Technology is sometimes blamed for the perceived degradation of youth. Doubtlessly you’ve heard at least one person complain about how “kids today” can move their thumbs like wildfire to send texts, but can’t read or write an essay that contains anything resembling proper sentence structure. While illiteracy is a problem that should be taken very seriously, tech is not immediately to blame for the issue. In fact, there are several ways in which technology is improving education.
Interestingly, the positive link between learning and technology goes way beyond replacing textbooks from the Cold War with tablets that contain up-to-the-minute information. Thanks to modern apps and programs, kids can assist in educating their peers, and even video games can get them moving around the gym. Here are five ways the best technology tools and gadgets are making education better.
“Lesson unbundling” – “Just like iTunes unbundled songs so you don’t have to buy a whole album just to get to that one great song, technology allows us to unbundle lessons from giant textbooks,” says Amy Murin of the Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning Blog. Lesson unbundling, according to Murin, allows teachers to form “lesson playlists” that are customized to each child’s learning needs. If a student needs to spend more time in yesterday’s lesson, for instance, he or she can hang back a little and take time to absorb it instead of being shackled to the textbook and forced to move ahead with the rest of the class.
Social networking connects students – Facebook and Twitter are good ways for kids to get in touch with each other and talk about homework and assignments. Needless to say, parents should keep a keen eye on their child’s social media habits to make sure these conversations are being conducted safely (and don’t veer off topic!). Blogging is also a great way to help kids practice and publish their writing, online galleries let young artists get helpful criticism on their work, and building a website might wake up the talents of a future coder.
Students can take an active role in teaching by editing sources like Wikipedia – Wikipedia, the world’s first open-source encyclopedia, is a storehouse of knowledge that anyone can edit. Not only can kids acquire information from Wikipedia, but they can also add their own facts and figures. Moreover, learning how to properly research via Wikipedia (and properly edit it) are lesson plans all on their own. For better or worse, there’s no avoiding the fact that school kids gravitate towards Wikipedia to get their information, so it’s extremely important that they learn how to use it responsibly.
Students can literally look up the answer to any question in seconds – Wikipedia isn’t the only source of information out there on the Internet, though. National Geographic’s website tells kids what they need to know about the world and its cultures. Animal Planet is brimming with information about insects and animals (including humans and our weird ways!). And if a child has a question about space, NASA has the answer. Old childhood favorites like, “Why is the sky blue?” can receive a well-researched, well-sourced answer in the blink of an eye.
Dance Dance Revolution is making physical education more fun – Video games are an important part of technological advancement, and they’re more than just pastimes. In 2007, schools began using the dancing/fitness game Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) to get kids to move around. Kids enjoy games in general, and moving along to DDR’s energetic graphics and music is typically more popular than getting whacked with dodgeballs for an hour.
For more information on how tech benefits education, read:
Benefits of Media for Children and Teens at RaisingChildren
Benefits of Online Social Networking at ParentFurther
Can Video Games Make Kids Smarter? at Education.com