Today's classrooms have changed significantly since I was in school. In most classrooms, at least in school districts that are thriving, you'll find computers, cameras and even Blackboard technology. Students themselves have cell phones, MP3 players, portable video devices, and much more. Does the technology really help a student learn?
Students today are vastly different from the students of 15 years or even 10 years ago. Today, students rarely have an attention span of more than three minutes. This means that teachers are challenged even more to be able to deliver the information and the knowledge that students need to learn without dragging the lessons out.
This is where technology and good use of technology comes into play.
If you are a parent, you see it with your own children; they are more apt to do things and learn things if they have a hand in creating the lesson. So, teachers are being challenged at every turn to figure out how to keep students engaged with all the technology that is bombarding them with music, video and much more. As a teacher I have learned that students don't respond well to reading, lectures, and the teaching methods of old; rather they come to life if they are challenged to find answers and to create unique ways of presenting information. I have found that I need to change how I look at the lessons and include video clips (good clips), music of the students' generation and activities to help them to learn.
Using technology is really helpful. One new way of using the MP3 players with video capability is to take portions of the lesson and turn them into video vignettes that students can interact with on their MP3 player. And, students who are not fortunate enough to have one of these players can see it on their email and/or computer. This technique has been employed to teach students science, they can see the experiment being performed and see the outcome without having to have chemicals for each pair of students, and without the chance of students getting hurt.
This way of teaching has also been effective since the cut back in travel for field trips.
Teachers have been able to contract with video production people and have the camera take a field trip to a place, like the zoo, or a water treatment plant, and the camera becomes the student. Then, the video segment is edited and uploaded to the school's server for the students and teacher to view as needed, and to review as many times as necessary.
Using technology has made it possible for students to review the course materials until they understand them thoroughly.
Another great use for technology in the classroom is that ability to change the outcomes. Computer programs are able to create different scenarios to one problem and the students can make choices that will affect the outcome, just to test theories and to learn. This is a great way create challenges without the students getting in over their heads.
They can experiment and the computer runs the outcomes, they don't need to actually do the project with hands-on, but rather they become hands-on through the computer.
Technology has opened up a whole new world for the teaching possibilities. It's a great way to stretch students' imaginations and to get them involved, as well as helping all levels of students with assignments and/or problem areas. I hope more teachers are willing to incorporate technology into their lessons.