Amazing Kids! Magazine

Technology in the Classroom

By Sean Traynor, Editorial Advisor and Contributing Writer

 

Just the other day I was talking to my parents about a lecture we had in class.  I was describing the use of the Smart Board, and the use of video clips from the Internet.  To me, this was an everyday occurrence but I noticed their surprise at the daily use of some of the latest technological advances in the classroom.  I then was told their stories of how their class books were about 10 years old when they used them, the instructions were presented on the chalkboard and if you had a really “cool” teacher, they would use an overhead projector to present their lecture.  A major technical difficulty was when the light bulb went out on the overhead or when the copier jammed and they had to share the handouts.

Today teachers have to be pretty technologically savvy with “syncing” of computers, integrating videos, slideshows and streaming video into their lesson plans and especially keeping up-to-date with the latest information available in their course.  Long gone are the chalkboards and now we see interactive whiteboards and computer projectors.  Instead of charging students for costly field trips, entire classrooms can view a virtual field trip online and even collaborate on projects with students from another country.  Wireless microphones help teachers speak in a normal voice and allow all students to hear the lecture.  Webcasts allow students all over the world to be taught by one teacher.

Not only do the teachers have to present lesson plans, they are challenged to integrate the latest technology. On the same token, students are expected to master the use of technology.  They are required to learn by using internet-based activities and games, create presentations using multimedia slide shows, e-books, web pages, book or brochure publishing software, or generate live video shows. In the class books, you will often see internet links to additional resources related to the material. As long as the student has a computer available at home (or in the classroom or the library) the resource base is expanded dramatically. These activities make the learning environment shift from teacher-centered to student-centered.

In many ways, the technological advancements will help keep our planet “green.” Teachers use online homework lists, classroom notes, quizzes and schedules.  School administrators are moving more and more towards online newsletters and school newspapers rather than sending hard copies home with each student.  This saves not only on the paper costs but on the overhead of having someone handling all these things for each student as well.

Some important technological tools for the classroom

Computers – Using computers when the students in the classroom have a large variability in skill level make the individual students be able to progress at their own speed. Internet-ready computers also allow access to the latest information available.  When books are published, they are already out of date because discoveries are made every day.  The Internet allows information to be spread quickly.  The key thing for students to learn now is not how to find the information, but how to distinguish whether the source is reputable and trustworthy.

Tablet Computers – As school resources allow students to have tablet computers, each student can follow along with the lessons and take notes directly on the computer.  Their individual resources at home will not affect their learning in the classroom and their ability to complete assignments using technology.

Digital Video Cameras – Cameras in phones and small hand-held digital cameras are letting students capture appropriate material to support their projects.  These videos and pictures can then be inserted into presentations to add interest and actual data to support the findings.  Even at science fairs, they now allow recorded summaries of the projects to be on display.

New Software – Software such as PowerPoint for presentations allows students to edit and be more creative in their work.  There is also software such as Turnitin.com which checks for plagiarism and allows teachers to receive work electronically.

Probes and Analytical Software – probes that are attached to computers allow math and science classes to perform experiments, measure the outcome and analyze the data all digitally.

Technology is used at all levels of classrooms today.  Technology allows the teacher to cater their lectures to different learning styles.  There are options available for students who learn visually, textually, through hearing or hands-on experiments.  They can use online articles to compliment the text, show a YouTube video or find an experiment online that will teach the material while the students are “doing.” With the use of technology in the workplace, it is very important that schools integrate these advancements so that students will be able to apply them in their future jobs.  No longer are students held back in their learning by outdated textbooks or the knowledge of the teacher since they have access to the most relevant information in the world through computers and the internet.  Technology will take us forward into a new style of learning to complement the world of the future.

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