Optimizing Technology in Education
By Matt Brennan
While technology can play a significant role in the classroom, it’s important to optimize it to help realize the outcome you are looking for. The use of technology should be carefully weighed against education goals.
In other words, screen usage may not be appropriate in every circumstance. But it is an incredibly powerful tool when it is used to promote technological literacy in today’s students. It’s quite impossible to predict what the job market may look like for today’s grade school students.
But we can help give them the skills they will need to communicate, design, create, manage, evaluate information and solve problems in today’s world. This isn’t a new concept, it’s just that it’s advanced along with modern technology. As access to home computers increased in the 1990s, schools need to keep up with it.
Teachers in previous generations maintained that students would not be able to walk around with a calculator in their pocket in adult life. The idea is that they would need advanced math skills to make up for this. Now, we walk around with the answer to nearly every conceivable question, including math, in our pockets. The question becomes how to optimize technology for the classroom and the educational experience for this reality.
Robotics companies have developed curriculums for literacy, math, and science. These companies are also exploring ways to help students apply higher level thinking to life’s problems. All of this seems to benefit students in their educational experience. But there are plenty of downsides to technology that device usage must be weighed against.
The Problems with Tech in Education
Technology itself has an addictive power to it. In fact, the average American adult spent two hours and 51 minutes on their cell phone every day in 2017. The argument is that developing curriculums that are unnecessarily technology-intensive reinforces these patterns.
There are other common problems with technology-based curriculums. For instance, when teens are in front of a device, they may be tempted to use social media sites instead of listening to the teacher and following along in class. For this reason, it helps to have firewalls set up to prevent usage of social sites in the school.
Enhanced tech usage can also result in network overload. Twenty-plus students in any given classroom surfing the web at one time can place high demands on a school’s infrastructure. When you factor multiple classrooms in a building doing the same thing, it’s easy to see the demand this can create.
Students May Not Always Have Pure Intentions
Increased technology usage can also put your network at increased security risk. You may find increasingly cunning older students who attempt to gain access to administrative servers. You may also have students more prone to cheat by looking up the answers on their own.
Carefully Weigh Technology Usage
It’s impossible to predict what the job market will look like for today’s youngest students, but a steady stream of technology will likely be part of it. Exposing children to today’s technology can no doubt help, but it needs to be done cautiously.
Experiments with one-on-one technology and other initiatives can help. When districts experiment with these ideas, they can factor in feedback on the go to create a stronger, more beneficial technology plan. It is possible to instill a technological literacy in a responsible way that will help students for years to come.