Technology in the Classroom
Inspired by the group of students in this subject who visited a nearby primary school two times over the course of the semester, and more recently a discussion I had with a relative regarding my opinion on technology in the classroom; I’ve decided to dedicate this blog entry to exploring this idea.
It’s an interesting question, which has been dividing both traditional teachers and the teachers of tomorrow – is introducing more technology in the classroom beneficial or detrimental to the learning experience of primary school children?
The way I see it, there are two types of technology used in the classroom: Technology that is used as a teaching aid – for example projectors, smart boards and audio systems and technology which serves as a distraction – namely mobile phones and iPhones. (With thousands of Apps on the Apple store, who uses them to actually call, honestly?)
It seems to me that people who oppose the introduction of technology in the classroom are generally caught up with the misconceptions of associating the aforementioned technologies functioning as a ‘distraction’ with the technologies serving as a ‘teaching aid’.
Returning back to my mention of the prior discussion I had with a relative – he was explaining to me the introduction of the iPad into a nearby school, where it was used in order to aid a student who was suffering from partial blindness.
Prior to trialing this new teaching method, the child was described as inattentive, easily distracted and lacking in confidence. After a few weeks of using the iPad as a teaching tool, a noticeable improvement was observed with the child. Learning how to read was no longer a problematic task, pronouncing letters and words was much easier as the zooming functionality of the iPad allowed him to view written content with a reduced degree of difficulty.
Jonathan Wylie from brighthub.com presents a list of childrens books that are currently available as eBook Apps with the iPad.
Available books such as the Dr.Seuss collection and Alice in Wonderland form the cornerstone to not only the facilitation of a child’s cognitive development, but also the continual improvement of their reading and comprehension skills.
If someone was to tell me that this technology was available at the touch of a screen (notice how the phrase ‘click of a button’ is slowly becoming obsolete?) ten years ago, I’d have told them that they are surely crazy.
Despite how convincing simply introducing more technology to children may be in theory, my ‘inner scientist’ wants to see some conclusive evidence, evidence which would involve tracking the academic progress of a group of students over a period of time. This however, is rather problematic process.
As the technological train keeps steaming forward, the acquisition of study data from a particular ‘new’ technology such as the iPad is difficult. Conclusive studies would take time, time which would fuel the continual evolution of the technological ‘test’ product in question.
On the other hand, this doesn’t necessarily mean that teachers are not coming up with their own creative ways to bring technology into the classroom.
A primary school teacher from Leopold Primary School in Victoria has set up a class blog for her second grade students to use.
I believe this is a great idea, as this not only creates an additional avenue for a child to refine his or her writing abilities, but it also allows each student to strengthen the ownership of their work, a sense of responsibility to be felt by students knowing that their blog is online for anybody to view and lastly, the opportunity for students to read and leave comments on the work of their peers.
Knowing how to leave constructive feedback on a piece of work is certainly a life skill. It’s often enforced at University (PRAZE anyone?), it’s the unwritten rule of online forums and message-boards and is extensively used before the publication of scientific journals.
The introduction of new technology as a means for enhancing both the teaching and learning process is inevitable, so I believe it’s time we all start embracing it in the classroom.
This would ensure that the forthcoming generations are poised to exhibit a new level of technical prowess which will most certainly redefine and drive the technological world for the better in the not so distant future.