Technology in the classroom is ever increasing and yet parents and teachers are understandably cautious about the amount of screen time students are exposed to, as well as the initial and ongoing upgrade and maintenance costs.
However, this technology use gives teachers the ability to easily track and assess students, less paper needs to be used and higher student engagement is gained.
Looking just at these items, it is easy to see that there are many pros and cons when it comes to using technology in the classroom. Read on to discover more.
What are the benefits of technology-based learning?
Teaching can be made easier. Using audio-visual presentations, students can find instruction far easier to follow and the overall level of comprehension within the classroom is increased.
Tracking students’ progress becomes simpler. Online tools and progress trackers enable students to be tracked individually, with the school even able to use its own personalised software to do the same.
Trees are saved. By going digital, printing is dramatically reduced and paper is not wasted. Assignments can be submitted by email rather than via a hard copy.
Students love technology. Teachers can use student’s natural interest in the internet to get them involved in online learning. Touch-screen technology makes work interactive and communication can even take place within private classroom Facebook groups.
Distance learning becomes simple. Students can work in the classroom and away from it, even signing up for additional online courses for subjects that they are particularly interested in.
Research takes far less time. Whatever type of research students need to carry out, it is all there on the internet. Resources such as Google Scholar provide reputable articles and information.
Working together is far more practical. Students can get involved in group projects, working from the classroom or from home. With everyone linked together via the internet, collaboration is far more focused.
The potential downsides of having technology in the classroom are not always obvious.
No perfect workflow solution. Teachers may have to use a mix of methods and apps to receive work from students, mark and then return it. This can possibly take longer than paper-based methods.
Wi-Fi quality. School Wi-Fi needs to be good quality and with plenty of bandwidth for all devices. If this is not available, slow and disconnected servers can spoil lessons.
Distractions. Are students working or are they popping onto games, apps or looking at messages?
Charging. Whatever devices the students are using, they need to be charged or continually plugged in. Battery problems and failure to charge iPads or tablets may leave students without access to material.
Not all textbooks are available digitally. If teachers have to rely on paper textbooks due to lack of digital versions, working with iPads could become fragmented.
It is also worth noting that, when it comes to using ICT in the classroom, there are so many options and apps that teachers can feel overwhelmed. The ideal situation is to have someone to manage, organise and provide the most suitable apps for each subject. This leaves the teachers free to teach, rather than getting bogged down in the intricacies of the digital world.
Putting technology in place for each student without having a plan should be avoided. Using iPads or similar will only improve student learning if properly controlled and managed. Whilst technology may tick some of the boxes most of the time, it certainly does not entirely replace manual teaching methods all of the time. With this in mind, student’s needs should be assessed carefully, both with and without the use of technology.