In a post-industrial society, echoes of the past are most apparent in perhaps the most sacred of places, our schools. Here, the most vulnerable of our society are entrusted into the system with hopes that they will grow into successful humans, whatever that may look like in twenty or so odd years.
While glancing into a typical classroom, you may witness students moving about and working together, or you may find something else. Row after row of students sitting with blank stares, slightly jittery, perhaps secretly toying with a fidget spinner under their desk, only to start guiltily when someone passes along a sheet of paper which contains a short story with a few questions to answer, or a row of math questions. Though few actually followed the lesson, or were able to see what was on the blackboard, they will dutifully complete their work. In a few short years, “Successful” students, will blossom into tomorrow’s workforce, equipped with the ability to sit for hours, to fill-in-the blanks, and memorize important details before the test. In short, they have the skills necessary for a job category that is vanishing faster than the Polar ice cap- the coveted blue-collar job, and to some extent, its counterpart, the white-collar job.
Despite the fact that the industrial revolution occurred over a hundred and fifty years ago, our schools are still structured in a way that reflect this time period, not our own. How then, can we expect that graduates be prepared for the challenges they will face in the 21st century? What is the missing element from our classrooms?
The answer is as simple as it is groan worthy-technology.
The technical advances and wonders of the past twenty years, surround today’s children. They are often more ipad literate than actually literate. In fact, many students do poorly with handwriting because their motor skills have not properly developed. You don’t need to apply too much pressure to swipe across a screen. For these reasons, many students do poorly in classrooms structure for the early 20th century.
The answer doesn’t lie in teaching kids cursive writing or having them make Bristol board presentations until they can cut perfectly. Going against the flow of the current is much like walking up an escalator going down. You somehow end up slowly moving with down, unless of course, you fall off.
Technology must be incorporated as a regular, if not daily element of the classroom. Students should learn skills that they can relate to their lives, so that they feel that their education is relevant to their lives. Aside from digital literacy, edtech has many other benefits.
Improved student collaboration and engagement
Nothing is more fascinating to a child than a gadget because it is somehow not much different from a toy. Technology also makes it simpler for students to work together on projects and communicate easily at home or even with their teacher.
Tools such as class websites and GoogleClassroom provide students with the opportunity to review what was taught in class that day. This is particularly helpful for students in the younger grades who do not take notes.
Improved parent communication
A class website makes sending home important reminders, and grades, a lot simpler.
Access to thousands of resources
The phrase “google it” sums up how important the Internet has become in our quest for knowledge. Aside from providing answers to the most mundane of questions, the Internet is also chock full with additional resources that will support any educational program for all students, regardless of their ability.
The use of tablets and Chromebooks, instead of worksheets and workbooks, limits the colossal waste of paper at the end of a school year, when that year’s work is either dumped in a box and tucked away or recycled.
The world is changing at a rapid rate and the education should reflect that change. You wouldn’t expect to learn to drive on the highway in a 1950s Chevrolet. How can our students be prepared for the world they will graduate into, if they are denied the basics of a digital education?