Introduction to digital technologies commonly found in elementary schools

The elementary school experience today is vastly different from what it used to be like not too long ago. Thanks to the rapid development of various technologies, how they are used in classrooms has vastly evolved. Eight years ago in elementary school, I remember walking down to the computer lab with my classmates. We would impatiently wait for the teacher to unlock the door, then we would enter and choose our favourite computer. Typically, a portion of the time was spent typing away on All the Right Type or creating artwork on KidPix (does this ring a bell?). Other times, we would spend time in the computer labs working on research projects. After everything was done, we would be allowed free time on the computers.

Nowadays, students don’t even have to leave the classroom to access technology anymore. Often times, they are already installed in the classrooms. One of the most recognizable technologies are SmartBoards, which is one type of Interactive Whiteboards (IWB). IWBs strive to increase student engagement by providing a focal point for instruction, interactivity, gaming, and animations. Gone are the days of overhead projectors!

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Other common technologies include iPads and laptops. Often, classrooms or school libraries will have carts of iPads and laptops available for loan during school hours. When using any device, encourage small group work so that students get the advantages of learning to use the technology while fostering social interactions.

Regardless of whatever technology you decide to utilize, remember:

“The mere introduction of the technology does not guarantee an enhanced learning environment. The role of the teacher, his or her knowledge of the technology and how to use it, will be the most important factors in determining if successful progress can be identified and supported” (Hockly, 2013). The view that any technology by itself will lead to “better” learning is misleading (Hocky, 2013).

Articles worth checking out:

References:

Hockly, N. (2013). Interactive whiteboards. ELT Journal, 67(3), 354-358. doi: 10.1093/elt/cct021

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