Schools today are out of touch with what interests students. Technology is in every part of a child’s life except school. Schools need to develop technology plans for communication between the staff of the school as well as to parents and the community. Teachers also need to incorporate technology into their lessons and assignments in order to engage and interest students. For schools to compete for students’ attention, they must begin to integrate technology and make lessons more exciting and relevant.
Students today are the first generation of kids who will grow up never knowing a time before the Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones. They are used to a fast-past, instant-access lifestyle, and that is where the breakdown between students and schools begin. Schools are too antiquated to keep students’ interest. In order to reach students of today, schools must embrace and integrate a technology plan into everyday instruction and assignments.
Technology is a change agent for improving teaching and learning practices and outcomes. Students already have access to technology almost everywhere they go except for school. Teachers often feel like they cannot get through to students by using the standard teaching practices of lecture and response. Likewise, students would be much more interested in watching a video about the topic, researching different sides to an assignment on the Internet, or making a presentation on the computer. As Latchford (2009) found, “We are becoming an increasingly digital and technological dependant society. For us to stay current with how students are interacting and learning, we need to tap into what kids are using to communicate and learn about their world outside the classroom” (Regional News, ¶ 15). Much more interest and success would come out of daily lessons if teachers found ways to use technology in many lessons.
Another area where technology can be a significant help is in improving communication. Staff issues, memos, meetings, are better communicated through an inter-school web system like an Intranet than through paper notices or bulletins. Students who forget assignments or have questions would benefit from a website with access to assignments and a place to post questions after hours. Relaying information to parents through email and automated phone messages is a huge asset. Everyone in the community benefits from a technological communication system.
There are many obstacles in the way of having a technologically proficient school. The amount of money it costs to properly equip schools with computers, laptops, and video equipment is staggering. But changes must be made to make schools more relevant in students’ lives. Another obstacle is training. Many times the students know more about the devices than the teachers. Teachers need to be trained and feel comfortable using the devices in everyday lessons. Teachers who are comfortable doing the same lessons they have been doing for years may not want to learn and develop something totally new. However, the only way to be truly successful in reaching and teaching students is to engage them first. Teachers must understand that technology is simply a way of life for today’s students, and they must join them.
Creating an instructional technology plan for the entire school is the first step toward bridging the gap. Administrators need to be utilizing technology to reach their staff, students, and parents. All teachers need to look at their lesson plans and figure out ways they can incorporate technology into their instruction and assignments. As a school, there needs to be a decision made as to how many lessons each week must have a technology component, with incentives being given to those who do more, and help given to those who need it. Students could be utilized for their knowledge and take part in designing the assignments and lessons. Feedback from teachers and students about how they feel the lessons have improved should be presented at the end of the year.
Within the classroom, there are many ways to present material using technology. High school students are notoriously bored with school, but they will be engaged if they feel it means something to them and their future. A lesson on the Rodney King riots in 1992 could really engage students if they felt connected to it. After first presenting the basic facts and having students write their initial reactions to what happened, the teacher should show the video of Mr. King being beaten. This would provoke emotional responses that are not possible without the students actually seeing the footage. Once the students view the video, they could write about their feelings, what they think Mr. King and the officers were feeling at the time, and share their thoughts with the class.
The next day, the students could utilize the Internet to learn more about the verdict and the riots that followed. They could find music that mentioned the riots or the atmosphere of hatred and oppression that was felt at the time. Students would have thought about how these events affected them in their lives, and have learned about the judicial system, civil rights, and how public reaction can change the course of events in our nation. For an assignment, students choose an area of the situation they wanted to research, and make a presentation to the class.
Technology is not a fad; it is a way of life. Schools are supposed to be the leaders in new information and learning, but in this area they are falling short. There are a number of reasons why schools are not up to the standards they need to be, but that needs to be remedied as soon as possible. Students are missing out on engaging and valuable learning experiences that could change the course of their lives. Technology needs to be implemented into every school, and every classroom’s lessons.
Latchford, T. (2009, May 6). Classroom Technology Needs to Catch Up: Teacher. Retrieved
May 8, 2009 from http://www.theliberal.com/News/Regional%20News/article/91473