by: Nicole Slagter, Harding University, The Cannon-Clary College of Education (Director, Distance Education Marketing and Promotion)
A Digital World is Their World
Despite the hurdles that districts, schools and even individual teachers may face, the fact that digital technology is revolutionizing the world cannot be ignored.
The number of college students who say they own tablets has more than tripled since a survey taken last year… One-fourth of the college students surveyed said they owned a tablet, compared with just 7 percent last year…The new survey found that nearly six in 10 students preferred digital books when reading for class, compared with one third who said they preferred printed textbooks”. (DeSantis, 2012)
It’s not just college students who are tech savvy however. Students in today’s K-12 classrooms have grown up in a truly technological world and “the iPad’s light weight, tech prowess and versatile user interface make it a valuable learning tool for a generation of kids who grew up in a digital world” (May, 2012). While many teachers may initially struggle to learn the new technology, “the interactive nature of learning on an iPad comes naturally for many of today’s students, who’ve grown up with electronic devices as part of their everyday world” (Reitz, 2011, emphasis added). Not only are today’s students used to using technology in their everyday lives, but they have come to appreciate – even expect – a different type of learning environment. Principal Tim Brosnan at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose says the students “have embraced the idea that learning happens not just in the classroom but at home and anywhere else they can go online. The iPad’s not some magic pill, but seeing students collaborate on them seems to add more life to the learning process” (May, 2012).
Latest Craze or Valuable Tool?
It is an understatement to say that technology is constantly changing. Mentioning the progression of technology over her 16 years of teaching, kindergarten teacher Laura Rainville says “We’ve come a long way…I think it’s fantastic. I do get nervous though that the kids will know more than me at some point. I’m trying to constantly keep up” (Melanson, 2012). Ed Garay, in an online comment to DeSantis’ article (2012, emphasis added) said “The key is to help faculty realize the endless opportunities to educate and innovate, by providing them with a support structure to identify, author, and adapt the necessary class materials, textbooks, interactive learning modules and student assignments and online activities to meet their learning outcomes”.
The iPad has extensive potential as a valuable tool in education – key word being “tool”. Many times technology becomes the focus when in fact it should be used as a tool to assist the learning process. “Even with the most modern device in hand, students still need the basics of a solid curriculum and skilled teachers. There’s a saying that the music is not in the piano and, in the same way, the learning is not in the device” (Reitz, 2011).
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