Technology and Education

In the education world, technology helps with communication and with presenting material. Teachers can use Power Points to convey their lessons, and communicate with their students out of class time through email. Class participation can also increase with the use of online forums.

Yet some schools are still unwilling to incorporate more technology into their programs. One reason may be that the school cannot afford the cost of the technology (such as new laptops, computers, or projectors). Another issue is that many educators are not trained in teaching through digital mediums. The National Education Association said, “Although educators do get technology training, most do not feel prepared to use technology for instructional purposes”(NEA Education Policy and Practice Department).

Fear is another reason technology may not be welcomed in the classroom. Teachers and administrators may fear that introducing technology to the classroom will “undermine classroom control” for the devices may distract the students. Project Tomorrow’s survey found that “86 percent [of high school teachers] thought that using mobile devices within instruction would be too distracting, 63 percent worried about digital inequities among students, and 36 percent worried about cheating on tests” (Project Tomorrow).

Despite these fears, digital media is being incorporated into an increasing number of classrooms. According to Project Tomorrow, “30 percent of teachers in 2010 were using podcasts and videos in their classroom instruction, up from 20 percent in 2008” (Plopper). The number of teachers using technology for homework and practice has increased from 36 percent in 2008, to 58 percent in 2010, to 61 percent in 2011 (Plopper).

A 2011 nationwide survey found that “53 percent of high school teachers specifically use the Internet for homework assignments, 13 percent make YouTube assignments, and 2 percent make Facebook assignments”(Plopper).

Blogging is a powerful use of technology for student learning that can be used in virtually any class, giving students a chance to reflect on the subject, and respond to each other’s thoughts and insights. A 2010 survey found that after a university English professor had his class blog about the verb tenses they were learning in class, at the end of the semester a majority of the students found that blogging had contributed to their learning (Santos).

Digital devices used in the classroom include MP3 players, video iPods, and other handheld devices. These devices can be used to conduct research, blog, and to use social networking websites (Plopper.) One study, Using Portable Media Players, studied how video iPods support electronic course materials in a nine-week long, field-based geology class. Students evaluated their experiences and “overwhelmingly agreed that the information they obtained from the iPods helped them to understand and conceptualize information they were exposed to at the field stops (Plopper).

A 2011 nationwide survey found that “53 percent of high school teachers specifically use the Internet for homework assignments, 13 percent make YouTube assignments, and 2 percent make Facebook assignments”(Plopper).

Research has shown a “strong correlation between kids using technology and wider patterns of reading and writing. Engagement with online technology drives their enthusiasm for writing short stories, letters, song lyrics or diaries. Our research results are conclusive – the more forms of communications children use the stronger their core literary skills,” according to Jonathan Douglas, the director of the National Literacy Trust (Kleinman). While some educators are still hesitant to embrace using these mediums to engage students in writing, research shows that is has great potential, for “blogging is much like journaling and whether it is in a book or an online space, the ability to write and present ideas is a part of both” (De Abreu).

While texting and online chatting are effective means of communication, there is a difference between texting and formal business emails. “A lot of people entering the job force are finding they can’t really construct a complete correct sentence,” says Jason Pugh, who teach business writing classes and email etiquette, “and that doesn’t look good to employers. It’s critical as far as looking for jobs to know how to construct proper sentences and avoid slang terminology in your writing.”

“Some people have ingrained themselves so far in that text-speak that they sort of lose that humanism. They can’t engage with other people through conversation or professional conversation. I think the people that tend to get hired tend to have those jobs and get picked up more quickly are the ones that really have the ability to differentiate between the two,” said Pugh.

Some teachers prefer to use a mix of hard copies and online texts when teaching. “For shorter assignments I’ll give feedback electronically, but longer compositions make me want that physical interaction with the text,” said Karissa Kilgore. “I think I prefer this method for the exact opposite reasons I like to compose on the computer: I want to take my time with feedback to students, I don’t want to manipulate the text, and the rigidity of text on a page allows me to be precise with my notes and comments.”


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