Teaching & Technology

With the push to incorporate new technologies into the classroom, adaptation has become one of a teacher’s greatest assets. Feeling comfortable with interactive screens, changing software, the latest social media trends and the like can all keep a teacher ahead of the curve. Until recently, these tools were used as just that – tools. But, the more prominent advanced classroom technology becomes, the more it seems it does a lot of the teaching. Of course, nothing can guide and support a student the way a teacher can, but it’s becoming clear that an educator’s adaptability needs to include more than just embracing a Smart board.

Image courtesy of Jeremy M. Lange/The New York Times

In North Carolina’s Mooresville Graded School District, every fourth-through-twelfth grader uses a school-issued laptop. Many benefits are immediately obvious: Software can allow students to work at their own pace; students receive access to technology that they might not otherwise have, allowing them to stay on track for post-high school pursuits; and students who may feel shy or embarrassed about participating in a traditional classroom can confidently engage on a computer. But what does this all mean for a teacher?

As Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, explains, it’s “not about the technology… It’s about the changing culture of instruction.” While conventional teaching calls for lesson plans designed to be delivered by a teacher to a single audience, tech-heavy teaching requires teachers to give up some of their reign. As classrooms become more lab and less lecture hall, there is much less “teaching the class” and much more “supporting the student”. With the right teachers, this method is highly successful; the Mooresville school district, for example, has experienced increased graduation rates, test scores and attendance. The question is: Are teachers ready for the change?