We explore the advantages and disadvantages of using technology in the classroom, and discuss some examples of the technology used.
Technology is the perfect addition to any modern classroom. When it comes to learning, we want students to be engaged, motivated and to have fun.
From laptops to virtual reality headsets, there is a wide range of technology available to enhance learning within the classroom. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using technology in the classroom, and delve into the implementation of technology.
What is classroom technology?
We can define technology as man-made objects or processes designed to solve problems or assist us with tasks. Essentially, technology is anything that is created to address an issue or to make our lives easier. Although technology is a broad term, it is often used to refer specifically to digital forms of technology.
Now that we have a basic understanding of technology, let’s discuss the implications of classroom technology. This encompasses any technology that is used within a classroom in order to enhance a learning experience.
Technology has been present in classrooms for many years, but the use of technology in classrooms is constantly increasing. A study in 2020 revealed that 79% of teachers are using technology in almost every lesson. This is triple the number that it was 10 years ago.
The concept of using technology for educational purposes is referred to as educational technology, or edtech for short. The edtech industry is worth over 106 billion in 2021, and expected to reach almost 378 billion by 2028. We will be exploring some examples of classroom technology further down in this article.
5 benefits of technology in the classroom
Since technology is designed to solve problems or to assist us with tasks, it makes sense for us to utilise it in the classroom. There is even school-specific technology, designed just for improving student experience and efficiency within the classroom. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of classroom technology.
One of the biggest benefits of technology in the classroom is the element of immersion that comes with it. Engaging stories and colourful visuals are often tied to technology, which creates an interesting and immersive experience for students.
In such an engaging environment, motivation is likely to increase as students will be drawn to their lessons and they’ll have a genuinely enjoyable experience. One of the most immersive types of classroom technology is the use of virtual reality headsets, which we will discuss shortly.
Technology has the potential to create fun and engaging learning environments, making the learning process more enjoyable for students. Games or game-like scenarios can even be incorporated into lesson plans to increase productivity and enjoyment. This process is called gamification.
In our modern world, young people tend to spend a lot of time on their devices. Since they already enjoy technology, we can cater towards their interests and experience by implementing technology in the classroom.
If you’re interested in learning more about teaching using technology, check out our Teaching digital skills for sustainable education course.
Prepares students for adult life
The education sector is shifting towards more technology-based methods, and most other industries are doing or have done the same. Office-based jobs typically no longer require pen and paper work, so why should we be sticking to old methods within the classroom?
By allowing students to get accustomed to the use of digital technology, we can equip them with the knowledge needed to succeed in a work environment. Technology is also used for an array of everyday tasks now, such as booking a doctor’s appointment.
The ability to personalise lessons and plans for specific students has never been more accessible. Working with learning management systems allows for an extremely personalised experience. Teachers can log in to see exactly what students are struggling with or excelling at, in a fast and efficient manner.
These systems can log progress and act as a digital database for storing information about learner habits and grades. With access to these insights, it’s easy for teachers to prepare work specifically for each student’s needs and wants.
To learn how to adapt your classroom to be more digital, check out our Digital transformation in the classroom course.
Who can benefit from technology in the classroom?
So, now that we know how incredible the use of technology in the classroom can be, let’s look at who can benefit from digital classroom tools.
Children today have likely grown up surrounded by technology and internet-related media. These younger generations will largely benefit from learning in a way that they’re comfortable with. Technology can be beneficial in any level of education; primary school, secondary school and so on.
In a primary school, students can benefit from the use of interactive whiteboards to bring the class together and carry out activities as a class. Interactive whiteboards are also very handy for showcasing videos or other visual materials. Even YouTube can be a handy teaching tool, and has endless amounts of educational content.
Another useful form of technology in the primary classroom is parent management apps such as ClassDojo. This app allows teachers to contact parents and update them with photos and videos of the students. It also allows children to use the app to showcase work they are most proud of.
Secondary school and college
Students in secondary school and college can benefit from learning management systems. As we discussed earlier, this is an efficient way of keeping track of students’ progress. These platforms also allow students to receive direct feedback from their teachers and access class materials as well as additional content.
Virtual reality and augmented reality, although pricey, can also really bring a classroom to life. These devices can create extremely immersive environments, and enhance learning material massively.
University students can improve their learning experience with the use of technology in the form of tablets and computers. Revision, assignment submissions and research can all be carried out using this technology. Books are no longer our only source of information, and the endless supply of information online can speed up any research process.
Tablets are also very useful for taking notes during lectures, and can even be paired with pens to replicate a natural writing process. Apps can be a very strong tool for university students too. Interactive calendar apps can be life-saving for organising study time around lectures, and there are many educational or study apps available.
This group of people potentially benefit the most from technology in the classroom. Technology is ideal for improving the learning process for students, but it is also extremely beneficial for educators.
With platforms that allow teachers to monitor student progress virtually, managing a class has never been easier. It can be difficult to stay on top of an entire class of students, knowing what is best for each student and carefully crafting lessons around that.
