Once upon a time, technology in the classroom meant that the teacher had a mini-fridge plugged into a wall socket. That is no longer the case. These days we are inundated by a plethora of social media, computers, smart boards, I-pods, I-pads and other I-technology. The question is, does this state of being hyper plugged in help or hinder students today?
Some of that depends on how much training the teachers have in using the technology. If these various devices are simply dropped off into an abyss, it creates more work and hours of training for already overworked teachers.
However, some teachers claim that students engage more and come up with creative ways to use technology in their classes. Amy Furman, a 7th grade English teacher, is using technology to teach Shakespeare in a rather unusual way. Her students use laptops to blog, build Facebook pages for the characters or create a list of songs from the Internet to express the characters emotions.
Yet, the jury is not in on whether technology really enhances education. Parents bemoan how much screen time their children log at home. Do we really need more of that at school? Plus, it is difficult to track whether it is helping or not.
“The data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data,” said Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and investor in educational technology companies. When it comes to showing results, he said, “We better put up or shut up.”