Justifiably, the world of education has taken a close look at disparities in learning among the K-12 education population for quite some time. The advent of the pandemic brought the conversation to a new level with overnight changes in learning processes before the education system could strategically respond.
Now that time has passed and students, teachers, and parents are navigating the post-pandemic era of best education methods, both new and old teaching challenges are more critical to address now more than ever before. However, unlike anytime in history, students are positioned to quickly propel into the “new world” of learning thanks to education technology.
Also unlike anytime in education history, the unique learning methods and socio-economic differences within the student population can be addressed with much more effectiveness thanks to technology. What appeared as an obstacle yesterday is merely a new technique today.
Today, we highlight three ways that Education Technology rises to meet the challenges:
Lower-economic education regions tend to have larger per-class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios. Comprehensively addressing this issue by way of increasing facility space and hiring additional teachers will always be the longterm goal.
In the interim, education technology is the primary method to increase the impact that a single classroom (and/or teacher) can have when faced with larger classroom sizes.
Teachers can use various technologies to asses the reach of certain information, cognitive gaps, and identify struggling students. The earlier the child’s struggles are identified, the greater opportunity the teacher has to apply a technique best to bring that child up to a successful phase.
Appropriate use of technology is the key. Technology can allow a single teacher to simultaneously address greater quantities of students in some settings, while helping to encourage smaller-group participation in other learning scenarios. The post-pandemic increase of available technology for multiple learning environments has opened the door to new approaches teachers may have overlooked in the past.
Most K-12 students have returned to the in-person classroom. However, the pandemic helped the education system address and overcome previous uncertainties with “away-from-school” learning techniques necessary to help students stay on track when unable to make it to the classroom for a variety of reasons.
Many previous K-12 curriculums have achieved the transition from a sole in-person approach to a hybrid methodology deployable either within the in-person classroom or at home (or both). The transition is more than merely sending the student home with their curriculum on a device. Rather, the goals of the curriculum should be addressed by keeping in mind what pieces are “synchronous” or “asynchronous” to the in-person setting. (Collegis Education)
For example, student presentations and group projects may naturally evolve to hybrid participation by using technologies such as web conferencing systems, Google Meet and Google Drives, LMS (Learning Management Systems), among other popular technologies readily available in most systems. In these scenarios, the basic technology has been available for a long time, but not utilized to its utmost capacity within the learning environment until the recent 2-3 years.
“We have been hearing a lot about it lately, but it has actually been around since the early 2000s. It’s an approach of education in which digital technology blends in with traditional analog teaching methods. But blended learning actually encompasses multiple pedagogies and learning methods, some of which you probably already experienced or used.” (Viewsonic)
Blended learning is an approach of education in which traditional in-person classes are supplemented or supported with technology and learners take advantage both of online and offline resources. The technologies it uses are plentiful, and the degree of implementation also varies greatly from one school or institution to the other. Despite one might think, blended learning doesn’t aim to replace the teachers with technologies. Instead, the teachers take advantage of technologies to support their lessons and better focus on the individual needs of the students. It brings a whole new set of possibilities in terms of flexibility and accessibility, placing the learner at the center of its learning process. (Viewsonic; Contact your Intech Southwest rep for more solutions available thanks to their partnership with Viewsonic.)
Tight district budgets and allocations may always be a challenge, and administrators are constantly tasked with task of stretching dollars into multi-use solutions. Schools with healthy budgets for textbooks may have a temporary advantage; however, the textbook-only approach widens the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” among districts. Technology perfectly addresses this challenge.
At minimum, technology can help K-12 students access greater cloud-based pools of resources that are consistently updated and thereby surpass the value of the textbook, while teaching the student to discern methods of research and sourcing validity.
Even the basic increase of video in the classroom is a simple way to increase technology’s impact on learning.
“Research has indicated that learning is improved by a variety of learning methods. In particular, the two main channels of memory acquisition – auditory and visual – can be harnessed to improve what is known as cognitive load. This means that when video and talking methods are combined, students can take on more material than one or the other in isolation. Video clips can therefore be used to complement more traditional teaching methods in order to reinforce students’ learning.” (Viewsonic)
At best, technology within the schools can be the primary motive for the child to realize their fullest potential and identify appealing professions in ways that textbooks do not have the ability to do.
Intech Southwest helped Northeast ISD achieve cutting-edge “technology as a classroom” when they developed the school’s Institute of Cybersecurity and Innovation building in 2021. Created to help prepare students for the cybersecurity workforce, the technologies that Intech built into the space and the program is slated to promote real-world style interactivity and allow students to earn industry certifications as well.
This is one of many technology labs that allow districts to best prepare their student population for not only their own careers but also for emerging society technological needs.
Whether an old, familiar challenge, or a new and unresolved challenge, one thing is clear: Technology is poised to be among the top solutions to resolve the challenge.
To review how your institution ranks with current and available technologies, contact your Intech Southwest rep to learn about new solutions that can better equip your teachers and students to rise to today’s education environment challenges and foster new creative ideas.