Technology in education has blossomed in the form of course-specific web pages, email communication, online courses, and tools used specifically in the classroom like laptops, calculators and presentation hardware. In addition to supplementing in-class instruction, technology has created educational opportunities for students and teachers. On the other hand, discrepancies in available technologies and training needed for implementing technologies in learning can also present some disadvantages.

Helping Teachers

Technology can allow for a shift to a paperless classroom, which can make the teacher's job more efficient and organized. With a paperless format for grading and tracking assignments, teachers transport less student work to and from home and can access grades from multiple locations. Teachers may also teach in a distance-learning format, allowing them to potentially take on more students and course sections as meeting times are more flexible or nonexistent. In this format, a teacher can use a variety of technologies to present course information and reuse materials in several sections of a course without having to repeat the same lecture.

Access for Students

Technology, specifically the Internet, gives students instant access to research databases from a variety of sources, including news sources, university databases and instructional videos. Beginning at the youngest levels of education, students can take a more active role in their own learning using technology. Games can provide children with practice in learning shapes, the alphabet and math skills, for example. Software can provide English language learners with opportunities to practice language skills independently. Additionally, technology allows students to learn from home, which is often more convenient, less costly and provides equity for rural students.

Instructional Challenges

One disadvantage for teachers at all levels of education is trying to keep up with changing technologies and learning how to use both hardware and software for educational purposes. Additionally, teachers must learn how to ensure that students are learning skills rather than simply learning how to efficiently use technology. For example, using a graphing calculator in a geometry class may make it easier for students to find angle measures without understanding properties of a triangle. Teachers can also find the amount of student communication via email overwhelming if they have increased numbers of students.

Potential Pitfalls for Students

Discrepancies in computer skills may make assignments more difficult to complete for some students. Computer malfunctions can cause them to lose assignments or materials. In the case of online courses taken from home, varying Internet speeds and devices available to students at home may cause some students difficulty. Additionally, acquiring information in an online course relies largely on student motivation and self-monitoring, which may be difficult for some students. Other disadvantages include the danger of time spent off task distracted by social media and websites, or lack of motivation to complete tasks in a timely manner.