Today, one would be hard pressed to find a classroom that didn’t use some sort of technology to supplement learning.
According to Albert Borroni, director of the Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching at Oberlin College in Oberlin; Sophia Loferski, director for academic technology and learning support at Lawrence School in Broadview Heights and Sagamore Hills; and David Strukel, assistant professor of communication at Hiram College’s Scarborough School of Business and Communication in Hiram, technology helps teachers communicate with students who have grown up in a technologically-saturated society.
“We are teaching digital natives,” Strukel said. “These are students who have grown up with it since they were toddlers. If you look at the data where people are getting their news, six out of 10 people are getting it from social media. We’re migrating to an online environment and it would only make sense for education to go that way as well.”
Technology allows for the classroom to be a level playing field.
“Appropriate use of technology in teaching enhances and supports student learning in many ways,” Borroni stated. “It can motivate students by providing better communication and feedback, individualizing instruction, creating more collaborative experiences and engaging students with real-world skills.”
At Lawrence School, which specializes in teaching students with learning differences, technology helps teachers tailor lessons to each student.
“At Lawrence, we use technology in lessons every step of the way,” Loferski said. “For many students, they need that kind of support for text-based learning differences. Having access to a computer and digital tools makes it easier for them to learn.”
Oberlin College uses a learning management system, which provides a single point of contact for faculty to interact and guide student learning, Borroni said.
“Quizzes and self-assessments can be created in the learning management system to allow students to assess their knowledge and gauge the instructor’s expectations,” he explained. “Feedback is provided on papers and other assignments. Blogs can be created so students can interact around a project or topic both in and out of class.”
Additionally, Borroni said faculty also uses technology to create “engaging” lessons and provide more options for students to prove their competency.
At Hiram College, Strukel said each student gets an iPad through the college’s 1:1 initiative.
“When we’re in class and we do group work, they can AirDrop things to each other,” he noted. “Also many classrooms (have) Apple TVs. We also have a Hiram College app, where students can see their assignments and grades. I, myself, like to use podcasts too. It’s all a great way to integrate.”
The professionals agreed technology enhances learning.
“Embracing the appropriate technology enhances the learning experience, improves motivation and taps into interests that incoming students have for their future,” Borroni said. “This is what teachers try to do and if there are tools that enhance their ability to do it, they will gravitate towards those tools.”
Strukel added, “The great thing with technology is that it levels the playing field. If we were still teaching the same way we taught things 20 or 30 years ago, people would wonder what (we were) doing. You have to keep up with the times. Technology meets everyone where they are comfortable. If you have the technology, why not use it?”
Loferski said the educational community has changed, making it much more tech-friendly than past years.
“If you’re not using technology in the classroom, your students are at a disadvantage,” she noted. “For many children, they’ve been exposed to technology every step of their life. Embracing that this caters to a student’s learning style.”