I-Class? Examining Educational Technology

Remember the days – hunting through the Webster dictionary, determined to prove to our friends we know how to spell the word “foreign.” Ask any grade-school student and they may look at you and laugh. Why use the dictionary when you can use your laptop, I-phone, I-pod, I-pad, or the always pleasant Siri to correct your spelling? But it’s not only the students who have embraced technology. Tour any modern High school, middle school, or even Elementary school, and you may find a smart board on the wall. With just a swipe of the hand, a teacher can shuttle her students from the Great Wall of China, to the Hagia Sophia.

Like most advances in technology, it’s easy to mistake it all for improvement. Is a technologically enhanced learning environment a step above what came before? My teachers used chalkboard and dictionaries, and I turned out just fine. But this is a different generation; one that experiences nearly half of their life, maybe even more, staring at a screen.

The best way to look at this is from a pro & con perspective. According to edudemic.com the two greatest pros of educational technology are: as a compliment to the teacher (smart board) and as a source of endless information for the students – think Google Scholar. Technology has even changed the format and location of learning. For example, Roman Sahakov describes it as:

“The Internet has given education a new dimension – distance learning and online education. Students no longer have to physically attend classes to be a part of one classroom”

Thanks to technologies such as Skype, students can now connect with tutors, teachers, and classmates directly from home. In fact, many higher education courses can now be taken online. What it really comes down to, in my opinion, is the mastery the tutor or teacher has of technology. This command goes beyond mere competency and delves into morals. An infinite amount of information, social groups, and means to getting a better grade puts the student in a dilemma. How do they conduct themselves properly? An effective technological educator must also teach ethics and manners when it comes to utilizing what is out there. Here’s a helpfull info-graphic explaining ten ways in which a student can be a good digital citizen.

A competent private tutor will teach the student how to use technology as a compliment to their own knowledge. Naturally, the ability to cheat, plagiarized, and share will be present, tempting the student to take the easy way out. It’s up to the educator to condone this, and, as a result, facilitate learning. An effective tutor/educator will utilize technology as a tool.

Through example and exposure, an educator should familiarize the student with the right technology. For instance, websites such as STUDYBLUE and Quizlet offer great ways for a student to become a faster learner. Instead of fumbling through hundreds of note-cards, why not use a computer program to neatly store and organize everything you need to know? Further, there’s no risk of dropping the hand-written cards all over the busy hallway.

So, is educational technology a good thing? The best answer is it most certainly can be. The temptations are the same, they’ve just been given a new platform. That’s why a competent, aware, and moral tutor will show through example the endless ways technology can improve a student’s own intelligence. As a result, a student will build a healthy relationship with technology, and use it as a means instead of an end.

What do you think? Will there be robotic Orange County private tutors in the future? We certainly hope not.

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