Use of technology in classroomsDo you think teachers and schools use technology well in the classroom? What kind of technology is available in your classroom? Do teachers seem willing to experiment...

Use of technology in classrooms

Do you think teachers and schools use technology well in the classroom? What kind of technology is available in your classroom? Do teachers seem willing to experiment with technology to make lessons more interactive for students?

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mwmovr40 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Use of technology in classrooms

Do you think teachers and schools use technology well in the classroom? What kind of technology is available in your classroom? Do teachers seem willing to experiment with technology to make lessons more interactive for students?

 

This is a difficult question to apply a global answer.  Within my own district I have several teachers in the elementary buildings who have a lot of technology available (computers, smart boards, projectors, dvd, etc..) but have no clear understanding of how to incorporate that technology into meaningful lessons.  In their instances it is a waste and the money spent could have been better applied.  On the other hand, I know several high school teachers who have developed very careful lesson plans that utilize technology to help students think and problem solve.  I guess it is like many other things: there needs to be the desire on the part of the teacher to develop a professional growth plan to master the use of technology as it applies to their subject area.

I am concerned on a more general level about the use of technology for two reasons.  First is what I call the "calculator effect".  Calculators were introduced back in the late 70's when I was just graduating from high school.  Granted, only the rich kids had them, but that is when they started.  I have watched as various math groups have heralded the calculator as the cure for all that ails us in mastering mathematics in America.  No more boring calculations, no more mindless memorization of math facts and so on.  Forty years later, America is one of the worst performing nations in math.  Go to any graduate school in Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, or Math and you will see that we are woefully behind other nations in our ability to do math at all levels.  The calculator didn't cure anything and there are a lot of people running around who can't add.  The technology cured nothing and made things worse in many ways.  Don't get me wrong: I am not anti-calculator and I have my students use them in my science classes, but it breaks my heart every time I see someone reach for a calculator to multiply by 10.  I am afraid that as we use more and more technology to do other disciplines we will see less and less ability at original thinking and writing as students simply learn to find what someone else has already done.  If the technology is misapplied as it has been with calculators we will see a terrible decline in our intellectual abilities.

The second issue I have with technology is the "student driven curriculum".  I went to a meeting where a "teacher of the year" was telling how she uses computer and video technology in her classroom to motivate students to learn.  Their goal is to make a documentary about a topic.  She proceeded to tell us how the topic was suppose to be The Underground Railroad around the Civil War.  However, as kids were using the Internet to research it they found out that Tootsie Roll candies are made in an abandoned underground railroad factory outside of Chicago so the kids decided that was much more interesting and did their video documentary on Tootsie Rolls.  Kids had fun, made an interesting video, but learned nothing about the Underground Railroad.  In the grand scheme of our culture, which is more important to understand?  The "teacher of the year" argued that they will learn about the importance of the Underground Railroad when they get older and are more interested in it.  Maybe.  Or more likely they will end up not learning about an important part of our nations history and the impact it has had on race relations.

That's enough.  I have climbed down from my soapbox.

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schulzie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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A computer is like any other teaching tool.  In the hands of the right teacher, tremendous lessons can take place, but in the hands of a person who does not know the program or its potential, it is useless. It really depends upon how much experience and comfort the teacher has with the computer and with the program.  Teachers who are not comfortable with computers at home or even in their classroom chores (attendance and grades) will not venture to use the computers with their students.  If they do, it very possibly will result in an ineffectual lesson.  In my opinion, there is not enough time given to teachers to learn and experiment with technology.  They are taught the program and sent right back into the classroom.  I know that they have the best of intentions of working with the technology, but they have to do it on their own time, and they just don't have that time.  Teachers who do play with the technology and get to know it, embrace it, and the students are  the benefactors.  Buying computers does not mean that a school will be successful.  They have to be used to move the students forward, not just keep them entertained.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

A timely post.

My daughter just entered 9th grade and this semester, they have done a complete turn-around on Smartphones in school.  Students now are allowed to use them during passing periods to surf the web or text, but not talk. They are allowed in the classroom if the teacher deems them necessary for that period's instruction. Just last Spring, in my daughter's jr high, all phones were confiscated if they were seen, regardless of whether they were in use. The parent would then have to pay $15 for its return.

Personally, I teach college. While laptops and phones can be distracting, I do allow them and often find it helpful. For example, I was asking about a particular quote and just had a student look it up. Took seconds.

And as I type much more quickly than I write, I understand a students' desires to take note on a laptop.

