Unlike many of their teachers, millennials have grown up with technology. In fact, it’s one of the basic requirements in today’s society for them. This invites discrepancy between the generations, but, luckily, its effects are slowly reduced. This is good news because the classroom technology application is difficult for educators who aren’t digital natives. Luckily, once they realize how much technology benefits teachers, regardless of specialization or their students’ age, they quickly get on board, then continue developing their skills. Now, let’s examine why they get so committed.
1. Access and distribution of materials
We discussed this when we analyzed the effects of technology in education but we focused on students’ benefits. From the teachers’ point of view, a study by Pew Research Center reported that 92% of them reported technology significantly improved their access to resources, materials, and content necessary for the classroom. Moreover, educators are often forced to repeat the procedure every school year since the last years’ knowledge is either largely outdated or obsolete. Also, without technology, the distribution of knowledge wasn’t efficient. Teachers had to lend their personal or library copies to one student, and trust that it gets shared around and returned to them.
How do teachers find and supply materials?
Teachers can download free resources online or from other colleagues. Alternatively, they can access paid ones with their credentials. In both cases, they can obtain scanned or converted (via OCR (Optical Character Recognition)) resources. Additionally, search engines allow the discovery of specific citations, quotes, paragraphs, or chapters in seconds. Then, teachers can leave links as sources, references, or bonus reading while creating e-books or question packs. Finally, the distribution of materials to students consists of uploading files and sending them via e-mail or a dedicated learning platform.
2. Paperless teaching
While reading a physical book is satisfying, it has an extensive ecological and financial impact. Digitalization has helped teachers allow clutter both at home and in offices. It also helps them preserve older material from the passing of time and elements such as fading, smudges, tearing/cutting, or even perishing from water or fire. Paperless education also makes course materials available at all times. We all remember days when teachers stumbled over their words without them, right?
3. Curriculum development
Teachers plan lectures using instructions from their educational institution. In the past, these were often bland, changed slightly and rarely, and shall we say, unoptimized. Oftentimes, no one asked students what they thought nor conducted research into its effects. Nowadays, such institutions are interconnected and share their findings. What’s more, many institutions decide to synchronize their curriculums so that students get equal access to carefully laid-out knowledge. This saves teachers a lot of time and effort on planning every lesson manually and eliminates human error.
4. Engagement and presentation
We touched on this from the students’ perspective while examining how modern technology helps education. Now’s the time to see how technology benefits teachers in the same area. For one, it allows them to not only occupy students’ attention but also entertain them. Instead of dull walls of text sprinkled with a few pictures, teachers can create engaging presentations using various forms of multimedia. To display them, they can utilize TVs/digital projectors in classrooms, or laptops/smart devices both at the classroom and home. Also, by using VR (Virtual Reality) headsets, teachers can prepare virtual walkthroughs for a fraction of the price of school trips and show things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
5. Versatility in teaching
Technology allows teachers the freedom to enhance their lecture and these methods have gained popularity:
- Flipped learning. Students can view lecture modules and learn ahead of time. Then they apply what they learned through projects, quizzes, polls, or discussions during classes.
- Blended learning. A mix of online and physical lectures helps extract the benefits of both teaching methods.
- Gamification. Using educational games/apps and other digital tools and exercises in coursework. This includes role-play, competitions, and debates, and introduces experience points, badges, and awards as rewards.
6. Assistance or automatization of tedious tasks
Teachers lose a lot of time and brainpower on repetitive tasks. Collecting homework, essays, or submitted tests, tracking attendance, or uploading lectures are just some of their daily activities. Also, after-school tutoring for struggling students, answering students’ questions, updating parents on performance and behavior, grading tests, creating grading sheets, and much more. These have all been either significantly sped up or made easier by things such as Google Classroom, or completely automatized by technology. Additionally, artificially intelligent teaching assistants let teachers pass on questions or demands to them.
7. Access and assessment of student data
This is perhaps one of the most underappreciated ways technology benefits teachers. It not only improves their productivity but also saves them time by displaying and evaluating student data. This includes monthly or annual class performance, breakdown of test results and grades, problematic behavior, number and frequency of absences or turned-in homework, etc. Another example is anonymous “rate your professor” websites. While truth can be harsh and reviews aren’t always correct, they still provide invaluable insight to teachers. Also, they suggest which aspects of their teaching require improvement.
8. Adjusting to special needs students
We previously investigated ways technology helps differently-abled students. Well, assistive technology benefits teachers too, although not equally. It acts as an intermediary, educating teachers on limitations that exist for their students. This sparks teachers’ creativity and challenges them to find new methods that allow their students to keep up with their peers.
9. Assistance with proctoring and pedagogy
While students will always find ways to cheat or break rules, exam assessment and proctoring software allow teachers to preserve academic integrity remotely. It can monitor students’ mouse, keyboard, microphone, and camera, and detect suspicious behavior. Additionally, pedagogy tools allow democracy in the classroom but maintain teachers’ authority. Some tools AI (Artificial Intelligence) to balance audio during online classes, eliminate background noise, or mute problematic students. Also, eye-tracker technology makes sure students aren’t looking around or even sleeping.
10. Professional development
We mentioned plenty of things that prevent teachers today from growing complacent. What we didn’t touch on are transportation technology improvements. These let teachers travel to conferences or seminars, and even exchange positions temporarily. This, combined with online events and teacher-created online content on various learning platforms, helps them improve their skills, earn a certificate, or even get a higher degree.