Advancements in technology have made their way into the classroom and influence the way students learn. 

Daniel McGee, director of technology and library services at Laurel School in Shaker Heights, and Larry Goodman, head of schools at Andrews Osborne Academy in Willoughby, agreed that technology’s influence is largely for the better.

“Technology is kind of boundless, it has no boundaries, so it can be used for any discipline,” McGee said. “It allows you to do something transformative and it allows you to find ways to express yourself in unique ways that you wouldn’t be able to do without using those tools.”

For example, the breadth of information available to students has increased as the use of technology has increased.

“Technology has enabled information to be distributed exponentially at a more voluminous rate,” Goodman said. “So, there’s a whole lot more information that teachers have access to in order to prepare for classes and that students have access to in order to engage in learning.”

Both Laurel School and Andrews Osborne Academy have a one-to-one laptop program, meaning the school provides a laptop for each student. In Andrews Osborne Academy’s case, students are encouraged to bring their own devices to school as long as it meets certain screen-size regulations. 

“We don’t care if it’s an iPad or a tablet or a laptop,” Goodman said. “We don’t care what kind it is because at the end of the day, the uses we’re going to make of it are platform blind. We are a BYOD (bring your own device) school.”

Both schools employ G Suite, meaning that students and teachers utilize Google apps, such as Docs, Sheets and Classroom to engage with the learning material. Also, both schools give students the opportunity to use a 3D printer on specific projects.

Goodman pointed to the use of document cameras at Andrews Osborne Academy as a way that teachers are using technology in the classroom.

“It’s essentially an overhead projector, except it’s digital,” he said. “The camera captures text and you run it through your computer to a projector on the wall.”

McGee mentioned virtual reality as something students at Laurel School are beginning to use to explore potential colleges without physically visiting the campuses. 

Not only has the increase of technology given students more opportunities to learn, it’s allowed for a divergence from traditional teaching styles. McGee noted that many current teachers were taught how to teach by teachers who didn’t know how to use technology. Therefore, students are given the opportunity to take the reins in the classroom typically headed by the teacher.

“When I was a teacher, I would always say, OK, well maybe I’m not 100 percent comfortable with this but I’m going to let my students try it anyways,” McGee said. “There might be (a student) there who can figure it out even quicker than I can and I can learn from it. So, it changes the dynamics in the classroom where the teacher is not imparting knowledge to the students, they’re coaching students through the projects and topics they’re working on.” 

Tess Kazdin was the Violet Spevack Editorial Intern this summer.

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