Educational technology provides many benefits to students and to teachers. The technology is not only fun to use in the classroom but it is also accessible for many students, it can be individualized to a student’s particular level, it teaches students valuable curricular concepts and it teaches students how to use technology effectively.
How to Use Educational Technology
Technology is used in different ways for different students and in different schools. Some schools use an educational technology center where students go to a room other than their regular classroom for their technology work. Often these technology centers focus on the use of computers to reinforce lessons already learned in the general education classroom.
Other schools encourage general classroom teachers to provide instructional technology in the classroom. This educational technology plan encourages students to use computers to learn classroom taught concepts.
Both educational technology models encourage students to become familiar and comfortable with technological devices. The hope is that these devices will become so familiar to students that they are able to apply the use of technology into other areas of their lives.
The Benefits of Educational Technology
Some of the possible benefits of educational technology include:
• Better educational outcomes for students. Shy students may especially benefit from this sort of instruction. They may be more likely to take a chance answering a difficult question on a computer than in class where they might feel embarrassed if they answer incorrectly. Educational outcomes might also improve because students think of using the computer as something fun. They are more interested in computer graphics than in traditional worksheets. Therefore, computer lessons keep their attention longer than traditional class work.
• Educational technology can be a great equalizer. Students can access anything that is put on the machine by their teachers or preapproved by their teachers on the internet. Gone are the days of fighting over the books about World War I in the library because the entire class was writing about the same historical event. Now, everyone can have access to the same information.
• Educational technology can improve a student’s writing. While in the early years, students may need to click on pictures or answers with their mouse. As students get older most of their computer responses will be typed into the machine. Teachers can require certain word amounts for each answer to ensure that students are thorough enough in their answers. It is also much easier to edit one’s writing on the computer than it is on paper. Therefore, many students may learn good writing and editing habits through use of their computers.
• Students learn computer and academic skills simultaneously. By integrating computers into the classroom, children learn how to effectively, productively and confidently use technology in their everyday lives. Students learn how to do online research and the fundamentals of computer use while learning their academic assignments when they use computers at school. The media often emphasizes the fact that other nations are ahead of the United States in the area of technology. However, if students learn about technology from an early age then, perhaps, that statement can be changed.
Arguments Against Educational Technology
Most of the arguments against educational technology center around the fact that American children spend too much time in front of computer and TV screens. The argument is that children would learn better by doing a project or playing with other human beings then they do by sitting in front of a computer. There are also health concerns about children becoming too sedentary at school and at home.
Some students with disabilities use technology in ways other than the rest of the student body. Federal special education law requires special education IEP Teams to consider the use of assistive technology to meet a student’s special education needs. Educational technology evaluations should be conducted to determine what kind of assistive technology would be most beneficial. Teams are encouraged to be creative and to individualize the technology to the student. Some common examples of assistive technology include laptop computers, Alpha Smarts and PDAs.
Technology is becoming more widely used in United States schools. Educational technology is both a tool to learn traditional academic content and a course unto itself that can provide many students with very real benefits.