You might not realize it, but even though educational technology—or EdTech—has been gaining considerable attention in recent years, it has actually been a part of our educational system for a long time. Every technology we use to help us learn that seems commonplace today, like calculators or self-guided online educational courses, is considered EdTech. But advancements in the field are creating new opportunities to use technology to support and enhance education.
Simply put, EdTech is where technology and education meet to support learning while engaging students in a more inclusive classroom environment. EdTech can be as simple as having the latest version of a laptop or tablet to help with lesson plans or as intricate and involved as using robots that are designed to work with students with exceptionalities.
But EdTech isn’t just for students—teachers benefit from it, too. The latest technological advancements can help teachers with everything from lesson plans to grading papers and even communicating with students to lend them more support. No matter if you’re an elementary teacher or secondary teacher, or if you’re a math or science teacher, you’ll probably use and benefit from EdTech.
The possibilities of EdTech are truly endless, but some of the more common examples include:
- Cloud Technology: Students and educators who rely on cloud technology have easy access to shared information, making it simple to assign class projects. Cloud technology also cuts down on the use of textbooks and the possibility of lost homework, while enabling students to chat with fellow students or teachers about coursework.
- Tablets: Another option to do away with heavy textbooks is to outfit students with tablets that offer the same information in digital form. Select apps can also help students with communication, focus, and goal setting.
- Gamification: By combining lessons with games, teachers can help students become more engaged in their learning and enjoy their classwork more in a fun, interactive format.
Advancements in EdTech are really changing the game for students, creating a richer and more robust learning experience that will serve them long after they graduate. Some of the benefits of EdTech for students include:
24/7 Access to Learning
Tablets loaded with apps, laptops with all the latest software, and—of course—the internet are key to giving students constant access to coursework, lessons, and connections to fellow students and teachers. This offers them more opportunities to learn, whether they’re at home or at school or even traveling in between the two. This access is also helpful to students with special needs or students who may fall ill but don’t want to fall behind in their classes.
Connectivity also helps nurture collaboration between students—and between students and their teachers. Using online lesson plans, games, and other technological tools designed for learning can encourage students to work together—both in-person and virtually—to tackle their homework and get extra tutoring help or discuss their work when they need guidance. Learning good collaboration skills in school is important for future employment, where collaboration is often a must-have asset.
Gone are the days of passive learning, where students sat at their desks and stared at a chalkboard, waiting for the day to end. Instead, interactive education has taken the place of the old, stuffy classroom environment and invigorated it with gamification and other like-minded approaches to lessons that put students at the center of what they’re learning and encourage them to engage their brain in new and exciting ways.
Studies have shown that not all students learn the same way. This is where EdTech can be exceptionally helpful, allowing for personalized attention with lessons that are crafted for each student’s specific needs. Apps can be used to measure capability, video lessons can give students a chance to pause and digest what they’re watching, and interactive elements can be used to guide students who may need more support.
But it’s not just students who get to reap the benefits of EdTech. Both current and prospective teachers have so much to look forward to in how EdTech advances classrooms, giving teachers more support to effectively guide students on their educational path. Not only does EdTech help teachers in their future classroom, it can also support their educational goals. Some of the benefits of EdTech for teachers include:
No need for a red pen anymore! AI has taken over where that trusty marker and late nights with a pile of papers used to be. Now, apps powered by machine learning can assess answers and assign grades accordingly. This gives teachers more time to provide individual guidance to students who need it, creating new lesson plans, or pursuing new educational paths.
Classroom Management Tools
Apps have dramatically changed how teachers communicate with students and their parents. They make it easier to communicate about assignments, field trips, and other important goings on that everyone needs to know about. They even help monitor the noise level in a classroom. This can help create a more collaborative classroom experience where everyone is on the same page and teachers don’t have to worry so much about individualizing messages that can easily be shared with a group using technology.
Detailed Student Data
Teachers can use technology to monitor student capabilities and progress and note areas of concern so they can tailor lessons accordingly. These apps may also spot potential learning disabilities. The more information teachers have about their students, the better they are able to help them learn.
Less Paper Waste
The movement toward a more eco-friendly classroom is also supported by EdTech, as a digital classroom equals less paper used to print out everything from tests to budgets. Paperless options help teachers create an environment that is green and more sustainable for the future.
As exciting as the world of EdTech can be, there are still some concerns about how it may impact students, teachers and the classroom. As with any form of automation, some worry that EdTech may take over the classroom to the point where entire courses are taught by tech. And while AI can be helpful as a teaching assist, it’s not a suitable replacement for teacher-led student assessments, which can lead to more specific adjustments for different learning styles.
Though the research on the effects of blue light wavelengths from too much screen time is still evolving, it’s reasonable for parents to want to ensure their children’s health is taken into consideration in the classroom. Parents are also concerned about the effects of EdTech on socialization, as school is often where children form bonds and learn how to connect and work with others. An overreliance on EdTech could change the social structures of schools, and while there are benefits to this, it may also create more separation from students as they spend more time on their tablets than they do with fellow students face-to-face.
But as the world of EdTech continues to evolve, so, too, can our understanding of it, and how we can use it to enhance the classroom experience in ways that support both students and teachers.