Using technology in the classroom is about more than preparing students for the workplace or providing the skills industry needs in the future. It is also about using a teaching medium that can reach students. A medium they find relevant and can engage with. I consider those two reasons more important than any other. If a teaching method helps students learn and retain information and engage more, I think that method is worth using.
Of all the reasons to use tech in the classroom, two stand out for me. Engagement and relevance. As you all know, if a student doesn’t see the subject or method relevant, they won’t engage and retention drops. If the teaching method isn’t seen as relevant or up to date according to how the student views life, it isn’t going to work.
Technology and student acceptance
When smartphones first became prevalent and apps were the new big thing, schools were slow to adapt. The initial round of bans on phones, tablets, apps and those first steps towards technology did not resonate well with students. They couldn’t understand why something they used everyday wasn’t accepted in the one place they had to be every day. Or why the one device that was transforming their lives was not being accepted or even taught about in schools.
Thankfully those days are past and while schools rightfully control phone use in the classroom, we have accept technology into it. By accepting and working with it, students engage with us again. It’s the old saying, if you can’t beat them, join them. As well as showing students that schools are relevant and try hard to teach the right skills for the right time, we also get to benefit from the huge potential that a technological classroom brings.
If children are engaging with technology from a young age, we should be teaching it at a young age. I think we have the right balance now and long may that continue.
Use technology responsibly
You know as well as we that whenever we broach the subject of health and safety, security or privacy, eyes roll and groans fill the classroom. Yet such things are essential life skills that we need to teach students. My old head used an analogy, he said ‘do you know why the French have fewer issues with drinking than the UK does? Because families and society introduces it at an early age and teaches responsibility without kids noticing’.
If we can do the same with technology, we will be onto a winner. If we introduce technology early and manage to slip in lessons about safety, responsibility and security without labouring the point, eventually the message sinks in.
Using technology in the classroom is of course about preparing students for the future and giving them the skills industry demands. But it’s also about using teaching methods students accept and can engage with. If we can teach responsibility along the way, all the better!