While parents and communities emphasize the importance of students having access to technology, focusing primarily on students is a mistake. In order for the educational enterprise to adequately adapt to our new world, we need to invest in teacher training to integrate technology into the curriculum. School districts often use staff development opportunities to train their teachers to integrate new technologies; This is a complex process. Traditional technology staff development training consists of one day of classroom instruction, including hands-on experience with the software. Most of this training ignores the adult developmental process – the need to understand relationships, reinforce concepts through frequent use, explore and be challenged, and conceptualize an entirely different teaching methodology. Districts rarely have support staff available to help teachers process these changes. The combination of reluctance, frustration, and inadequate training threatens to sabotage technology’s ability to enhance learning in the classroom.
Overcoming technical, economic and psychological barriers requires leadership, vision and commitment. It can take teachers five years to thoroughly integrate technology into their lessons. Researchers have estimated that the cost of training teachers can be far greater than the cost of hardware and software. The responsibility for this training must be shared between the teacher and the school district. It’s an investment of several thousand dollars per teacher. The initial investment of time, energy, and money is daunting for a school system already short on resources, but the return on investment will be worth the price.
While incorporating technology into the learning process is becoming increasingly important, access to the necessary devices is limited. Most schools do not fully utilize modern technology. Although at least three-quarters of schools report having enough computers and televisions, they do not have the system or building infrastructure to maximize the potential benefits of these devices. In addition, not all students have equal access to educational resources. Overall, schools in central cities and schools with minority populations of 50 percent or more are more likely to have inadequate technological resources and a greater number of unsatisfactory environmental conditions—particularly lighting and physical security—than other schools.
This evidence of inadequate infrastructure, technical support systems and teacher training shows that our schools still have a long way to go to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. The new schools would likely have:
– flexible learning spaces, including space for small and large group classes;
– facilities for teaching laboratory science, including demonstration and student storage room for chemicals and other materials;
– a media center/library with several networked computers for accessing information in external libraries and information sources;
– high quality computers and networks for educational purposes;
Students can access the latest information directly from the latest science satellites and take part in interactive “classes” with scientists via interactive, multimedia networks. Students can talk to these scientists while watching them on their screens during class, allowing them to go on “virtual” field trips around the world. One can only imagine the societal impact if this quality of educational experience were available to every student seeking an opportunity.
Another door that technology opens for students is the opportunity to explore real-world situations. Teachers know how to use this technology to improve students’ understanding of physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and math. By manipulating a series of digital images, students learn to use their own judgment and follow intuitions and ideas; As a result, they find multiple solutions to actual problems. Technology can be used as a tool to keep students interested, simulate real-life situations, and develop students’ skills in math, science, writing, oral communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. Students’ interest remains focused as they use scanners, video cameras, the Internet, and digital cameras as technological tools that allow them to work on complex projects and learn important concepts.
Thanks to Megan Wilson | #teaching #learning #models