Technology plays a bigger role than ever in the classroom, a fact underscored by the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers increasingly must know how to incorporate technology in the classroom to engage students, particularly with effective online learning.
Teachers who learn how to incorporate technology in the classroom are better prepared to lead modern classrooms and reach students who have grown up with digital devices and the internet. It also provides opportunities for teachers to become more efficient at their jobs.
Pros and Cons of Online Learning
Online learning has advantages, but it also presents challenges. Knowledge and skills in online learning and technology can help teachers overcome the cons and get the most from the advantages.
Cons of Online Learning
While online learning presents many advantages, teachers also must stay aware of the downsides. Some of the biggest include the following, outlined by educational services company Petersen’s.
Little or no face-to-face interaction. It’s important to design engaging and informative online lessons because the time spent on face-to-face instruction is limited.
Self-discipline and self-direction. Teachers must support students in developing the self-discipline needed to complete online coursework with no one looking over their shoulder.
The teacher is not the center of attention. One of the fundamental aspects of teaching is the ability to command students' attention, but that is limited with online courses.
Technology issues. Some students did not have access to coursework in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns because they did not have the necessary computer equipment.
Advantages of Online Learning
Online learning presents many advantages for teachers who learn how to use innovative technology. First and foremost is the efficiency of online learning. Teachers can upload course material, assignments and lectures once. Students can access everything they need from anywhere they have a computer connection, using multiple devices.
Online learning can also improve attendance for children since they have convenient access to course materials. And because online learning has a wide range of options and resources, students can adjust the experience to better suit their own learning style.
Other advantages include:
- Online access to a diverse set of resources
- Ability to bring in guest speakers from wherever they are in the world
- An improved learning environment for students who do not do well with in-person learning
- A chance for students to develop strong time management and discipline skills that will serve them well throughout life
How to Incorporate Technology in the Classroom
The Forbes Technology Council recently produced a list of ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. In addition to online learning, other methods include the following:
- Student progress tracking. With more assignments done in a digital environment, teachers can track progress to see where students have issues requiring the teacher’s support.
- Tech-enabled student presentations. From PowerPoint to streaming video, students can use technology to enhance presentations.
- Learning math through coding. This gives teachers a way to show students how they may use math later in life.
- Educational smartphone apps In the classroom. These provide students access to a wealth of educational information, all through their phones.
- Chat rooms for homework help. Teachers can interact with students on homework issues through a dedicated chat room.
- Video and multimedia instruction. Technology allows teachers to enrich course materials.
- Digital field trips. Through virtual tours, students can “travel” anywhere.
It’s important for teachers to first use these tools on their own to understand how they work and the best ways to put them to use. They should also plan an introductory session with students that provides detailed information on using each tool and set goals for work completion.
Fresno Pacific’s Computer Projects for the Classroom Course
Fresno Pacific University offers various online professional development courses for teachers, many of them focused on how to incorporate technology in the classroom. They include the Computer Projects for the Classroom course that focuses on practical uses of technology in the classroom.
The course is designed to provide K-12 teachers and curriculum developers multiple resources to use computers to develop lessons. Teachers in the course learn how to use technology to create projects that boost student academic performance.
The course provides educators with strategies for incorporating technology in the classroom to make them more efficient at their jobs while developing lesson plans that make learning more exciting for students. They also teach students methods for using technology that addresses their cultural identity and social needs.