Teachers in the 21st century are competing for students’ attention. The internet, smartphones, tablets and other digital devices provide distractions for modern students, and even outright bans do not seem to remedy the issue. Future teachers and administrators with Master of Education degrees learn to focus their attention on the role of technology in the classroom, and find workable solutions to these problems.
Students’ technology use
A Pew Research study in April of 2015 found that nearly three-quarters of high school students have access to a smartphone. That number jumps to nearly 90 percent when we include all mobile phones. With so many students using technology in the classroom, many see students’ engagement with educational materials waning. Even well-intentioned students can become distracted from research tasks while using the Internet. As one veteran teacher puts it, “It’s pretty hard to compete with a very funny YouTube video.”
Too much tech
While some teachers are fighting back by using technology in the classroom for educational purposes, there is a risk of being overwhelmed. With full schedules of teaching their respective subjects, how can teachers find the time to learn new technologies? For some, the answer is focusing and sharing the work.
Andrew Marcinek, director of technology for Grafton Public Schools in Massachusetts, recommends fostering an environment of sharing around technology. Instructional technology specialists and even students are great resources for new technologies. However, he cautions that too much technology can be not only distracting, but also frustrating. For him, “learning goals and objectives ““ not devices or applications ““ still drive classroom engagement.”
Mobile phones, tablets, and the Internet are not going away. More students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds are accessing these technologies, and developers launch new applications every day. The thought of integrating these technologies may be overwhelming for some. However, thoughtfully engaging technology and sharing the workload can make using technology in the classroom a worthwhile endeavor.
Learn more about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in Digital Learning and Leading program.