Technology is a wonderful learning aid. It enables more exceptional communication and contains a treasure trove of information. A plethora of educational programs have been developed to accompany technology, but merely using it isn’t enough.For children and adults to learn with technology, the devices and programs must be used correctly. Read on to discover how you can best employ technology to improve teaching and learning outcomes.
Learn Technology or Learn with Technology?
At this point, we must make the distinction between learning with technology and learning technology.Learning with technology refers to the act of using technology to improve the learning of any topic. That includes the use of devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones as well as the software and programs which can be accessed on those devices. It also includes something as simple as surfing the internet to find information.Learning technology refers to teaching people how to use the devices and programs themselves.That is necessary to consider when discussing this topic because if students can learn to use the technology effectively, they can understand the programs which exist on each device and better understand the material that is presented to them.For that reason, time must be taken to teach children how to use technology appropriately before using technology to teach other subjects.It’s worth noting that many tertiary education institutions throughout the world are offering more courses, lessons, and modules online, or even entire qualifications through remote learning, so teaching children how to use technology helps to prepare them for a future in which technology will play a central role.
What do we mean by technology?
Technology just means laptops. Learning with technology means that modern students type their work on a computer and submit it electronically, rather than using pen and paper-like previous generations.Wrong!Technology in teaching encompasses far more than just laptops. Technology that is used in modern teaching, for students of all ages, can include:Laptops, desktop computers, tablets, mobile phones, projectors, cameras, audio-visual equipment, electronic fitness equipment, apps, software, drones, specific education programs, and even robotics and 3D printers. The list is infinite!One specific example of educational software is Nearpod. Nearpod is a free, shared presentation and assessment tool. Teachers use it to create quizzes, polls, videos, images, drawing boards, and other content.Students then access all of that material on their own devices and can send their answers, work, and feedback to the teacher via the same program. An advantage for teachers is that they can access lessons that have been created by other teachers and are already on the platform.Nearpod is just one example of technological programs that can add some interest, colour, and spice to a standard lesson. It is also an example of how technology can help teachers to overcome one of the significant barriers to learning – motivation.The simple fact is that today’s children are accustomed to technology and its attendant bright lights, sounds, images, and colour, and they expect this same level of entertainment when they are learning.Programs such as Nearpod also allow for interactive lessons. Students can follow a presentation, video, or other lesson content, and can ask questions via the platform. The teacher can answer those questions via the same platform. That is advantageous for students who may be too shy to put their hand up and ask a question in front of their classmates. Many students and teachers appreciate this real-time feedback.
Connecting teachers and teachers
Teachers now have access to almost endless supplies of teaching resources. Through the internet and other forms of technology, they can correspond with other teachers, share resources and effective teaching strategies, and offer advice.
Connecting teachers and parents
Parents are the first educators. They are ultimately responsible for the education of their children. Thus, a healthy connection between parents and teachers will improve the child’s learning. Technology can help to build this connection.From something as simple as an email group to a website for a particular class or subject which parents can access, technology can help keep parents informed about what is happening at school and can keep teachers informed about what is happening at home.Parents can also access some free educational resources online, either through specific educational sites, government-sponsored sites, informative sites established by media networks, and even publishing companies. Some time spent researching online resources, and sifting through the good ones and the bad ones can unearth some valuable resources to help your child learn.
Many people have reservations about using technology because they are worried about security. In most cases, they are concerned about security related to technology, which accesses the internet.Safety when using technology in woodwork, engineering, or construction class is taken as standard. Students wear protective and appropriate clothing, protective goggles, and other safety equipment, and they are taught about how to safely use the technology and the entire facility before they are allowed to touch the machines. They also follow strict procedures every time they enter that space.The same approach can be applied to the use of internet-based technology, especially devices which can connect to the internet. The only problem is that it can be harder to supervise. It is, therefore, essential to develop a policy for the use of technology by all students, to write this in easily understood language, and to present it to the students before they start using the technology.The highest safety and privacy settings should be activated when children are using technology, and this includes what they can access on the internet. Often a common-sense approach can assist in keeping students away from harmful online material. There are specific topics and sites which are clearly of no educational value to students.Teachers will also need to continually monitor the students’ use of technological devices that connect to the internet, as will parents, who must support the school’s efforts to keep children safe online.An example of parental action is the purchase of a phone for their children. In this case, parents have a choice between a smartphone and a simple cell phone (one that cannot connect to the internet).We know that cyber problems begin for children when they connect to the internet. So, parents must ask themselves, does a child need a smartphone? Why are they given a phone? Most parents claim they bought their children a phone for emergencies – so that their children can contact them in case of a change of plans, or if they feel unsafe. Can a child do so with a cell phone? That is a phone which can only use text (SMS) or calls. If so, do children need a smartphone, or would they be protected from cyberbullying and associated problems if they did not own a smartphone?That is all part of the safety discussion surrounding technology in learning.
Effective use of technology in the education of children requires integration. That means using technology purposefully in every subject area. A well-developed plan will allow each subject area to nominated which specific types of technology they will integrate.That can avoid overlap between subject areas and ensure that different teachers integrate the technology which best matches their subject area.Once the broad framework has been established, teachers can decide exactly how they will integrate technology into their lessons.They should look for opportunities for students to learn the technology and to use the technology, as discussed above. Students can use technology to research a topic, to present their findings and demonstrate their learning, or to give and receive feedback from the teacher.If technology is being integrated meaningfully into a teaching program and integrated into an assessable task, then the students’ ability to use that technology (e.g., PowerPoint) must be assessed along with their grasp of the subject matter.Of course, if a student is going to be assessed on their ability to use technology in a particular class, then they must be explicitly taught how to use the chosen technology in that class. Thus, if a History teacher asks students to create an animation about ancient Egypt, at some point, the history teacher must ensure that the students have been specifically taught how to make an animation, as well as being informed about the topic of ancient Egypt.
Last but not least
Technology is becoming a more pervasive presence in our lives and is becoming more integrated into learning.It provides so many valuable resources to students, teachers, and parents and can be used to connect people for consultation and collaboration.It is such a powerful tool that must be used correctly, and students must be taught how to stay safe while using technology. Also, be taught how to use specific devices and programs before they enjoy the enormous educational benefits that technology delivers.