Technology has already changed the world, including the way we learn and teach. When used correctly, classroom technology can have a supremely positive impact on student outcomes at every grade level. Integrating technology into the classroom not only helps prepare students for the elaborate and technologically-connected world they will face going forward, but it can also help simplify complex ideas that might otherwise be a struggle to learn (and a struggle to teach) with textbooks and a chalkboard.
What kinds of technology can you introduce into your school? There are PCs and laptops of course, but teachers and students alike can also benefit from newer technology and software like tablets, e-libraries, school management software and Smart Boards. Although technology is finally being integrated into education, its use for teaching and learning still remains a challenge. Despite the fact that many schools today are privileged to have ready access to technology, trained teachers, and a favourable policy environment, the use of technology in the classroom is still low. Some attribute low levels of technology use in education to the pedagogical beliefs of teachers.
With that said, the potential of technology to enhance learning cannot be overemphasized. The use of technology is something that started a long time ago for students with special needs. For example, brail machines have been utilized for the visually impaired. In addition, special needs programs that help children with autism use technology to enhance learning. By integrating technology into education, educators aim to engender pedagogical change and address fundamental issues that affect learners with special needs. Technology can therefore be seen as both a tool and a catalyst for change.
Today, technologies used to improve and facilitate learning can be found everywhere. Leaving other contextual factors to the side – such as unequal access to technological innovations and connected technologies across schools and districts – we can only say that we have embraced technology in education when it is used for both teaching and learning. With the incorporation of technology into schools, the main purpose is to change how school staff, teachers and students gather, access, analyse, present and transmit data and information. This can democratize data and information in schools as well as help differentiate instruction, particularly for students with special needs.
The transition to digital within education will lead to a raft of new exciting opportunities for schools. The key factors for schools when considering technology investments are:
- Carefully consider technology investments in the context of their impact on pedagogy
- A need for a school management software to help ease administrative stress on school staff and teachers.
- Take a broad approach to investment, considering both presentation style and collaborative style learning, and how the relevant devices communicate and interconnect
- Consider the student’s holistic learning experience, both in-class and at home and how these can feed into each other
- Recognise the impact on teachers and the amount of training that will be needed to maximise the benefit of the technology
For technology to work effectively, it should also be incorporated in classrooms if it is appropriate for a given instructional task. Also, technology can only be an effective teaching tool if teachers participate in decisions to adopt technology. This is because teachers have the responsibility of facilitating instruction and incorporating technology at the classroom level, yet many school administrators tend to make decisions related to technology adoption/training without consulting teachers.
Overall, technology is central to many sectors of society and its integration into the education process has great promise for staff, teachers and student learning. With technology, one can expect increased efficiency and effectiveness on both the part of teachers and students. Technology can also prompt pedagogical change and address issues that affect learning, teaching and social organization. Technology can therefore be seen as both a tool and a catalyst for change. Students should embrace technology for them to benefit and teachers should be open to introducing technology into the classroom to improve and innovate their teaching practice.