I was a very interested spectator when my daughter started school recently and I how much things had moved on since I was a student. Whatever the difference between schooling from my parents age and when I was young has been doubled now for when my daughter is in class. This change has been brought about due to the rapid rise of new technologies that have been rapidly adopted by schools in both the private and public sector.
Some things which are different is in the way that things are taught, but another huge difference is in the technology. Rather than traditional textbooks and teachers writing on whiteboards or even blackboards, we have presentations and things being brought to life on interactive whiteboards and tablet computers.
The interactive whiteboard has been around for a number of years now, as has the iPad and other tablets; it is only just recently that educators are beginning to adapt their teaching to make effective use of them though. In order for these new technologies to be effective in the classroom, what is necessary and what benefits can they bring?
- The teacher needs to understand how to use the technology and be confident in its application. For example, if the teacher starts doing something on an interactive whiteboard and then gives up because they don’t know how it works then the students will switch off.
- The power of these technologies lies in enabling different learning styles to be catered for. Students can learn writing by touch on the iPads. Sound and pictures can be used on interactive whiteboards to appeal to visual learners or auditory learners. The teacher needs to recognize and embrace this capacity.
- It’s necessary for the teacher to appreciate new ways of doing things rather than just thinking in the same old way, but with a fancy piece of kit. When notes are made on the interactive whiteboard for example, the teacher then has the capacity to email them to students later or save them and bring them back up in a review lesson later on.
- In times of budgetary cuts, having access to resources on the world wide web and low-cost apps for tablet computers can help cut costs and do away with the need for some textbooks, excessive printing and overpriced software for schools.
- The technologies and use of them in teaching is still very young, this means it is important for users to share experiences and ideas with other teachers of using the technologies. This will help lift the overall level and confidence of the users and improve the range of effective ways with which lessons can be delivered with this new tech.
Technology in schools is pointless just for the sake of saying you have it. It needs to benefit the learning experience of students and also be something that gives the teachers new tools and ideas for getting their message across effectively. It needs to be embraced and its potential explored. When this is the case the technology becomes more than just a gimmick and becomes a real step forward in education.