Technology in Education
As schools infuse more technology into our classrooms, we often hear from people who question whether this is a good idea.
It is not just the expense that is questioned, though technology can certainly be expensive. People want to know if reliance on calculators and spreadsheets reduces computational skills in students. They want to know if too much screen time hinders development of social skills and fine motor skills. And they question whether students actually learn when they can just do a Google search for answers.
As with almost everything, the benefits and disadvantages are a matter of degree. Technology is a powerful tool to use as part of good instruction. It has made education much more efficient, and it has also opened options that otherwise would not be available to students and those who teach them.
Students can now visit different places on virtual field trips. They can converse with others in classrooms around the world using video conferencing tools once available only to corporations. They can dissect wide varieties of animals, and even explore organs within the human body, in a simulated laboratory. They can view artwork in museums around the world before applying techniques to their own work, both in traditional drawing and painting, and in digital art creations. They can experiment with complex mathematical models that would have taken hours of computational time by hand while still learning the math concepts in a real application.
Our teachers can communicate easily with parents and students through email and online gradebooks. They can collect opinions and survey student comprehension in real time as they teach a class. They can quickly browse all the world’s knowledge for classroom resources when creating their lesson plans, and they can collaborate with their colleagues across the nation.
Our children will need strong technology skills in their future workplaces, in higher education, and for everyday living. They need them now as state testing and college entrance exams are administered online. It is incumbent upon educators and parents to teach children how to use the enormous power of technology in the right way.
That is why the Bay Village Schools have invested in technology for education. Our school board has used bond issue money and has earmarked funds coming from the casino tax for technology investment. We now have a robust wireless network, have doubled our bandwidth in the past year, have ensured every classroom has an internet-connected smartboard and projector, and have increased classroom sets of Chromebooks (laptops) significantly.
Most important, our teachers are receiving a great deal of professional development and guidance on how to best use technology with their students. Our new technology coordinator conducts ongoing training sessions and consultations with teachers. He and our technicians constantly train to stay up-to-date on changes and opportunities in technology education. We also collaborate with our police department to show students how to stay safe and behave responsibly online.
There is no shortage of traditional learning materials such as math manipulatives, worksheets, books, person-to-person instruction and teamwork in our classrooms. But technology cannot be ignored by our schools, and we are learning to use it better every day to benefit our children.
Clint Keener is superintendent of the Bay Village City School District.
Clint Keener is Superintendent of the Bay Village City School District.