What Is Educational Technology?
Educational technology is a systematic application of relevant technological processes and resources in teaching, with a goal to improve students’ performance. It involves a disciplined approach to identifying the needs of students, applying technology in instructions, and tracking their performance.
Many people are wondering: what do you mean by educational technology? There are many definitions of the concept, mainly because every educator implements technology in a unique way. If we tried to come up with a simple definition, the one we presented above would be it.
First of all, EdTech is a systematic approach. What does this mean? An educator cannot pick random tools and use them with random goals in the classroom. There still is a curriculum to follow.
Relevant technological processes and resources. This means that the processes and resources must be relevant to the curriculum goals and milestones. EdTech also has a purpose: to improve the performance of the students. Every tool and method that’s being introduced in the classroom should be driven by that goal.
Finally, EdTech also requires the educator to have a disciplined approach to revealing the needs of the students. Those needs will help them determine the relevant technology to apply in the classroom. All results must be tracked, so the teacher will know how effective their methods are. If the students are not achieving good results after implementing a specific tool, the teacher should search for a better one.
Not every teacher is ready to start using EdTech in their teaching methods. That’s exactly why universities are offering programs related to educational technology, so the upcoming generations of teachers will be ready to meet all needs of modern students. As for the current generations of teachers, they have a responsibility to upgrade their skills.
Why Is Technology Important in Education?
Now that we got a clear definition of the concept, let’s focus on another angle: what is the importance of technology in education? There are multiple reasons why all teachers should start introducing tech tools into their classrooms. Let’s list few of them.
The Students Demand It
These students NEED technology in the classroom. Just like previous generations of students needed colorful textbooks and we provided that for them, we have to respect the needs of modern students, too.
They are engaging with technology outside the classroom on a daily basis. They want to use their parents’ smartphones and tablets. They know how to play their favorite songs on YouTube. Technology is part of their lifestyle and they love it. As teachers, we have to respect that inclination. In fact, we can use it to our advantage.
When we introduce technology in the classroom, we’re using something they like. They will easily get engaged in the learning process. Technology is making learning more fun and accessible for today’s students.
New Teachers Are Demanding It, Too
The education of the latest generations of teachers has one significant twist: they are being taught how to use EdTech in their classrooms. They know how to use technology in many useful ways. Technology is making their jobs easier. It helps them assess the knowledge of their students as objectively as possible. It also helps them keep the entire class engaged.
New teachers know how to use technology to their advantage. They want to use it. The rest of us have to follow the trends. Since EdTech is now considered a necessity, we have to implement it.
They Have to Learn How to Use It
Technology is everywhere. High-school, college and university students have to know how to use the Internet to complete projects. When they hit the job market, the employers will demand these skills.
As a teacher, you have a responsibility to make your students responsible digital citizens. Responsible use of technology starts in the classroom.
Technology Improves the Learning Experience
What are the roles of educational technology in learning? This would be the clearest answer: it improves the learning experience. Stanford researchers found that when teachers implement technology properly, they can improve the learning processes and close the achievement gaps between the students. The same report showed that replacing teachers with technology is not a successful method. The students still need their teachers. However, pairing teachers with technology is currently the best method of providing high-quality education for students.
One of the biggest reasons to start using technology in the classroom is as simple as it gets: it will improve the learning experience for the students. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Testing Went Online
It’s a protocol that you, as a teacher, can’t control. Your students will take standardized tests that demand proper computer skills. Online testing has tons of advantages. The students can see their scores in real-time, and it’s easier for the teachers to track their performance.
When you start introducing fun online tests in the classroom, you’ll be preparing your students for the standardized tests. They will get used to the environment, so they won’t be overwhelmed by the big tests when it’s time for them.
How Does Technology Affect Education?
Does technology improve education? That’s the big question we have to answer. If it doesn’t improve education to a great extent, is it even worth trying?
The answer is yes, it improves education to a great extent. Let’s be specific: how can technology improve education?
EdTech Keeps Students Engaged
When teachers are using technology effectively, it will keep the students engaged in the learning process. That’s exactly what a study published in the British Journal of Educational Technology showed. The study doesn’t neglect the importance of the teacher. In fact, the researchers state that “when professors have more ‘sophisticated’ conceptions of teaching, it is more likely that they use instructional strategies that result in student learning and active engagement in the process.”
When teachers decide to use technology, the preparation process has to go beyond technological competence. They have to analyze the needs of their students and pick the right tools for specific tasks, tests and goals.
Since students are mesmerized with technology, we can find a way to use it with the purpose to boost the engagement.
Technology Helps Students Improve Their Results
The flipped classroom is a huge educational trend. When the teacher introduces digital tools to be used outside the classroom, they can use class time for evaluation, discussions, and interactions that matter. They can pay attention to every single student’s achievements and they can personalize the educational process.
The teacher can use different methods to capture the students’ attention and assess their progress. With that approach, we can enhance the learning process.
Students Can Learn at Their Own Pace
The traditional classroom makes that difficult. Today’s students still have to take standardized test and follow a curriculum. However, with the integration of technology in the classroom, they have the option to take things slowly. They can go back to lessons and concepts they don’t understand. They can get online instructions to support the learning process. Those who are advanced can go ahead with the online lessons.
Technology makes learning personalized, and that’s one of its greatest advantages.
Technology Improves the Entire Educational System
How does technology improve education? It makes every piece of information available. Anyone can learn anything. There are absolutely no limitations to what students can learn outside the classroom. If someone wants to become a carpenter, they can’t get the instructions at school. Online lessons, however, will teach them the basics. If an elementary student wants to be a scientist, they can take beginner and advanced science classes online.
When the teacher sets the foundations for responsible use of technology, they are opening the doors to a limitless world of knowledge. We should be proud of that.
That’s another huge advantage. Some of the best ways to enhance the collaboration between students in the classroom are hands-on projects and collaborative learning. Technology supports those processes. The teachers can create a safe online environment where the students can ask questions, discuss different topics, and help each other learn. They can also collaborate on projects without the need to get together outside the classroom. They can connect online.
The collaboration between teachers gets easy, too. Thanks to educational technology, we can learn from the experience of educators from all over the world.
So how does technology help education? Simple; it makes it better. When the teachers introduce EdTech through proper methods, it keeps the students engaged. It makes the evaluation easier. It prepares the students for the future.
Now that we understand the importance of EdTech, we have no other choice but to start using it in the best ways possible. Our students expect that from us. Both teachers and students are the driving force of the educational system. The students tell us what they need, and we find the best ways to provide such knowledge for them.
What do you think? Does technology help education? How? Do you think we’re still not ready for it? Maybe you’re one of the teachers who think technology imposes a huge risk of making students distracted? Share your opinions!