By Sean Scarpiello
As technology is being implemented more and more in schools, teachers and administrators need to make sure that the technology is being used in the most efficient manner possible. Since a lot of money is being spent on the technology, teachers must be able to maximize its benefits by ensuring it helps the majority of their students. So when teachers receive these expensive pieces of equipment to utilize while teaching their classes, they need to know how to operate them to their full potential. This entails teachers going to workshops that show how to operate this new technology. Some schools across the US buy the technology, but don’t teach the instructors to use them properly. Therefore, some school districts do not see such an increase in learning.
If the teacher lacks the correct methodology for teaching with these new smart boards and I Pads, they will be useless for students. There are plenty of interactive technologies that are ignored by a lot of teachers. This is not on purpose, but simply because they are uninformed about the capabilities of these super-computers. Online labs for science courses are a great example of an overlooked means of teaching. While these online labs do not properly teach students firsthand how to use a microscope correctly, they will teach students how different molecules interact on a microscopic level. This ensures that students get a better understanding of topics like science, math, and even foreign languages.
The main point of these pieces of technology is to aid in students’ learning. Most students are visual learners and technology on the market today is perfect for these kinds of students. Many students cannot build concepts in their heads by just listening or reading something one time. By using technology, even something as simple as a video can improve students understanding of information. One example that I found that worked perfectly for me was when I learned how muscles work. I would read the process multiple times in the textbook and try to come up with a model in my head which still wasn’t perfect. At school, my teacher had some amazing software that had a 3D model of muscle tissue on the projector. The software enabled him to interact with the model and show us what happens when these cells contract. This software serves as an example to show how technology can be extremely useful as teaching aids.
One thing that educators must watch out for is technology that isn’t compatible with the way students learn. I recently spoke with a friend about his online math course that he was taking for community college. He described how some chapters of his lessons were extremely difficult because they lacked different diagrams and graphs that were pivotal in understanding the information. Upon completing the course, he felt that the program was designed well, but there were some things he would have done differently if he were creating the program. These kinds of things included adding more visuals and interactive activities that would make students think and find different ways to solve math problems.
In all, there are some school districts that feel that technology isn’t a prudent investment. They are putting down big bucks for the technology and simply do not see the results. In order for educators to get more bang from their buck they need to do more than pay for the equipment. They have to learn how to use it to its full capabilities, as well as implement it appropriately. As the entire world increasingly becomes more computerized, schools are significantly slower in this transformation. Is it safe to say this is because so many educators are ignorant of technology’s power and the correct methodology of using it and incorporating it into schools? Definitely.