Best Practices in Educational Technology

Posted in Labels: , , , , , , ,

Kindergarten classrooms all the way up to university classes are awash in technology. Gone are the days of the blackboard and powdery white chalk. Today, educators are expected to master the use of tools such as smart boards, PowerPoint, tablet computers and laptops to demonstrate concepts to students.

Technology can be a powerful tool for gaining and keeping students' attention and demonstrating concepts that words alone can't convey. In addition, technology helps teachers reach students who are visual or even kinesthetic learners. PowerPoint highlights the important points for students to study, which helps them write notes and retain the information. Smart boards combine the idea of the white marker board with computing functions, allowing teachers to move from diagramming to digital presentations or images with the touch of a finger. To students, these technologies can be much more engaging and comprehensible than the old-fashioned lecture.

However, teachers and professors must use technology judiciously. They must consider the best practices in educational technology before they inundate students with the latest gizmos or programs. Integrating technology without considering its proper use and of the piece of technology can cause the students to become distracted or confused. Technology should enhance and support the main points of the lesson, not distract. 

Some technologies are misused by educators who do not fully understand their purpose. For example, computers are useful for students who need to write or explore software in a hands-on manner, but they should be put away or turned off when the instructor is talking or they become a distraction.

The sheer number of tools and technologies available can be overwhelming, especially for teachers and professors who already are overburdened with other tasks. For this reason, many school districts as well as universities hire specialists in educational technology. These specialists investigate and select new technologies that may be useful for the faculty, as well as teach them how to use the technology and provide guidance when something goes wrong.

Educational technology specialists usually have an advanced degree in education or educational technology. Many programs, such as the program at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, offer online degrees. The online environment is ideal for this type of degree as well because distance learning and online technologies have become the newest trend in both universities and some high schools.

Technology in the classroom is here to stay. Educators and educational technology specialists work hand in hand to ensure that students are getting the most from the technologies. Specialists in educational technology have an important role, because without a specialist to guide them in the best practices for using the technologies, many educators would not have the time or motivation to use them.