experts at SchoolMart explain why technology is beneficial to learning in the classroom.
Some may despair, and some rejoice, but all must acknowledge the permanent presence of technology in society today. The current generation of children are growing up with smartphones, tablets, and other devices in hand, and naturally this translates into an expectation of technology in the classroom. While some schools are just beginning to harness the potential of technology in facilitating learning, many are falling behind in integrating new tools in the classroom. When used properly, technology can have wonderful impacts on student engagement, knowledge retention and understanding, while also preparing children at a young-age for the digitized workforce that awaits.
Technology should be both content specific and content neutral. Content specific technology for the math classroom can include online algebra systems, dynamic geometric environments, interactive apps, graphing calculators, data collection, analysis devices and computer-based applications. These virtual programs can assist students in exploring, identifying and understanding mathematical concepts, all while providing them prompts and feedback that help them learn independently and at their own speed.
Data collection and analysis tools specifically can help students work with real data and test hypotheses. More content-specific technology in the classroom also means there should be a focus on instruction beyond an encouragement of answer-finding – students must be given instruction in identifying whether an answer is reasonable, and how the answer applies within a real-life context. This prepares students to think critically in ways that will be important to their future jobs and careers. Implementing technology does not mean teaching students to blindly accept an answer provided to them by a calculator or computer application.
Content neutral technology can include communication and collaboration platforms, which can help students share knowledge, work cooperatively with others, provide feedback to their teacher and ask questions remotely. These technologies also allow better access to students who are otherwise hesitant to participate in live classroom discussion, as well as students who learn better visually, rather than auditorily. Traditional learning doesn’t always encourage teamwork, but online social media-style platforms create bridges to link students of different learning styles and abilities, allowing them to work together virtually to solve problems, find solutions, check answers, and encourage one another to succeed.
Of course, it is critical to remember that technology is not a sole means to the end of student understanding – an effective teacher is always necessary. Teachers must provide guidance in using technology, explain methods and answers with appropriate context, instruct in problem-solving and strategy-building and encourage collaborative learning. Technology should be the fertilizer; the teacher should be the sun, soil and water. A plant can grow without fertilizer, just as a student can learn without technology—but technology will boost performance, as fertilizer boosts plant growth. Don’t keep your students from reaching their full potential – work to outfit your classroom with the latest and greatest in learning technology.
For more information, or to help furnish your classroom with technology, visit www.schoolmart.com.