Grading has changed dramatically. I still do not let go of a paper log, but now students can easily check their standing in my class by accessing Blackboard (or similar online systems).

The other day, an overhead projector was left in my class. I cannot even imagine having to fool with transparencies any longer. Seems as archaic as carbon paper!

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think this question really depends a lot on individual teachers. In my last college where I worked, heavy investment was made in technology, using Interactive Whiteboards and also creating a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). However, the extent to which such features were exploited depended on each teacher. I have to say, the majority of teachers used the white boards as if they were normal white boards, not really using any of the special features. However, the students did really appreciate those that did use technology.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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It seems to me that technology should be able to provide an additional component to a lesson that wasn't previously there if it is going to be used. For example, I have a teacher website that I am seriously proud of. My students' parents can download assignments, my students can find enriching videos and valuable resources that I previously just could not produce. The act of leaving a book at school or an assignment in a locker is easily overcome because of the site I regularly update.

Now, as for the airliner device that is in my classroom, it seems really cool. But, I have had 5 different trainings and still can't use it in a way that improves my teaching or makes me more efficient. This is really a waste of taxpayer dollars on me. Some teachers use them well, but in my discipline it is tough to find a reason for it.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I would have loved to have been able to use technology a great deal more when I was teaching middle school social science. I could imagine all kinds of opportunities for students to become involved in research of issues and topics. I would have loved to connect with classes in other parts of the country or in other parts of the world to exchange ideas and reactions and to develop awareness of how things are done differently in other places.

The challenge lies in having the tools available. My school had three class-sized computer labs, but the sign-up priorities went to technology exploratory classes first, math and language arts classes second, and others as time was available. I used the overhead projector connected to my computer to share with the class a a whole all the time, but there were many activities that just weren't possible if they couldn't be done with every student in front of his/her own equipment.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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I definitely agree with one of the previous posts that mentions how technology is used more often by younger teachers. Older teachers have more trouble (or are less willing) to adapt to newer technological advancements, primarily because it takes them out of their comfort zone. I definitely like the Smartboards in use in many schools, and I think students take to them (and computer monitors) far more enthusiastically than books, overheads and chalkboards.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I love using technology in the classroom. Students today are so tech savvy, and using technology all the time, that it would be hard for a teacher to keep their attention longer than 15 minutes (typical listening length before shutting off if no change-up). I use technology to show historical maps of the period, readings of classical works (getting ready to listen to "The Wanderer" in Old English), and researching surnames for one unit.

I take advantage of the technology my school provides me with- use it or lose it!!

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think there is a great deal of money wasted on technology that does not get used.  I have seen countless Smartboards and LCD projectors go unused.  I think it has more to do with teacher comfort level and the nature of the technology than anything else.  I have technology, but I have to set everything up every time I want to use it and it's very cumbersome, so sometimes I find myself asking: is it worth it?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think technology is generally overrated, at least for history and social sciences (what I teach).  I think that we get to be in love with the idea that the newest technology is the one that will suddenly and magically make all students interested in all lessons.  While technology has some value, I am not completely convinced that it is worth the amount of money that it costs.  Technology can help us get interesting pictures and graphics and such to put up as a supplement to our discussions, but it cannot change the fundamental dynamic of teaching.  It cannot take a bad lesson and make it good.  It cannot get the attention of most (any?) students who do not already have an interest in the lesson.

So, I guess I would say that teachers tend to use technology pretty well in my discipline.  However, I do not think that technology (at the level that is affordable to most districts) is a "game-changer" that can revolutionize education.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I think it really depends on which school district you work in.  It's hard to find a school without at least internet access and a computer lab anymore, but I think it varies wildly district to district beyond that.  Teachers quite quickly, I have found, become fluent in whatever technology is available to them, although I have also found that is in inverse proportion to the number of years they have been teaching.  Old habits die hard, new technology can be intimidating to teachers that started when there were chalkboards and microfiche.

A district on the west side of my state is in Bill Gates' neighborhood.  The school, of course, has plenty of levy cash, and is wired to the gills.  Closer to my school is another district that is in a high poverty area that still has issues with interoffice email.

But to answer your question, I do think that teachers use technology well overall.  We have some smartboards, digital projectors, T1 lines and four computer labs, but I think we're behind the curve on both new technology and replacement technology.

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peti | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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i agree. i think it can be very exciting and it increased the student's motivation for learning. But it need a lot of money and of course new teachers. old teachers probably have some problem with technology.

Today, technology entered all around our life, and i think it's the time that classrooms deal with new technologys too. 

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