I’m always trying to keeping up to date with the latest tools for teaching in the classroom. Recently, I’ve seen an old debate re-take front and center. The discussion is all about whether or not technology should be used in the classroom. Teachers, principals, and professors wonder whether it is appropriate to have students utilize laptops, iPads, or any other types of electronic devices. In truth, I think technology should have been implemented into the education system years ago. At this point, there can’t be anymore delay, our society requires technological devices to function. It’s time for schools to understand the new reality and adapt. Today, I’m proposing five ways that educational institutions can utilize technology and see fantastic results.
- Online Learning Applications
Educational phone and tablet tools make up a massive percentage of the Android and Apple Store application markets at this point. While applications like these shouldn’t replace in-person lessons, they can make for a great supplemental learning tool. Apps like Duolingo and Brilliant have quizzes/ lesson plans that strengthen the skills learned in the classroom. Brilliant teaches science and mathematics skills through counterintuitive approaches that help students better understand concepts like the Pythagorean Theorem and Galilean Transformation. While these apps cannot replace teachers, they are invaluable tools for the classroom.
- Note Taking Tools
In addition to apps that help students learn, there are lots of websites and note taking software that make studying a cinch. It’s incredibly important that students have access to the best note taking tools available. Otherwise, we as educators, are setting them up for failure. I’ve been blown away by software like Notion.io that give students access to creating education focused databases. These databases can be used for storing annotations, notes from lectures, and assignment calendars for personal reference. On top of those great functions, these websites allow for teachers to share homework assignments and additional resource materials at the push of a button. This makes sharing information incredibly efficient and easily understandable. It’s vital that note taking joins the twenty-first century before students become entirely disillusioned with the education system.
The days of hand written assignments are over. Realistically, it was over the day the internet was born. Nearly every bit of information that is shared or read is consumed digitally. So why are we requiring students to have access to printers and expensive ink when these things won’t be required in adult life? The answer is because the education system has always been slow to change. Email has transformed the information world and it’s time for schools to catch up. Teachers should have professional email accounts that they can easily access at all times. This will increase communication between students and teachers while limiting cost burdens for everyone involved.
- Social Media
Social media has as many pros as it does cons, but that doesn’t mean schools can avoid engaging with the digital platforms altogether. It’s imperative that teachers utilize the advantages that social media provide on a daily basis. I’ve spoken with countless college professors that use Facebook pages to create ongoing educational dialogues between students. These discussions focus on the topics being studied in class, while giving the students a platform to ask questions and share resources. Empowering the students to engage with the materials in new and informative ways. These tactics should be implemented in high school, meeting students where they are at. If we don’t, then those sites will continue to be hollow distractions that pose no positive benefits.
- Cell Phones
I remember when cell phone usage first became wide spread. As a teacher, my initial instinct was to ban them from my classroom. I now know that this was a mistake. Cell phones, like any technology, have their pros and cons. Though, when used right, the pros strongly outweigh the negatives. There’s an article about a physics teacher that had their students create images of magnetic fields using their phones. It’s one of my favorite stories about a teacher using technology to directly engage their students. The experiment was so simple and yet it brought forth incredible results.
Another advantage for cell phones is that many students are not able to afford a laptop or tablet while phones are normally far less expensive. Meaning that by banning cell phones from the classroom, teachers are really disenfranchising those who need assistance. Rather than banning cell phones, teachers should be finding ways to add them to the curriculum.
In conclusion, there are wonderful ways to implement technology into the normal school day. Rather than vilifying electronics, we should seek out ways to make these devices work for us as teachers. A total ban ignores the reality of modern-day adulthood and does nothing to prepare students for the world outside of the classroom. By working with technology we will have better engagement with our students and greater results from our alumni.