How Technology Helps Children Learn

by Laurie Laurendeau on November 8, 2011

This week’s blog comes to us from our guest writer, Lindsey Wright. She discusses how technology can be very useful in the classroom, and that we should embrace it because it is here to stay!

Classroom Technology: The Educational Benefits of Computer Assisted Work and Play

The use of technology for student learning has revolutionized education at every level from pre-school to college courses. By integrating technology into the classroom setting, educators and students alike can benefit greatly from the flexible and interactive learning strategies offered by computerized systems. While in its infancy, it appears that classroom technology will continue to mean great things for education.

The Benefits of Technology in the Classroom

Technology in the classroom provides a number of benefits, among them the following:

• The ability to tailor programs to specific students, while keeping detailed records of their progress.
• Enabling students to learn independently and at their own pace, rather than either holding them back or forcing them to move faster than they are comfortable with.
• Allowing students to participate in interactive learning experiences, rather than passively receiving knowledge.
• Classroom technology can permit educators to focus on teaching and assisting students rather than working on rote lessons.
• Enhancing the ability of students and teachers alike to access relevant and authoritative information about the subjects under study.

Reading, Vocabulary and Literacy

In recent years it has been proven that the inability to develop reading and writing skills puts many students at risk of falling behind or dropping out of later grades. This disability can become a permanent handicap to an individual’s progress, long after they have left school. However, it has been found that when tied to the development of reading, vocabulary, and writing skills, computer-assisted education has been shown to vastly improve upon the results obtained from traditional forms of education. This is largely because these programs are designed to reach all students, no matter their learning style, meaning all is not lost for struggling students.

Computer aided learning can also be useful for students who are learning English as a second language. Tools such as interactive computer based learning systems, or even online classes, allow the student to learn at his or her own speed without the embarrassment that can often accompany attempting to learn a new language in front of a class and teacher. Adult students, who have been unable to obtain an advanced degree due to language comprehension difficulties, can also use this technology to successfully continue their education.

Equally, for students with speaking or reading disabilities such as dyslexia, computer assistance can permit them to learn in a way that is tailored to their specific needs. This can be especially important in settings where each student may need an individualized learning plan, making mass instruction difficult. Furthermore, the feedback from such an individualized process can greatly assist the instructor in determining his or her students’ progress in mastering the lessons.

Entertainment and Education

In other cases, the integration of computer games into the learning experience can lead to increased student participation. The earliest example of this is the 1970s vintage game; Oregon Trail, which has educated generations of children about the westward expansion of the American settler. In addition to entertaining children, this game, and other educational games like it, also stress higher order decision making and planning. Through this, students develop the capability to evaluate the consequences of their decisions, an ability that will carry over into their day-to-day activities.

While as yet in their infancy, the use of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) shows strong promise in interpersonal skills among students. For instance, the World of Warcraft has already been used at some colleges as a method for educating students about economic trends. Thus demonstrating how even technology not optimized for classroom use can assist the educational process.

The integration of technology into the classroom has already transformed the educational process. Instructors and students will continue to benefit from the use of ever more sophisticated equipment. By making individualized and interactive instruction more accessible, both groups will be freed to focus on the transmission of knowledge that lies at the core of learning.

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