Use of Technology in Elementary Education
The use of latest available technology in elementary school education has seen noticeable growth and expansion as new educational dimensions of technology have been discovered and implementation costs have come down. Generally the budgeting of elementary schools does not provide sufficient leeway to invest substantially in creating an extensive technological platform for the young students. However, the government directives under ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ stipulate that all the children should be technologically literate by end of eighth grade, which has led to restructuring the educational model and plan, especially in urban schools, where parents are particularly aware of the importance of technology’s integration with education (Burbules and Calliter, 2000). This work looks into two uses of technological application in urban elementary schools from following perspectives
1. Which technology is being used in the schools
2. It’s range, application and usability for the target students
3. Role of teachers in implementing the technology
4. It’s advantages and disadvantages
Use of Digital Images and Videos
The digital technology has changed the entire form of electronic model today. The magnetic tape and cathode tube ray based analog technology is declared outdated. The chief advantage of digital technology is its well synchronized form factor and integration with computers. Digital images and videos can be easily stored, edited, changed, and transferred over Internet using computers, which has greatly enhanced their versatility, usability and application in the educational field (Burge, 2000). Like computers, digital devices are also tools that greatly enhance the learning and educational experience of students in elementary schools where design and presentations are very important in orienting their attention to educator’s goals.
Digital equipments such as Dictaphones, which are audio recorders, still and movie cameras, scanners, printers, movie players, compact disc and digital versatility discs (DVDs) are used by both schools and students to accord enriched learning experience and increase in student’s participation and interests in the learning process (Naidu, 2003). Students use the images and videos in their reports and presentations by enhancing them and adding aesthetic, visual and informative elements (Barron and Orwig, 1997). Using Dictaphones, teachers easily record their lessons with students. The audio files can be downloaded to the computers in well accepted mp3 format, and it is playable by default audio software that come bundled with computers. Listening to these audio recordings help teachers in two ways (O’Neil and Perez, 2003)
1. It helps them to evaluate their own teaching style, lesson strategies, planning and subject approach. This analysis is crucial for them to bring further modifications or reinforcements in their teaching methodology.
2. The audio recordings also help them to analyze the interests levels of the class, at group and individual levels. This helps teachers to identify the students who require further attention.
Similar is the case with video recordings, which offer any larger scope of analysis and evaluation to teachers.
The success of digital technology depends upon teachers’ ease of acceptance to the range of devices, their varying applications and the multiple formats in use (Goodman, 2002). Teachers who are not aware of the distinction between mp3 (audio streamed field) and a mpeg (video streamed file) format, may find themselves at disadvantages in making complete use of these technologies (Burge, 2000). A note of caution here- the digital image and video files are liable to over used or misused by students, and therefore they should be explained on its purposeful application in their educational curriculum.
One of the most important role of modern technological development has been creation of an inclusive atmosphere within schools where even children with physical disabilities can share the learning environment with other children, creating a wholesome educational experience for them (Naidu, 2003). Computers have indeed played here the vital role in bringing this change, by creating an extensive support platform for a multitude of assistive devices and equipments that are essential in creating the inclusive environment.
Students with disabilities are at severe disadvantage in meeting the requirements of social and educational requirement of the environment that is not specifically constructed for them (Willis and Raines, 2001). At the same time, the cost of creating and providing such specific environments is significantly high, both for parents and school authorities, with the result that children with disability are often required to cope up in a disparate educational system (O’Neil and Perez, 2003). Fortunately, recent technological developments have provided a range of effective interventions and functional improvement initiatives that allow children suffering from cognitive, visual, locomotive, linguistic, and various other disabilities to get past the limitations and participate in the educational process with almost similar ease as non disable children (Ivers, 2003). Depending upon their budgetary considerations, schools use high technology equipments that include sophisticated electronic systems to low technology devices such as Velcro fasteners. However, within the urban school system, computer hardware and software system are extensively used to provide students with disability a greater functional and operation zone by use of specialized interfaces and special software.
Increased use of computers as medium of instruction has leveraged schools to provide an equitable atmosphere of participation to disabled children. While normal children are given general input/output devices (keyboards, monitors, and optical mouse), new technological advancements have allowed a separate range of input/output devices that allow even disabled children to use computers as effectively as their normal peers (Goodman, 2002). These devices include Braille keyboards, marked keyboards and voice recognition system for visually disabled system that allows them to write information on computer without keyboard manipulations; pictographic keyboards and keyboards with large keys for children with cognitive disabilities, touch screen system for children with motor disability (O’Neil and Perez, 2003); speakers as output devices for visually disabled children where they can hear what they type in the computer; and projectors and magnification devices for children lacking motor skills (Baker and O’Neil, 1994).
The range of devices and their improvisations is very extensive; it is therefore important that schools educate their teaching staffs in understanding the use and application of these devices and technological advancements to draw maximum benefits out of them and create a robust educational environment and academic program that caters to the specific needs of children suffering from various disabilities.
With continued research, development and innovation in technological platforms and applications, the education system would further undergo a series of transformation-a pattern that is already marked by institutionalization of virtual classrooms and online collaboration. As the general flow of technology filters down, it is likely that future technological interventions in elementary education take place around lowering the physical boundaries of classrooms and creative a virtual collaborative space for all students.
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