Halloween was on a Monday this year, which added stress to an already hectic morning. In addition to packing lunches and checking backpacks, we were also hot gluing costumes and packing treat bags. However, this chaotic storm of Pop Tarts, chocolate milk, and Lunchables was interrupted by a nice family moment. My wife’s Timehop featured a parade of Halloween memories. There was the Wizard of Oz costume (custom made by my mother-in-law) and a picture of my youngest dressed as Buzz Lightyear. This made us laugh because she thought she would be able to fly in her costume. She spent a significant part of the evening sulking because she was a mere mortal, panhandling candy on foot. Our Timehop morning moment was a reminder that technology can be a blessing.
Technology can also produce challenges, and lately, I’ve had several conversations about the challenges associated with implementing technology in the educational setting. These challenges include costs, infrastructure, and providing adequate professional development. While the challenges are real and need to be addressed, there are many benefits that make technology implementation worthwhile.
This month’s Educational Leadership is devoted to disrupting inequity and contains insightful statistics about public school students and poverty. Currently, “more than half of K-12 students in the United States now come from low-income households” (Suitts, 2016). This is concerning given the negative relationship between socioeconomic status and student achievement. Low-income students not exposed to technology in our classrooms face additional challenges to academic success. Students living in poverty are less likely to have devices or internet access in the home setting and are at-risk of being ill-prepared for life after high school.
Value Added Learning Opportunities
Ubiquitous technological access is advantageous for students and teachers. Technology can provide real-time feedback through formative assessment and increase student engagement. Technology can also bolster differentiated instruction by harnessing “apps” and programs that individualize instruction to student needs. Creativity and collaboration are also promoted in a technological setting allowing students to demonstrate and apply knowledge through performance tasks and authentic assessment activities.
21st Century Skills
Let’s face it, whether or not we are comfortable with technology, our graduates will be immersed in a technology-centered world. We should prepare our students with the necessary skills to flourish in a digital environment. These skills include navigating a course management system, being familiar with Google applications, using e-mail, collaborating online to complete a group project, and conducting research to determine the validity and credibility of sources.
Just like a scary clown costume, technology implementation can produce anxiety. However, it can also produce unique and rewarding learning opportunities that are tough to replicate without technology. While there will be challenges along the way, they won’t be as significant as the challenges faced by our students living in poverty. Infusing technology into our classrooms will provide enriched learning opportunities and equitable access for all students.