Currently, technology plays a significant role in society and education is no exception.
Technology enthusiasts, according to authors Allan Collins and Richard Halverson, claim that “…the world is changing and we will need to adapt schooling to prepare students for the changing world they are entering’, and ‘technology gives us enhanced capabilities for educating learners, and that schools should embrace these capabilities to reshape education…,” (Collins & Halverson, 9) Its role to make tasks easier is changing the game on how students are learning and how teachers are teaching. The usage of technology in education is a gateway to a brighter future because of its high accessibility. Students nowadays have access to many types computing devices to help aid them inside and outside the classroom.
When used appropriately, technology can be a powerful implement to transform education by helping enhance relationships between educators and students, reinvent methods to learning and communicating, reduce gaps in equity in those with disabilities and accessibility in those with an economic disadvantage, and create learning experiences that will meet the needs of all students.Teachers are an essential part of learning and as technology becomes incorporated into education, it is modifying the role of a teacher. Technology offers the opportunity for teachers to become more collaborative and extend learning beyond the classroom and with the use of technology, it increases teacher-student relationships. Noticeboards and education communication apps such as Edmodo or Remind, are tools many educators use to communicate with students. Due to technology, a new media is created to instruct students and educators can now have the capability to design an engaging learning experience. This is presented in the use of the computer game Minecraft. Jeffery Adam, Professor Jessica Bayliss, Karen Yager, and Andrew Weeding are all educators who incorporated this open-ended game to help engage in authentic learning (West & Bleiber, 2003).
The use of Minecraft: Education Edition is a versatile and collaborative platform which educators use for all subject areas (Minecraft: Education Edition). It helps build on an idea that is familiar to many and allows teachers to capture students interests as they learn.Technology changes a traditional learning environment into a more active learning environment. The use of interactive educational games, websites, participation clickers, laptops, tablets, etc. have been used to engage students and incorporate technology into the classroom making learning livelier. Nowadays students can take notes electronically during class, share notes with others or submit assignments to a professor by using cloud-based tools. Access to valuable online content from approved educational helping sites such as Khan Academy, TED-ED, Clutch Prep, and the availability of various tools for research such as online library databases (Tausend) enables personalized pathways for learning that are more engaging through active and collaborative learning activities. According to John King, U.
S. Secretary of Education, “One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students,” (U.S. Department of Education, 3). Technology in education closes the achievement gap and eliminates obstacles related to equity and accessibility. In education, accessibility refers to access to content and educational activities for all learners (5). This can be illustrated by an analogy of public businesses.
Many businesses include features such as ramps, automatic doors, elevators, or braille writing plastered on walls. This ensures customers that everyone is welcomed. In comparison, features such as text-to-speech, speech-to-text, enlarged font sizes, color contrast, dictionaries, and glossaries are built into educational technology to make learning accessible to everyone. More importantly, assistive technology, such as alternate response systems, alternative keywords, and testing accommodations supports students with disabilities in accessing learning.
Take Cole and Dylan as an example. They are brothers who both have dyslexia and with assistive technology, it helps them read and write (Howard, 2017). According to Cole “When technology came in, I was able to compensate for what I didn’t understand, why I couldn’t do things like other kids did, and it helped me work it out.” In addition to enabling students with disabilities to use content and participate in activities, the concepts also apply to accommodating individuals learning needs, such as International Students, students in rural communities, or from economically disadvantaged homes.
In education, equity refers to “students’ access to educational opportunities with a focus on race, ethnicity, or national origin; sex; sexual orientation or gender identity or expression; disability; English language ability; religion; socioeconomic status; or geographical location” (5). Technology helps improve the fairness of educational output through many Federal education programs. Programs such as the federal E-rate program has made billions of dollars available to provide discounted high-speed wireless access in schools across the country (FCC).As technology continues to advance it will be able to make it possible for those with a disadvantage to interact with digital learning resources in ways that would be impossible before.
However, many issues still stand with technology in education. Today there are still challenges with educational equity. Rory Kennedy’s documentary Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America follows how some schools in America still remain woefully underfunded, that kids from “wealthy” neighborhoods have better facilities, and how “poverty” schools contributes to poverty in our nation. Narrated by Jamie Foxx, the film enumerates on the technology front, every student needs their own electronic devices and that those who must share and can’t take devices home are handicapped. This film is a great way to see the big picture about this divide (The Digital Divide). Many institutions have to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies which require students to use their own technology.
The problem with this is that some students’ families cannot afford the devices. This creates concerns with a”homework gap” between students whose internet connections at home are slow ornon-existent, a problem common in rural and underserved communities, and thosewith an efficient internet connection. Thosewith sufficient internet may encounter a digital divide between students whouse technology to create, design, build, explore, and collaborate and those whosimply use technology to consume media passively. Without intervention andattention to the way technology is used for learning, the digital use dividecould grow.Through technologythe idea of education changes.
Its helpfulness to strengthen teacher-studentrelationships and create an active environment where students can use theirinterest are key pieces necessary to realize the transformation made possibleby technology in education. Although the presence of technology does not ensuretotal equity and still presents a digital divide in learning, it still has thepower to lower barriers to both in ways that were previously impossible. Nomatter their perceived abilities or geographic locations, all learners canaccess resources, experiences, planning tools, and information that can setthem on a path to for achievement that was unimaginable generations ago.