When I was an elementary school student, I learned the absolute basics about computers. Luckily, I went to a school which had a computer lab. In those days, we were taught not to touch the film inside a floppy disk. It’s amazing how the times have changed.
Computers should be perceived as a fundamental classroom tool. During my college days, I went from having only a few professors who gave notes via PowerPoint to actually producing and presenting my own PowerPoint projects in front of my peers. The program wasn’t that hard to learn, but I still wish someone had prepared me for that before I got there.
School districts are getting smarter and using new technologies to increase test scores and even student attendance. Interacting with devices is becoming more commonplace and it’s only helping with student achievement. The Columbian recently published an article by Howard Buck detailing the use of iPods in third grade classes in the Vancouver school systems called “Vancouver Schools Test iPods as Classroom Tools.” According to this article, “They (iPods) allow students to repeat drills, dig up research material or view short video lessons on hard-to-grasp concepts. All at their own speed, without disrupting others, freeing up teachers for more one-on-one attention.”
Many other schools across the United States require students to have laptop computers. In some cases, the laptops are lent out to students, and in others, the students can buy any computer they want. School buildings are increasingly being set up for Wi-Fi technology so that computer portability can be maximized.
Educators are left on both sides of the debate about whether this technology is really going to help learning. In the early days of computers, people saw technology as a fad that would eventually die out and also didn’t believe that anything could be learned through their usage. Besides writing and saving documents, all I learned about computers in grade school was how to play games. Now, there is simply no ignoring the fact that every person is going to have to learn how to use a computer sooner or later, and school should be the place to give them that preparation.
Educators need to adapt themselves continually to the changing technologies and discover new ways to integrate them into the classroom. It is going to be interesting to see what happens in the future in this regard. Children are going to be walking around with headphones in their ears and iPads in their hands. They won’t need bookbags because all of their work will be on the iPad, from text books to homework assignments. They’ll be able to download lectures that they may have missed or just wanted to review again. Technology is going to keep changing the classroom, but it’s up to the educators to make these devices effective teaching tools.
The Columbian Online, “Vancouver Schools Test iPods as Classroom Tools” (link in article).