When it comes to K-12 education, terms and methodologies abound. In the end, student instruction comes down to whether or not learning experiences are preparing students for life in the 21st century. And it’s difficult to live in the 21st century without technology. The pandemic profoundly affected education, students and teachers alike, but it also catapulted K-12 education technology. Out of necessity came opportunities to try (and fail) and learn and make better use of technology in K-12 classrooms. But how important is technology in education?
Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning can make classrooms more productive, educational experiences more expansive, and student learning more engaging. NTC developed and delivered our livestream programming with exactly this in mind.
It can support different teaching methods by connecting teachers to more professional development resources. Students have the opportunity to build 21st century skills, and teachers have the opportunity to build better instruction models. But it’s not without drawbacks.
Let’s examine K-12 education technology with a look at:
- The types of education technology
- The positive and negative impacts of technology on education
- The trends in K-12 education technology
- The effects on students and teachers
Educational technology (EdTech) uses learning and teaching related software and hardware to boost student outcomes. What are these technologies for the K-12 classroom?
Through virtual e-learning platforms, students engage with lessons remotely through a screen device. These platforms incorporate video, audio, live-streaming, interactive lessons, real-time feedback, and messaging to enhance learning. Students learn either asynchronously (at different times chosen individually) or synchronously (all together as one class).
Platforms such as Zoom, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, FlipGrid, or ClassDojo allow teachers and students to communicate virtually to facilitate lessons, discussions, projects, and assignments.
Online learning platforms can:
- Supplement instruction within an in-person classroom
- Support a blended learning model (half in-person and half remote)
- Provide virtual school full-time
Web-based Educational Resources
Students and teachers use web-based resources that provide an infrastructure for research, learning, and teaching,
- Access and sort resource materials through the web
- Modify resources for lesson objectives
- Align materials with standards
- Integrate everything into the curriculum
Some education resources include:
- Digital libraries
- Lesson-driven games
- Live-streamed digital performances
Digital and Cloud-based Applications
Students access digital learning applications on-screen devices in the classroom or through online learning platforms. Applications include Prodigy, Kahoot, Quizlet, Schoology, Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Blackboard, or Buncee.
- Engage learners in a variety of methods, including learning games, quizzes, and text-based assignments
- Facilitate sharing of assignments and projects through digital portfolios
- Provide electronic communication, grading, and feedback
- Help teachers modify lessons to meet student needs
K-12 education technology has both benefits and challenges. Weighing the benefits of technology in education along with its drawbacks gives you the opportunity to build K-12 technology standards that increase student outcomes, not diminish them.
Caters to Diverse Learning Styles
K-12 education technology makes it easier for teachers to adapt lessons for different learning styles within the same classroom. By creating a learning pathway tailored to each learner, K-12 education technology lessens gaps created when one learning style dominates content delivery. Whether curious, precocious, shy, or cautious K-12 education technology solutions bridge the gap.
Visual, text-based, and audio learners can find a way into the learning materials, making accelerated and adaptive learning models not only possible but foundational. They can empower students to learn how they learn, preparing them for a fast-paced, changing world.
Overcomes Time and Distance Barriers
Virtual learning gives students access to lessons, materials, feedback, and support outside of regular school hours and the physical classroom. It gives access to remote learners who could otherwise not attend the school. This can make students more productive, supporting an accelerated learning environment.
Brings Experts into The Classroom
Using technology platforms to bring experts into the classroom creates dynamic and interactive approaches to the curriculum without compromising time, standards, or outcomes. Interactive video and live-streaming platforms along with digital materials opens up the world to learners, enhances engagement, and makes lessons come alive. Lessons become deeper and more relevant.
Interactive digital learning products from the National Theatre for Children include interactive live-stream shows and e-learning materials aligned with state and national educational standards.
