Technology is impacting our lives to an extent we have begun to take them for granted. Microchips, cell phones, social networking, and the internet affect our lives on a daily basis in our home and professional life. Our world has been greatly influenced by rapidly changing technology and the increasing availability of information. The technology increased our need for information and the speed in which we receive the information. With our personal and professional lives changing at such a rate, it's inevitable it will only increase its role in modern education. With supervision, technology can enhance the learning experience and be incorporated into the curriculum to make the educational experience better for everyone.
Through many different angles, technology is forcing its way into schools today. In order to keep pace, schools are increasing their technology budgets to purchase computers, smart boards, interactive software applications, printers, servers, CD-ROMS, file servers and network equipment. The very way schools record their data and store student records has changed drastically with most all using computers and electronic storage for the job. The change in technology has definitely affected the culture of the school. Just over a decade ago, the internet was nearly as available as it is today. Through the increased use of the internet in our personal life, the computer naturally found its way to virtually every school in America. The internet and all of its related technologies has become an invaluable resource for schools today. Schools goals have changed which has made them more aware to changes and resources once unavailable, effectively making them more efficient. The technology impact has made huge improvements to the school office alone. School offices just ten years ago most likely had a storage room full of file cabinets loaded with student and personnel files. Those file cabinets have been eliminated through the technology of digital storage and editing software and machines. Documents and photographs can be input or scanned to the software on the computer, where it can be stored, faxed, copied or securely transmitted anywhere on the internet. It's no surprise many schools are looking to move to a completely paperless environment because of the ease of use, gain of space, and reduced paper expenses. With increased prices of paper and the ever decreasing cost of digital storage on hard drives on servers, paperless is becoming the way of the future.
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Software programs can securely digitalize all of the activities of the school and coordinate all of its activities to streamline the activities of the school. School calendars, class schedules, newsletters, grades, attendance records, homework and discipline reports can be managed and accessed in the school, or at home.
One of most significant technological changes in recent years has been through the use of the school website as a communication tool for everyone in the school community. The school website is quickly become the main communication resource in the district. With increasing demands of the parent and the changing dynamic of the family unit, parents are increasingly pressed for time, making contact with school more difficult. School websites can help eliminate these barriers and increase communication with parents. Parents like to be informed about exams, homework and activities but no longer have the time necessary to set office visits. The school can place relevant information such as calendars, school contact information, personal contact forms, phone numbers and email information. These tools can greatly increase the dialogue between parents and the school. The school can receive feedback from the parents more effectively than in the past while also making it more convenient and time saving for the parent. The school website is quickly becoming the most cost effective and quickest ways for the schools to communicate between administration, students, teachers, parents and community members.
While the use of technology has grown tremendously, the same is not necessarily the case with the teacher in the classroom. Linda Starr (2009) quotes teacher survey results were marginal with 50% of teachers using technology in their classrooms. Many technology coordinators also report difficulty with implementation at the teacher level. Outside pressures and the increasing public use of these technologies id forcing teachers to become users. Many districts are offering incentives to teachers to technology in many different formats. Many districts are offering stipends, training seminars, and paid days to encourage teachers who increase their technology use in the classroom.
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In addition to the desktop computer, Smart Boards and Interactive White Board Displays are rapidly increasing in the classroom. Smart Boards allow teachers provide lesson presentations across different courses which also increases their appeal. The Smart Board allows the teacher to utilize an interactive computer software application that students also learn to use. The teacher can highlight material, make notes, play video, and incorporate learning resource tools and games. The dialogue and lesson plan is interactive between teacher and student with the student sometimes using the touch screen to make choices, diagram, out-line or choose the next step in the lesson plan. Smart Boards enhance the potential for students learning and comprehension. The interactive technology allows students an interactive experience they are already accustomed to at home while giving them an escape from old pencil and paper worksheets. The excitement created by the Smart Board for the teacher and students is helping the technology become the future for classroom instruction. The technology is helping the classroom become exciting again which has also help districts with discipline problems. Mathew Phillips (2008) publication reports that in Dorchester School District 2 in Summerville, S.C., where 1,200 Smart Boards were installed, the Superintendent reported classroom discipline incidents and trips to the principal's office were down significantly.
One of the most important things educators today can realize today is the technology era and tech skills they have in their students today. Students today were born into a culture where they have high level skills which they have been personally using on a daily basis. They have been bombarded by technology and information from video games, social networks, cell phones and iPods. Teachers previously competing with student note passing and talking are now also competing for the attention of a student that has been exposed to instant information whenever it was requested by them through technologies used at home. The excitement created giving out a textbook the first day of class is nowhere close to what it was in the past. The teacher must think of new ideas and resources to create excitement for the tech savvy student today. According to McHugh (2005), kids are bombarded by media. They're completely high tech, and they don't know a different way. When you hand them a book, they're going to say, 'Is this all there is'? Students today are communicating through many different media forums so it's inevitable classroom use of these same technologies has increased in the classroom.
One of the most popular uses of technology by students in their personal life is the iPod. The iPod has become more than a simple music player with their increased storage amounts, internet access and ease of use. It's not surprising that innovative progressive schools today are now embracing the iPod as a tool for learning. There are numerous free applications which can be downloaded to the iPod Touch that can be incorporated for classroom usage. The applications are available to a variety of skill levels to meet the needs of many different student age groups. A few examples include spelling games, letter and number forming, word building and number recognition. For example, students can practice a math lesson by using a flash card application in which the teacher can record. When the student is finished, the results can be sent to the Smart Board for review by the teacher and then replayed on iPod for the student to listen. Students are really amazed when you play back to them how they sound while reading a selected passage. It really opens their eyes because many of them have never heard their voices recorded before. The students then become their own teacher because they can physically hear the mistakes they are making while reading. Duehn, Mackey, Appel, and Kremer(2010, pg 2
Research is the number reason students have chosen internet technology to aid them in them in their classroom endeavors. When obscure information is needed and the student library doesn't have the necessary material, the internet becomes an invaluable tool for the student. Students have access to resource library material in their home through the internet giving sources and qualified information not available just a few years ago. The possibilities for research are limitless.
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Classroom websites are increasingly being utilized by students through supervision of the teacher with many different web tools utilized. Students might have to check teacher homework blogs or forums for the next day assignment or simply post poems or short essays to an accessible page on the classroom website. Some students are even working with the computer html language or school web-tools to create their own website when given a password to add their page to a classroom. The password gives them secure access which allows them to only access their page, making other district web pages secure. Through the password, the teacher can determine which tools the student can access. The student could potentially have access to edit the class web site which includes a monitored classroom blog, forum, word processor and scrapbook page but not have access rights to the class homepage, calendar, or homework posting page. This provides a great resource for everyone with high level security for everyone.
Technology is changing by the hour and we are exposed to it in all aspects of our daily life. The amount of information at our fingertips, the ease of use, and the speed technology is provided is staggering. It is becoming impossible for education to ignore many different applications in which can be beneficial to the district, school, teacher and student.