Technology In the Classroom



By: Jamshed N. Lam

We have seen many examples for the use of technology in the classroom and its benefits in today's society. A review of the nations report card (Philips, 2001; Science 2000 major results, 2001) indicate that science scores for grade 12 students were higher when:

  • There was weekly involvement in scientific activities by the teachers,
  • Computers were used to collect and analyze data,
  • Students had access to the internet at home,
  • The mode of instruction was inquiry based.

When teachers used computers for simulations and models or for data analysis, the students scored 5-6 points higher than those that had no computer access. This is in line with the trend towards conceptual understanding and scientific investigation. In science, students can use the computers to search for data (values of scientific constants, etc.), plot graphs of laboratory results and analyze data. Average scaled scores also improved when teachers had science demonstrations, or used multi-media or laser discs on science topics. However, the important fact is that it needs to be used appropriately for it to be effective.

The report showed that moderate use (once or twice a week) proved most beneficial. In classes where students had a daily dose of technology, scores were lower. A recommendation is that technology should be used to enhance the education by engaging students into higher order thinking skills and not as a substitute for teaching. The report also showed scores for minorities such as African Americans, American Indians and Hispanics to be much lower than average. Much of this is due to the lower socioeconomic status of these minority groups. Over the next few decades, this percentage will rise to about 40%. It is important that action be taken now to prevent them for slipping further and further behind. We have seen that technology can act as an individual tutor and a valuable tool for the struggling learner, for ESL students and for multicultural education. The 1997 amendment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stresses the importance of technology and indicates that AT devices and services should be necessary for children with special education requirements. Tech Act - P.L. 100-407 was proposed to increase the availability and quality of AT devices and services to all individuals and families in the United States. The ED Tech initiative plans to constantly develop new ways of applying technology into teaching and learning. Funds will be available for schools that serve concentrations of poor students. I believe this is a step in the right direction. We are currently penalizing schools with poor grades. Most of these schools are in the inner cities with lower socioeconomic status, lack of funding, equipment and teachers. Rather than withhold funds from these schools, I believe/recommend that these schools should be the ones to get funding for technology since it benefits the struggling student the most.

Today's economy is based on a global perspective. We need to compete and collaborate with the world. Thus education must be catered along these lines. Economics does not favor low skilled laborers in this country since labor is cheaper overseas. In order to get a job in today's workplace, higher thinking order skills are required. We have seen that this is possible with the use of technology. We also need to learn about different cultures and how to work on a global scale. Internet and web related projects where communities from different cultures all over the world can interact are beneficial. One of the shortcomings of American education is its weakness in teaching a second language or learning about the rest of the world. Projects such as e-mail for foreign languages or scientific projects over the Internet are strongly recommended. This helps students with real-life association and the ability to work in cross-functional environments.

Technology is a necessity in today's world and we must be ready for it. Parents want their children to graduate with skills that prepare them to either get a job in today's marketplace or advance to higher levels of education and training. Employers hire employees who are reliable, literate, able to reason, communicate, make decisions, and learn. The Department of Education, and other federal agencies recognize the essential role of technology in 21st century education.

Computers can provide universal success by dividing lessons into segments to the extent needed to make sure that everyone can accomplish something. They deliver results accurately and quickly (Bennett, 2002). The closer the connection between the action and reward, the more valuable and more effective is the reward. With computers and technology, learning can be a 24/7 process. Teaching will not be bound by time constraints.

Rushin (n.d.) has experienced the use of technology in the classroom. It helps make a better teacher. When students see their teacher trying new things, they become more engaged in the process. Technology allows students to see the whole world as a resource with themselves being in charge of their destiny. It also benefits students because they have choices and opportunities to explore and share information to a greater extent than available in a traditional classroom.

Technology is a versatile and valuable tool for teaching and learning and becoming a way of life. The most important thing is that teachers need to be prepared to use these technologies effectively. Schools can use technology effectively and for the welfare of students, teachers and society, it must be done.


By: Jamshed N. Lam

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