I initially intended to write a blog article about reasons why all teachers should be using technology in their classrooms. However, the more I researched, the more I not only saw plenty of blogs like that already, but lots of articles stating why teachers were not using technology, which I found more interesting (and is part of my PhD research). So I thought I would address both points, reasons to use technology in this post, and reasons why teachers don't use technology (and ways to overcome this) in the next blog post. As a computer science and ICT teacher, I have used technology for a majority of my teaching so I am totally biased here. As a result I have based most of what I've put in this article on what I've read from other blogs, the links of which you will be able to find at the bottom.
Teachers will not be replaced by technology, but teachers who don't use technology will be replaced by teachers who do.
Reasons to use technology in the classroom
1. Students like using technology
I'm not going to go as far as saying that they have a natural affinity to technology as they are digital natives. I've already written about what I think about that notion, and what it means. However, it gives an added dimension to lessons, depending on what you do. It helps to keep students engaged, and this is probably the main reason teachers have for wanting to use technology.
2. Replaces textbooks and exercise books
I find electronic data so much easier to use than printed material. I know that not all teachers feel this way, but for me it is more convenient, can be more orderly, and takes up less room. Also, depending on software used, can be considerably cheaper. It also adds an extra dimension of accessibility for students with additional needs.
If used correctly, it can be more orderly and organised than alternatives. You can list, filter and separate student work without too much hassle, by using innovative tools like Google Apps for Education.
4. Supplemental information
Resources can be enhanced by using video, extra audio, linking with others online in real time to a degree unable to be reached without technology.
5. Professional development
It's pretty inevitable that all students will be using some aspect of technology in later life. What better place to get them ready for the world of work than school?
6. Collaboration power
The ability to connect with others in the internet age is unprecedented. With tools like Google Docs allowing students to collaborate on the same document in real time, and Skype In The Classroom where you can connect with other classrooms around the world on skype, you can add another dimension to your learning environment.
7. Real time communication and feedback
As well as collaborating with others, technology can allow learners to get real time feedback through self marking quizzes and you can see what each student is doing through computer control software.
8. Learn from real world experts
This has always been possible, and many teachers have had professionals come in and talk about their jobs. With technology, this becomes easier, as the professional won't have to come in, but can chat online. You could also just get students to research professionals' blogs or other websites online.
9. Easier for teachers
Using technology in the classroom should make a teachers job easier. If it doesn't then it shouldn't really be used (unless there is another important reason). From communicating with parents, other teachers, or students via email, giving assignments or collecting work from students, all these can be made easier using technology.
10. Helps make learning more fun
Not that you can't make learning fun without technology, but technology makes it easier if you can use it. For example, Minecraft is something that nearly all of my students love. Incorporating it into the learning environment is something that can really make learning fun, and with the new Minecraft: Education Edition, things can get even better.
11. Encourage homework
I'm not sure which, if any, of my students love doing their homework. The use of technology, can make it a bit easier for some of them and make it more fun for others. You can set vocab work on Memrise or using the make your own games option with the Class Tools website.
12. Save money
Depending on what you want to do, there is a wealth of really good resources that are absolutely free. Not only that, I wouldn't be able to tell you how much money I have saved in my department budget by using e-portfolios. My printing expense is pretty much zero, thanks to Google documents and Google sites.
13. Differentiated learning
One of the most difficult things in teaching is making sure that you pitch your lesson to the students so everyone can make effective progress. Technology can help, by allowing you to use a wider range of tools such as audio and video.
14. Flexibility within curriculum
Technology has also allowed teachers to use different learning techniques such as blended learning, where your technology is used as a learning tool as well as face to face teaching within a learning environment. There is also flipped learning, where the students watch videos and learn the basics of a topic at home, before revisiting and practicing what they have learnt when in class.
15. Cultural awareness
The internet can allow you to increase the depth of learning, in language lessons for example, by allowing students to study the history of cultures and history of language in a more independent way. Again, this is possible without technology, but made easier allowing for a higher degree of implementation with it.
16. Speaking more in class
According to Rosetta Stone, technology can also allow students more time to speak in lessons, via online tutorials and practices.
17. Better tracking
Technology can make tracking student learning much easier, by using spreadsheet or database software to store data. With websites such as MyMaths, Turtle Academy or Code Academy tracking is taken to another level. Here you can set student work, and monitor as the students go through the questions set, and with Memrise the software can identify the questions you get wrong and give you more on those until you get them right.
18. 24/7 learning
With the internet, no longer is learning confined to the classroom. Students that are absent can still catch up with the lesson, or can do it from wherever they are in real time. And my dream, teachers that are not able to be in the classroom, can teach and monitor learning from wherever they are.
19. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Nearly all students have smart phones these days. Why not use them in the classroom for learning? Students using their own devices in the classroom can encourage them to continue using those devices for learning when they leave the classroom.
20. Student engagement
This may be seen as redundant, as number 1 (Students like using technology), and number 10 ( Helps make learning more fun) are similar. However, it's not the same as students liking the use of technology, and fun activities by themselves, may not keep the students engaged during the whole lesson. This can be done without technology, but like many of the other items listed above, technology can enhance what a teacher can do in the class, and therefore, enhance what a learner can achieve within the given time frame.
Adding gaming elements to your learning environment, has been done for years and happens in many classrooms already. However, the effort it sometimes takes to prepare those elements can be prohibitive. Technology makes it easier.
The 21 reasons listed above would be enough for anyone to want to use technology. However, there are still so many teachers who are not for one reason or another. We'll find out why in the next post, Tech Use - Part 2: 17 Reasons Why Teachers Don't Use Technology (and how to overcome them).
Sources used for part 1 and part 2
- Picture source: http://images.all-free-download.com/images/graphicthumb/firefox_extension_htmlvalidator_icons_clip_art_24427.jpg