Educational Technology – What Does a Classroom Look Like Today?

It’s an exciting time for education and technology. Educational technology is consistently improving and more common place in the classroom. Google “21st Century Classroom Presentation.” You’ll find schools moving to a different kind of environment. Is this good? Are there problems with adding interactivity and engaging materials in the classroom?

These questions won’t be answered in this article. This article is going to focus on educational technology. Technology that is consistently demonstrated at conferences for teachers and administrators. This article is intended to educate you on what technology is currently available for schools. We’re also going to stick with the 21st Century Classroom theme.

Document cameras, projectors and computers are becoming common place in the classroom. Document cameras are an incredible piece of technology used in education today. The ability to show a page in a text book or a worksheet up on the board without making a transparency! Many schools still use transparencies and overhead projectors. Overhead projectors limit the freedom to adapt to the class and create real-time learning experiences based on student responses.

Projectors and interactive whiteboards are a must ever since the Internet became available. Multimedia, simulations, videos, maps, research, etc… Projectors allow for whole class learning and engaging discussions that extend from a specific topic or skill. The interactive whiteboard technology allows the teacher to stay in front of the classroom notating and controlling the mouse.

Another important educational technology piece are computers. Computer labs have been common in schools for sometime. The real concern has been actual “computer access” the students have throughout the week. Having enough computers and creating a consistent schedule for the entire school has always been a challenge. An answer to this challenge has been mobile laptop carts. Imagine a large cart with 25 laptops shelved, plugged into outlets within the cart. Only the cart needs an external outlet to power all laptops. This cart is moved from classroom to classroom and students are assigned a computer number. Instead of scheduling computer time to the computer lab, teachers are reserving these laptop carts…bringing the computer lab to them!

Classroom Response Systems or Voting Response Systems or clickers are becoming a common trend as an added piece to their educational technology plan. You will be sure to find more information when you Google “21st Century Classroom Presentation”. These devices allow for true interactivity and engagement within the class as a whole.

The last piece of any educational technology plan is the software. Blogs, wikis, games, curriculum software, reading and math intervention software, etc. are all things students do on the computers. Once hardware is in place, the question is, “What do the students do on the computers?” Educational software is such a broad term, schools constantly are researching software specific to a target group of students: high school credit recovery, homebound students, before/after school programs, supplement content to the school’s curriculum, state test prep software, etc.

One thing is for certain, educational technology is constantly improving and classrooms are moving closer and closer to the 21st Century Classroom.

Education & Technology – Then and Now

If anyone ever wants to know whether education technology, specifically video, works in the classroom, all one has to utter in response is: “Conjunction junction, what’s your function?” or “I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill.” It’s unlikely you’ll find anyone born after 1955 that doesn’t remember at least a concept or two from the Schoolhouse Rock series that was originally produced between 1973 and 1986.

We’ve all had the experience when we hear a familiar song and immediately recall a moment from our past connected to the song. It was proven long ago, and Schoolhouse Rock is an additional testament to the fact, that when both audio and visual elements are added to educational concepts, students are engaged at a deeper level and more likely to retain that information.

In the words of Hannah, a child interviewed during a research project on how video enhances learning, “A lot of us watch TV, and we remember TV,” she said. “When the teacher tells us to read directions in a book or when she’s trying to explain things, I don’t always understand. But when she shows us, I understand it more.”

The practice of using education technology and enhancing curriculum with audio-visual elements grew rapidly during the last half of the 20th century. In the last ten years or so, however, the technology explosion has produced enhancements in communication, entertainment, and information retrieval and has sent children’s education in different directions.

In light of this, does video still have a place as part of our education technology tool set? Of course! A good educational video, whether delivered via VHS, DVD, or from a website, when used appropriately in the curriculum, still provides the following benefits:

o Appeals to Multiple Learning Styles – Different videos can explain a single concept in completely different ways which increases the likelihood of the student learning what is being taught.

o Appeals to Multiple Teaching Styles – The use of videos as part of education technology allows teachers a variety of ways to cover the curriculum.

o Connects Concepts to Applications – Teachers can use situations portrayed in the video to inspire students to come up with their own examples of the concept being taught.

o Students Gain Deeper Understanding – Students having difficulty with a particular concept can repeat viewing a video, by themselves, at their own pace, until they develop the necessary understanding.

o Attention Leads to Retention – Attentiveness increases when students are presented with concrete, visual images that are fast-paced and interesting. Naturally attentive students become more knowledgeable and perform better on assessments.

A year after the research project involving Hannah, she could still remember the concepts taught through video and the teachers were convinced student performance had improved. And, if you can remember even one of the concepts taught by Schoolhouse Rock, the case for using video is made.

Educational Technology – Not Just Computer Technology

Technology is the branch of knowledge that deals with creating and using technical methods, such as tools and crafts, for interacting with life, society, and the environment. Beginning with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools, technology has affected human society and its surroundings in a variety of ways: Foremost, it has:

o Assisted in the development of more advanced economies

o Allowed the rise of a leisure class

o Helped develop today’s global economy

Philosophical debates continue regarding the present and future uses, primarily over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it.

Computer technology is a prime example. Computers have certainly changed the way people do just about everything, including how they handle personal affairs, communicate, run businesses, and how our children are taught. However, although technology promises many potential benefits for education, we must be careful not to make the all-too-common mistake of speaking of educational technology as if it is synonymous with computer technology. There are other forms of technology used in education and we should not ignore them.

“Technically speaking,” educational technology, sometimes referred to as learning technology, is the study and practice of teaching and improving capabilities by developing, using, and administering suitable technological processes and resources. Whether the selected medium is a GPS device, an educational video, a metal detector, or a computer, educational technology provides for an enormous amount of interactivity. It allows faculty and students to participate in dynamic demonstrations, simulations, and models that can be used to explore and test theories.

The use of educational technology can:

o Show students the path of recent technological progress

o Enrich instructional lectures and presentations

o Encourage students to be active discoverers

o Enhance motivation and curiosity

The appropriate use of all forms of technology in education leads to improved thinking, greater problem-solving skills and a deeper understanding of both concrete and abstract concepts.

Would you like to learn about “The 7 Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make Using Video in the Classroom” and start experiencing the benefits of using video effectively in your classroom? Then your next step is to download a FREE copy of “The 7 Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make Using Video in the Classroom” right now.