Tomorrow’s Super Hero: Technology
Secondary education faces many lasting, debilitating problems that can be remedied with the integration of technology. Personalized learning has been a topic of discussion, with some saying that there can no longer be a “one size fits all” education model. Another problem centers on the financial inequality of schools, especially where technology is concerned. Technology liberates students and teachers from geographical, financial, and physical boundaries. It can take the idea of collaboration to new heights by including the teacher, student, and parent. With the advent of a tech-based society, there is always an influx of new tools to learn; providing teachers with workshops and training sessions will encourage classrooms to thrive in changing times. Through ground-breaking technological advances in personalized learning and curriculum, equalizing education despite underfunding, collaboration, and teacher training, technology has ensured its presence in the forefront of the field of education.
Right away in “The Promise of EdTech”, Tom Vander Ark says that a main benefit of e-tools is that they allow for customization. (Getting Smart) Customization is vital because of the different learning styles of students. At home, they have the ability to learn any way they please from videos to text to hands on activities. Growing up, I would be ahead of most of the students in math, but would be forced to remain at the pace of the majority of the students. The confines of many traditional pedagogical methods limit gifted students to the speed and material that best serves the majority. While this utilitarianism approach seems to be logical, it in fact hurts two important groups of students: the accelerated and the struggling. By using a tool like Khan Academy’s math software, we would have been able to have a personalized track. In the traditional setting, gifted students grow restless after quickly completing a task, while struggling students grow frustrated at being unable to keep up. Sal Khan, the creator of Khan Academy, explained that in many cases, students that had been lagging behind only struggled with one or two topics. After they had mastered it, their learning rate increased greatly. These students would sometimes surpass the rest of the class.
With customization, students are given the reins to their own educational journey. Just as a kid feels ownership of a painting he created in art class, so too can he feel ownership of his journey of learning math. Schools could more readily step away from memorizing math formulas and step toward understanding the importance of the topic when technology is utilized properly by educators. Paulo Freire says that “only by learning the significance could they know how to memorize it, to fix it.” (284)
Personalizing the curriculum will benefit students of all styles of learning. Within the Common Core, there can be flexibility into the pace and style of learning in which students engage. Stephen Davies, in his writing of “The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894,” showed that just as cars rectified the growing problem of horse manure in roads, so too can technology fix problems within schools. (378) Through the freeing power of technology, schools that would not have been able to offer personalized learning are able to.
Impoverished schools do not have to be held down by lack of funds. Technology can provide access to a world of possibilities. Automobiles took the focus away from stables, manure removal, and having to take care of the horses so can technology take the focus away from geographical location, lack of funding, and other limiting factors. iPad grants give the opportunity for these schools to be free of recurring costs. Students can discover and explore the vast world of the internet. Technology can break the chains of the imprisonment lack of funding bring. From “The Promise of Edtech”, “It changes everything when anyone can learn anything almost anywhere.” (Tom Vander Ark)
Teachers and administration need to be aware of accessible grants and technology related funding. Programs are out there to place iPads in schools. Once technology arrives, this does not mean that it will automatically alleviate all of the problems. However, technology needs to be brought in with care and much thought. Solid policy and implementation for the near technology should be followed to provide the best chance for successful integration. School districts must have the internet capacity and infrastructure to support all the devices that will be added into the cycle. I.T. staff must meet the demand of the problems that will arise from the increase of computers. A holistic approach is an absolute must for whoever decides to focus tight funds they have towards technology. New connections and collaboration will come about because of this decisions and everyone will benefit.
There are cases where schools can not come up with the funding to get computers or iPads in the classrooms. In this situation, the educators of the district should spend time raising awareness of local vocational schools or community centers. In high school, I went to a title one school. We had computers and some technology but many of the teachers did not know to effectively use it. It wasn’t till late sophomore year I learned about a Pre-Enigneering Academy that I could attend for free. This opportunity changed my life. In Oklahoma, various vo-techs are spread in strategic spots to allow for low income school students to attend. We would hope that schools would be able to finds a mean to provide for their students.
Being connected today gives students and teachers access to the world. No longer do students have to work alone or teachers have to create lesson plans alone, nor do parents not get to engage further with more insight into their child’s’ education. With in the workplace, collaboration is a key and vital part of being an asset a company. Students should and need to have the opportunity to collaborate with fellow peers in their local community and across the world. Our world is becoming smaller and smaller because of technology. Back in 1859, communication took a lot longer than a text message sent today.
As Project Based Learning spreads further and into more schools, collaboration is main pillar in creating the best environment for this learning to excel. Students are not the only people who need to be better connected. Parents and teacher communication can be boosted through technology. Some parents can not make it to a parent teacher conference or talk to the teacher because of scheduling conflicts. Companies like Edmodo are eliminating these problems through an educational Facebook. Teachers, students, parents all have avenues to communicate with each other in a safe setting. Chats, discussion boards, groups are a few of the features that encourage this open and safe communication.
Teacher to teacher communication and collaboration can not be pushed to the side or neglected. Sharing of lesson plans and curriculum through things such as the Smart Board and iPads can give the teacher more time. Time is everything when nurturing these students. He or she will spend less time planning and creating lesson plans. In turn, they will spend their time engaging and developing deeper relationships with their students. There are countless ways that technology can help shape the way the teacher goes about their daily jobs. He or she can be connected to other excellent teachers through the US.
This tremendous addition of technology brings a huge responsibility to train and equip every teacher in the district. Workshops are essential to teaching them how to use the technology and how to integrate it into the classroom. Technology can only go so far and the teachers will need to feel confident in using it. Districts need to come together to form teacher training and workshops to make sure that the technology does not get utilized incorrectly. Teacher’s becoming masters of the technology is one of the most important parts for this process to have the correct and best impact in the classroom.
In education there are crises that have arisen that demand a solution. Technology can be a main part of the solution to these crises. Even though technology is not the answer to everything it can be for these problems addressed. Our horse-manure problems in secondary education are going to be fought with innovative technology just as it was back in 1859. “The Promise of Edtech” gives a backbone for the top three benefits of this transition. Customization, motivation, and equalization being these key benefits directly hit the heart of the problems. The future of education is bright with its relationships with technology. New heights of learning and engagement will be accomplished as technology continues to address secondary education’s problems.
Freire, Paulo.(2012) “The Importance of the Act of Reading.” Academic Universe: Research and Writing at Oklahoma State University. 2nd ed. Ed. Richard Frohock, Sisk, Jessica Glover, Joshua Cross, James Brubaker, Jean Alger, Jessica Fokken, Kerry Jones, Kimberly Dyer-Fisher, and Ron Brooks. Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2009. 281-286. Print.
Davies, Stephen.(2012) The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894. Academic Universe: Research and Writing at Oklahoma State University. 2nd ed. Ed. Richard Frohock, Karen Sisk, Jessica Glover, Joshua Cross, James Brubaker, Jean Alger, Jessica Fokken, Kerry Jones, Kimberly Dyer-Fisher, and Ron Brooks. Plymouth, MI: Hayden-McNeil Publishing, 2009. 281-286. Print.
Vander Ark, Tom. “The Promise of EdTech: Customization, Motivation, & Equalization.” Getting Smart. N.p., 4 Jan. 2014. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.