Why is Technology Important in K-12 Education?
It seems odd to me to write a paper about the importance of technology in education. While there may still be skeptics within the field of education, I would imagine that most people would agree that a technology rich environment enhances a child's education at least to some degree. Even teachers who are reluctant to infuse technology into their lesson plans would have to see the merit of students using technology consistently in classrooms. Most of the recent research articles I've read on technology and classroom learning conclude not only that there is an increase in student achievement in technology rich classroom environments, but also an increase in student motivation, especially among at risk students. One of the most important reasons to use technology in the classroom is simply that it mirrors work in the "real world." Most jobs require employees to have technology skills of varying degrees. These employers would not necessarily be willing to train people who do not have the appropriate skills. During times of economic downturns and instability, our students will have to compete for jobs. To acquire technology skills necessary for the workplace, students need to use technology consistently, not just one semester of one year of high school during technology class. If this is the only time they are given the opportunity to use technology, their skills will surely suffer. If our role as educators is to prepare our students for life after school, we need to do all we can to ensure they will be competitive in the workplace. Providing students with the opportunity to not only use but to also expand these skills across all content areas is essential to ensuring solid technology skills. Students going on to college also need to have technology skills to meet the demands of college courses. I'm not even sure if a student can register for courses without internet access. With more and more courses offered on line, students without these skills will certainly be at a disadvantage. One of the most important advantages of the technology rich classroom is the access it affords to information. At the most basic level, access to on line dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and other resource material puts current resource material in the hands of each student (no more sharing of one or two dictionaries for an entire class or using an encyclopedia from 1973!). The wealth of information, primary source materials, and variety of perspectives available on the internet is mind boggling to say the least. The ability to compare and synthesize information from a variety of perspectives within a matter of minutes is invaluable in the social studies classroom. Analyzing a current event from the perspective of countries around the world was impossible without internet access. In contrast, the information available at most schools libraries seems miniscule at best. Having students conduct research via the internet calls into question the efficiency of accessing information. I've had the experience of having students do library research for a project. Our trip to the school's library was not very successful, so I ordered a bus and we headed off to a city with a larger and much better library. We were there for 3 hours. Back in the classroom the next day, many students needed additional information. We were all rather frustrated with the whole process which seemed like a colossal waste of time. Due to the time constraints most teachers are under, consistently allowing this kind of time to do research is simply not feasible. The internet affords my students the luxury of being able to regularly conduct research for projects and papers. More time can be spent working with information rather than finding information. Some may argue that there is so much information available on the internet that it could be...
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