Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Future of EdTech

New forms of educational software are attempting to transform the world of education, but the technology certainly has a long way to go before it can replace traditional forms of teaching. A public school in Silicon Valley recently launched a trial-run math course entirely reliant on software by New Classrooms called Teach for One, but returned to the traditional curriculum after many parents had complaints about the performance of the program. The intended goal of educational software is to provide a more tailored curriculum to better suit the needs of each student. However, it is important to have seamless coding and an effective interface to effectively change the current education environment.

Many schools around the world are currently debating how and whether to introduce technology into classrooms. On one hand, technology is a crucial element in today’s world, and education technology could be an important means of more effectively teaching students the material and increasing their understanding of technology. On the other, parents are most comfortable with teacher-led brick and mortar classrooms because they feel there are less unknowns and a lower potential for error. Technology entering the education world is facing some challenges, but could prove to change classrooms for the better.

It is important to recognize how education technology could potentially impact lower-income areas. In the case in Silicon Valley, the higher-income, better educated parents had the highest number of complaints about Teach for One. This may be because parents of students who are lucky enough to receive an education from experienced and knowledgeable teachers do not see a problem with the current education system. However, the quality of the public school districts across the nation is highly varied, and lower income areas could benefit greatly from a more personalized, yet streamlined classroom experience. Many non-profits, tech billionaires and investors are pouring resources into EdTech, which could later benefit struggling school districts that need assistance paying for the resources. New technology and resources could allow for beneficial change across the country and potentially the world in the coming years.

While the potential benefits of EdTech are evident, it goes to show the extensive process required to integrate technology into a new realm. New Classrooms claimed that coding errors were rare, but because of the amount of information required in the software and the new interface, there is a lot that can go wrong. Emerging businesses like New Classrooms are facing high competition, such as, Khan Academy, which offers free online courses on a variety of subjects. It is becoming a race to who can offer public schools the most effective education technology, at the most reasonable price. Even then, the companies may face continued pushback from parents who do not want to see entirely software based courses. It will be interesting to watch how classrooms change in the coming years, as EdTech businesses continue to innovate and schools debate the role of technology in education.


Jacqui Schmidt said...

Technology influences our everyday life and has changed the way we communicate, travel, and live. Currently, technology is starting to influence the way we learn as well. Students now depend on laptops for technology for assignments and facilitating the learning process. Quizlet, for example is an online learning program that takes the use of vocabulary words and creates a flashcard, matching, learning and other to facilitate the learning process. Many new apps are available that mirror that objective of games like leapfrog, which is modeled for younger children.
The current technology regarding learning has more to do with the level of impact that tablets and laptops should be emphasized in classrooms. During my freshman year of high school, I was actually apart of an experiment to test if technology is beneficial in education. A select group of students were asked if we wanted to complete the year using iPads. I took notes, completed homework, and went through learning activities on the iPad and we were not aloud to use paper. In my opinion, I think there is no one way of learning that that works, I think it depends not only on the student but on the environment as well. For example, some of my classes now I solely use my laptop and for others I feel more successful when I hand-write notes and some I use a combination of the two.
I do think technology offers endless amount of benefits and advantages to make studying and education more beneficial and productive. In a previous class we had a discussion that perhaps in the future online classes would rise in popularity and perhaps even downscale university attendance. I believe online classes would help others who may have busy schedules and for those who feel an online version would help them better understand the material.
 An article by education week explains that “led by the federal government, the country is in the midst of a massive effort to make affordable high-speed Internet and free online teaching resources available to even the most rural and remote schools.” The article went on to explain that while learning activities are becoming more relevant technology is mainly used as a means to organize assignments, educational files, and depict grades. The article explains that schools are trying to gain the mission to provide students with their own laptops or tablet to create an equal learning environment.
The article talked about a similar subject to what I mentioned previously, called ‘blended learning.’ This basically means that while technology is important to incorporate in classrooms, every student does learn differently, so keeping traditions lessons is also crucial.

Sam Norton said...

In today’s technology driven world, educators need to be prepared to incorporate technology into their practice of teaching and curriculum. But first educators need to be trained to use technology as a tool to transform teaching and learning experiences for learners. I also believe it must be used in a way that supports and measures learning gains. It is important for faculty to stay current as technology evolves. If technology is contributing to learning and the achievement of students in the classroom, it will also enhance the student’s ability outside of the classroom.
Educators must be equipped with the skills to integrate technology into their instructional time in a way that moves beyond just presentation and communication to a place of innovation, creation and problem-solving. Most high schools and colleges have a 1:1 program where every student in receives a tablet or laptop. With this increased investment in classroom technology by school districts and requirement by colleges, educators must use technology effectively. There are no longer stand-alone technology courses, but programs that incorporate educational technology in all courses. Educators can select and use apps and tools that support their curriculum. Schools and colleges are doing a better job of integrating technology into their curriculum and cultures. An example from my high school is both students and teachers used mobile fitness technology to collect and track health and fitness data. This helped students and teachers learn and integrate healthy habits into their daily lives.
At colleges and universities, an effective way to integrate technology into the curriculum is to support student learning through different areas. Colleges and universities can use social media for educational purposes. Social communications software, such as blogs, virtual worlds and document collaboration are technologies used currently at Loyola University. Colleges and universities are currently studying technology used for lecture capture, audience response and online learning management.
The greatest impact that educational technology has in the classroom and learning is that educational technology stimulates change in the learning environment that promotes student-centered learning. Students take more responsibility for their own learning and professors work more as mentors and less as presenters of information. Educational technology has indirectly influenced positive changes in teaching practices. Educators are using technologies to encourage collaboration among students. Colleges and universities view technology as a positive impact on their campuses. It is important that colleges and universities know what emerging technologies show the most promise and determine how to best support these technologies. Because after graduation, the sweeping technological changes will change the skill-sets of the future workforce, as well as its approach to work.