To say that education technologies have come a long way in recent years would be a severe understatement. It’s hard to believe not too long ago I attended high school where the most complex piece of technology was my teacher’s projector or the campus copy machine. Recent technological advancements—the ubiquity of the web and mobile devices in particular—have enhanced and refined the learning process to a level that educators could scarcely have imagined a mere decade ago.
It’s one thing to paint the future of education with broad strokes regarding the endless possibilities of supporting technologies; it’s quite another matter to enumerate specific points about why it’s so darn important to take technology and education together a single unit. That’s what I’d like to do today: offer a compelling case for the union of cutting edge technology in the classroom, specifically in the English and language arts fields.
Apps that prioritize education on mobile devices
The first thing worth mentioning is the massive popularity of apps. Apps have become a prominent fixtures of our digital society, even in the field of education. Yes, a person could waste a great deal of time on countless gaming and puzzle apps, but they could also stand to learn quite a lot of valuable information from instructional and information-dense apps. There are plenty available, from Google-based apps for educators and students to be accessed from PCs and laptops to the thousands of educational apps that can be downloaded onto a mobile device.
The best thing about these educational apps is how they reprioritize the use of mobile devices in the classroom. Not too long ago, the only mobile devices kids used in the classroom were illegal ones—think gaming devices and MP3 players. The thought of using a mobile device for educational purposes was completely beyond the scope of reality—but now educators can rely on mobile devices as real education tools.
CMS that bring a classroom together
CMS stands for content management software (also called LMS—learning management system), and it refers to digital databases accessible by a select group of people. Blackboard and Edmodo are two great examples of education-based CMS programs designed specifically with the classroom in mind. These CMS allow a teacher to create an isolated online environment that engages the entire class for an entirely new dynamic. Teachers can create forums and post prompts or ask critical questions for their students to answer in subsequent responses. Education-based CMS’s essentially allow teachers to transform their classroom into an interactive online community, a transformation that might help the web-savvy generation learn a subject more readily.
The interactivity of digital textbooks
The classic textbook will ever go out of style as there will always be a place in education for real books with real pages that teachers and students can leaf through as they learn their material; however, I also see the massive appeal in digital books such as the models touted by Apple recently. Digital textbooks such as these allow for such an intense and engaging form of interactivity, it’s hard to imagine how they could compromise a child’s education.
Imagine if an English student could read a passage from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and then watch a brief informational video in the margins explaining some basic history about Chaucer’s England? Or what if that same student reading the same text could highlight the Middle English with their fingers and translate the text into contemporary English? It’s only an example, but it shows how much potential there is for digital reading.
Angelita Williams is a freelance blogger writing for onlinecollegecourses.com. Angelita loves writing about the intersection of modern technology and higher education, particularly where it concerns teachers trying to give their students a well-rounded education. Feel free to leave Angelita some comments!