Throughout human history, humans have been looking for ways to make our lives and jobs more convenient. The wheel, the hammer, and the spoon were all, at one point, huge breakthroughs in making our lives and careers more convenient. The same applies to tech in the classroom.
Whether or not you have taught in the classroom 30 years or are in the first year of your career, there is always something that can streamline your job and make the way we work more efficient and effective.
I began my education career 20 years ago as a technology applications teacher at a middle school in Texas. At the beginning of the semester, we would learn how to save Word documents, type, and by the end of the semester, we made short videos.
About halfway through my teaching career, the iPad came out, and I felt like I became the most powerful teacher in the school. I was riding around in my rolling chair and plugging in grades on my iPad because I could do it directly through the tablet; efficiency at its finest. I was not tied down anymore!
How has COVID Impacted Technology in the Classroom?
First, let’s take a look at how the pandemic has affected technology in the classroom. I was in my third year as a high school principal when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down our school and country for weeks. I had some fantastic teachers who had challenges inputting grades on their computers mainly because the technology was always a challenge.
We had to quickly train some teachers to use Zoom and Google Classroom. Quickly, we had to find a way to bridge the gap from the classroom to the living room, and existing technology made that happen. One of the first impacts COVID had in the classroom was the opportunity to move the classroom to another remote location.
Second, some already existing technology quickly became integrated in education where it wasn’t utilized to this level before. Third, teachers who had never dabbled so much with educational technology learned new tricks late in their careers. Many of our younger teachers were able to coach and teach our veterans.
One last, major impact we found a year later is that much of the nation’s data shows that although students could still learn at home and remotely, it was not nearly as impactful as in the classroom with a teacher. Although teaching could remotely be moved into the living room of 28 students simultaneously, it did not grow them educationally as quickly as in the classroom with a teacher.
Where Else Can Technology Improve a Classroom?
This section needs to be framed with an understanding of EdTech; it is a tool. It can help leverage student engagement, intentionally work on student needs, improve teacher efficiency in school, and help students learn through technology. There are many benefits of technology in the classroom.
I mentioned earlier the impact of an iPad in my hands as a teacher. Our students have grown up in a world where technology is so much more accessible it is essentially integrated into them, whereas our generation had to learn how to use the technology.
There are times when no technology is suitable for students to learn, especially when learning the process of something, like math. Technology is a normal part of our students’ lives, and because of the familiarity with it, doing schoolwork on the computer is a tool for students to show how much they have learned.
One of the challenges in our technologically driven world is teaching our students how to know good and bad information. The need to teach our students that digital citizenship is huge. I grew up with World Book Encyclopedias, while our children grew up with Google and find information more quickly than I can.
The internet provides needed information for our students to complete projects and research; we have to make sure they can discern the information as they process it.
Teacher Professional Development
With overworked teachers trying to still navigate basic learning during a worldwide pandemic, technology gives us a convenient way to deliver professional development on teachers’ schedules.
Professional development can be uploaded and viewed or completed when the teacher has a chance to do so. In addition, online professional development can give teachers a quick way to learn tips on questioning, assessment, classroom management, and more.
Personalized Learning for Students
Students all have different ways of learning and showing what they have learned. There are multiple intelligences and four core learning styles (VARK):
Technology provides students ways through PowerPoint and videos to show the teacher what they have learned in a way that may best suit how the student operates.
Another angle on this is all the programs that allow us to see where students need enrichment next. NWEA (Map), Apex, and Imagine Learning all have ways to see where students’ instructional needs are and address those needs.
I used the example earlier of how teaching technology made it easier for me to move around the room, be more accessible to students, and take care of business. One of the best examples is with some math teachers who will walk around the room with a tablet in their hand, and what they are doing shows up on the projector for every student to see. Not only does their proximity with students help with classroom management, but each student can see the teacher work on all of the problems.
Google Classroom provides ways to take grades for the teacher, making grading easier. Additional favorites are websites like Kahoot or hand-held response devices where students can instantly respond to teacher questions and the teacher can check student understanding instantly.
In short, technology is a tool. It has allowed education to go from the classroom into the living room and helped teachers more easily reach students in the classroom. When used properly, it is an amazing tool!