Friday, October 14, 2011

Teachers Learn a Lesson in Education Technology

Teachers from school districts all over the state of Kansas attended a workshop last month to receive an education of their own in education technology. At the workshop, they learned about the Discovery Education Network, a "global community of educators passionate about teaching with digital media." New forms of education technology have made their way into classrooms across the country, and are benefiting students and teachers alike. By using technology to engage their students in the classroom environment, teachers can hold their attention better and prepare them for future use of technology, either in school or a career.

Dean Mantz works as the technology integration and network coordinator for the Sterling school district in Kansas. In his tenure, Mantz has watched school technology specialists become increasingly involved in the development of new educational tools, as well as education technology instruction. Mantz himself worked as a teacher for 14 years. He said that today, "teachers have to prepare children to eventually work in a technology-advanced world."

Younger generations of students who have grown up with Internet access learn and even think differently than their parents, who were only exposed to the traditional learning methods of textbooks and lectures in school. Research has been conducted to study the change in generation, and head scans actually show changes in brain activity from parent to technologically advanced child.

Fourth grade teacher Chelsea Whisnant teaches in a "technology rich classroom," meaning that all of her students use laptop computers. Whisnant thinks that the use of technology in education has been a positive change, because it helps to connect all children in the classroom. With increased classroom engagement, students learn more and have fewer problems, partially "because they're having fun" and are excited by the technology. For example, one online program called VoiceThread, allows elementary students to upload images and create illustrations for stories they have written.

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