It should come as no surprise that the use of technology in the classroom brings many educational benefits. Not only does it engage students, help teachers differentiate their instruction, and foster connections that would otherwise have been impossible, but technology also prepares students to be college and career ready. Not to mention that technology helps with organization, lesson planning, and classroom management. Below is a deeper look into the benefits of technology in not only these realms, but more.
Holding students attention and keeping students engaged has always required tricks up a teacher’s sleeve. While technology can be a cause of distraction amongst students, it can also be used as one of the biggest forms of engagement.
Gamification is a buzz word in education today that describes using programs and apps that have a video game-like interface, but where students are practicing their math and reading skills as they play.
TEDx Talks such as How Games Make Kids Smarter and The Power of Gamification in Education preach the benefits of using games to engage, excite, and motivate students. Technology also makes it easier to cater to students’ engagement styles when it comes to differentiating instruction.
Technology makes it easier to meet all students’ learning styles and students’ educational needs. Many programs adjust the rigor as students participate in them, meeting the student where they are at and building on that foundation.
Prodigy, eSpark, and Kids A-Z are three programs that provide this kind of differentiation. Students begin by taking a placement test and are put on a path at the level they are starting at. As they achieve learning goals and work through standards, they move through the levels at their own pace. These apps also provide teachers with real time data and a deeper look into where students might be struggling.
Technology is helping foster relationships amongst students, whether that be with the classmates at their table group or with students on the other side of the world. One virtual classroom tool that has become popular is called Empatico. This website combines live video with research-based activities that are designed to foster meaningful connections among students.
There are currently 154 countries connected by Empatico and nearly 60,000 students who have used it. Empatico gives students a voice to share their experiences and perspectives and create global citizens. Without technology, the ability to build relationships with someone on the other side of the world would be significantly more difficult.
College and Career Readiness
According to Achieve, being “college and career ready” ultimately means that students are prepared for their next steps after high school. Being college and career ready means that all doors remain open to students as they continue to pursue the next chapter in their education and ultimately in their careers.
Technology can help take students to that next level by giving them the skills needed to live and work in the 21st century. Without the exposure to technology, students could be lacking in the technology skills that will likely encompass the future work they do. This makes technology proficiency, in many ways, equally as important as reading and math.
Technology helps students collaborate. Students can work together with the confidence that comes from being behind a screen. Technology also gives students a voice who may not otherwise have had one (think English language learners, students with certain learning disabilities, and even simply shy students). Students can work together on a project, answer and ask questions, and contribute in ways they otherwise may not have had the confidence or ability to.
Padlet is a “virtual wall” which promotes collaboration as students write responses to a discussion question, add resources for a collaborative class project, or work in small groups. KidBlog also gives students a voice in an area that doesn’t come easy to many: writing. Students can use KidBlog to write to an authentic audience, and have the digital tools readily available that build confidence (think spell check or dictionary).
Beneficial for Teachers
Technology has so many benefits for students, but let’s not forget all the advantages it has for teachers as well. Technology helps with organization. Think about the switch from filing papers in filing cabinets to desktop folders. Technology helps with planning. Think about working on lesson plans using Google Docs with your grade-level team. And technology helps with classroom management. Tools such as ClassDojo, Too Noisy, and iReward work to motivate students, track noise levels, and collect data that can be used to reward students.
It isn’t surprising that technology has so many educational benefits, from increased student motivation and differentiation to global connectivity and college and career readiness. It also helps teachers improve organization, master classroom management, and streamline lesson planning. Jump on the technology train if you haven’t already, it’s sure to be worth the ride.