Even as an active member of the technology generation, I am still amazed at all of the technology this world currently holds. Who would have thought that we would ever use sleek electronic tablets that can act as a book, computer, game, AND camera?! Of course, I’m talking here about the iPad, which can even do so much more than I have just listed. Technology clearly plays a significant role in education as well. The iPad, for example, is being used in numerous school districts across the country to supplement curriculum, giving students of all ages different interactive learning opportunities.
This is shocking to me because, even as a young adult, I did not have such complex technology in any of my classrooms. I always had textbooks, and a trip to the computer lab in elementary school (which the teacher had to schedule well in advance) was always the best day of the week. Today, some students have the opportunity to have electronic readers in place of textbooks, and some classrooms have their own personal set of laptops for anytime use.
In my educational lifetime, I would say the biggest technological advancement was the SmartBoard. These are interactive whiteboard-projector systems that were designed to increase student involvement and engagement. Although expensive, the possibilities and benefits of SmartBoard can spread across all grade levels and subject areas. While I was there, my high school was fortunate enough to gain a SmartBoard in every classroom. I will definitely attest to the fact that they increased my engagement and helped me better understand certain things (physics, to be specific) by showing me different interactive approaches.
However, just because every classroom received a SmartBoard, didn’t mean every teacher knew how to use it. This was truly frustrating. The substantial benefits of this specific piece of technology was being diminished by a lack of knowledge.
This same principle applies to the idea of digital writing, another form of new educational technology.
The internet, when first introduced, was a huge step in the technological era. Just like other forms of technology, it has grown leaps and bounds into something that offers endless opportunities. Students of today’s society are doing an incredible amount of digital writing on the internet through email, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, wikis, blogging, and discussion boards. Although some of these examples are not the most academic in nature, many can certainly be used to produce educational success. However, teachers have to be familiar with the use of digital writing in order to reach this maximum level of learning. In 2001, Marc Prensky explained this concept by labeling current students, who have grown up with technology, as “digital natives” and adults, who are forced to learn technology as it arises, as “digital immigrants.” He says, “Our “digital native” students access, synthesize, and reply to information in ways that are fundamentally different from what most adults do. Yet we digital immigrants continue to teach “legacy content,” or traditional curricula, rather than teaching “future content” such as “software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc.” as well as “the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them.”
While many adults and teachers are fully capable of, and very talented at, using technology, there is certainly a divide that can be seen. They must learn to teach with and for this digital generation in this digital landscape; in order to do that, they must be at least familiar with, and at most masters of, digital technology.
In terms of writing, technology can provide outstanding benefits. Things such as search engines, spell check, publishing tools, multimedia access, word processors, blogs, and discussion boards all create different ways to read, write, listen, and collaborate.
As mentioned several times above, the key to all of this success is knowledge. Of course teachers must have the knowledge of what they are teaching, but they also need to know how they are going to teach it and why it is important. The “how” and “why” questions can be answered by understanding the digital landscape.
As a future teacher, I want to provide the best education to my students, and I know that technology will play a significant role in achieving this goal. Because of this, I plan on familiarizing myself with educational technology tools and staying up-to-date with any future advancements or inventions. This way, not only will my future students be able to work with these tools, but they will be able to receive the maximum benefits from them. Why? Because I will know HOW to teach the WHAT. 🙂