Is Educational Technology Worth the Hype? by Joy Inouye

            Technology affects almost every aspect of our culture. We live in a society that requires students to be proficient in multiple uses of technology in an effort to be both college and career ready.  Post graduation, it is certain that whatever the job is, the use of technology will be required.  As educators, we must then use technology in a way that enhances education.

            The simple fact of the matter is that the role of both student and teacher is ever changing in this digital age.  When students are using technology as a tool or a support for communicating with others, they are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher or textbook.  The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information. Technology use allows students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons. Moreover, when technology is used as a tool to support students in performing authentic tasks, the students are in the position of defining their goals, making design decisions, and evaluating their progress, taking a more active approach to their own education.  Such projects can also provide students with choice, a powerful tool that increases student motivation.  When students are conducting research on authentic projects that they are interested in, student motivation and engagement will likely increase.  When students are engaged, they learn more.

            The teacher’s role changes as well. The classroom teacher is no longer the sage on the stage as the dispenser of information, but rather plays the role of facilitator, setting project goals and providing guidelines and resources, moving from student to student or group to group, providing suggestions and support for student activity. As students work on their technology-supported products, the teacher rotates through the room, looking over shoulders, asking about the reasons for various design choices, and suggesting resources that might be used.  The teacher serves as a coach in this setting.  He/she provides support through individualized mini lessons in areas of weakness that is observed through student-teacher interaction.

            Technology has definitely become a major influence in how people live. However, I do not believe that in the future, computers will take the place of teachers.  I see the use of technology as a resource that can enhance the lessons taught within our classrooms.

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