Six Ways Technology is Revolutionizing Secondary Education
Public education in the United States has undergone many changes over the years. Policy has leaned toward universal assessments and accountability across the nation, but perhaps the most dramatic change in secondary education comes in the form of pixels, gigabytes, and wifi. Technology is changing the face of secondary education from day to day and increasing the resources available to both students and educators.
The internet is now nearly ubiquitous, available in schools, libraries, and even fast food restaurants. This makes the World Wide Web an important tool for students and for educators. Instructors can now make use of webquests that provide a framework for online student exploration. Virtual high schools are also on the rise, with some students completing their secondary education entirely online. Though virtual education is not always considered a viable alternative to traditional, classroom-based schooling, for students with unique learning styles or who tend to be self-taught learners, they have provided an excellent way to experience and complete their secondary education.
With the advent of popular social media platforms, secondary education’s online presence has become both more accessible and more complicated. Contact with instructors can be immediate and constant, with teachers setting up Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages. Social media also allows students to connect with each other, providing opportunities for video messaging. This means students can collaborate on projects regardless of their geographical location. This also, unfortunately, has made way for technology-enabled cheating through mobile phone cameras and file sharing. Schools have had to adapt their policies to prevent this, prompting them to be more technologically involved and present online.
The abundance of information available via technology today provides opportunities and challenges for secondary education students and teachers. Research has become infinitely easier, with a simple web search replacing hours of page turning and cross-referencing in the library. But the amount of information at a student’s fingertips means that culling the good from the bad is of utmost importance. Educators are now tasked with teaching their students what good information looks like—and how to avoid misleading or unsourced information. Students are now required to determine the breadth and depth of their sources in order to ensure their data is correct, even having to confirm their initial research because so much is posted online without peer review.
The rapid development and ever-increasing popularity of tablets, smart phones, and computers has resulted in much more affordable options for people of all ages. In secondary schools, the use of interactive e-learning software in classrooms has made laptops essential to participation. Many school districts are starting to provide laptops for their students, not just in the classroom but also for use at home. This increases accessibility for secondary students and helps to level the playing field—all students are given access to the wealth of information available from online sources, regardless of their economic situation or learning capabilities.
Technology presents incredible opportunities and challenges for secondary education students and teachers. The demands on instructors have increased, and students are now expected to take on greater responsibility for confirming their sources and selecting only the best available information.