Technology is part and parcel of today’s international and private school classroom environments. In this two-part article, early childhood development expert Shen-Li Lee looks at the types of technology international and private schools students are likely to encounter, and explores some of the benefits of incorporating technology into the learning process.
This is the second part of this article. You can read Part One here.
HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED LEARNING?
Although it is still early days in the rise of technology in education, much of the feedback from educators has largely been positive. Here are some of the ways that technology is transforming education:
• Increased Student Engagement Students are more engaged because technology allows them to become active rather than passive learners. This is beneficial because active learners typically gain a greater understanding of the material being covered and they retain more of what they learn.
There is also increased engagement because students are generally excited by technology. It makes learning interesting, meaningful and relevant. Students are able to make choices about how they learn, and have the freedom to choose how they wish to express their mastery of what they have learned. Assignments are no longer restricted to written essays, they may be videos, digital presentations, comic strips – students can decide how they generate, obtain, and present their information.
Technology empowers students to take control of their education as they define their own goals, and evaluate their progress. It offers them more independence – they can choose how they learn and what they learn at a pace that they set. In turn, this gives rise to authentic learning.
For the shy students, technology increases motivation and self-esteem as it offers these students a non-threatening medium to express themselves in a way they feel comfortable. It also increases collaboration between peers as students work together to help each other.
• Increased Academic Performance Technology allows students to accomplish more complex tasks as it expands the horizons of learning beyond the classroom walls. Through the Internet, students have access to a vast wealth of information. They are also able to communicate with real world experts who can help them gain a deeper understanding of the material being taught.
• Facilitates Individualized Learning Through the mass of online resources that help to present information through a variety of media, teachers can address the different learning styles of each student and facilitate individualized learning. Technology helps to customize the learning, enabling students to progress at their own pace. Advanced students can continue to extend themselves while weaker students get opportunities to practice and improve.
Technology also provides teachers more opportunities to interact with students in smaller groups and on a one-to-one basis.
• Facilitates Mobile Learning Technology allows students to take their learning outside of the classroom so they can learn where they want and when they want. Through blogs, emails and programs like Edmodo, students can continue their discussions with their teachers even from home.
• Trains Students to Be Responsible Digital Citizens Just as students need to learn to become responsible citizens in the world, they also need to learn how to become responsible digital citizens. Digital citizenship establishes the norms of what is appropriate and responsible use of technology.
Students learn about what is responsible behavior online – what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior. They develop critical thinking skills to assess the validity of information online – which sources are reliable, what are the facts, and what are the opinions. Last but not least, students learn about staying safe online – what information can be shared and what should not be shared, and being wary of strangers online just as they should be in the real world.
HARNESSING THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY
As wonderful as all this technology is, it is essential to be aware that it is merely another tool that teachers can use to facilitate the teaching and learning process. Like all tools, it can be used well or it can be used poorly. Simply having technology in the classroom does not necessarily improve the learning outcomes of the students. What is critical is how that technology is implemented and utilized by the school, the teachers and the students.
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