Technology is changing how teachers teach and how schools communicate with parents and students.
More than 40 million students now have access to high-speed internet, according to the nonprofit advocacy organization EducationSuperhighway–10 times more students now have high-speed access than did five years ago.
But access doesn’t always translate to mastery.
As technology continues its march into classroom life, school leaders and educators face new hurdles–and new opportunities.
We recently talked with EducationSuperhighway’s founder and CEO Evan Marwell to understand the challenges that increased technology access presents for schools. He outlined two significant trends that will grow as technology becomes more widely accessible.
So, what’s next?
1. Schools must ensure teachers are equipped to use and master increasingly accessible technology
Giving students and teachers the access to high-speed internet is all well and good, Marwell says. But training and experience are required to ensure teachers take full advantage of technology’s power in the classroom.
Want more on technology in schools? Sign up for the TrustED newsletter.
“How do we get up that learning curve?” Marwell asks.
“How do we expose teachers to the applications and the content that’s out there? That is a huge challenge in my opinion. K-12 traditionally adopts things by word of mouth, to be quite honest. It’s me hearing from my fellow teacher that they’re doing something. So, I think one of the big challenges is: Now that the infrastructure is in place, how do we spread the word to teachers about what’s working, what’s exciting, how other teachers are being successful and then help them change their pedagogy around this new way of learning and teaching?”
2. Technology will help, and not hinder, America’s teacher crisis
Teacher turnover and teacher shortages are a perpetual challenge for many states and districts, and Marwell predicts an even larger crisis on the horizon.
“This is a tsunami wave that’s coming,” Marwell warns. “It’s been present in rural America for a number of years now, but it is now showing up in urban and suburban school districts as well, where they just can’t find enough teachers to meet the needs of their students.”
Teachers will never be replaced by technology or AI, says Marwell. But he does envision a world where technology in schools has a more direct role in student learning.
“Technology is going to become a part of the solution to that problem. My own view is that we’re going to try all kinds of stuff on the policy side to encourage more people to get into teaching. And, that will incrementally be a positive, but it is not going to solve our teacher shortage problem. We’re going to have to think outside of the box to do that.”
For Marwell, technology in schools gives us the opportunity to ask: What exactly will the role of the teacher be moving forward?
“Now that we have infrastructure and devices, we have a chance to really think about: How can we use distance learning and technology in a blended way–where there is a teacher, but maybe that teacher who is present in the classroom doesn’t have to be the master of the subject and is more about managing the classroom and supporting the students?”
Do these predictions ring true to you? In what ways is technology in schools transforming your classrooms? Tell us in the comments.