Oh, the Places You’ll Go

learning-traditional-vs-modern

In today’s society, the presence of technology is a fact of life. Like it or not, the 21st century ushered in a computer age and digital empire that is expanding daily. For teachers and students alike, this carries huge significance while presenting inherent challenges. Longstanding teachers experience the difficulty of adjusting their traditional teaching methods while familiarizing themselves with technology that initially seems foreign. New and prospective teachers, though acclimated to the integration of technology in their daily lives, struggle to pioneer methods of teaching that incorporate technology in the classroom because they themselves were taught with traditional methods. But as with anything, difficulty need not lead to deterrence.

When used effectively, technology in the classroom broadens the scope of questions that teachers can investigate with their students by enabling constructions, representations, and calculations that were before impossible. Teachers who remain leery about the presence of technology in the classroom have often not seen it used effectively first-hand. It is true that if students only use their TI-84 calculator to mindlessly punch numbers then the calculator use is not serving to push student thinking forward. However, if that same calculator is used to analyze graphs in Calculus or generate data plots in Statistics, then it affords students the chance to make connections regarding these concepts.

Furthermore, introducing technology in the classroom is not all or nothing- teachers may choose to slowly integrate technology depending on availability of resources and student ability. Simply having a document camera and a projector facilitates discussion by making it easier for students to share their work, and having access to a computer lab opens the door for using innumerable free web-based applications through which students can investigate an array of concepts. While trying to find technology and lesson plans to use in the classroom seems overwhelming to many teachers, there exists an ever-growing community of free online professional development and support groups designed to help teachers move towards the future of learning.

With the advent of classroom technology and digital resources, this is arguably one of the most exciting times to be a teacher. Yes, the transition from traditional methods to new learning styles is difficult, but seeing how far we have come in a few short years should excite educators. As long as teachers are willing to step out and try technology as it comes, there is no limit to where we might take our students, or, having prepared them for the future, where our students might take us.

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