As I observe students whether in the halls or in the classroom, it is very common to see them with a mobile device in hand. Technology is becoming an essential part of life, and I feel it is important to have an understanding of the tools students are using in order to relate to them and to engage them in learning. Roblyer defines educational technology as “a combination of the processes and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems, with an emphasis on applying the most current digital and informational tools” (2016, p. 5). I believe the key phrase in that definition is “addressing educational needs and problems.” If we are not using technology for that purpose, we are not utilizing the many resources that have been given to us.
Technology can address the needs of student engagement and preparation for the future. Today’s students are constantly connected to each other and the rest of the world through texting and social media. If we do not do something to capture their attention, it will be directed elsewhere. Incorporating technology into a lesson can help direct students’ attention to the task at hand. As teachers, we also have the daunting responsibility of preparing our students for the future. Technology is part of the future. Technology is continuing to grow within the workplace, and if students do not know how to use technology, they are not going to be able to compete and be successful.
There are many different forms of technology and different ways to use technology in the classroom. It is up to the teacher to use technology in such a way that it will enhance student learning and allow students to participate in activities that would otherwise be impossible. The NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition argued, “Institutions have a responsibility to ensure that when students and faculty are connected it is with the purpose of transformation– not just replicating experiences that could take place without technology” (2016, p. 34). It is our job as teachers to decide in what ways technology can transform student learning. As Roblyer pointed out, newer is not always better. Teachers have to find what works in their classroom and build upon that. We should not just jump on each new fad without first finding out if it really works and is beneficial for our students. “Teachers must be as informed and analytical as they want their students to become” (Roblyer, 2016, pg. 9).
Educational technology has changed the format of our classrooms and teaching strategies. There are two main views on how instruction using technology should look. Directed instruction is one view where learning is centered around teacher-organized activities. Inquiry-based learning is the other view in which students learn through experiences while teachers serve as facilitators (Roblyer, 2016, p. 34). Both views have a place in the classroom. There are some skills that can be better learned through direct instruction and others through inquiry-based learning. All students learn differently, so presenting information to students in different formats is important and beneficial for the entire class. Technology provides many different tools that can be used to help students learn. John G. Palfrey and Urs Gasser said it best, “The most important thing that schools can do is not to use technology in the curriculum more, but to use it more effectively.”
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Roblyer, M. D. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.