Schools that assigned laptops or Chromebooks to students found that these young learners were more likely to take in-class notes, get reminders about assignment due dates, collaborate with classmates and check their grades, according to educational nonprofit Project Tomorrow’s annual survey, the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning.
Students are also now more likely to be assigned some type of digital device. In 2017, twice as many principals — 60% — said they were assigning this technology as compared to 27% in 2015, according to an article in The Hechinger Report.
Students' behavior, which also includes a higher likelihood that they will email teachers with questions, suggests they are becoming more independent learners who are taking advantage of a support system at school, such as homework due date reminders, the article notes. However, Speak Up CEO Julie Evans said effective teaching is still a necessary piece of the puzzle.
We’ve heard it before: Technology is revolutionizing society, and that includes education. Ed tech gives us access to the world at our fingertips, and it’s already transforming the way students learn, teachers teach and leaders lead. There are a lot of benefits that come along with it — an invitation for more peer-to-peer collaboration, innovative and interactive lesson plans, and greater access both inside and outside the classroom. That’s just the beginning. Students who are afraid to speak up have an easier time sharing their opinions in a virtual space. The infinite resources online spark curiosity and fuel research and ideas. The possibilities are endless.
The digital world is always improving, and it’s not leaving anyone out. With features like voice-to-text capability, eye-gaze technology and virtual reality, special education students can use the same devices as any other student. Plus, schools don’t have to worry about forking over even more money for pricier assistive technology. Teachers also benefit from this push for digitization — with technology tools, they can display material in new ways, give students more unique assignments and projects, and it simply makes their jobs easier.
As Evans said, though, giving students technology isn’t an be-all, end-all solution, and it has its drawbacks. Educators need to understand what’s worth the money, and the teachers who integrate these new tools into their classrooms have to understand how to use it while still teaching effectively. It's also important for students to spend time away from screens and have face-to-face interactions, which are necessary to promote social connections and relationships. It's great if the new developments in technology are improving the overall classroom experience — but teachers need to be cognizant of where to draw the line.