As 2012 came to a close, it seemed like everyone from politicians to education experts took opportunities to voice their opinions on the state of America's schools and to express their hopes about the coming year. Last week, Katharine Haber of SmartBlog on Education asked her readers to weigh in on what they think the 2013 will hold for technology in education.
Among the respondents, more than 30% thought that bringing technology into the classroom will be the the chief issue occupying education professionals in the coming year. Other concerns singled out by the readers were online education, computer-based testing and helping students become responsible users of internet and technology.
When asked to relate their own experiences with technology and education last year, the majority said that teachers in their schools were bringing some kind of digital tools to class in order to aid instruction. A much smaller proportion reported a tighter integration between tech and the school curriculum. Among the latter group were included those whose schools embraced alternative technology-aided instructional models like the increasingly popular blended learning.
Readers reported that online applications and games are the most effective tools for engaging students, while digital textbooks and resources, along with mobile devices, are not far behind.
Interestingly, few respondents see social media as an effective tool. Given the ongoing buzz about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, this response begs the question of whether many schools simply are not using social media as part of classroom instruction.
While the social media finding might be a disappointment to the students themselves who have certainly embraced the medium in the past several years, school social networking policies chiefly treat it as a distraction, with most either restricting or outright banning its use during school hours or on school campuses.
Although only 3.33% of respondents thought that social media is an effective teaching tool, Haber asks if its very popularity might not make it useful going forward.
There are numerous factors to consider when using social media with students, and many schools and districts might be blocking or otherwise prohibiting use of such websites on campus. However, given their popularity, is it possible there is an untapped resource?
Still, popularity among students aside, 40% of those who answered the questions thought that online apps and games – not social media – are the tools that are making the biggest difference now, with digital textbooks and other academic materials coming in second at 28.89%.