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Technology and Education – A Healthy Mishmash that Parents should Value

This article was written by guest author Jimmy Sorensen for our quarterly education newsletter, the Learning Lounge. If you have interest in contributing, please fill out this form.

When it comes to technology, parents and teachers are certainly outmatched by the tech-savvy younger generation. The iPod swinging, smartphone carrying, and tablet toting youngsters are literally growing in Cyberspace, which the elders, particularly the parents, have never had the chance to even know about. During the teen years of some parents, computers were not even in their basic stage. However, the comparatively younger parents might have had the chance to grow in the age of computers, but at that time, the machine used to be as heavy as a child and required almost 10-15 minutes to boot.

On the contrary, the present day world is taken over by unimagined technology that is known for its lightning fast speed and impressive processing abilities. The boulder sized tech devices have transformed into pocket-sized gizmos and pack processing power equivalent to the most advanced electronic innovation back in the parents’ days. With a great deal of technology available out there, even a toddler can learn infinite things about the world we live in and that too in an unassisted manner. This is the reason why it doesn’t come as a surprise that parents are skeptical about what or who is teaching their little ones these days.

What Parents Might Fear?

toddler-with-tabletWhile the basic idea of computers and technology replacing education still remains untapped in many places in the world, there are some nations that have already started depending heavily on technology. The age-old excuse of, “I forgot to bring my homework” or another common tale used by the school going kids, “My dog ate the assignment,” is no longer of much use to either the learners or their teachers. Content-packed technical gadgets have already begun replacing the traditional backpacks in some parts of the world. This might further add to the plight of the parents about the relation between technology and education.

Despite the fact that assisting in the customary homework already posed a lot of challenges for the working parents, they are now forced to help their children with making wikis and solving complex mathematical problems on tablet apps. With every passing day, as the schools and colleges lay more emphasis on digital platforms and online learning as healthy ways to impart education, the tech-challenged parents may start feeling all the more intimidated. Learning about the latest ins and outs in the world of technology is somewhat similar to learning how to ride a bike or swim. The younger you are, the easier it is to learn everything naturally. This might make parents feel a few steps behind their tech-savvy kids.

What do Studies Say?

Recent studies present a fair and completely changed picture of how parents actually see the use of computers and the Internet in their kids’ school life. According to new research, an increasing number of parents worry about the future of their children and think that their career prospects would be hampered if technology is withdrawn from their life.

Technology in the classroomThe research found out that over 92% of the school-aged generation is using a laptop or desktop PC for completing the homework and assignments. An average student now spends at least 8-10 hours per week on computers doing their school related work. The number of hours increases where the parents expect their children to obtain above average results at school. Despite the drawbacks of living in the world of technology and the Internet, the research suggests that today’s parents are more supportive about the use of technology for improving the future prospects of their kids. About 69% of the parents fear that without proper technical skills and the ability to reap its benefits in the day-to-day scenarios, better career opportunities might not come their children’s way.

What has triggered this changed behavior of the parents towards technology in the world of school is their ever-improving knowledge of how gadgets are used for imparting better education to their kids. More than 85% of the parents are now aware about how teachers use technology in the classroom. Likewise, over 66 believe schools should teach parents how technology helps in lessons so that they can know how children are taught and be able to assist their children in homework.

Another study conducted with over one thousand parents in the US and UK revealed that about 30% believe that if technology continues to develop at such a speed and continues to make education easier, the day is not far when teachers won’t be a necessity in the education system. A small hint of this can already be seen in the field of distance or virtual education offered today. Above all, 42.7% of the children who are expected to obtain first-grade results are more likely to benefit from their textbook and course related software applications as against the 14.3% underachievers who still resort to the traditional learning modules.

Why Parents Must Embrace Technology

It is pretty encouraging to have more children under the radar of tech-driven education and to see more parents become aware about the vital role of technology in the evolved form of classroom learning. However, there are still some parents who, upon thinking about technology and the virtual world, and the associated outcomes, feel that the negative aspects and the risks involved supersede the greater benefits.

Undoubtedly, these apprehensions and fears are natural and being parents, they need to be aware of the risks that technology and the Internet pose if the kids are to be guided, educated, and supported all through the education process. However, there are some wonderful advantages of this evolved form of education that not only help kids learn and perform better, but also assist the parents to understand how new technology works and track the performance and activities of their kids. It is due to these benefits that parents should develop the habit of embracing this new relationship between education and technology.

1. Learning Made an Interesting Affair

With the help of technology, teachers are now able to make learning all the more interesting and fun. The inclusion of graphics, tables, charts, presentations, audio visual modules and other similar tools have made it easy for teachers to impart knowledge, less boring, and less time-consuming for the kids to learn and do their homework. Moreover, with the ability to use technology for their own benefits, kids are bound to have better career prospects in the future.

2. The Community Game

The virtual world creates an impressive grounding for children to find like-minded people or groups and become a part of the community, thereby strengthening their interpersonal skills. Whether it is finding online forums related to their area of study or using hashtags (#) on Twitter to find like-minded people, kids can easily find a quick way to connect with people of similar interests, struggles, or goals, which are often supported by friendship, guidance, and information online.

3. Better Self-expression Abilities

Kids can use modern-day technology to experiment with their personal identity and learn more about expressing themselves fully in person or among their peers. They can use blogs and other networks to express their opinions and test their moral values and individuality. The less-confronting aspect of the virtual world trains them to give a voice to their beliefs and organize their views in an educational setting which can be monitored by adults.

Children’s engagement with the Internet and technology has led to a number of favorable developments and advancements, along with better outcomes in the social and emotional realms. The more the parents support this relationship, the greater the chance that they can keep the communication lines open and make sure that their children flourish with the positive aspects of technology while staying under the constant watch of parents due to the dangers and risks involved. It will enable the kids to study, test their skills, and progress at their own pace, which would certainly be faster than the traditional mode of education, and enjoy better future prospects.

About the author

Jimmy SorensenJimmy Sorensen is a camp instructor at the iD Tech held all across the nation. He loves to share his knowledge about tech education and especially about summer camps and the fun stuff for kids. He is also one of the star contributors with some top websites including Examiner, Parenting Informer, What’s Up for kids and many other online platforms of similar niche. For staying abreast with his activities, you can follow him on Twitter @jimmy_sorensen or choose to hangout with him on Google+ under the same name.

Research:

http://mashable.com/2010/11/22/technology-in-education/
http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/technology-can-have-a-positive-impact-on-education-deploy-it-disruptively/
http://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/01/05/how-technology-has-changed-education/
http://edtechreview.in/news/news/e-learning/453-technology-helping-teachers
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-positive-effects-technology-education-31222.html