For some educators, technology is a four-lettered word. From finding funding for new tech to implementing those solutions, the process can be fraught with complications. However, in the 21st century, educators need to understand the benefits of technology in the classroom — their students’ future careers depend on it.
How important is technology in education today?
To put it simply, technology is extremely important in education today, and there are a few key reasons that make it imperative for teachers to know how to incorporate technology in the classroom:
- More and more jobs require technological knowledge. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2012 more than half of all jobs required some level of technology skills. It’s projected that by 2020, the number will reach 77%. In other words, in less than a year, three out of four jobs in the U.S. will require at least some level of computer proficiency, and a good number of those will necessitate much more advanced technological knowledge.
- Students crave technology. In McGraw-Hill Education’s fourth annual Digital Study Trends Survey, an overwhelming majority of students stated that digital learning technology positively affected their schoolwork (e.g., aiding concept retention and improving grades). In fact, 53% of students surveyed responded that they prefer classes that use technological tools.
- Technology can actually save schools — and students — money. With textbook prices increasing faster than the rate of inflation and tuition, technology solutions are becoming increasingly more affordable. While a textbook might cost $100–$700, there are thousands of affordable, digital solutions that provide just as much information with even more flexibility at a lower price point. Plus, there are plenty of free options available!
- It can increase a course’s efficiency. One of the biggest benefits of technology in the classroom is that it frees up educators’ time. Instead of focusing on grading assignments or creating lectures, educators have the flexibility to choose how they want to teach. Maybe that involves starting online discussion forums. Perhaps it involves flipping the classroom and facilitating in-class projects. Technology isn’t a teacher replacement; instead, it gives educators the power to choose the teaching methods that work best for them and their students.
Does technology belong in the classroom?
If you look at the e-learning market, it’s evident that technology is in the classroom, whether it belongs there or not. According to Docebo’s E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014-2016 Report
, the e-learning market saw a 7.9% annual growth rate from 2012-2016. And that trend is only looking up. The U.S., in particular, has spent more money on self-paced e-learning than anywhere else in the world.
But the real reason technology belongs in the classroom is because it’s in the workplace. In 2015, the U.S. technology industry added nearly 200,000 net jobs, employing more than 6.7 million people, according to Comptia’s Cyberstates 2016 report
. The report showed that 46 states had an overall net increase in tech industry jobs in 2015, with U.S. tech industry workers earning approximately $53,000 more annually than average private sector employees. But even non-technical jobs often rely on technology.
Students need technology skills in order to be competitive in the workplace. The question shouldn’t be “does technology belong in the classroom.” Instead, educators should ask themselves if they’re preparing their students for 21st century jobs.
What types of technology can be used in the classroom?
One of the biggest benefits of technology in the classroom is that it gives teachers the flexibility to find the right solutions for their teaching style and subject matter. To start narrowing down the playing field, check out this list of edtech categories:
- Computers, laptops, and tablets: More and more schools are incorporating computers, laptops, and tablets into the classroom. Students can conduct research, take notes, write papers, watch online tutorials, play educational games, and much more. And with the influx of educational apps, the options are truly limitless, one of the top benefits of technology in the classroom.
- Websites, blogs, and wikis: The primary way teachers use blogs and websites is to post assignments or class information. This way, students have one, centralized location where they can find assignments, notes, resources, and more. Furthermore, some teachers create online forums where students can ask each other questions or have online discussions. Creating a class wiki is a great way for students to collaboratively work on projects and build a library of helpful resources.
- Mobile devices: Mobile learning, also called “m-learning,” is becoming increasingly popular in classrooms and makes it easier than ever to incorporate technology in the classroom. While it might seem like a crazy idea to encourage the use of mobile devices in school, smartphones are a great alternative to purchasing laptops or tablets for every student in the class. There are hundreds of educational apps that allow students to post questions, view homework assignments, and access course materials.
- Smartboards: These touch screen alternatives to the traditional whiteboard give teachers the ability to display visual images and manipulate those images. Students can interact with the board, drawing, writing, or moving objects. Smartboards come in a variety of sizes, making it easy to experience the benefits of technology in the classroom.
- Online media: Using online streaming media — like YouTube, Netflix, or SolidProfessor — can visually display what you’re lecturing about. For example, if you’re trying to show how mates work in SOLIDWORKS, simply project a SolidProfessor video at the front of the class or assign the video for students to watch on their own time. This saves time explaining the concept and gives students a strong visual to help them better understand the material.
- Online study tools: The internet is chock-full of study guides and handy products like the Dynamic Periodic Table. The benefits of technology in the classroom include being able to give your students a plethora of resources so they can find what works best with their learning style.
This is just a general list to help you determine how to incorporate technology in the classroom. If you have any questions about the benefits of technology in the classroom or how to choose the right tools for you, please reach out to our academic specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do students prefer technology in the classroom?
Overwhelming, the answer is “yes,” students do prefer technology in the classroom. The McGraw-Hill Education’s fourth annual Digital Study Trends Survey
analyzed how more than 1,000 U.S. students responded to questions about technology in the classroom. Here are some of the top findings:
- 94% of surveyed students stated that digital learning technology has helped them retain new concepts. More than half of the students responded that technology in the classroom helped them better understand concepts they didn’t know.
- 60% of students explained that digital learning technology improved their grades. And one-fifth of respondents stated that it “significantly” improved their grades.
- 82% of survey respondents reported using laptops for homework assignments, in contrast to the 59% using print materials.
STEM students in particular touted the benefits of technology in the classroom. The report explains that 72% of respondents in physical sciences, 65% of respondents in biological sciences, and 64% of students in engineering, math, and computer science saw an improvement in grades with the use of technology.
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