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By Tracy Anne Bell M.Ed.

The importance of technology in children's education

Thanks to technology, 92 percent of America's children have access to a global view of the world every day from computers. Children not only learn from computers but also tablets, mobile devices and even television programs. With these advancements, teachers, students and parents need to understand how technology is evolving in today's classrooms.

Teachers planning lessons

For teachers, technology can be used to motivate children because it brings the world to their fingertips. Lessons that were impossible 20 years ago can easily be achieved with the click of a mouse. If they want to create a lesson on the Amazon, a simple Internet search will find a web quest. If they need to teach polynomials, multiple videos on the Internet have it covered.

Almost all students enjoy using well-chosen technology, even if it is on mundane subjects.

The downside of having so much information is that it can lead to uninspiring lessons. ‘Drill and kill' and rote memorization should be used less often because children have encyclopedias of facts at their disposal. Teachers must take the time to choose wisely what they want to teach, and they should always have the children's safety as their first priority. Responsible adults need to review websites and software before giving children access.

Student diversity

Since the passing of the No Child Left Behind legislation, student populations have become extremely diverse. It is not uncommon for teachers to have students performing at multiple grade levels, speaking numerous languages and all of them residing in the same classroom. Technology helps bridge these gaps. Different software can track student progress, advance gifted students, and tutor struggling ones all in the same program. Assessments can quickly be graded. Immediately teachers can then fill in missing gaps instead of waiting to discover that a student missed a key concept.

Some limitations exist for children when they use technology. Students left unobserved can easily get sidetracked to wrong websites or just get bored and start mindlessly clicking anything that moves. Children should be monitored frequently to make sure they stay on task.

Parent's connections

Most schools now have children's data online for parents to see. Programs, such as Skyward Family Access and Infinite Campus, allow teachers to post grades for parents to access. They can check their children's grades daily and be an active part of the learning process.

The parent connection is restricted by how many parents actively participate and how quickly teachers enter the grades into the computerized grade book. Schools need to offer tutorials for parents to make the software less mystifying. Also, they should provide computers in their school libraries if a parent does not have a home Internet connection. Furthermore, administrators need to monitor teachers to make sure they are entering grades in a timely manner. This gives parents the option to intervene if necessary.

With teachers, students, and parents working together, children can become the remarkable creators and problem solvers needed for the future by learning with technology that is optimized for the 21st century.

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