Mark McCusker

Model-changing behavior: Technology inside and outside of the classroom


Technology in the classroom is here to stay. Fact. The recent OECD report on the effectiveness of technology and student performance got me thinking about the many conversations I’ve had over the years working in the Ed Tech sector. Many of these conversations centred round the impact of technology in the classroom.



Technology in the classroom is here to stay. Fact.  By 2016, the number of tablet computers in UK schools alone is expected to reach over 900,000. And combined with computers, e-readers, and mobile devices, those numbers will continue to rise.

The recent OECD report on the effectiveness of technology and student performance got me thinking about the many conversations I’ve had over the years working in the Ed Tech sector. Many of these conversations centred round the impact of technology in the classroom.

Interestingly, the spotlight has shone on the negative interpretations of the report in the press, with some highlighting the difficulties of implementing technology in the classroom.

I think the key message from the report has been overlooked. It’s not that technology is a hindrance to learning, rather that we need to find better ways to integrate it into the teaching and learning process to provide today’s children with the skills they need for tomorrow’s world.
 

Global Learning 

First of all, students now have the opportunity to learn and engage differently thanks to the ever-evolving education and technology landscapes. Whether it be video chat, e-mailing pen pals across the world, engaging on social media, or even learning a new language, technology is fast becoming the gateway to new and exciting things.

The traditional learning model is changing with schools no longer the only learning environment for students. Technology has provided the means for a global village of learning – with students having access to devices, internet and overall learning opportunities 24/7. 

Optimising the use of technology 

Technology opens up a world of opportunities for students. In fact, recent studies have found that technology helps improve students’ grades  and overall literacy engagement. 

Technology is not the hindrance to effective learning; it shouldn’t be removed from the classroom. The real question is how we are optimising technology to enhance students’ learning – as well as how parents and caregivers are encouraging and reinforcing this learning outside of school hours. 

In the classroom, let teachers have the freedom to do what they do best – teach. And enable the student to ‘access’ the teacher. Blended learning methods, where technology is combined with traditional teaching, have proven effective – especially for struggling readers and English language learners. This is a great example of how technology acts as a powerful tool for students to help them engage in content they would otherwise be locked out of, transforming the way they learn.
 
I’m very hopeful about the ever-progressive digital age we live in, where content will continue to become richer, technology will develop faster, and the digital divide will continue to lessen. As technologists and educators, the objective for us is clear. Let us embrace this exciting era of technology and use it to make learning more engaging and effective for students now and in the future.

 

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