Technology remains–still–a love-hate relationship between teachers and teaching. Yes, it enriches learning but at the price of too many problems, preparation required, and confusion. I like Felicia Zorn’s summary of how that go-nogo decision really has become ‘get with the program’.
Growing up, my generation did not use verbs like ‘Google’ or proper nouns such as ‘Siri’. We were the pioneers of the digital era. We played Oregon Trail, asked Jeeves questions for our research, and waited for hours while Napster downloaded our favorite songs. Now, children are digital natives. Children as young as two are utilizing tablets, exploring the apps on smartphones, and accessing knowledge via the internet. How do we as educators keep up with this trailblazing generation who can navigate technology at breakneck speeds? Or better yet, why should we integrate online learning into our classrooms? There are countless strategies and resources at your fingertips, but this article will spotlight the importance of digital teacher support for your blended learning environment.
Digital resources can save teachers innumerable hours of planning, grading, assigning, and assessing in the classroom. As online resources develop and create more curricula, teachers will transform classroom dynamics by devoting less time to lecturing and spending more time enriching and mentoring. Rigorous, standards-aligned content is uploaded daily to educational websites, apps, and test banks. Most online assignments are auto-graded and scores are sent directly to a digital gradebook for teachers. Assessments can be altered with settings to meet the needs of all students with a few short clicks.
Once upon a time, teachers built all lessons and units from scratch. Now, one search engine result can produce thousands of performance-enhanced tasks, ready to print .pdfs, and links to supplemental activities. With thoughtful reflection on the craft, teachers can spend a fraction of the time once dedicated to tailoring units of instruction thanks to online resources. Once delivered, these lessons can be easily altered and adjusted to meet the needs of future students or diverse learners.
Too often, teachers are asked to implement a new resource in the classroom with little to no formal training or explanation as to the purpose. The demands and constraints of a normal day’s routine often inhibit the dedication towards learning a new website or strategy. Time is needed to devote to exploring these tools, and professional development is key.
After adequate training, online resources such as USATestprep become go-to materials in the classroom. Not only are they easily accessible, but they can also save time for teachers. Many online resources do not have to be printed, copied, stapled, or hole-punched. Teachers can spend less time constructing lessons and more time developing approaches to the content for multiple learning styles in the classroom.
The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) finds that “technology – when implemented properly – can produce significant gains in student achievement and bo
ost engagement, particularly among students at risk.” Notice that the report articulates the need for proper training for teachers in order for students to experience success. While
many believe that the direction of adding technology to the classroom will remove the need for teachers, the study also emphasizes that “replacing teachers with technology is not a successful formula. Instead…achievement occurs by pairing technology with [trained] classroom teachers who provide real-time support and encouragement to students.”
About the Author
Felicia Zorn has taught both middle school in Georgia and elementary school in Tennessee. A big Atlanta Falcons fan, she and her husband live outside Atlanta, GA.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.