There is a very good possibility that you are currently reading this article using modern technology such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Our society is fully immersed in the digital age. If you think back to your school days twenty, thirty, or even forty or more years ago, your primary sources of learning were most likely items of print media such as books, pamphlets, magazines, and newspapers. Kids today, however; have the ability to take advantage of the largest collection of information and learning resources in the entire world – otherwise known as the World Wide Web or the internet. These days the internet, and associated technologies, are quickly becoming the number one source of learning resources for parents, teachers, and students. To prove this point, a number of schools have begun to implement the following technology based learning strategies in the classroom, even locally in schools such as Owings Mills Elementary in Owings Mills and Franklin Elementary in Reisterstown.
1) Smart Boards – Who remembers overhead projectors? You know, those large bulky projectors that teachers would wheel out and when they began writing you would hear the distinct squeaking of the markers on the plastic film used to project the lessons? Well, to the modern student, they are so 1985! Today, schools are using an amazing piece of technology called smart boards. They are the electronic version of a dry erase board, however they allow students and teachers to become much more interactive with the lessons and they give the teacher additional tools to use in their lesson plan. Although they have been used in the business world for a few years now, they are becoming increasingly more popular in schools. Check them out in action by visiting your child’s classroom (if they have one) or at local stores like Office Depot in Owings Mills.
2) Video Announcements – There’s no denying the ever growing popularity of video. Video is a fantastic way to stimulate visual learners who may not respond to audio or repetition learning alone. From sites like YouTube and Vimeo and the availability of high quality video recorders, shooting and sharing videos with family, friends, and classmates has become easier than ever. This trend has also carried over in many schools. Instead of voice announcements over the loud speaker in the morning, schools are engaging their students and faculty by having them participate in video announcements. After all, it is much more fun to be able to hear AND see all the action.
3) Video Games – Many years ago when video games systems such as Atari, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo they were viewed by parents and educators as fun hobby that could negatively affect a child’s focus and ability to learn if played excessively. Now, while excessive playing is still a concern, adults are beginning to see the value in using video games as a learning tool. Much in the same way that educational TV shows such as Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer has helped teach and reinforce basic phonics and math skills to millions of children. Educators have realized that popular games like Minecraft can help engage and excite students when used in conjunction with curriculum based lessons.
4) Internet Based Learning – When our generation was younger and needed to research something for school we would use our encyclopedias, now however students have Wikipedia. And unlike expensive encyclopedia sets, Wikipedia provides information for any topic under the sun for free. In addition, educators also recommend You Tube tutorials and specialized learning sites such as ABCmouse.com to learn a variety of skills including math facts and sight words.
5) Computer Integration – A few short years ago most schools were offering basic computer classes to its students however very few were actually integrating computer instruction with other classroom subjects until now. It is becoming increasingly more common to use computers in every class and not just for computer science courses. In fact, some area schools are beginning to institute programs which provide each student with their own classroom computer. Consequently, children are learning about computer software and hardware at a much younger age and it is not uncommon for a kindergartener to be familiar with basic computer operation.
While many people would prefer to go back to the time of pencil and paper, schools must adapt their curriculum to prepare their students for the future in which they will inherit. The fact is that people these days are more familiar with font styles than they are with cursive writing and justifiably so. Technology is all around us and affects everything we do – from our banking transactions to our shopping habits to the way in which we interact with our family and friends. When used properly technology is an extremely effective way of gaining knowledge. And as you know knowledge is power!