Technology is revolutionizing the way Americans communicate and conduct business; yet, it has been slow to really take foot in our schools’ curriculums. Up until recently, technology has been introduced to students as an elective versus a complete integration and redefining of the way students are taught. The fact of the matter is, today, children are growing up in a world much different from what their parents and grandparents experienced. Technology is revolutionizing the way Americans communicate and conduct business; yet, it has been slow to really take foot in our schools’ curriculums. Up until recently, technology has been introduced to students as an elective versus a complete integration and redefining of the way students are taught. The fact of the matter is, today, children are growing up in a world much different from what their parents and grandparents experienced. It is a world of computers, software, and wireless access to information on-the-fly. It is a world that requires a different set of skills to succeed; thus, it may be worth your while to investigate the role technology plays in your child’s schooling.
Studies show that the use of technology in the classroom is highly beneficial to students and teachers. Not only does it prepare students for the “real world,” it improves many skills that might not otherwise be fully cultivated. Because technology is so highly valued in America, students that become familiar and quite good at using it feel a sense of accomplishment, which improves self-esteem. When using technology, students are more likely to share their experiences with other students, promoting peer-to-peer tutoring and reducing the pressure teachers feel when being the only source of student assistance. In addition, students learn that there are numerous ways to solve problems and identify with how what they are learning actually applies to life outside of school.
Of course schools are limited by time and money, making it difficult to introduce anything new, especially expensive technologies that need constant maintenance and upgrades. However, if schools look at their overall program and revaluate how to accomplish the same tasks while utilizing technology, there may be more room to maneuver than originally thought. A parent’s best bet is to figure out how open the school is to change and how actively they are perusing these changes. Thus, when the opportunities arise to incorporate technology, the school will be more likely to embrace them.
Following are a list of questions that may be helpful in evaluating the technology initiatives at your child’s school:
• Is the use of technology in the classroom a school policy or an individual decision made by the teacher?
• What computer and technology skills are teachers expected to know?
• Are teachers provided training on popular and new technologies on a regular basis?
• What type of projects will my child be required to complete that promote the use of technology?
• Does the school have a computer lab or does each class have a single computer students are expected to share?
• What precautions are taken to ensure student safety when surfing the Web?
While it is important for schools to have an open mind about the use of technology in the classroom, parents need to support the efforts made by the school. Ask your child’s teacher and principal about the roadblocks and challenges they face in implementing the changes that would encourage the use of technology. There may be some things you can do on your end to spread up the process, be it educating other parents on the issue, donating money, or expressing your concerns to the school superintendent. Whatever you do, stay realistic about your expectations and keep the lines of communication open.