By 2017, nearly every school district in the U.S. gave students access to technology for learning. Ranging from computer labs to tablets to cell phones to laptops, schools engage varied technology platforms to embrace this tech-savvy generation. During the pandemic, technology took center stage in education — something that isn’t likely to change. In an article for The Guardian, veteran teacher Mike Britland comments: “Making use of technology to allow students the freedom to discover solutions to problems both independently and collaboratively is a force for good. As educators we strive for students to engage with our subject beyond a superficial level. We want them to be active learners, learners who have a thirst for discovery and knowledge. Technology places the world in the hands of every student inside the confines of your classroom.” So how has technology changed teachers’ job descriptions?
Teaching and Participating in Digital Literacy.
Teachers educate their students on digital literacy and therefore must be digitally literate themselves. Teachers of previous generations have not needed digital proficiency in the way today’s teachers do. For many veteran teachers, this is a skill they may need to learn in order to adequately engage a 21st generation audience. In many cases, school districts may need to offer digital literacy courses to teachers, no matter their experience, to keep them up to date on technology trends. This allows teachers to best engage with their students.
Adaptive Teaching Methods Using Technology.
Adaptive education suggests that education does not need to be viewed as one-size-fits-all. The introduction of different technologies gives teachers new tools to accommodate and closely work with students with different learning abilities. DreamBox Learning, an adaptive learning platform, suggests that “[teachers are] integrating technology into instruction by encouraging students to use computers for research or work with adaptive learning technology to grasp new concepts.”
Adaptive learning not only allows students to seek understanding for themselves. Rather, it allows students to engage information in the way that best suits their style of learning. This highly personal level of study allows teachers to make sure each student’s needs are being met.
Teachers as Facilitators of Learning.
Technology allows teachers to serve as facilitators guiding students to discover new information for themselves. This is a step away from traditional lectures. Rather than viewing PowerPoints, students perform their own research. Varied activities and projects allow teachers to impart their own knowledge but teach students how to learn for themselves. This serves as an essential skill in university studies. As a result, the teacher’s role changes, moving away from lecturing and towards engaged, hands-on learning interactions with their students.
Combating Distractions in the Classroom.
Of course, technology introduces a plethora of new distractions for students. Social media provides a constant distraction for teens in addition to sites like Youtube and Netflix. Part of the teaching job description now includes finding new and creative ways to combat these distractions. This tactics may look like school-wide technology policies that prohibit the use of certain sites on school-provided devices. Or, it may look like individual classroom policies on how students can use technology for that class. Perhaps, in a digital literacy course, teachers could educate students of the consequences of irresponsible technology usages. This would encourage students to use technology in the classroom appropriately to benefit themselves. Therefore, technology in classrooms teaches students educational independence and responsibility. This ultimately prepares them for college, where professors expect responsible technology use.
Keeping Students Safe Online
Technology can greatly benefit a student’s learning. However, it also exposes a student to a host of dangers, from cyberbullying to predatory grooming. It’s clear that technology is and will remain an integral part of contemporary classroom pedagogy. Therefore, it’s essential that schools adopt the tools necessary to keep students safe. Screen monitoring software, like LearnSafe, works with content filters to ensure student safety on on school computers. LearnSafe monitors digital behavior online and offline. LearnSafe’s customizable library allows schools to detect cyberbullying and threats to school safety in ways unique to their particular school environment. LearnSafe can also detect instances of grooming, allowing administrators to intervene and protect vulnerable students. In this way, LearnSafe works as a partner in preserving a safe learning environment in the digital and physical classroom.