Each year educators across the nation spend some part of their summer attending professional development workshops or college courses in an effort to bring the latest techniques and teaching methods to their classrooms. Technology is a tool that has become the topic of many professional seminars and something that teachers are learning to use and add to their academic toolbox. In an article addressing technology as methodology not just design, John Williams writes, "Students should perceive technology as a thoroughly integrated activity, not one which can be separated into content and process, or theory and practice."
The benefits of technology in education were examined in a 1996 report to the nation on Technology and Education, "Getting America's Students Ready for the 21st Century: Meeting the Technology Literacy Challenge", and the results were promising. Findings showed that there were numerous advantages including enhanced student achievement, advanced skills and problem solving opportunities, more comprehensive student assessment, increased student motivation, increased family involvement and instruction and experience in future job-related skills. Some other benefits cited were more individualized instruction and improved administration and management in schools.
After having written about technology in education here at Suite101.com and quoting from authorities in the field, I thought it might be interesting to hear what kids had to say. I took a survey in my computer applications class and had students anonymously submit their answers. I asked them to tell me what they thought were the benefits of technology in the classroom both for teachers and students. It's not surprising at what they had to say.
Hands down was the idea that technology makes learning easier and more fun. More than half of the students in class cited this as the number one benefit to education. I've never been a proponent of the theory that education should be a dog and pony show aimed at keeping students entertained and amused every second of the class period. However, technology integration, like other good teaching techniques, actively engages students in the learning process. Many students see school as an accepted ritual that one has to endure to move on to the next level - a place where educators are dispensers of knowledge and students are merely the vessels waiting to be filled. Learning should be interactive and involve problem solving, communication, and yes, development of new knowledge and products. When students are involved in the learning and participate in it by creating new information, they are more likely to view that experience as easy and fun.