Connected Classrooms

2/7/2013

In a world where toddlers are choosing media tablets over shape sorters and tweens are getting iPhones for Christmas, it is only logical that technology would become an integral part of this generation’s education. And, according to a growing number of educators, that is actually a good thing.

According to a recent survey of more than 500 teachers from PBS LearningMedia, www.pbslearningmedia.org, three-quarters of respondents associated technology with a growing list of educational benefits. For example, more than 70% of surveyed teachers said technology enables them to reinforce and expand on content, motivate students to learn, and respond to a variety of learning styles. Seven in 10 teachers also said technology allows them to “do much more than ever before” for their students.

How are today’s teachers integrating technology into the classroom? Almost half (48%) of teachers in the PBS survey reported using online lesson plans, and just under half (45%) use technology to give students access to Web-based educational games or activities. The surveyed teachers also reported using online video, images, and articles for classroom instruction. In fact, 65% said technology allows them to demonstrate lessons they wouldn’t be able to show in any other way.


Although more than two-thirds (68%) of the teachers expressed a desire for more classroom technology, it seems many of today’s classrooms already have access to a variety of digital platforms to support instruction. Ninety percent of teachers surveyed said they have access to at least one PC or laptop for their classrooms, and six in 10 teachers (59%) have access to an interactive whiteboard.

Not surprisingly, tablets and ereaders saw the biggest increase among technology platforms available for classroom instruction. More than one-third (35%) of teachers surveyed said they have access to a tablet or ereader in their classroom—up from just 20% a year ago. Among teachers with access to tablets, 71% cited the use of educational applications as the most beneficial for teaching, followed by educational Websites (64%) and educational ebooks/textbooks (60%).

The PBS survey results come just in time for the nation’s second annual Digital Learning Day on February 6, another indication that educators across the country are embracing the use of technology in the classroom. The national campaign celebrates how digital learning is positively changing education. Last year, tens of thousands of teachers representing 2 million students participated in the first inaugural Digital Learning Day.

As a society, we have often pigeonholed technology as a nothing more than a distraction for today’s school-aged children, so it is refreshing to see educators embracing—and promoting—the learning benefits of technology. Of course, no one is promoting Facebook chats and Angry Birds marathons in the middle of history class, but it isn’t hard to see the value of taking a virtual tour of the Great Pyramid or hearing the great words of Martin Luther King, Jr. on demand. With that type of paradigm shift, tomorrow’s connected classrooms have the potential to be more than just digital; they can be dynamic.





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