Enhances Teaching Methodologies
K-12 education technology solutions can improve the instructional value of curriculum and enhance teaching methodologies through stronger engagement, expanding possibilities in the classroom. Through digital resources and interactive platforms, classrooms become more collaborative, and lessons become more active and memorable.
Improves K-12 Assessment Tools
Knowing where students are within a lesson and the level of learning that is not only taking place but is being retained allows teachers to instruct students in a meaningful way. By utilizing K-12 assessment software, teachers can identify both struggling students and those who need accelerated learning strategies. Learning gaps can be addressed quickly, helping teachers guide students to the next lesson or provide extra support.
Physical and Mental Health
Excessive use of technology can affect students’ physical and mental health. Extended screen time cuts down on physical exercise and real-time interaction with the physical world. This lack of balance is detrimental to student success.
Social interaction is important to student success. Too much individual interaction with a screen rather than in-person interaction with other humans affects the growth of student’s social skills. Learning face-to-face dynamics of discussion and how to read facial expressions and body language helps create communal interaction, building necessary interpersonal skills.
Distraction and Shallow Absorption
An unbalanced reliance on technology can create an attention deficit in students, affecting material retention. This hinders core competencies and the discovery, exploration, and critical thinking necessary to build analytical reasoning skills.
Digital Connection Barriers
Not everyone has a good Internet connection or access to electronic devices. The funding and infrastructure support to overcome these digital connection barriers is necessary to make learning more equitable across demographics and districts. Affordable solutions need to be a part of K-12 education technology.
By measuring both the positive and negative impact of technology on education outcomes, it’s possible to mitigate the negative and extenuate the positive. A balanced approach counteracts the negatives.
It’s possible to leverage the benefits of EdTech by using blended learning models that also incorporate methodologies that:
- Support kinesthetic learning
- Bring students outdoors to interact with the physical world
- Center the whole child
- Emphasize mindfulness
- Raise social-emotional learning
- Promote face-to-face interactions through live, in-school performances and events
K-12 education technology trends follow and support education trends overall. These shift over time as education responds to the world students live in. The pandemic is a big shift that continues to evolve and affect 21st century learning.
K-12 assessment is becoming data-driven, as are diversified teaching strategies. Technology driven data empowers teachers to meet their students where they are at and influence further growth and understanding.
K-12 education technology provides solutions to shift grading to a mastery-based model. It supports competency-based learning that digs deeper into student understanding, expanding student outcomes.
Adaptive learning technology makes it easy to modify lessons according to the learner. These personalized learning approaches promote a self-paced classroom.
In K-12 education, combining gaming technology with lessons to further enhance engagement and interaction is an emerging trend. Students love video games. Using the technology thoughtfully can bring that love into instruction to boost outcomes.
The quality and support of technology in K-12 classrooms cannot rely solely on tech savvy teachers. Cloud-based platforms assist in streamlining schools’ IT support and can solve technology access and expense barriers.
Implementing cloud-based technologies helps to:
- Configure devices remotely
- Control access more seamlessly
- Share information
- Monitor security requirements
- Support K-12 technology standards
AI is one of the emerging technologies in K-12 education, much as it is throughout modern life. In education, it is set to crank up lesson personalization within learning platforms and systems by further pinpointing student assessment.
Integrating technology into K-12 education affects both how students learn and how teachers teach.
The effects on students:
- Improved confidence through in-the-moment personal feedback
- Enhanced personal connection with learning materials, research, and presentations.
- Increased engagement through immersive lessons
- Outcomes less dependent on learning style
- Expanded higher level skills learning
The effects on teachers:
- More efficient use of time to guide student learning in a meaningful way
- Support in developing stronger learning relationships with students
- Enlarged toolbox to design optimal learning experiences.
- Ability to model how to use 21st century tools for life-long learning
The partnership between teachers and K-12 education technology creates a guided learning experience for students and makes for better educational outcomes. Relationship building with the flexibility and enhancements for engagement create an environment that not only supports 21st century learning but 21st century living as well.