We live in a tech-savvy world. There is an app for everything. There are machines that can track the number of steps you take in a day. Information is at everyone’s fingertips and it is constantly updated. Gone are the dusty days of encyclopedias, and as much as some of us may reminisce for actually having to search through a book for our information, there is no denying the accuracy and speed with which we are now able to learn.
Technology—as with more or less everything—is no stranger to education. Technology-related practices are permeating the classroom, resulting in schools that are increasingly connected and online. The potential benefits of technology-integrated classrooms are vast, and educators are becoming more and more open to the idea of using technology to support their curricular goals. “Technology-integrated” does not mean “computer class”; rather, it describes an entirely different take on education—one that involves a more interactive, research-based approach to learning, while allowing students to pick up the skills required in the modern workplace.
Learning through technology can often be very graphic and visual, which can aid students’ fundamental understandings of conventionally difficult-to-understand topics. Involving technology in teaching improves students’ abilities to engage with, focus on and retain the materials they study. Technology-based learning also changes the student-teacher dynamic, placing greater responsibilities on students for their education success, and teachers are able to act more as guides.
Another benefit of technology-integration is that it increases students’ accountability by making it harder to not complete assignments. This helps foster a sense of academic responsibility that is shared throughout the classroom. It also allows students to accumulate their academics in one place, making studying and review easier. But perhaps the most major accomplishment of technology-based learning is that teachers don’t need to worry about kids being distracted by their phones.
There are a number of methods to consider when involving technology in the classroom. Two major theories that address technology-integration in education are the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model by Dr. Ruben Puentudura (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2012/08/23/SAMR_BackgroundExemplars.pdf) and the TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) model (http://www.tpack.org/). Both models offer detailed and methodical approaches to introducing technology into the classroom in a manner that successfully enhances the educational experience.
Some ideas to using technology in the classroom:
- Start a class blog in which students post their thoughts on various subjects being studied
- Show short, education videos to illustrate concepts and provide visual reinforcement
- Explore educational websites that provide interactive learning techniques
- Have students create videos and record themselves to increase self-awareness
- Assign e-books as reading