Technology has had significant impacts on schools and students at all levels. In general, evolution of technology in classrooms is viewed as a positive by educators, according to an article by IT industry association CompTIA. This doesn't mean some facets of technology's impact haven't created challenges to the learning environment.
A major impact of technology is the growth of online classes and virtual education. College students can take online classes that coincide with their traditional classes and complete entire degree programs online in some cases. Students in schools from the elementary to high school level have access to virtual course programs where they complete their education online at home or in a classroom. Online classes offer convenience, flexibility, less social pressure and development of computer and technology skills.
Classroom instruction has changed as well. Teachers are often evaluated by students on their use of audio-visual tools to enhance learning. In junior high, high school and college, PowerPoint is often used for typical daily lectures. Computer simulations, virtual models, smart boards and digital tools are also used for in-class instruction or out-of-class projects. Some instructors even incorporate mobile devices, social media and the Internet into classroom activities to help students understand how to use technology in practical, productive ways.
The U.S. Department of Education's study "Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students" notes that student motivation and interest in learning has improved with the integration of technology. Students are often fascinated by computers, the Internet and other technology and take a more active interest in learning when technology is involved. Teachers can also move beyond basic lectures and incorporate visual support and tech-centered activities to keep students engaged.
Some teachers feel pressured to keep up with technology and incorporate it into the classroom or risk losing student interest. As teachers rely on computers and the Internet in preparation and teaching, malfunctions or downtime can impede effectiveness and teaching. Cell phones also present a classroom management challenge in middle schools, high schools and colleges. While some teachers embrace mobile devices and incorporate them, others see cell phones as distractions to learning. High schools and many college classes require that students keep phones off and put away in class. This puts pressure on teachers and administration to enforce discipline policies.
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