As we near the quarter mark of the 21st century, the importance of technology keeps on growing in our society. And that isn’t going to be changing anytime soon—in fact, if technology keeps growing as quickly as it has in the past decade alone, when once-unfathomable concepts such as artificial intelligence, e-commerce, social media and biotechnology went from science fiction to commonplace parts of everyday life, there’s no telling what the next generation might be able to do.
Of course, all of this begins with a solid foundation of technology. Today’s elementary, middle and high school students are tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, and the future evolution of our society depends on their knowledge and understanding of how current technology works, as well as how it can be incorporated into our daily lives. By providing students with an opportunity to use technology every chance they get, you are providing the building blocks for future innovations we can now only dream about.
Technology and Education: A Partnership
On its surface, a present-day classroom has the same attributes, rules and structure as it has for centuries. Students, seated in rows at desks, face a teacher and absorb a lesson in one of the key areas of education: math, reading, science or social studies. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that as technology has evolved, so has education. Where students of the past had to take notes by hand, they can now use laptops or tablets for quicker, more efficient note-taking. When it’s time to research a subject for a project, instead of relying on potentially outdated encyclopedias or books, students now have virtually all the information about any subject in the world at their fingertips in the form of the Internet. And when school is forced to close down abruptly as it did during the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than having their education come to a standstill as it might have just 20 years ago, students were able to use technology to log into virtual classrooms from home and participate in remote learning.
Perhaps the most important outcome of the partnership between education and technology is the advances our educators have been able to make in helping students with learning differences achieve better results in absorbing and retaining information. In the past, little was known about various learning styles and how certain students learned differently from others. The use of assisted technology such as text-to-speech computer programs can help students with learning disabilities bypass an area of difficulty such as handwriting or silent reading to learn unfamiliar words and grasp concepts in all areas of study.
Using Technology in Education
Now that we’ve seen how technology has helped education grow and evolve over the years, let’s take a look at how educators can incorporate technology in their lessons, both in person and remotely. Here are some of the ways schools can enhance the use of technology in their curriculum to give every student an opportunity to use and understand it.
While computer labs have been a standard fixture in most elementary, middle and high schools since the 1980s, the advent of Chromebooks in the 2010s gave schools a chance to take their students’ computer knowledge to the next level. Lightweight, portable, user-friendly and, above all, highly affordable compared to other laptop computers, Chromebooks are a cost-effective and efficient way to incorporate technology into learning every day.
Even as recently as the 2000s, students once had to share one or two computer terminals in the back of the classroom, meaning that only a couple of students at a time could practice their computer skills with educational programs and games. This was not only inefficient, but it also meant that teachers had to deal with the additional headaches of creating a computer use schedule to give each student a turn, as well as prepare an activity that didn’t involve computers for the rest of the class so they could have something to work on while they waited for their turn. And this was only even possible in more affluent school districts that had the budget for two computer workstations per classroom.
Schools in under served areas either shared a handful of computers in a communal lab used by the entire student body or simply did without. Worst of all, the enormous expense of computer equipment coupled with rapidly advancing technology meant that the machines were already outdated and verging on obsolete almost as quickly as a school purchased them.
Thanks to their affordability and easy-to-update operating system, Chrome OS, Chromebooks allow school districts across the country an opportunity to purchase entire class sets that can be kept and used by each student throughout the school year. In addition to their important role in classroom learning, Chromebooks also proved to be an invaluable resource during the pandemic, as schools were able to issue them to students who did not have access to a computer at home, thus allowing them to participate in remote learning. This unprecedented accessibility to technology allows students the daily hands-on practice they need to succeed in today’s world.
Another key player in everyday classroom technology, headphones are the unsung heroes of the field of education. Not only do headphones help students maintain focus on the lesson at hand by minimizing distractions and background noise, but they are also incredibly useful for listening centers, language labs, school testing and other activities that involve listening and repeating words or phrases.
Headphones are not just an important tool for in-person learning, either. They can help students concentrate on what is being said during remote lessons by blocking background noise and channeling focus to the speaker. During the pandemic, households with multiple children, along with parents who were working from home, encountered a variety of problems due to space constraints. After all, how are three children expected to pay attention to their remote lessons if they can hear the background chatter spilling over from their siblings’ virtual classes? Headphones helped solve those issues simply and efficiently. Schools across the country relied on headphones like Cyber Acoustics’ AC-204 stereo headset to help them keep students on task and paying attention to the lesson at hand even when they couldn’t be there in person.
Best of all, headphones don’t have to break the bank. You can invest in high-quality pairs of recyclable school headphones for an entire classroom without going over budget.
The link between education and technology has always existed, and is on pace to grow even stronger in the coming years. By investing in technology for your school now, you can enhance the potential for achievement for years to come.