Why Schools Must Become More Tech Savvy
Twenty years ago, technology in schools was more of an annoyance than an actual tool that teachers could use to engage students. The Internet was in its infancy, but due to dial-up connections, a trip to the card catalog was a more convenient expenditure of time than waiting for that eeeeeyah eeeeeyah eeeeeyah of the phone line connecting to the World Wide Web. But today, you can learn virtually anything there is to know with a simple search query and a few seconds of loading time.
Furthermore, smartphones and mobile computing has given students more power in their pockets than the very best desktops from about 30 years ago. It’s foolish to ignore the capabilities of the modern world inside the classroom. Yet schools tell students they can’t bring their phones to class, and if caught, “they will be confiscated.”
Believe me. No one understands the annoyance of teaching to a class full of texters more than me, but I’m afraid we are making a huge mistake by not empowering students more by integrating their devices into the flow of class time. While there are definite challenges in doing so, it’s at least worth looking in to. Some teachers/schools have begun to bring tablets into the equation, and that’s a great idea.
It’s at least trying, and that’s what schools need to be doing when it comes to being tech savvy. This trend must continue. Here’s why.
Online Learning Holds Much More Information Than The Standard Library.
The Internet is virtually limitless with regard to the information that it provides students. You can find articles, videos, textbooks, and a wide selection of other primary and secondary sources that used to take weeks to receive via interlibrary loan. Barring or limiting the use of technology in the classroom is, quite frankly, not very forward thinking, and that kind of rustic logic has no place in 21st Century education. Teachers are probably already using mostly online tools for preparing lessons and delivering grades. It wouldn’t take much convincing to get them on board. Administrations at the local and state level, however, must decide to stop dancing around implementation and make a concerted effort. Furthermore, state and federal governments must start investing more money into equipping schools with the right technologies to keep up with society’s frantic pace. If you don’t wish to be left behind, then you don’t need to keep approaching learning issues in outdated ways.
Students Need To Be Encouraged Toward Self-Learning.
A teacher is a tremendous asset in the life of a child from kindergarten through college. And while teachers can offer guidance and expertise in a specific subject matter, they cannot force a student to learn the material. They can only inspire the student to want to learn. And they’re not going to do that by placing restraints on a student’s ability to learn. Kids don’t need to be taught how to use most electronic devices. In many cases, they’re more knowledgeable than the adults, who are teaching them. But they do need to be mindful of what constitutes reliable information, and what constitutes second hand. Yes, the Internet is a giant educational playground filled with millions and millions of pages of useful knowledge, but it’s also a bit of a Wild West, where anyone can say anything and perpetuate it as fact. While a young student does have the ability to pick up an iPad or a smartphone and make it do some really cool things, they need guidance in understanding how to decipher good education from bad. The teacher’s plight is to prepare students in the ways of using good judgment, while igniting their passions enough so that their desire to learn will take flight.
Technology Is The Way Of Life.
Going back to those old dial-up Internet connections from 15 years ago — yes, it was cool signing on and checking email, but clicking a link and then waiting two to three minutes for a page to load was never going to replace our other life pursuits. My how things have changed! And with the advent of social networks, it feels like we live our entire lives online these days. There’s no sense in pretending that smartphones, tablets, laptops, and, yes, desktops, are going anywhere. Connections will only get faster, and the need to be responsible with data will become more necessary. People will find more and more ways to connect, and the devices on which they do so will grow more advanced. Still, many schools throughout the country still approach the teaching of curriculum as if all of this is a passing trend that will someday no longer be around. It’s time educators realized that the tools they are so leery of embracing are only going to vanish when civilization does. And at that point, we’ll all have bigger things to worry about than rounding decimal points.
How tech savvy is/was your school? Was it the type of place that encouraged or discouraged the use of technology? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and best of luck as we enter the first of the school year!
[Image via Edudemic.com]