Currently,technology plays a significant role in societyand education is no exception. Its role to make taskseasier is changing the game on how students are learning and how teachers areteaching.
The usage of technology in education is a gateway to a brighter future because of its highaccessibility. Students nowadays haveaccess to many types computing devices to help aid them inside and outside theclassroom. When used appropriately, technology can be a powerful implement to transform education by helping enhancerelationships between educators and students, reinvent methods to learning andcommunicating, reduce gaps in equity in thosewith disabilities and accessibility in those with an economicdisadvantage, and create learning experiences that will meet the needs of allstudents.
Teachers are an essentialpart of learning and as technologybecomes incorporated into education, it is modifyingthe role of a teacher. Technology offers the opportunity for teachers to becomemore collaborative and extend learning beyond the classroom and with the use of technology, it increasesteacher-student relationships. Noticeboards and education communication apps suchas 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 designan engaging learning experience. This is presented in the use of the computergame Minecraft.
Jeffery Adam, Professor Jessica Bayliss, Karen Yager, and AndrewWeeding are all educators who incorporated this open-ended game to help engagein authentic learning (West & Bleiber, 2003). The use of Minecraft: Education Edition is a versatileand collaborative platform which educators use for all subject areas (Minecraft.edu).
It helpsbuild on an idea that is familiar to manyand allows teachers to capture students interests as they learn.Technology changesa traditional learning environment into a more active learning environment. Theuse of interactive educational games, websites, participation clickers,laptops, tablets, etc.
have been used to engage students and incorporatetechnology into the classroom making learning livelier. Nowadays students can take noteselectronically during class, share notes with others or submit assignments to aprofessor by using cloud-based tools. Access to valuable online content fromapproved educational helping sites such as Khan Academy, TED-ED, Clutch Prep,and the availability of various tools for research such as online librarydatabases (Tausend) enables personalizedpathways for learning that are more engaging through active and collaborativelearning activities. According to JohnKing, U.S.
Secretary of Education, “One of the most important aspects oftechnology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity forstudents,” (U.S. Department of Education, 3).
Technology in education closes the achievement gap and eliminates obstaclesrelated to equity and accessibility. In education, accessibility refersto access to content and educational activitiesfor all learners (5). This can be illustratedby an analogyof public businesses. Many businesses include features such as ramps, automaticdoors, elevators, or braille writing plasteredon walls. This ensures customers thateveryone is welcomed. In comparison, features such as text-to-speech, speech-to-text, enlarged font sizes, colorcontrast, dictionaries, and glossaries are built into educational technology tomake learning accessible to everyone. More importantly,assistive technology, such as alternate response systems, alternative keywords,and testing accommodations supportsstudents with disabilities in accessing learning.
In addition to enablingstudents with disabilities to use content and participate in activities, theconcepts also apply to accommodating individuals learning needs, such as InternationalStudents, students in rural communities, or from economically disadvantagedhomes. In education, equityrefers to “students’ access to educationalopportunities with a focus on race, ethnicity, or national origin; sex; sexualorientation or gender identity or expression; disability; English languageability; religion; socioeconomic status; or geographical location” (5). Technologyhelps improve the fairness of educational output through many Federal educationprograms. Programs such as the federal E-rate program has made billions ofdollars available to provide discounted high-speed wireless access in schoolsacross the country (fcc.gov). As technology continuesto advance it will be able to make it possible for those with a disadvantage to interact with digital learningresources in ways that would be impossible before. However, many issues stillstand with technology in education. Today there are still challenges witheducational equity.
Rory Kennedy’s documentary Without a Net: The Digital Divide in America follows how some schoolsin America still remain woefully underfunded, that kids from “wealthy” neighborhoodshave better facilities, and how “poverty” schools contributes to poverty in ournation. Narrated by Jamie Foxx, the film enumerates on the technology front,every student needs their own electronic devices and that those who must shareand can’t take devices home are handicapped. This film is a great way to seethe big picture about this divide (The Digital Divide). Many institutionshave to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)policies which require students to use their own technology. The problem withthis 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.