Monday, June 30, 2014

Education Technology for Teachers

By Sean Scarpiello

Frequently, when education professionals discuss technologies for improving the classroom, they focus on computers and software that can be given to students. Tablets, online-based learning platforms, and other instructional technologies certainly improve the quality of education, but technology in education does not need to stop there. Putting the latest technologies in the hands of teachers will definitely enrich the quality of education for both students and teachers. In fact, many of these technologies are already available, yet are often underutilized.

One of the cheapest and most effective ways to improve education by having teachers utilize technology is through the use of fulfilling continuing education requirements (or professional hours) with online classes. Teachers can easily enroll in online classes or massive open online classrooms (MOOCs). In addition to being available at low cost, these classes are convenient to take as teachers can complete their coursework over the summer months or whenever it is best for them. In my experience, only one of my high school teachers was enrolled in classes during my semester in his AP Biology class. Often times in class, he would introduce some of the class material he was learning. Plus, he found that he was actively thinking as a student, making him describe unfamiliar concepts to our class more clearly. Further, all of my science professors in college were continuing their own research studies, keeping them up to date on the latest science which they would discuss in class. On the other hand, the high school teachers and some college professors that were not actively learning often had classes that seemed dry or out of date.

In addition to online courses or other technologies to keep instructors’ minds sharp, teachers could also benefit by implementing technologies that improve the communication link between teachers and parents. This holds true especially in grade schools. It has been proven that students whose parents are more actively involved in their education are more likely to succeed. Therefore, if teachers and parents have a clear link to discuss their children’s progress, it will be easier to keep parents involved in the educational process. There are low cost and even free software solutions that teachers can obtain to send out group or individual messages to parents. Additionally, there are even online bulletin boards available where teachers can post updates, upcoming events, homework assignments and more. Parents can then easily check these messages and ask their children about what is going on in school.

Additionally, there is a lot of different software available to help make organizing class data easier for teachers. While Excel and even hard copies of grades in notebooks are commonly utilized by teachers, there are better options available. Some of this software even track the progress of individual students and can help analyze trends seen over time. Other software even tracks student homework completion, student contact information, attendance, and more. There are many different programs with different functions on the market available for teachers at reasonable costs. By investing in these technologies, teachers can be sure to get years of use out of them. Plus, they can spend less time organizing class information and more time on their lesson plan, reaching out to parents, and other strategies to improve class.

Overall, there are many different technologies that are easily attainable for teachers at low or no cost. While we often focus too much on getting the latest technology in the students’ hands, it would further benefit class to have teachers utilizing the best technologies available. With this in mind, by having teachers use simple, low-cost technologies in class, we can expect students to benefit from an improved quality of education.

No comments: