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From Textbooks to Tablets: the Benefits and Drawback of Educational Technology

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Technology plays a big role in our lives today. Almost all industries from science, medicine, transport, health, etc are using technology to make our lives better and easier. In education, the old way of learning where students spent hours in the library doing research, for example, is coming to an end thanks to technology. Through educational technology, learning is moving from the traditional use of textbooks and blackboards to digital form. If you’re not conversant with educational technology it is the use of tools such as the internet, smartphones, laptops, education software or tablets to improve learning and teaching. This mode of education has many benefits. In this article, I’ll show you some benefits of introducing technology in classrooms for both teachers and students.

Advantages of Educational Technology

It promotes flexible learning. Students are often given timetables indicating the time different lessons will be held. If a student is unable to attend a class they miss out on what is taught and often have a difficult time catching up. With educational technology, students can access lessons or assignments at any time they want. So if their not able to attend a lesson for whatever reason they can get the teachers notes later on and study by themselves. Also if they attend a lesson but don’t understand parts of what was taught they can review the lesson after school from the comfort of their dorm or at home. This way leaning continues way after school hours.

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It gives students access to vast amounts of information. The internet has lots of information on any topic you can think about. As a teacher, you can research online to prepare the most recent and useful information for your students. Also, you don’t have to do all the work. After a class, you can ask your students to do more research on what you taught. Through educational technology, they’ll be able to easily access studies, newspapers, scientific papers and other forms of content online. The information they get by maybe doing a single Google search can help them better internalize what you taught, and write better academic papers because they have good sources to back their arguments.

It makes it easier for parents to follow their child’s school progress. Teachers always encourage parents to pay a keen interest in their child’s progress at school. A school can make it easier for them to do this by using educational technology. Through putting in place online systems busy parents can go to a class website and see what their child is working on, contact teachers via email and so on. Education technology also enables a teacher to more efficiently keep track of their students’ progress. For example, you don’t have to have a student file for everyone in your class. Instead of creating a file for each student which can be very time consuming, there are many tools online that you can use to track the progress of all your students.

It saves the school money. Many schools have budget constraints. So they may, for example, have difficulty buying textbooks for students or the cost of updating them regularly may be too expensive. But if you invest in educational technology you can save your school money. By buying e-readers for students for instance you can eliminate the need to buy or update textbooks. Other ways you can save money is by communicating via email instead of printing numerous memos or assignment copies. School field trips can also be expensive but with virtual reality, you don’t have to pay hefty amounts for students to physically go to learning locations. They can experience a place right in their classroom.

It helps automate tedious school tasks. Grading students tests is another time-consuming exercise for teachers. This process can be automated freeing up the teachers time to do other activities. Automating student assessment can also give you a more clear indication of how they are performing. For example, there are online tools that students can use to take a test and they’ll tell you how much time they spent answering a question. With the information, you get you can tell if a student needs help and if they do offer it in a timely and effective manner. The tools can also help you assess the overall class performance or compare test results with other schools. Doing this process manually can be a herculean task that you want to avoid.

Educational technology enables customized learning. One of the best benefits of educational technology is that it allows the teacher to customize learning according to students’ needs. This is great because students don’t all learn the same way. Some are quick to grasp new concepts and others take considerable time before they internalize a thought. When you analyze your students using technology you can create guided exercises that suit them and enabling them to learn at their own pace without being left behind by their peers.

It encourages individual learning. Schools that offer educational technology enable students to not only rely on their teacher to learn. For example, a student can skip ahead if they find a particular subject easy or review hard lessons without consulting their teacher. Also if a student misses a class they don’t have to ask for a makeup lesson, they can independently study what was taught while they were away because they can access the learning material online, and only consult the teacher if they have any questions.

It prepares students for the future. As I stated at the start of this article technology pretty much runs our lives today and that is not going to change. So the earlier students get used to working with technology the better. When they complete school they will not have a problem fitting in jobs that are largely technology-based. They will, for example, have learned to collaborate and communicate using technology making their work much easier.

Teachers can create exciting ways to learn. Many people went through school when textbooks, chalk, and a blackboard were the only tools used for teaching. Some still do, but that method of learning isn’t interesting. I’m sure many students minds wandered off as the teacher talks and writes on the blackboard and they usually can’t wait for the lesson to end. Using technology a teacher can now use images, videos, powerpoint presentations and so on to deliver a lesson. By doing this they will keep their students interested and engaged. As a teacher, you should experiment with different forms of technology to find out how your students enjoy learning. Research shows that students who enjoy what they are studying are more likely to remember what they are taught.

Technology makes distance learning possible. Today you could be in Canada and study for your degree or masters virtually from some of the best universities across the world. Also, if you want to develop your skills in a particular area you can sign up for a course on online platforms that offer virtual lectures like Udemy and learn new skills. This mode of learning saves students money because it would be much more expensive if they had to travel to a location to study.

It encourages collaboration. With technology, students can be able to work together more efficiently and get class projects done much faster. For example, by simply logging into their virtual learning portal they can discuss assignments, share documents, assign tasks or set deadlines for each of their tasks. And the good thing is the collaboration can be done by students in the same class, school or from around the world.

Educational technology can help protect the environment

A major concern for many today is how fast we are depleting our natural resources. As a teacher, you can help save the environment in your small way. How? Imagine the number of trees that would be saved if teachers around the world decided to use digital textbooks? The reduced use of textbook would save millions of trees. So you can start saving our trees by introducing digital books in your classrooms. You can see there are many benefits of educational technology. I could have listed more but that would make this article too long, and am sure you also want to know if using technology has any disadvantages. Well, there are a few.

Disadvantages of Using Educational Technology

Technology Can Be Unreliable

This is one of the major cons of technology because a Wi-fi connection can become unavailable, programs can hang, computers can breakdown or malfunction and so on. When this happens the smooth running of learning is interrupted. For example, if a computer malfunctions a student can lose their assignment that they spent hours working on. This can result in high-stress levels.

It Can Result in Poor Studying Habits

Technology makes a vast amount of information available at the click of a button. Because of this, some students may not see the need to study hard or they can choose to skip school because they can Google to find what is taught online. Another example is instead of working on their spelling they can continue to misspell words and use spell checking tool. This poor studying habits can result in them failing when they take classroom exams without any form of technology.

It Can Be Used in the Wrong Way

Everybody these days is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. There have been concerns that many students are addicted to these platforms and instead of using the technology you give them to study they might spend more time checking their social media feeds. Another concern about using technology in school is that students may easily access pornography or other inappropriate material. This problem could get worse if such content is shared among students in a class. To avoid the wrong use of educational technology you can set and enforce rules on how to use technology in class.

Students May Rely on Wrong Information

There is a lot of information on the internet that is not true and students may use this information believing it is credible. So as a teacher you must show students how to verify what they get online or they could be learning the wrong thing.

Technology May Not Be Affordable to All

Some schools struggle to even pay their teachers, asking them to embrace educational technology may not be something they can afford. Students also come from different financial backgrounds. For some of them, their parents may not be in a position to buy them a laptop to do their school work. So cost is a major concern when it comes to implementing educational technology.

Conclusion

Educational technology has its advantages and disadvantages but one thing is certain it is the future of education. So as a teacher or school administrator you have to figure out ways to tackle the disadvantages of educational technology and implement this mode of learning. Once you do that teaching will not only be much easier and fun, but you’ll also be able to save the school money and most importantly improve the students learning process.

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