Education technology is growing at a breakneck pace. It seems like every new school year occurs coincides with the release of some revolutionary gadget or bit of software that could enact real change upon the students and teachers of the world.
We’ve Come A Long Way
When I was in school not so long ago, “technology in the classroom” simply referred to the solitary clunker of a PC sitting in the corner of the room. Students could practice their typing skills or play some rudimentary math and spelling games on an OS from the very stone ages of computing. Fast forward a mere decade or so and now there’s a seemingly endless array of high tech education tools that work like magic.
The constant progression of technology has allowed educators to create a classroom that no one could have imagined a few years ago. Students can create, develop, and collaborate with their peers on projects conducted entirely through the web through services like Edmodo and Skype.
Not too long ago the internet was viewed with skepticism by educators who doubted its ability to serve as a proper learning supplement to education. Now the web has been embraced as a key feature of education, no matter the student’s grade level.
A classroom textbook no longer has to be restricted to the page. Remember the high school and college textbooks of your youth? Thick dusty tomes filled with precious information that often intimidated the reader with its sheer size and magnitude.
Now innovations like Apple’s iBooks have arrived to make the experience more interactive by conflating text with technologies familiar with the web generation in a single eBook. These revolutionary developers aren’t trying to dissuade students from reading traditional texts, they’re just supplementing them with audio and visual data that adds to the lesson.
The traditional textbooks are cheaper to come by, too, thanks to technological advancements. Online retailers like Amazon and Chegg have made textbooks much more affordable for the cash-strapped student. By reselling used textbooks still in demand, these sites allow students (and their parents) to side step the outrageously high prices of books. Score another one for technological advancements in education!
The Future Of Education Technology
Of course it will take time for the education system to utilize technology to its fullest potential. There are logistical hurdles to overcome when it comes to education technology, finances being chief among them. Few schools can afford to swap blackboards and standard textbooks for smart boards and iPads, and even fewer have the resources or the time to even consider such measures.
In other words, there’s a serious gulf between the idealistic notion of a tech-savvy education and the steps necessary to make that dream a reality. School-issued tablets and curricula designed around iBooks sound like a dream to some educators, but it will be quite some time before we see anything like that on a large scale.
Save for a few well-funded public institutions, the majority of tech-savvy campuses will remain in charter and private schools.
The trick is making this groundbreaking technology accessible and affordable enough so that kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds can enjoy it to enhance their education.
Nancy Wood is a freelance education writer currently working for Online College Classes. Nancy loves writing about technology in the classroom, and she often muses about what the classroom of tomorrow will look like. Feel free to send some comments her way!