With a new school year upon us, it’s important to take the time to understand the way modern technology is changing the way students are educated. From the inclusion of laptops and tablets in the classroom, to smartboards and interactive learning platforms, technology is more integrated into the learning environment than ever before. With the inclusion of these tools in the classroom, the way children learn is vastly different than it was even just 10 years ago.
According to a survey by the University of Phoenix, 63% of K-12 teachers use technology in the classroom daily, with laptops as the most commonly used devices. Additionally, 58% of teachers use educational apps and 41% use social media, numbers that are expected to rise moving forward. This means children are learning throughout their day and are participating in much more self-guided activities. As a result, communication is improved from both a teacher-student standpoint and a teacher-parent standpoint, and students are getting a much more interactive, fun learning experience.
Extended school day and self-guided learning
The advent of personal computing has taken educational tools to a new level, allowing students constant access to learning through their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and home computers. Historically, classrooms were the site of all learning and the only place where students could absorb knowledge and put it into practice. Now, classrooms are just the first step in the learning process, but not necessarily where knowledge is fully developed. The school day no longer ends when students leave the classroom. In today’s Google-powered world, students can access any information they want or need at any time of the day, creating a constant flow of knowledge.
This makes it much easier for teachers to provide additional instruction without exerting themselves. It also provides children additional time practicing a concept they’re struggling with. Through the use of learning management systems (LMS), like Schoology, students have access to teachers, learning resources, and assignments over the web 24/7. These programs also have additional exercises and provide access to their full curriculum that can help students learn at their own pace and gain the extra knowledge they need to succeed.
The switch to modern technology has not only created an easier, more extensive learning environment for students, but it has also greatly improved communication channels between teachers and their students as well as teachers and parents. We live in a society where dual-income households are becoming the norm, leaving little time for parents to meet with teachers. With the technology tools available, parents can meet with teachers via web conferencing or video chat, and can stay up-to-date on their childrens’ grades, performance, and daily activities through LMS tools, email, and parent portals.
The technology tools available today keep students in constant engagement with their education. The ability to access assignments and resources instantly and from anywhere makes the learning process more seamless. If students have questions or need extra help, their teachers and peers are all available at the click of a button through online tools and email.
One of the biggest changes in the typical classroom has come in the form of SmartBoard technology. According to SMART Technologies research, teachers who combine teaching best practices with smart technology, such as SmartBoards, are 342% more likely to achieve outstanding success. Smart technology in the classroom can illustrate information with photos, maps, graphs, and videos, making the learning process both interactive and interesting for students. Digital simulations and models can help teachers more tangibly demonstrate difficult concepts. For example, zSpace allows students to learn each layer of the earth’s atmosphere using virtual and augmented reality platforms.
Purdue University stated, “Today, technology enables forms of communication and collaboration undreamt of in the past. Students in a classroom in the rural U.S., for example, can learn about the Arctic by following the expedition of a team of scientists in the region, read scientists’ blog posting, view photos, email questions to the scientists, and even talk live with the scientists via a videoconference.”
Through the use of technology in the classroom, students are gaining a more comprehensive, engaging, and extended learning experience. Tech tools offer better communication and a more connected education than ever before.