Friday, April 24, 2015

Integrating Educational Technology 2:Considerations parents and educators should make before going virtual.

Education should provoke critical thought for the learning process to win. Technology should enhance teacher proficiency for easy adoption. Education should be an active process. Technology should make the activation cheap in both time and money.

The value of educational technology is enormous but the risks when handled badly is much more. So, what are the considerations before going the way of integrating educational technology?

  1. How comfortable is the teacher with the said technology?

  2. Parents should consider this question before allowing their children to be part of any virtual education program. The teacher or institution involved should be ready to show proof that they are well trained in the use of technology and the use is accepted in current educational pedagogy.

    We want our children to be digital natives
    Credit: Juan Cristóbal Cobo on Flickr
  3. What skills will the use of technology introduce that the traditional classroom does not already?

  4. Or, in brief, what does the teacher or school belief technology will add in way of learning and skills acquisition that their current traditional classroom based settings does not? The parents should also consider the cost of such benefits before making a decision.

  5. Will the school or teacher be consistent in his practice?

  6. When the integration of technology in teaching is not consistent, it demonstrates a lack of preparedness. Preparedness involves taking notice of network access, software, learning management systems, lesson plans, assessments and systems of administration, in such a practice. When all these resources are not harmonized and in place, integrating technology into learning becomes a stop-go affair and impacts on students’ learning.

  7. How much experience does the teacher or institution have?

  8. It will be beneficial if the touted experience is validated by a certificate. Experienced teachers are more creative in the use of technology. They can adapt to student changing needs better, as well as adapt their teaching resources when necessary.

  9. Will the computers come cheap?

  10. This is the question of the cost of the integration. Parents and teachers should count the cost of resources to be used: devices, software, licensing, intellectual property etc and make sure that none of these should serve as a hindrance to the implementation of technology as a method or platform for teaching. It is expected though that an experienced teacher or institution should have taken these into its business plans before launch.

  11. Will it be a fulltime affair or blended learning environment?

  12. Blended learning environment is where some of the teaching and learning previously carried out in the classroom is now done online or using technology, while learning also takes place in the classroom simultaneously. A parent should consider if his/her child is ready for fulltime online learning or if not, whether blended learning will be better. This decision most times depends on the policies of the education authority that covers the district, the ability to pass tests and exams, especially state-wide tests and exams, as well as if the child will be carrying out such learning alone or with other students.

  13. How much support will the parent or institution offer?

  14. Online learning is a novel experience for many students, although in western countries it is slowly becoming the norm. Parents and educators who are thinking of integrating technology into their children’s learning should be ready to give them needed support. They should access the child’s records regularly, tracking his/her progress and the teacher’s teaching methods. They should also apply for a sit-in to a teaching session when the time permits.

Attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about integrating technology into education varies. One point every stakeholder should keep in mind is – student outcomes. How much of student learning will be enhanced? How can this be verified? That should be at the mind of all parents and educators whenever a decision is made for technology in education.

Previous: Integrating Educational Technology 1: Making sense of the promise of educational technology.

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