“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” – John Dewey
As this presentation from the Pew Internet Organization details, regardless of what students choose to do after they are finished with their education, technology inevitably will play a role. The wealth of new software tools, media platforms and research technologies that are rapidly transforming how our society communicates can be effectively employed to educate future generations.
I’ve heard first-hand the stories of the positive benefits for education. Recently, students from an Englewood, NJ school district connected with students in China through a video conferencing session to test their Mandarin skills. The sessions helped immerse the students in the region’s culture, letting them continually hear the language from native speakers and learning it through the benefit of real-life interactions.
Here are two major factors why technology is essential to learning:
Greater access to information and experiences – The Internet enables information democracy, providing access to classroom support materials well beyond the scope of school libraries. As a result, educators are now able to offer their students a greater variety of truly interactive exercises and experiences. Perhaps the limitations of time and money will prevent a school field trip to a museum, but using technology like Skype, teachers can connect their students with a local museum director to give a virtual tour of an exhibit.
Improved efficiencies – In the absence of technology, everyday research for classroom assignments can become a huge burden on a student’s time. No more. Advanced computational tools allow students more time to focus on important conceptual tasks such as problem posing and problem solving. Additionally, technology can enable previously inaccessible learning experiences at low costs.
There was some resistance when computers were introduced into classrooms in the 1980s. Now, schools and teachers across the globe are using computers with internet access to enrich the experiences of their students with hands-on learning, developing their technical skills to better prepare them for life after school.