Goodbye blackboard, hello interactive SMART board! In today’s world, the integration of technology in education is no longer a new fad. Over the course of the last decade technology has arguably become an integral part of society and found its way in to the education system in a variety of ways. The use of technology within the classroom has changed from the basic computer or television, to a wide spread range of devices such as SMARTboards, iPads, and even some software programs.
Educators all over have begun to embrace these benefits to everyday lessons and activities. Surprisingly there are those people who do not think teachers are using technology effectively; however, the opposite is actually true. Teachers use technology to communicate with students, research, visual instruction, and educational games.
Classroom technology can play a major role by, “encouraging communication patterns within and beyond the classroom”. Technology is changing education by providing greater accessibility to instructors. Perry Callas says that, teachers are usually available 24 hours a day to interact with students compared to past time methods of communication such as setting aside time to schedule office visits.
“A student can now send a text, email, or social media message via Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr at any time.” Perry Callas, instructor at Clatsop Community College relies on email and blog posts providing students with feedback. He uses blog posts for discussion of classroom topics and provide an open forum where ideas can be discussed, debated and analyzed so students may see what their peers have concluded on a particular topic.
Brandon Haas, an instructor at Freedom High School in Florida, uses a web-based application called I Witness in his classroom. What he says he likes most about the program is, its modules of social-media style message boards for teacher-student communication.
Also, providing secure private forum that can’t be accessed from students or people outside the classroom setting. A survey of some online teachers by Grant and Thornton in 2007, concluded that they felt the use of technology enriched critical thinking skills and enhanced writing skills. Also, importantly improvement in student advancement, technology has proven to improve teaching abilities and communication between individuals. (Ng’ambi and Brown, 2002).
In recent years, one of the most common products of the expanding technological world enjoying wide spread use in the classroom is the Smartboard. This one advancement itself has come to replace the whiteboards, projectors, and televisions. The Smartboard is “a special type of interactive touch sensitive whiteboard that can be used to collaborate and communicate with students in the classroom, faculty or staff in conferences, and so on.” (Smartboard) As you may be able to guess, teaching has been recognized as its main use for its ability to perform such numerous functions.
First and foremost, the Smartboard is a great addition to the classroom because they are generally not expensive with free software that can be installed on your computer. This item is such an amazing tool when it comes to lesson introductions, and determining children prior knowledge and understanding of certain topics.
With this idea of bring learning to life, iPads and apps have a variety of benefits when it comes to education. Not only do they help increase familiarity with technology, but their many functions have changed the way students are learning. Take for example a study that was done in Bedford, Massachusetts, where high school students used the “Solar Walk simulation app from Vito Technology to explore” the solar system” (Handwerk, 2013).
Without the recent use of iPads and apps, students would more likely be learning about the solar system out of a textbook, which we all know does not do the actual solar system justice, and has caused educators to struggle with finding a good representation for decades. This example for Massachusetts however, is just one example of many. The use of iPads and apps in the classroom has also increased the ability for students to take their learning home. Obviously, the use of iPads and apps are incredibly useful for educators and students all over, they are a great tool due to their expansive availability and potential to be continually created and improved in the future.
Technology can be used a visualization tool to keep students interested in the subject being taught at the moment. New technology tools for visualizing and modeling, especially in the sciences, offer students ways to experiment and observe phenomenon. Students struggle with the task of learning symbolic and molecular representation of chemistry.
A study was conducted to investigate how students developed an understanding of chemical representations with the aid of a computer-based visualizing tool, eChem, allowing them to build molecular models and view multiple representations simultaneously. Students who were highly engaged in discussions while using eChem made referential linkages between visual and conceptual aspects of representations. Doing so, this in turn may have deepened their understanding of chemical representations and concepts.
Paul Lam and Aiden Tong are two researchers from University of Hong Kong and conducted a series of interviews with students there. When asking some of the students about the web learning activities used in the classroom, most people admitted that “digital devices had positive impacts on their study habits and academic success” leading to an overall classroom satisfaction. (Lam and Tong, 2012). Also, when they at in and observed a class session, they noted that the routines of visual web activities are affective in “enhancing motivation, the ability to apply course based knowledge, and overall academic achievement among the student body” (Lam and Tong, 2012).
Games are used in an academic setting as a method to establish and reinforce learning objectives. In Nikall Miller’s analysis, observations were made regarding student engagement during instructional sessions before and after two games were introduced as a method. One method is to use games to meet learning objectives. The components of a game can be used to motivate and provide structure to reinforce concepts and teach key principles. Other times, the elements of the game can provide many advantages when using games in a classroom setting.
They create friendly competition which, for some people can increase motivation. Such technology makes a great method for teaching because they allow students to engage with the material in an interactive way. Games have been used in the academic environment in a wide range of forms, indicating that games can be used to teach students in a variety of formats.
For instance, several games taking the form of the popular television game show, Jeopardy, have been developed and used in the classroom to teach different areas of study, such as business and health sciences. The following review provides further to the body of knowledge that games can be used successfully in an academic setting. Behavior of students was observed during traditional instructional library academic session and then games were brought about as a method of reinforcing concepts. The instructional sessions focused on teaching reference citations.
Instructor and the student comments were considered, along with body language from students to assess the success of implementing games in a library instructional session. Such observations led to conclusions about the positive impact that games are having on students’ motivation and educational experience.
One may not realize that computers were integrated in the classroom back at very young ages. Many people may remember the games played on a Macintosh in elementary school. Computer programs used in elementary schools include, Reader Rabbit and the Living Books Series which were available on CD-ROM. Reading Rabbit is a computer program that allows a student to strengthen reading skills through letter recognition, rhyming words, and word families. Reader Rabbit and programs like such, can also be used to determine a child’s reading level. Along with Reader Rabbit, the Living Books Series contains children literature that is available by CD-ROM as well.
As technology becomes more affordable and available, the trend of technology in classroom will continue. Teachers use technology to communicate with students, research, visual instruction, and educational games. As anyone can see, the advantages for the use of technology in the classroom is extremely vast and wonderful. Whether it’s being incorporated through SmartBoards, iPads, apps, or software, it is granted to take learning to a whole new level. Educators and students alike will benefit from its wide range of uses now and for the years to come as technology continues to evolve. Who knows what is in store, but it is sure to only to proceed upwards and onwards.