By: Jennifer Devitt on August 26th, 2014
It's back to school time. Technology is now more than ever a key element in education.
School is starting around the US. More and more options are available for introducing tech in the classrooms. Tech that can make teachers life easier as well as students. Tech that can reduce paper usage, stop back pain from carrying heavy books, reduce forgotten assignments and more. Some things are being adopted at a quick rate, while other, simpler solutions seem slow to take hold.
Our kids use a variety of technology in school. Google Drive has been being used for all three of our students who range from elementary school to high school now for a few years. Google has a new suite called "Google Classroom" which is still being rolled out but is geared to help teachers and students communicate better, submit homework and see when assignments are due. Google "Connected Classrooms" also allows for virtual field trips.
Students today also have access to digital textbooks. I know my kids rarely bring home textbooks because they can access them via an online portal, making that backpack much lighter. Digital textbooks help absent-minded kids complete homework even if they forgot their book. Teachers are utilizing websites where they upload the day's homework worksheet to be downloaded and printed if the dog ate yours!
With all these advancements, there are two items I would love to see incorporated more into everyday education. Ebooks and flash card generator apps. I mean, a number of flash cards we go thru in our house is sinful. I am mortified to think of how many trees we are responsible for chopping down. Ebooks, they are already using digital textbooks and submitting homework via Google Drive, why can't e-books be utilized in lieu of paperbacks?
Our oldest daughter is in high school honors English. They had summer reading homework as well as a paper due just prior to the start of the school year. Part of her summer reading was "annotating" her book of choice of an approved list. She was mortified at the idea of destroying yet another book by scribbling all over it. She likes to reread books, annotating makes that impossible. So does passing the book down to her younger siblings who a few years after her will have the same reading assignment. Ebooks allow for readers to utilizes the dictionary at their fingertips, thus growing their comprehension and vocabulary. It makes highlighting key passages for future reference when writing a paper or studying a breeze.
Flash card generators. Again, the amount of honors classes our daughter has, she is always making hundreds of flash cards. Even our 8th-grader uses them. They keep them to study fo a semester or year-end finals. With the districts switching to online aptitude testing that is done almost monthly wouldn't it make sense to also switch students to other forms of digital educations? In my opinion, if you are expecting them to read test questions digitally and comprehend them to succeed on the test, make more of their everyday work digital as well. The more they practice digital reading and/or studying the better they will do when you present them with a digital test.
In our house, we are trying to convert our kids to these digital methods, but it is hard when the teachers say "paper note cards and paperbacks required". Google is working hard on digitalizing the classroom and there are countless apps out there to assist with reading, studying (even for the bar exam). Tech is the way of the future. Even if our kids don't turn out to be programmers, technology will be key to their futures. Take for example the story of Warby Parker, an eyewear company that also considers itself a "Technology company". They have grown leaps and bounds by embracing technology. This story emphasizes that you don't have to be a programmer to grow a company or succeed in business but you do need to embrace technology. What ways would you like to see students embrace technology in education? Do you have a student who has a great app they use to simplify studying or time management? Or maybe you are a student or teacher with the next great education app idea, talk to a developer today to assist other students and teachers embrace technology in education.