One of the most common things we hear from teachers is a fear that technology will eliminate their jobs and make teachers obsolete. But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Over a two-day summit with some of our esteemed partners, the speakers and attendees emphasized time and time again that teachers are crucial to student success and the relationships they build with students are invaluable.
Many administrators went on to emphasize the importance of integrating technology in the classroom to help make a teacher’s job easier, allowing them to focus even more on those all-important relationships.
Technology is insufficient unless it’s in the hands of a capable teacher.
The Importance of Integrating Technology in the Classroom
Chalkboards, whiteboards, SMART Boards®: we can (and should) give teachers more! We know that budgets are limiting, and most teachers pay for classroom materials from their own pocket, so what more can schools and districts do to enable teachers? Technology is a phenomenal tool for teachers because of its flexibility and potential, and that’s why so many educators tout the importance of integrating technology in the classroom. Want a manipulative to teach math? Done, there’s a three-dimensional representation available for every kid in class. Want a Shakespearean play? No need to run to the copy room, you’ve got it for each of your students on their tablets, laptops, or even smartphones. Technology empowers teachers to present their students with the best, most up-to-date information in real time. As one educator said, “technology is insufficient unless it’s in the hands of a capable teacher.”
Giving Teachers the Gift of Time
Feedback I constantly hear from educators is that there’s not enough time in their day to reach every one of their students on the level they need. Whole-group instruction is great for introducing topics and presenting material the first time, but one-on-one instruction is the best way to identify where students are and address what they need for that particular lesson. Technology allows teachers to personalize lessons for every student and frees up the teacher to do small-group or one-on-one instruction. And it can improve teacher-student relationships! As Becki Smedley of Quest Academy said, “Edgenuity has let me become the teacher that I was supposed to be.”
Edgenuity has let me become the teacher that I was supposed to be.
Provide Student-Centered Learning
Technology allows educators to provide resources to students and personalize their learning, and it also empowers students. Now, students can say, “here’s where I am, and here’s where I need to go,” says Christopher Harrington and Elizabeth LeBlanc of the Institute for Teaching and Leading. And, in summarizing their research on mass customized learning, they pointed out that the “bottom line is that learning should be student-centered.” And that’s the importance of integrating technology in the classroom; technology helps advance student-centered learning by allowing teachers to meet every student right where they are while supporting progress toward grade-level standards.
Make Education Exciting
Keynote speaker and New York Times best-selling author Ron Clark talked about the importance of integrating technology in the classroom and called it the “key” to reinvigorating education. He argued that students benefit when teachers open up and show their vulnerability to students and suggests that teachers go even further and incorporate fun into the classroom. But none of this is possible without the right tools to enhance instruction, and he believes technology is that tool. He said, “Technology is the key. It can make an education revolution happen,” when paired with empowered, passionate teachers who go above and beyond for their students.
Teachers Make It Happen
After countless interviews, candid conversations, and presentations, it’s clear that the educators we heard from are big fans of incorporating technology into classrooms. But they were unanimous in their feeling that technology is only as powerful as the teachers that wield it. Without support from administrators, proper (and ongoing) training, and time to experiment, technology is just another tool that will sit on the shelf. But when educators truly incorporate technology into learning (just as the pencil and chalkboard were incorporated ages ago), it can be one of the most powerful tools to ever enter the classroom, capable of transforming learning for all students.