Being born in 1994 and entering kindergarten in the fall of 1999, I have never known a world where the Internet did not exist nor have I ever not been in a classroom that was not connected to the World Wide Web. To think about a time in which individuals did not have access to endless amounts of information one click or Google search away is difficult for me. However, there was a time when the Internet did not exist and teachers managed to educate successful students with only a chalkboard and overhead transparency, but times have changed. With the arrival of the Internet age and the rapid evolution of computing devices and software, physical boundaries and distance no longer separate people and accessing up-to-date information without the Internet (although not impossible) has become inconvenient in our “in a second” culture.
To answer the question “why have technology in schools?” anyone could generate a list of valid answers. Technology in schools allows students, teachers, and the school community to be more connected than ever before. From any device with Internet capability, school events, lesson plans, and student progress can be shared with all involved stakeholders. With data analysis tools, word processing software, and presentation software, students can engage in real-word research and present their findings in professional formats identical to the tasks students will be expected to perform in the workforce they will enter as adults. Having technology in schools allows teachers to connect their students to the world and allows them to move from questioning possibilities to making possibilities reality. Technology use in the educational context allows students to prove that they have the skills to be productive citizens in the world.
In the course of my education, I have witnessed the era in which classrooms only had one computer (which was reserved for the teacher only) to the transition from chalkboard to dry erase boards, overhead projectors to document cameras and LCD screens, and when I graduated in 2012, all of the above giving way to smart boards. As I watched these changes take place, and now looking back, I can recognize another significant change: as the technology changed, student access to technology increased. When new technology was first introduced into the classroom, it was mostly reserved for use by the teacher but as technology changed, and more devices become available, students finally became eligible to use technology in the classroom. My experiences with technology, along with its evolution have been positive and negative; positive in finding the completion of school assignments became easier and having the means to be creative in my work but negative in dealing the frustrations that naturally emerge from working with new technology (frozen screens, not understanding the “how to” of different programs.) Knowing what I know now, I would not change anything about my experiences, the easy successes and the initial struggles that resulted in failures and a few surprise success made working with technology beneficial and they serve as reminders of how far we have come.
As both teachers and students continue to move forward with using technology in the classroom, it will be important that both teachers and students collaborate with regards to what tech-tools are used and the perceived benefit of selected tech-tools. What one teacher may believe to be innovative and creative, one student may find dull and meaningless. When doing research on technology in the classroom, I found an article from the Huffington Post in which a high-school student provided her insight into the benefits of technology in the classroom and her observations reflect the new reality that teachers must accept: technology used in today’s classrooms must be relevant to students and easy to use all while showing that the teacher is mindful of students personal preferences.
Huffington Post Citation:
Shockley, S. (2015, May 19). A teen take on ed tech. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/youth-radio-youth-media-international/a-teen-take-on-edtech_b_7336854.html