Over the past 2 weeks, I have been thinking about the National Education Technology Plan and Computers in Education. As a recent college graduate who studied both Information Technology and Instructional Systems Technology, I see a great future for my career goals.
I think the biggest challenge is teacher training and integrating technology into education. Before using technology in the classroom, teachers need to make sure they know the basic computer skills (MS Office, e-mail, searching the internet, etc.) There are so many ways educators can use computers in their teaching. If a teacher has a computer with Internet access in their room, they can easily load websites in class for students to understand a topic better. Since there are many resources available for teachers to use in their lessons, how can they use all of them? They probably won’t have enough time to load each website in class, but they can easily compile a list of other resources students can access at home. This list could either be handed out in class or if a teacher has a website it could be posted up there.
Besides using technology in the classroom, teachers can also use the Internet to help them teach. There are many websites that have lesson plans listed. There are also newsgroups where teachers can exchange ideas with other teachers.
There are so many issues about how to integrate technology into education effectively. Even though I do not have classroom teaching experience, I know computer services would not be the department to help with this. Yes, they should be involved in computer related issues, but not instruction. Training staff on technology is a problem for many different fields. But technology training for teachers is different. Not only do they need to be trained on computer skills and how they can use these skills to help them teach, but they also need to learn how to use technology to help students learn. Maybe both the computer services department and curriculum and instruction department can work together to help teachers. The computer services can help them learn the skills, while curriculum and instruction can help them learn the benefits of these skills and how to integrate technology into the classroom.
Teachers can start integrating technology by having objectives or goals for each lesson. Then they can decide if media (print, video, website, multimedia) could help illustrate the topic or concept better. If media can, is there one that is more effective? Teachers also need to analyze the needs of their students. Do students not understand a concept or topic? Can technology help them understand this better?
I have already mentioned my thoughts about computer services being involved in this. However, their place is to develop websites for the school district or school. I am not sure how many school districts or schools have a website. If not all of them do or not have a well developed website, that should be part of a technology plan.
It is important that educators understand that what makes e-learning different is interactivity. When a learner answers a question on the screen, they get immediate feedback. Instead of just having a message on the screen that says wrong answer, there would be an explanation about why it wrong.
There are so many more thoughts I have about the use of technology in education and I hope one day I can make a difference. I know I would really enjoy training teachers on computer skills and how to integrate technology, designing educational websites, and developing e-learning.