According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly all US public schools have internet access. Students have endless information at their fingertips. They can learn anywhere, at any time. Many experts believe the internet will help bridge the socioeconomic gap in education since more students have access to the same information.
Educators are finding the best ways to introduce technology in the classroom. Laptops and tablets are replacing notebooks. E-books are supplanting textbooks. Interactive whiteboards replace the chalkboard. On these interactive whiteboards, teachers access the internet to play educational games with students, show video clips, and more. This makes the educational experience much more engaging for students.
Students today access the classroom through their laptops and other devices whenever they want wherever they are. Online colleges grant degrees to students who are learning from their living room. College is available for students who may not have the time or money to go to a traditional campus. The annual cost of tuition for an online college is on average $12,000 less expensive than a traditional college. Over time, online college degrees have become regarded as equivalent to traditional college degrees.
With increasing technology, parents expect more from teachers, looking for teachers to post grades, absences, and assignments online. Newsletters and school updates are found on school websites, keeping parents connected. Communication between teachers, parents and students is simpler with email, social media, and text messaging.
Many teachers, though, after many years teaching in a more traditional way, find it difficult to transition to the new technology. Some parents are uncertain of the use of technology in the classroom. Many fear schools feed into children’s technological addictions.
Technology enhances personalized learning, where learning is tailored to each student’s learning abilities, interests, and aspirations. Traditionally, teachers teach a standard curriculum to the entire class. These techniques are aimed at the average student. Some students are left behind; others are far ahead. Personalized learning allows each student to learn at his/her own pace using the teaching style that works best.
Though not a new philosophy, technology allows personalized learning to be more available. Data and analytics help teachers better understand what an individual student needs to do his/her best learning. Programs are designed to use this information.
In years past, projects were a rarity, often seen as side work. Today, projects are key, teaching students problem-solving and communication and skills. We learn by doing. Projects allow students to implement the skills they have learned. Projects increase student engagement and help students retain a longer-term and deeper knowledge of the curriculum.
Projects teach collaborative skills better than traditional learning can. In the workplace, people work collaboratively, solve problems, and present ideas.
No one can predict the future of education. There are too many variables from financing to curriculum requirements. But whatever direction it takes, technology will be a part of education.