What is technology? According to Webster’s Third New Testament Dictionary (1911), “the application of modern scientific discoveries and innovations for the benefit of man.” In other words, the applications of technologies are the result of human knowledge applied in a creative way.
How then can students learn about what is technology? In a recent classroom discussion, one teacher discussed the use of the Internet by both teachers and students to share and organize classroom information. She noted that some teachers “use the technology to keep things fresh, to include students who might not otherwise have been able to see what is going on in a certain class.” What is technology? she asked.
Technology has indeed expanded into many daily lives. It has made telephones safer, transportation more reliable, and much other everyday changes. And it has also made computers more accessible to many students who wish to learn. The teacher’s concerns about how technology affects classroom learning are valid.
But there are good reasons why teachers should encourage, not discourage, students to use technology. One reason is that students learn best when they are having fun, when they are challenged or when their resources (like paper, laptops, etc.) are flexible. There is no better way to encourage students to explore the world, use technology in different ways, explore various tasks, and gain knowledge from new sources than to provide them with the freedom to do so.
Students learn best when they are given the freedom to explore and do things that go beyond the regular classroom activities. If teachers are not allowed to fully embrace educational technology in their classrooms, then students may stop exploring those features and explore only the limited choices available to them within the usual curriculum. If they have access only to the basic set of educational technology, then they will lack the skills and knowledge needed for more complex tasks and may fail to work on those tasks at all. Therefore, teachers must allow their students to use various technological tools and devices. Otherwise, they will limit the number of learning opportunities they offer to their students.
There are many ways to enhance a classroom in order to allow students to fully utilize the various technological tools that are now proliferating our world. One way is to equip the classroom with digital pens, colored pens, paper, various multimedia projectors (like video, flat panel, or old-style VHS TVs), electronic readers (from readers, smartphones, or even pads), and so forth. These tools are not only fun, engaging, interactive, or convenient, but they are also necessary for learning. For example, an electronic reader allows the student to look up words and phrases in a foreign language by looking at the definition, context, and synonyms. It can give a quick review of a term and possibly provide a definition. By doing this, the student is able to use the word in a context that is more natural and less likely to cause confusion.
Another way that you can enhance the classroom in order to allow your students to learn the techniques used in this modern world is to provide access to the Internet. Whether you use Blackberries or netbooks or even laptops, there are many ways that your students can gain access to the Internet. The use of a computer is not only helping students learn their numbers and multiplication tables, but it is also allowing them to search the World Wide Web and do research on topics they are interested in. As a result, they learn how to use various technological tools and devices. This can include anything from checking out the latest Wikipedia articles to searching for an obscure song from the 1990s on Google.
Of course, one of the most important reasons why you as a teacher should use technology in your classroom is because it helps you learn and teach. Instead, of just sitting there trying to figure out how to explain something to your class, the students will be able to explain it to you simply by using the technology available to them. Instead of being stuck in the past when you have never seen or heard about a particular gadget or technology, your students will be able to explain to you what it is and why it works. Remember, they will be using this new technology all throughout the school year, so you want to make sure you are teaching them the right way in order to avoid them growing up and becoming bored with it. Give them real examples about how you are using technology in your classroom to help them grasp the concept better and feel more confident using the newest gadgets and technological tools.