Technology & Education

I a proponent of technology in the classroom, although I began my educational career by working in a division where access to particular technologies was very limited.  When I incorporate it into my teaching, however, I think it is necessary to utilize technology as part of an ‘authentic task’.  That is, if the student would utilize the technology in a real-world situation, or could somehow benefit via real-world relevance, I find it appropriate.  This is in contrast to utilizing technology ‘for technology’s sake’, and I believe when you look at studies that show how teachers are not utilizing much of the technology that schools have purchased, you might find that perhaps those technologies are somehow lacking in authenticity of process.

For an English teacher, it’s easy to list the main uses of technology: word processing and Internet access that is needed for research papers. Last year, my then-school library was particularly lacking, so the Internet provided access to scholarly articles that students couldn’t otherwise access.  Likewise, Microsoft Office or Google Document skills that are acquired as they compile and organize their research mirrors life in college or the work force.
Technology is also a great way to build context for students.  In teaching American literature last year, and introducing various perspectives, I found that it is still difficult for students who might have never traveled outside of this area of Virginia, to picture what is being discussed in the text, or how the world might have impacted what is being presented.  Images, videos, and other resources (including simple things such as online maps) allow the student to more easily relate to the author’s viewpoint and perspective.
Finally, technology is often a tool that fosters parent communication, and in teaching the ‘whole’ child, this is wonderful.  I use a website called for my students, and often have parents text me through the program to chat about important information, or ask for assistance while they help their child understand difficult topics.  Last year, I moderated a class Twitter feed, and whereas students did not utilize it during class time because the platform was ‘banned’ at school, they did sometimes discuss after hours; it’s always exciting to see a ‘quiet’ student share their insight in this way.

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