Not only can teachers access information about students in order to provide a personalised learning experience, but they can also get lesson assistance via technology. There are a wide variety of tools available to assist with lesson planning, and even pre-made lesson content if needed.
Teachers can even utilise ready-made lesson plans that incorporate augmented reality into lessons, which makes for an exciting learning experience. Studies have shown that 49% of teachers agree that technology has made them more efficient at planning and giving lessons.
Disadvantages of technology in the classroom
We now know that technology has the potential to enhance classroom learning and make learning more enjoyable. However, as with most things, there are pros and cons of technology in the classroom. Let’s look at some disadvantages.
Unfortunately, a lot of this technology can be incredibly expensive to buy. School budgets are often very limited, and a lot of thought needs to go into where this money is spent. Because of this, there may not always be room in the budget for new technology.
Even the more affordable forms of tech such as outdated models of tablets can be expensive. When you consider the number you’d need to buy so that each student in a class has equal access, this becomes a huge expense.
Another disadvantage of technology in the classroom is internet access. Schools in some countries may not have internet access or a good connection. These schools may struggle to make good use of things like tablets, online apps and virtual reality.
With younger audiences, extra care will need to be taken to keep devices safe. Technology with screens can be very delicate, and young people who are still learning to play and use devices run the risk of smashing or cracking technology.
This, paired with the cost which we discussed above, can make it tricky to justify the purchasing of expensive items in the classroom. To combat this, teachers should ensure that protective casing is provided with all relevant technology. Students should also be monitored at all times when given access.
Along with access to useful tools and information, the internet provides a wealth of games and social media. If given access to computers, tablets and phones for educational purposes, students may become distracted and pay less attention to their studies.
It’s important to monitor internet usage and be sure that your students are looking at relevant content. Technology used by students should also always have restricted access to ensure that they cannot accidentally access inappropriate material.
Another difficulty of managing a digital classroom is the training opportunities for educators. Not all teachers are comfortable using technology in their classrooms, and some may have worked using traditional methods for a large portion of their careers.
According to studies, there are still 13.6% of teachers who have not heard about edtech. This same study also found that 54% of public school teachers feel there is not enough tech training available to them.
Schools should provide technology training for the teachers to ensure that all staff are happy using technology within the classroom. Without doing so, there could be an issue with unhappy staff and delays in lessons with teachers trying to figure out how to use the technology needed.
Examples of technology in the classroom
Virtual reality headsets
This is quite possibly one of the most exciting developments in the edtech industry; VR is an immersive way for students to absorb information. These headsets allow you to virtually visit different locations and educational sites, all from the comfort of the classroom.
As we discussed in our VR in education blog post, there are VR headsets designed specifically for classroom use. ClassVR headsets support individual learning or synchronised learning environments, from ancient Egypt to a simulated digital classroom.
As well as providing an excellent learning platform for within the classroom, these can also be used to learn together from home too. This makes them perfect for blended learning.
These are essentially a hybrid between a laptop and a smartphone. There are a large variety of tablets on the market, and they range in functionality and price. There are even tablets that connect to keyboards and perform the exact same functions as a laptop.
Tablets can be used to access the internet for information, educational games, podcasts and YouTube. This device is incredibly versatile, and is very hands-on which can be engaging for younger students.
These act as a giant tablet for students to interact with, making for a fun collaborative space. Smart tables come with a variety of educational apps and games already installed, so students have a lot of options when using the table.
These tables are spill proof and scratch-resistant, making them perfect for younger classrooms. Due to the size of this device, groups of students can work together and play as a group which also develops their social skills.
The use of 3D printers in classrooms is becoming more common throughout the world. This is a more creative element of technology, and really allows students to develop their creative and digital skills.
These printers give students the opportunity to create their own items using 3D models they have built themselves on 3D modelling software. Since this technology is so unique and interesting, it can be a lot of fun for students to work with.
Integrating technology in the classroom
In order to implement a digital classroom plan at your school, you should make sure that you’re choosing the appropriate technology for your classroom. Consider the age, specific needs, interests of your students and subjects they’ll be studying.
As we touched on earlier, it is important to make sure that teachers are trained and comfortable using devices before they are introduced in the classroom. After all, teachers are there to teach, so they need to be able to assist students that may be struggling.
Students should also be taught how to correctly use the devices and handle them properly. It can be frustrating for students to figure out technology if they haven’t been shown how to.
The aim of using technology in the classroom is to improve the knowledge of students. Technology does this in a way that is fun for learners and easy for teachers, so you should always check in and make sure your students are happy. If technology is having a negative impact on your students, it may not be worth having in the classroom.
For school leaders that are interested in making a technology integration plan, our Leadership of educational technology in schools course is a great place to start.
It’s safe to say that technology in the classroom is improving the learning process for students and teachers all over the world. With technology becoming more prominent in recent years, technology in the classroom is sure to keep developing.
We hope this article has provided you with a good understanding of how technology can be used within the classroom, and the benefits of doing so. If you are interested in learning more about engaging students with technology, our Virtual scenarios to create effective learning course is a great place to start.