Evolving technology continues to change so much in our daily lives. The internet and cloud computing have completely transformed business, finance, personal relationships, and how we learn about the world. Thirty years ago, students interested in a foreign country would have to go to the library and take out a book, scanning through photos and dated descriptions, and hope there was some sort of television show or documentary they could check out for added dimension and understanding. Today’s students can tap into the entirety of human knowledge with a couple of simple keystrokes. Learning about a foreign country can be done through video, photos, sound, three-dimensional maps, and more articles and data than could be found in an entire city library. While teachers may not be thrilled about the fact that passing notes in class has transformed into texting or playing portable video games, there’s no denying that technology creates a ton of opportunities for education. Here are the top five ways students use technology in the classroom.
Online video is now a tool of the forward-thinking educator. Suggested examples and reciting from books is fantastic, and will always be included in the teacher’s toolkit. But now teachers can let students see things for themselves with the power of the internet. Many classrooms have web-connected computers, and teachers can project a streaming video onto a screen as well. Online video can expand a lesson plan, and help kids who work better in a visual learning environment.
Another great option for students is using technology to enhance research. Teachers will always ask students to generate reports on certain subjects, and kids can take advantage of the classroom computers to hunt down whatever they need on the web. It’s a great way to add audio and video to a report, and helps kids expand their research skills beyond just a basic Google search. Some may cry about the death of the Dewey Decimal System, but you just can’t turn back this level of progress.
Aside from the internet, kids often use technology to improve the work they turn in. Today’s children have grown up in a world that uses computers for everything, and many of them have been typing and interacting with various operating systems from a very young age. That means tech-assisted classrooms can give kids tools for all sorts of exams or assignments. They can use spreadsheets to navigate math problems the same way they used to use graphic calculators. And in an accounting class, they can research budgeting at home, and then put things together in class with computer programs as well.
Students are also using technology to run in-class presentations. Whether as individuals or in groups, students can present all sorts of detailed assignments in the classroom. It could be as simple as a few slides, or as complex as an animated powerpoint presentation. Interactive software can be used to project complicated math problems, which can be adjusted as easily as wiping chalk off the board. And digital cameras built into computer systems can allow students to stream these presentations to other classrooms anywhere in the world.
Lastly, technology can be used to expand what’s possible in art, music and design classes. Just as college students now have the choice of obtaining an online MBA or going to traditional school, art students can forgo pencil and paper and create 3D schematics, music students can write and record whole symphonies and architecture students can build an entire house in the virtual space. Technology simply gives students tools that allow them to bring complex visions to life, and then share them with the rest of the class.