Technology has seeped into every part of our lives. It has created entire industries and improved the efficiency of pre-existing professions. Manufacturing jobs are increasingly automated. Medical devices and technology are saving more lives. More people are leaving the office in favor of remote or freelancing work. Technology is here, and it isn’t going anywhere. In truth, it will only advance, further changing the structure of our work and lives. This begs the question: how does technology prepare students for the future?
Technology is often seen as a part of the adult world. When technology is in the hands of children, the association is often social media or gaming. But now more than ever, children need technology to assist their education. We say “need” because as valuable as textbooks and traditional learning are, they don’t do enough. In a world that relies on technology, analog learning alone cannot prepare students for what they will face as adults, no matter their profession.
It’s difficult to imagine the leap. Just two decades ago, computers in school were only found in computer labs. Now they are in every classroom. The value was slowly recognized, and even today, we cannot grasp what will come tomorrow. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how technology prepares students for the future.
Benefits of technology in the classroom
We already know it’s possible to become addicted to our phones, no matter our age. We know the harmful effects of social media and cyberbullying. With the amount of technology around us, concern about the use of it in the classroom is only natural. The trepidation is also greater for adults who did not see the rise of computers and phones in schools. Those that learned solely from lecture and textbook may have difficulty accepting tech in the classroom. We often hold onto what worked in the past without considering the future.
The argument is this: In the past, there was no other option. Then, we did not understand different styles of learning as well as we do today. Today, technology is increasingly used for educational purposes. With balance, there are several benefits to using technology in the classroom:
- Gamifying lessons – Static lessons are less likely to engage students. Using games, especially for younger students, helps to keep them engaged.
- Self-directed learning – Students are now learning at their own speed. If they need to study one subject longer, they can. If they’re ready to move on, they’re able to.
- Collaboration – Both teachers and students can work with others around the world.
- Differentiated instruction – Not every student can learn from lectures or reading. Some concepts are difficult to grasp without interaction. Technology allows students to learn in a variety of ways and find what best suits their needs.
- Distance learning – Technology can now be used to supplement virtual instruction.
The future of technology in the classroom isn’t easy to envision. But today, it is about increasing learning potential. It’s about preparing students for their technological future. Creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and creative thinking are all necessary skills for the future. Technology is just one part of that equation.
How does technology help students?
Asking “How does technology help students?” is like asking “Does school prepare you for life?” or “Does college prepare students for the workforce?” Education, no matter what form it takes, capitalizes on a child’s natural need to develop skills. At a young age, our brains are developing thousands of connections that help to inform our world. These connections relate to our ability to solve problems, communicate, and collaborate. Obtaining these skills is necessary for use over the course of our lives. Technology is just one tool to help students acquire these skills and more.
Preparing students for the future isn’t easy. It takes balance and proper utilization. But when tech is balanced with other forms of learning, it prepares students by:
Teaching new technology skills
Technology is constantly advancing. This gives rise to new jobs and industries, such as coding and artificial intelligence. Technology provides a makers education in AI, IT, design, and many STEM fields. It does this through specialized programs that allow students to explore these interests.
Several schools are now teaching coding to students as young as age eight. Schools are also offering courses in AI. MIT created an App Inventor to help students learn how to develop new apps with coding. They also developed Shadowspect, which allows students to learn geometry with 3D puzzles.
Entrepreneurial courses and skills
Technology gives students the chance to learn subjects outside the classroom as well. It also allows for enhanced understanding of the subjects they are already learning. For instance, if they are taking a business course, they may create a mockup of their own new business. They’ll learn to create websites, manage accounts, and maintain a social media presence that leads to sales.
Students of today need to know how to leverage technology for their future. Thinking like entrepreneurs helps them maintain advanced careers in the future. They become the innovators, inventors, and business owners. Because companies are using more technology with fewer employees, these skills are essential.
But what options currently exist? There are sources like Stukent, which simulates business operation, marketing, and networking. There is also Ever-Fi, which exposes students to STEM careers and business planning.
Students today are better equipped to learn and explore future career options. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Instead, we’re talking about the installation of learning as a skill for life. Using technology to engage students also helps them to embrace learning. It may even inspire them to enjoy learning and encourage them to explore topics that interest them.
Teaching workplace skills
Active learning is the most effective tool in preparing students for the workplace. Active learning involves activities such as reading, writing, discussion, and projects. Project-based learning also achieves “cognitive activation.” This is a focus on how they reached their answer rather than the answer itself. Technology is another tool in active learning and cognitive activation via personalized learning. Each student has their own unique way of learning.
Technology helps to tap into students’ individual learning styles. Tech can also encourage teamwork by working on team or class projects. By working together, they must share, listen, support, and help each other.
Technology connects students to tools and resources. But they must sort through and understand how best to use them. This helps them develop the habits of working through tasks in different manners. They’re better equipped to find alternate solutions and ways of doing things.
Much of the technology allotted to students is school-owned, so they must know how to take care of the devices. They may be handed a code of conduct and a list of consequences for losing their device. The use of technology in schools also provides the opportunity to learn about ethics. Learning digital citizenship is now an important part of education that will give them the tools and understanding needed for life and work online.
The adult world is fast-paced. Technology is rapidly changing. Information is rapidly streaming. Awareness of different technologies and how to use them is essential. When students are comfortable with learning new technologies, they are better at adapting to technological change.
There are so many professions that require collaboration, whether it be on a small scale or large. This could mean communicating with a local team of five or small teams across the globe. Either way, technology promotes collaboration and creative thinking.
For instance, students in a Spanish class are able to talk with students in Spain or Latin America. They can ask each other questions on forums or over video chat. They can share interests and learn about each other’s cultures. They’ll learn about life beyond their home and become more empathetic. Possibly, they’ll even become more curious.
Empathy and positive change
Collaboration can also lead to empathy and positive change in students and communities. The previous example of students talking with classrooms in other countries is an excellent illustration.
The class may learn that the local area has issues with clean water. Maybe the difficulty is that students struggle to get to school due to a lack of transportation. Students might then come up with solutions. With tech, they are able to speak to the students, local government, businesses, community centers, and others. They can work as a team in the class or with those in the country they’re learning about. They’re learning to solve problems in a comprehensive way. They’re also able to obtain information about the lives of others. This kind of collaboration is something that couldn’t occur without technology.
How will technology change education in the future? We can’t know for certain. But as you can see, technology prepares students for the future in comprehensive ways. This improvement comes with a caveat, however. With greater use of technology comes greater exposure to threats. Students face cyberbullying, hackers, predators, and disturbing online content. To protect them, you need a comprehensive solution.
GoGuardian web filtering and monitoring is specifically designed for schools. Once implemented, it gives teachers, administrators, and parents the tools they need to keep students safe. Learn more about web filtering software, suicide prevention, and more from GoGuardian.
Note: This article was originally posted on June 6, 2020 and has been updated as of July 10, 2023.