Nobody can deny that technology has revolutionized education. Educators have also dramatically adjusted their teaching methods in response to new technology over the years. Gone are the "field of dreams" days when believing that simply putting computers in the classroom would automatically make a difference. Many schools now carefully consider cost and application when debating how to best use new technology.
Gadgets that are used strictly by teachers are designed to either enhance presentations, help with bookkeeping or assist with outside communications. Projection devices have become more affordable and now are nearly standard in many classrooms. Interactive whiteboards, although still expensive, provide an instant interface between the classroom and cyberspace, allowing teachers to transform lectures into real-time multimedia presentations.
Although providing laptops for every K-12 student in the classroom is still cost-prohibitive for most school districts, wireless mobile labs can be used in group projects. These devices connect directly to the school's Internet access, and the signal is relayed to laptops that can be distributed to students. Individual word processors are now also becoming more affordable as well as smaller, hand-held devices such as personal digital assistants that can be hot-synced to the teacher's computer.
Advantages of Classroom Technology
Gadgets in the classroom can create a more interesting, interactive environment that students are mostly already familiar with outside school, except in the poorest districts. If schools strive to keep current with technological trends and budget their priorities, then the learning that takes place becomes more relevant and meaningful to students. Computer literacy and knowledge of major software programs is no longer reserved for higher educational systems or special trade schools in today's society.
Disadvantages of Classroom Technology
Besides being cost-prohibitive, the constant maintenance and upgrading of classroom technology can put a strain on time that should be devoted to teaching and learning. Also, not all teachers are as tech savvy as they should be, especially when it comes to solving hardware problems. Hiring tech specialists to work in school districts is difficult because the business world often offers more lucrative opportunities.
Technology grants and charitable foundations exist for needy districts. Apple initially cornered the market on educational uses for technology because of its more user-friendly systems. Apple still is the preferred choice for many educators because of the discounts and special options it offers to its clients. Because of many crossover software packages that have been developed, Macintosh and Microsoft environments are gaining equal access into modern classrooms. Whichever platform educational decision-makers choose, the future remains unpredictable, and today's good buy may end up on tomorrow's junk heap of outdated technology.