Worth the Hype….or Not?

Is Educational Technology Worth The Hype…Or Not?

By Heather Burns

 Today many children across the United States sit in the desks of our classrooms interacting with a textbooks or a novel, taking notes with a pencil or pen in a notebook, talking to classmates to work through a problem, raising their hand to ask you the teacher for help on a question. With very little technology integrated into what they are learning.  However, when they go home after the bell rings they are in very different world which involves screen time hurrying to finish their homework and rushing through answering their parents “how was your day?” questions so they can meet their “friend” on Minecraft, or catch a glance at what new picture, video, text, or drawing has come across Snapchat.  Students are engaged at a very different level when they are connected.  They have Smartphones are early ages and devices where they are able to download apps, and have access to the internet-where the opportunities are endless.  However, is all the technology worth the hype?  And does it belong in an educational setting?

 There are many videos which one can look up on YouTube speaking to how quickly our population is increasing in countries such as China and India, and how US students need to be trained to use technology at an early age, to not only be competitive with all of the people coming from foreign lands, but to also prepare them for jobs and opportunities that do not even exist.  Therefore, the thought is to merge technology and education and bring the devices into the classroom, which in turn, will increase student engagement by the sheer fact that a device is in front of our students.  Yet also have our educators instruct our American youth through integrating technology into their lessons.  With this idea, some think it is a winning combination. I am mostly behind this idea, however I believe it is easier said then done.

In order to become a professional you need participate in some sort of training, which is what most educators have done.  Most have gone through credentialing programs that have taught them how to create lessons mostly with textbooks and novels.  Only recently have teachers been provided any training on technology and how to integrate it into their lessons.  So if teachers were not trained in credentialing programs to integrate and utilize technology then who is training them? Once teachers are in the classroom it is up to the School District or Site Administrator to train teachers on new devices or software.  Here is where I believe we have a glitch in the thinking technology is always worth the hype.  Teachers need training to effectively integrate technology into their lessons so students are using the devices productively.  However, training teachers takes time and money.  I believe if districts and school sites are given the funding, and teachers are given the time and training needed to integrate technology properly then educational technology is defiantly worth the hype!  An increase in student engagement, and also subject knowledge is every educators dream, and defiantly worth the hype!  However, without the proper funding, training or time to develop and integrate curriculum with technology then teachers are left to self-train, and navigate on their own-which is not worth the hype.

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