5 Things That Educators Should Know About EdTech

The Information Era began some decades ago and is now changing the way we educate our children. The children of today are growing up in a world very different from the world in which their parents did. Communication has changed, and an enormous variety of information is now accessible to almost everybody at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger. Old-fashioned classrooms equipped only with books and chalkboards are long gone. New teaching techniques such as Internet research, experience-based education, virtual learning, and online live assessments are being introduced to meet educational needs in the Information Era.

As we examine this sea of change in the way information is delivered, we’ll also take a look at the impact of these changes on veteran teachers. Other problematic factors include teachers with years of experience in the classic method of teaching; teachers who are not familiar with technology resources; and students and schools that don’t have access to technology hardware, software, or connectivity to the Internet. In this article, we will discuss the 5 things you should know about Edtech.

What should every educator know about technology? We are living in the midst of a tremendous upheaval in the fields of technology and communication. Advances in technology have influenced every aspect of modern life, and are having an enormous impact on education. Technology can promote student engagement, immerse students in real-world issues, enhance discussions and workshops, and facilitate formative assessment.

Students today are often “digital natives” who are very familiar with technology. However, there is a profound “digital divide” between students who have access to technology and students, mostly from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, who don’t have the same amount of access.

The new technological advances can be helpful, but there are some associated problems. Students may spend too much time using their devices, the Internet includes information that may be harmful as well as helpful, and teachers may become overly focused on technology to the detriment of information transfer.

What resources can a teacher use to introduce technology into the classroom? The Internet offers a vast array of resources and access to information, but students should be tutored in proper research techniques to weed out unreliable sources.

Tools such as spreadsheets, word-processing programs, and desktop publishing are highly useful and should be incorporated into classrooms. For subjects such as mathematics, foreign language acquisition, social studies, and science, technology allows students to immerse themselves in the subject and access material not otherwise available.

Other technological tools can benefit teachers. These include software for time management, grade book programs, and test-generating software. Multimedia tools can be used in the classroom to impart information and keep interest levels high. For students with disabilities, technology offers a range of tools than can, for example, create Braille texts or assist with typing.

How has technology changed instructional practices? Social networking sites such as Facebook have allowed teachers to create groups to build communities and hold discussions. However, teachers must be aware of their “public” profile, and personal information that can be accessed online. Other opportunities for social interaction online include e-portfolio or assessment tools, which allow students to store their work in web-based portfolios, so teachers and students can have access to it. Technology is also influencing the professional development of educators, as online courses are becoming more prevalent.

What are the barriers to implementing technology into your classroom? Though the digital divide has been closing, a number of factors inhibit the implementation of technology in some schools. These include lack of funds, lack of training, slower access to the Internet, and lack of access to technology at home.

What does the future hold for technology in schools? Holography, or 3D imaging, will become a useful tool in some science classes. Virtual 3D immersion will allow students to “travel” to distant places. Bring Your Own Device initiatives are allowing students to bring devices into schools, and work with them to make use of the devices in the classroom. Natural User Interfaces such as Kinect allow physical movement to control devices, which is particularly useful for students with disabilities. Personal Learning Environments are mobile and often cloud-based, allowing students to learn wherever they are. Finally, the backpack filled with heavy books will probably be a thing of the past as texts move to tablets or e-readers that students can carry in their pockets.

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