How Technology is Enhancing Education
5 minute read
From toddlers to teenagers, kids today are more tech savvy and reliant on technology than ever before.
Unfortunately, while this has its benefits, there’s no denying the negative aspects. Technology overload can lead to social withdrawal, too many hours on the internet and addiction to games, smartphones and social media.
So, wouldn’t it be better to keep gadgets out of the classroom and stick to tried and tested teaching methods?
Well, not necessarily.
Experts agree that, used the right way, technology can enhance the learning experience. And not just for students, either. But for educators, too.
Of course, technology will never – and should never – replace flesh and blood teachers. That said, educators are steadily seeing the benefits of blended learning. And if new technologies enhance the learning experience, doesn’t it stand to reason that teachers would be willing to embrace them?
But how exactly does technology help teachers create a more productive and effective learning environment? And what do students stand to gain?
Let’s have a look.
Helping Teachers Overcome Classroom Challenges
Ask any teacher what their biggest classroom challenges are, and they’re bound to mention at least one (and probably several) of the following:
- students who are easily bored, or have a short attention span;
- varied and conflicting personalities: those who shine, those who are disruptive, those who are extroverted and those who prefer to hide away at the back of the classroom;
- constantly having to think up novel and innovative ways to keep students interested, motivated and entertained;
- encouraging participation and interaction from everyone;
- working with large class numbers which often include students of differing learning levels;
- providing tailor-made support to meet the individual needs of each student;
- keeping on top of paperwork, timetables, and implementing strict lesson plans while staying within the curriculum.
Smart technology adds a new dimension to traditional teaching methods which helps teachers address many of these challenges.
Showing, not telling
Tools such as screencasts and smartboards allow teachers to take a more “show, don’t tell” approach. This makes it easier to explain complex topics such as a difficult maths problem or a literacy activity, because the use of visuals helps students absorb information and understand a topic more quickly.
Giving students cognitive choices
Interactive technology and devices encourage autonomy and responsibility. And, when students have more control over their learning and decision making, they become more motivated and invested in the learning process.
Proactive, collaborative learning also moves the teacher away from the front of the classroom and allows them to take on a more advisory role.
Providing additional support to those who need it
Apps and software programmes can be also be used to address the individual needs of students at different stages of learning.
This is particularly beneficial at the elementary stage, where smaller schools often combine their year levels. Younger learners are fascinated by gadgets and devices. So, tablets, apps, software programmes and interactive tools can be used in an educational setting to enhance their language and literacy skills while helping teachers respond to the individual needs of each child.
Of course, technology works well for older students too. Wireless and cloud technology, for instance, gives them access to the most up-to-date information and data at the touch of a button.
Technology helps break down the barriers of formal, authoritarian learning. Students respond far more positively in a relaxed, enjoyable learning environment. Research shows that younger children in particular learn better and are much more able to solve logical problems through play.
Catchbox is a perfect example of how technology can be used to bring fun into the classroom. The soft, throwable microphone adds a whole new dimension to group activities such as discussions, debates and in-class games. It encourages participation and helps shyer students come out of their shell.
Technology in Special Needs Education
Technology can go a long way towards helping students with learning disabilities bridge the gap and level the playing field with their peers while increasing their autonomy.
Lightweight touchscreen tablets are easy for students with motor skill difficulties and cognitive challenges to use. They’re also a great alternative communicator for students with verbal challenges. And they can provide additional reading and writing support for those with dyslexia.
The frustration of not being able to communicate effectively contributes greatly to behavioural problems and can lead to disruption in the classroom. Tablets and smart apps can help these children express themselves and verbalise their thoughts and feelings. They can also encourage them to interact and collaborate more readily in a group setting.
But It’s Not Just For The Kids
Teachers often complain that they’re spending more and more time on paperwork and lesson planning than on actual teaching.
Technology such as time-saving software tools and programmes can really come in handy here, allowing teachers to create and manage lesson plans more easily while automating tiresome, time-consuming tasks. In addition, tracking tools can help them monitor students’ progress, create and grade assignments and even enhance their own professional development.
Of course, organised meetings are an essential part of staff and parent communication. But not everybody gets the chance to voice their ideas, opinions or concerns.
Here again, technology such as Catchbox can help. Take it along to the next staff or parents’ meeting, pass it around or toss it into the audience for a spontaneous Q&A session. It’s a great way to break the ice, create a more relaxed and informal setting and give everyone an opportunity to have a say, which in turn will lead to a more productive meeting.
Technology is not taking over from traditional teaching any time soon. But, used correctly, it can greatly enhance the educational experience.
By embracing technology, you’ll be taking a positive step forward towards a happier, more enjoyable and effective learning environment for students of all ages and abilities. And you’ll make your own life easier, too.
What technologies are you using in the classroom to enhance your lessons? And what technological tools have you found to be the most effective? Tell us in the comments section.
And if you’ve found this post helpful, spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. By understanding how technology can enhance education and the benefits it can bring to the learning environment, more teachers will be encouraged to incorporate it into their everyday teaching practices.