The Role of Technology in the Classroom

April 30, 2015

Educators are often thought of as lifelong learners. That lifetime of learning will certainly see trends in education come and go. The advances in technology that have happened in the classroom over the last 15 years have created new journeys, challenges and ideas for the future of education. That leads us to the question, “What is the role of technology in the classroom?”

Schools must prepare students for future grades and ultimately, living independently as working adults. The necessary skills to accomplish these goals cannot all be taught in secondary and postsecondary institutions. Therefore, we must consider this challenge as a modern day teacher might, with a backwards design. When this happens in the classroom, the teacher determines the end goals for the students, develops tasks that will teach the necessary skills to reach those goals and moves forward with the end goals in mind. In this same manner, we must help students develop 21st-century skills, beginning in elementary school.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization established with the help of the National Education Association, is trying to influence educators to expand from the traditional three Rs approach to a more dynamic approach that includes technology. In addition to the core subjects that have always been taught, this organization advocates for 21st-century readiness by encouraging schools to incorporate the four Cs: communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. These progressive skills are areas that have been reported as lacking in the workplace.

The integration of technology includes the use of websites, apps, television, phones, gaming devices, cameras and more. The position statement published by The Fred Rogers Center and the National Association for the Education of Young Children discusses the benefits of teachers using technology intentionally and appropriately, rather than passively. Further, it states, “Children’s experiences with technology and interactive media are increasingly part of the context of their lives, which must be considered as part of the developmentally appropriate framework.”

At Oak Hill School, we work hard to help students reach their academic and holistic goals. We realize that the use of technology is a topic that families view differently. Just as Catherine Steiner-Adair writes in her book The Big Disconnect, we must always strive for balance in order to preserve the family’s sustainability. This balance should also be an important goal for educators. Technology, like any other tool an educator uses, should be integrated into a lesson only when it will enhance the teaching or learning experience.

Teachers have a responsibility to their students to prepare them for future learning environments. Whether it’s participating in a world-wide reading project like The Global Read Aloud or joining millions of students around the world to learn to write lines of code for The Hour of Code, students need teachers who value 21st-century skills. Just like the role of the teacher in the classroom, the role of technology in education is constantly changing.

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