Educational Technology – Worth the Hype or Not?
by Anna E. Perales
Technology is definitely worth the hype in education! Technology can be an amazing teaching and learning tool, but one must crawl before they can walk. Training and exposure to new technologies is key to teaching and administrating in a 21st century school and classroom. I am fortunate to have been born into generation and family that values technology. Typing and basic computer skills were part of the basic technology curriculum in my elementary school, middle and high schools, however, much of what I know about technology has been learned through trial, error and “Google-ing it”. Although this method has worked to me thus far, I am becoming increasingly aware that my students are more technologically savvy than I am and I find myself frustrated by what I do not know. It is time to step up my game.
Trying anything new for the first time is unsettling, but I have slowly been integrating technology into my lessons for the past few weeks. I started by taking an inventory of the technology and technology-based teaching strategies I already use in my classroom and lessons. I use PowerPoint as an aid to my lectures, my website to share assignments, links and important deadlines, our district online gradebook, streaming videos for supplemental lesson material, our email system for communicating with other teachers, students and parents and the Remind 101 application for reminding my students of upcoming dates and important information. I then looked at some of the projects I use in my unit plans and thought about how I could integrate technology. An idea smacked me across the face when my students were turning in their Latin America brochure projects and commented, “Why couldn’t I have just put all this in a PowerPoint?” The student was totally right. The PowerPoint would have actually been better as the student could have integrated photographs, sounds, animation and videos.
Educational technology is definitely worth the hype and well worth the time spent researching and learning about new technologies to use in administrating and teaching. We are supposed to be educating our students for the 21st century, but many teachers are stuck in their traditional ways of teaching. Technology is a double-edged sword. Students can wield it maliciously and teachers can find themselves in situations they did not foresee because of their general lack of understanding of new technologies. The positives, however, outweigh the negatives as technology can open new doors to learning and teaching that were previously closed.