When Does Technology Work for K12 Teachers?

There’s no doubt that technology rules the world we live in today; without our gadgets and gizmos, our world would come to a screeching halt and everyday life as we know it would be thrown into chaos. However, while we all agree that technology is a valuable and indispensible asset, it is only as useful as the people who use it – so even though you have all the fancy equipment at your disposal, it’s virtually worthless if you don’t know or are not inclined to tap its full potential.

When it comes to the K12 environment, the debate on the usefulness of technology still rages on. Recent studies show that while it is important for teachers to adopt the use of technology in the classroom, it is not advisable to allow students unrestricted and unsupervised access to technology that could be misused. Researchers at the Duke University have stated in their study “Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievementthat access to technology alone is not enough to bridge the educational gap between the haves and the have-nots. For children from poorer families to benefit positively (show a marked improvement in grades and academic performance) from the free computers and broadband Internet access they’re given, parental supervision and involvement and effective time management skills are necessary too. Just the presence of the technology will not do. Another study conducted by researchers at the Walden University, “Educators, Technology and 21st Century Skills: Dispelling Five Mythssays that the use of technology by K12 teachers and educators has a positive impact on student learning, engagement and development of 21st century skills.

How then can K12 educators and classroom teachers strike a balance in ensuring that technology is used in an optimal way? The problem with technology is that it is inextricably tied to the Internet, the virtual world that promises so much yet is fraught with dangers and temptations that could so easily lead a child astray and ruin their lives for good. For technology to be useful, its usage should be taught, monitored and controlled, and that’s where K12 teachers should play an active role.

Technology works best in the K12 environment when its teachers understand it and know all the ways in which it can be used; they must know its advantages and disadvantages, and be able to ensure that students tap its potential rather than abuse its availability. And for this to happen, K12 educators must be savvy in the ways of the Internet. More than getting to know and learning just one particular technology, they need to know how and where to find the best online material that helps students understand their lessons better, provides them with additional material that’s both fun and helps them learn (like quizzes and educational games), and motivates them to use technology for the right purposes.

K12 teachers and technology go hand in hand when they understand each other perfectly and coordinate to provide the best education to the students they teach.