Jul 22, 2022 2022-07-22
By Alexander Huls
The following blog is reposted from EdTech Magazine.
In the 21st century, it can feel like advanced technology is changing the K–12 classroom in ways we’ve never seen before. But the truth is, technology and education have a long history of evolving together to dramatically change how students learn.
With more innovations surely headed our way, why not look back at how we got to where we are today, while looking forward to how educators can continue to integrate new technologies into their learning?
Using Technology in the K–12 Classroom: A History
1659: MAGIC LANTERN
1888: BALLPOINT PEN
1950s: OVERHEAD PROJECTOR
1967: HANDHELD CALCULATOR
1981: THE OSBORNE 1 LAPTOP
1990: WORLD WIDE WEB
What Technology Is Used in Today’s K–12 Classrooms?
Technology has come so far that modern classrooms are more technologically advanced than many science labs were two decades ago. Students have access to digital textbooks, personal devices, collaborative cloud-based tools, and interactive whiteboards. Emerging technologies now being introduced to K–12 classrooms include voice assistants, virtual reality devices and 3D printers.
Perhaps the most important thing about ed tech in K–12 isn’t what the technology is, but how it’s used.
How to Integrate Technology into K–12 Classrooms
The first step to integrating technology into the K–12 classroom is figuring out which solution to integrate, given the large variety of tools available to educators. That variety comes with benefits — like the ability to align tech with district objectives and grade level — but also brings challenges.
“It’s difficult to know how to choose the appropriate digital tool or resource,” says Judi Harris, professor and Pavey Family Chair in Educational Technology at the William & Mary School of Education. “Teachers need some familiarity with the tools so that they understand the potential advantages and disadvantages.”
K–12 IT leaders should also be careful not to focus too much on technology implementation at the expense of curriculum-based learning needs. “What districts need to ask themselves is not only whether they’re going to adopt a technology, but how they’re going to adopt it,” says Royce Kimmons, associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University.
In other words, while emerging technologies may be exciting, acquiring them without proper consideration of their role in improving classroom learning will likely result in mixed student outcomes. For effective integration, educators should ask themselves, in what ways would the tech increase or support a student’s productivity and learning outcomes? How will it improve engagement?
Integrating ed tech also requires some practical know-how. “Teachers need to be comfortable and confident with the tools they ask students to use,” says Harris.
Professional development for new technologies is crucial, as are supportive IT teams, tech providers with generous onboarding programs and technology integration specialists. Harris also points to initiatives like YES: Youth and Educators Succeeding, a nonprofit organization that prepares students to act as resident experts and classroom IT support.
But as educational technology is rolled out and integrated, it’s important to keep academic goals in sight. “We should never stop focusing on how to best understand and help the learner to achieve those learning objectives,” says Harris.
That should continue to be the case as the technology timeline unfolds, something Harris has witnessed firsthand during her four decades in the field. “It’s been an incredible thing to watch and to participate in,” she notes. “The great majority of teachers are extremely eager to learn and to do anything that will help their students learn better.”
Alexander Huls is a Toronto-based writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Esquire, The Atlantic and elsewhere. Follow Alexander on Twitter.
Technology Administrative Solutions
Digital Learning • Learning Support
Funding & Recognition
STEM • STEAM • STREAM