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The history and future of technology in the classroom Essay Sample

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The history and future of technology in the classroom Essay Sample


In 1838, Horace Mann saddled his horse and set out on a journey to personally examine all of the existing school grounds in Massachusetts. Mann embarked on this trip because he believed that a system of common schools should be developed to offer an education for all of the children in the state. Mann was ultimately successful, and other states soon followed the example, earning Horace Mann the title of “Father of Modern Education”.

What is remarkable about Mann’s achievement is that he created a system of education without modern technology. He couldn’t use his computer to set up video conferences, send e-mails to important state officials, or create power point presentations to enhance the speeches he gave to bring about the needed reform. Instead, Mann rode a horse, wrote a basic reading and writing primer, and created what would eventually become the greatest education system in history that has evolved using the best technologies available at the time.

Students in Mann’s day used blackboards and chalk, dipped pens into inkwells, and sat in one room school houses. Today’s students, by contrast, attend classes in modern multi – room buildings that have access to modern computer technology and specialized classes. So how did technology become such an important part of education? Educational technology started with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids. Educational technology continued to advance with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in education (Fieldberg,2). The next stage of educational technology started with the development of mass media which in turn led to the ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education also became popular during this time. It is probably safe to say that the most stable aspect of life in the twenty-first century will be that of change.

The world has changed dramatically in just the last twenty years, and the rate of this change will only increase in the future. It has seems that each time our awareness and comfort level with technology increases, so does the complexity and sophistication of that very same technology Moore, 29). As an example, contrast the simple use of computer hardware and software for Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)–pioneered in the late 1960s–with the more complex idea of Technology-Based Education (TBE) of today. CAI provided teachers with drills designed to target specific concepts or skills that they were already teaching through other means. The typical hardware and software used in CAI was simple drill and practice programs–programs that were, by today’s standards, elementary. However, the overriding principle was often “what can I make this computer do” rather than “how can I enhance student learning.” Professional programmers and hardware designers sought little input, if any, from educators (Loschert,10). The current concept of educational technology is defined by the concept of multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. Electronics is the main technology being developed in the beginning of 21st century (Fieldberg, 3).

Broadband Internet access has become popular and occupies almost all the important educational places and even in common places in developed countries with the advantage of connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones. In today’s classrooms, educational technology encompasses much more than desktop computers. Teachers have access to laptops and pocket PCs, digital cameras and microscopes, web-based video equipment, graphing calculators, and even weather-tracking devices. Since new laws require teachers to show greater ability to integrate technology into their lessons, administrators and students have high-tech expectations for their teachers as well. For students, technology has become a part of their everyday existence, and they’ve come to expect the same from their educational environment (Moore, 30). The Information Age and its technologies present us with new problems. Living in today’s society requires a much higher level of education, especially in light of concerns that the United States has fallen behind other industrial nations in areas such as trade, productivity, and ingenuity. Knowledge has taken new forms. With satellite communications and global computer networks comes the ability for literally instant access to information, but we have shifted from the acquisition of information to the selection and processing of information (Bailey, 18).

Educators are being called upon to adapt and adopt new modes of teaching that reflect the need for developing and fostering new modes of thinking in their students as well as themselves. Today’s classroom is more likely to be a technology lab, a room with rows of students using internet connected or Wi-Fi enabled laptops, notepad, or perhaps students are attending a video conferencing or virtual classroom or may have be listening to a podcast or taking in a video lecture. Rapid technological changes in the field of education have created new ways to teach and to learn. Technological changes also motivate teachers to access a variety of information on a global scale via the Internet, to enhance their lessons as well as to make them competent professional in their area of concern (Moore, 30). At the same time, students can utilize vast resources of the Internet to enrich their learning experience to cope up with changing trend of the society. The future looks bright for education. Teachers need to look at the signs and move forward, thinking about how we can modify what we’re currently doing and how to take advantage of the power of instructional technology. Schools will begin to shift from a total cost-of-ownership model to a pay-per-service model. With the ability to store, edit, and retrieve data and information on the web, internet-only devices will become adequate for school-use purposes.

Due to the reduced cost, districts will save significant funds on hardware purchases (Loschert, 11). Ubiquitous access to the web on school campuses will radically change how education is conducted. Due to anytime/anywhere access, technology will begin to realize its full potential to enrich classroom learning through tools that enable the following: information, organization, presentation, communication, collaboration, analysis, simulation, assessment, and evaluation (Bailey, 20). Students will be tied less and less to learning in a physical space. Rather, learning will be considered a full-time endeavor in a virtual space. Moreover, home access to information and services via web-based solutions will further this transition away from learning in a physical space. The concept of school may finally move away from the factory model (Loschert, 12). Students will also begin to maximize their learning through customized and individualized learning. With one-to-one computing, brought about by powerful, smaller and thinner devices, teachers will be able to offer meaningful, formative, ongoing assessment targeting individual needs. At the same time, more cooperative group activities will support the development of group skills through project-based learning environments enabled by dynamic web environments (Bailey, 8).

As a profession, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment–one in which we can take an active role in an important and needed shift in the role of technology in education. Education as a profession has traditionally taken a reactive stance. Technologies were created, many times by engineers and designers with little background in education, and it was left to teachers to take these products and decide how to make them work in their own situations. In short, educators had to react to what industry was producing (Fieldberg, 3). We are now beginning to see projects and programs in which educators and industry personnel work in tandem in the development of both hardware and software. Research in the effectiveness of the resulting technology is being carried out through field studies using real teachers with real students in real situations. Education has the opportunity to take a proactive stance by providing initiative and energy toward future development of technological resources that best foster higher levels of thinking and achievement (Moore, 30).

Technology as a major influence in our society will continue. Change will also simply be a part of life. The active integration of technology will continue to assist in making that perception fully accepted by administrators and educators. As one technology leads naturally to the next, computers will someday form the basis of classroom instruction. It may take a decade or a century, but it seems like a logical inevitability. If Horace Mann could step forward in time to see modern education in action, he would encourage educators to continue to build on the foundation that he created. Continuing to incorporate technology in education will keep our system of education the best in the world and prepare our students for the challenges of 21st century careers.

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